Here's How Long It Takes For Deck Stain To Dry

If your deck is starting to look a little worse for wear, the solution doesn't need to be as complicated as replacing or refinishing the entire thing. Sometimes, a fresh coat of deck stain is all it takes to make it look as good as new again. If you're in the mood for a change, then deck stain is also the way to go to introduce a fresh new wood color. Typically, a deck can be re-stained in a few hours, but it will take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to dry.

Not only does new stain visually make your deck look better, but it's also the best way to look after the wood and extend its lifespan. One of its primary purposes is to protect the wood from sun and UV damage, as well as prevent common wood-related issues like rot and mold. Applying deck stain is a pretty simple task, but you need to wait until it's completely dry to use your deck again so you don't ruin it. This also means planning around the weather, as you'll want a clear forecast for the duration of the drying time.

Wait four hours between coats

While it takes up to two whole days for deck stain to fully dry, that's only after the last coat is applied — you will also have to wait for it to dry in between coats. This depends entirely on the composition of your deck — some woods need at least two coats, while others are fine with just one. You'll know your deck has had enough stain applied once it's no longer absorbing the product.

Each coat will need roughly four hours to dry before the stain can be applied again, so be sure to factor that into the overall time frame. Make sure to time this appropriately, too. You want the stain to be able to dry at its own pace so that it really sets into the wood, and its protective properties are fully developed. Meaning, if you apply the stain under a full, hot sun and the stain dries quicker than it's meant to, it won't last nearly as long as it should. Apply it after the afternoon sun starts to go down, or choose a cloudy day — just make sure it isn't going to rain in the next 48 hours.

What to do if it rains

Despite your best planning, that waiting period could get interrupted by a bout of rain. In a best-case scenario, your deck stain may have set in enough that the rain doesn't visually impact the results. However, if the rain is heavy or comes too soon after application, it may ruin the entire project. The general rule of thumb for rain is that you're most likely safe after 12 hours.

If it rains before then, odds are the damage will manifest as small to large holes in the stain — it's very unlikely the rain will wash away the entirety of the stain. In some cases, you can just reapply the stain to any washed-away splotches. The issue with this, though, is that perhaps not all of the stain was washed away, so the new application looks patchy. In this case, you can sand down the spots and try to reapply. It's important that you don't try to re-stain the entire deck, as it may start flaking off. If the spots can't be patched up with new stain, unfortunately, you may have to strip the whole deck and start over.