How to Stain a Hardwood Floor

hardwood floor being stained using sansin staining products

Hardwood floors are a popular alternative to laminate and carpeting for a few reasons, but the main one is their natural beauty. Hardwood captures the elegance and intricacy that’s made wood such a popular construction material for centuries, if not millennia. But capturing and maintaining the beauty of your hardwood floors requires regular maintenance and upkeep.

One great option for a hardwood floor is wood stain. You’ll need to stain your hardwood floors every few years to help them stay strong and beautiful. The task is fairly straightforward, but it does require some know-how and knowledge of what to expect. The following is a guide on how to stain hardwood floor on your own and still achieve a professional look.

1. Choose the Stain Colour

The first thing you have to do before you stain your flooring is figure out the colour that will work best for your hardwood. Picking the right colour will depend on the floors you have. Deeper colours, like cherry, will need deeper stain colours to help bring out the colour. Lighter woods, by contrast, need light colouring to ensure the wood’s natural grains remain visible. No matter what colour you end up choosing, always be sure to test it first in an inconspicuous spot. Stain that section completely and pay close attention to the change in colour and look. If you like the results, then continue on. If not, head back to the store and consult a professional, who will be able to help you find the right colour for your hardwood flooring.

2. Inspect Your Floor Before Staining

Staining your hardwood floors is just like staining your porch or patio in many ways, including the need to inspect the floors before staining them. Carefully look over the entire floor before doing anything else. Check for cracks, divots, loose boards, and any other damages your hardwood floor may have incurred. If you find anything, consult a flooring professional on what to do next. You may need to replace some of the boards. Others may require a little patchwork to make them look their best. There’s no point in staining broken hardwood, however, so a thorough inspection is absolutely necessary.

3. Clean Your Floor

Without clean floors, your hardwood floors will not improve in look. In fact, you could inadvertently lock in dust and pieces of debris that will permanently cloud and ruin your floors instead. The best way to clean your floors before staining is to vacuum every square inch first. Vacuuming will pick up most of the dust and dirt that’s accumulated on your floor. Be sure to get into every nook and cranny of the flooring as well to ensure that every bit is fully vacuumed.

Next, gran a mop and an appropriate cleaning product specifically designed for your hardwood floor. If you are unsure as to what cleaning product to use, be sure to consult the professionals. This can either be where you pick up your stain or where you purchased the floor. Either way, take care to buy the right kind of cleaning product. Once you’ve found the right cleaner, gently mop the entire floor. This will help pick up any grime or stubborn stains that are on your beautiful hardwood floors and leave them completely clean for your staining.

4. Prepare the Area

After cleaning your floors, you’re almost ready to start applying the stain. There’s just one more step: prepping the area. Move any and all furniture and pieces that are on the floor, and any area rugs that sit on top of your hardwood. Taping the edges of the walls is sometimes a good idea as well, depending on your skill. Doing all of this ensures that you’ll be able to evenly stain the entire floor, including the spaces people don’t usually see. Your entire floor needs to be stained to maintain a consistent look and add to its longevity, so don’t be afraid to move the heavier furniture out of the way before staining.

5. Apply the Hardwood Floor Stain

Applying stain is fairly straight forward, but you will need the right equipment to do it properly and evenly. Get yourself a high-quality brush and a couple of rags you don’t mind throwing away after you’ve finished. From there, get your stain and start applying it to your floor, starting with the point furthest from the exit. Use soft, even strokes for the bulk of the floors. You should brush the stain on with care and make sure you don’t overlap too much, which will lead to streaks in the final product. For tougher spots, like corners, get out the rags and do those parts by hand. These spots should be done before the floor around them so you won’t step into the fresh stain and ruin your hard work.

As an important side note, be sure to stain all of your flooring in one go in an even coating. Leaving it to dry over multiple days can lead to uneven coats and a streaky undesired overall look.

Hardwood floors are a beautiful option for your home, but they need proper maintenance to stay strong and look their best. The key to staining your hardwood is preparation. Take the time to inspect and clean your floors before applying any stain. You should also have the right equipment ready for when you start, including the right kind of stain for your hardwood floors.

If you’re looking for an all-natural alternative to the usual chemical stains, Sansin is an excellent choice. Made with modified natural oils and resins, Sansin uses nature to protect wood from within. The specialty formula soaks into the wood and slowly replaces any water that evaporates from the wood with a tough and durable coating that penetrates deep through the entire piece. Then, the Sansin stain bonds within the wood to offer a natural and tough layer of resistance for your favourite wood pieces, including decks, furniture, flooring and more.

How to Prepare and Stain Your Deck

beautiful deck after being stained

Unless you built it on your own, you are probably unaware of the time, money, and effort that goes into creating a deck from the ground up. It’s a very laborious process, one that requires skill, knowhow, and, above all else, a significant amount of money. Deck experts can always spot those who don’t understand the costs of building a deck with one simple observation: the deck itself. People who love and value their deck take the time to ensure it’s properly cleaned, maintained, and regularly stained. Those who don’t often ignore all the necessary things you have to do to keep a deck in its best condition.

If you love your deck and want it to look its best, here’s an in-depth guide to cleaning and staining a deck, with many of the tips you’ll need to do the job right.

1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Stain Your Deck

Properly cleaning and staining takes time. Not only does the work itself take time, often over multiple days, but the products you use will need time to soak in and set. For these reasons, it’s important that you give yourself plenty of time to do the job properly. Be sure to check the weather before you decide to stain your deck, and coincide your efforts with dry periods. Spending a few days cleaning your deck and getting new wood, only to have the rain come and ruin your efforts, is never a good idea.

2. Inspect Your Deck

The first thing you have to do with your deck is give it a proper inspection. Look around for wood that’s cracked, damaged, overly moist, or rotten. Look to places where it seems to be getting undo wear and tear, and compare sections against each other to see where your efforts are needed most.

3. Replace Damaged and Rotting Wood

Once you’ve taken a look around, start by replacing pieces of wood that need to go. This can include rotting pieces, which need to be dealt with as soon as possible, and pieces that are simply too damaged to do their job right. Be sure to remove the entire piece, not just the section in question, and replace the wood with a similar piece for better consistency. If you feel under-equipped to do the job yourself, be sure to have a professional come and do the work.

4. Prepare Remaining Wood

Once you’ve replaced the severely damaged and rotten wood, it’s time to turn your attention to the other pieces. Get your sanding gear and wire brush out and start scrubbing. A lot of good wood can get dirty and deteriorate faster when it isn’t properly scrubbed down, which will shorten the lifespan of any good deck. But by scrubbing off all the dirt with a thorough sanding, you can keep it looking its best. The sanding is particularly important, as it will smooth out your deck and give the stain something to cling to when it is applied. Without proper sanding, the stain won’t be nearly as effective, and won’t last for as long as properly prepared wood. Surface preparation is the most essential step in any project, so make sure you take your time and do a good job or you will compromise the quality of your finish.

5. Select the Right Stain

Finding the right stain comes down to some key factors: the kind of wood you have, the climate in which your deck lives, and the colours you want. For each of these factors, be sure to do the proper research and, if necessary, get professional opinions by people who know decks and deck stain products. Picking the wrong stain can lead to a myriad of issues, so be sure to take the time to find the one right for you, your deck, and your weather.

6. Clean Prior to Staining

Once you have the right stain, it’s time to clean your entire deck from top to bottom. This will not only help your deck look its best when you apply the stain, but it will ensure that the stain bonds to the actual wood instead of the dirt and dust that’s bound to be on top. A pressure washer is often the preferred way to clean a deck, and a great chance to eliminate all the dust that sanding, hammering, and brushing has caused up to this point. But be sure to keep a brush handy for those tight spots. Pressure washing may cause some of the wood to crack, in which case you may need to replace some pieces and prepare it again for staining.

7. Follow the Directions

Now you’re finally ready to stain, and the first thing you do when you stain a deck is read through the directions on your stain thoroughly. Every stain has different chemical components and, as a result, need different conditions and application methods to get the job done right. Be sure to follow these directions and apply the stain using the method described on the product, and give your deck the maximum amount of time possible to dry and set. That means leaving it for a long while, avoiding any contact to give it time to strengthen.

8. Keep a Paintbrush Handy

No matter how you end up applying the stain, be sure to keep a clean paint brush handy. Decks often have many nooks and crannies, and a brush can help you get a coat over every tiny detail.

9. Keep an Eye on Your Work

Some of the best, most thorough staining jobs ever done have been ruined by neglect. Just because your deck is properly stained doesn’t make it immune to weather and regular wear and tear. A solid staining job will probably last a couple of years, but be sure to thoroughly inspect your deck every season to see if there’s problems. If there are, like rotting wood or other damages, get them taken care of as soon as you can. Leaving decks to their own devices often lead to major repairs down the road, which can cause a lot of problems.

If you have any questions we are your downtown Toronto paint store – give us a call! And remember there are always professionals who can take care of this type of project for you should you feel uncertain about any aspect of staining your deck.

Should you Stain Your Deck, or Paint It?

With Spring officially upon us, many homeowners are looking at their decks and wondering what to do. It needs fixed up and protected, but should they do it with stain or paint. Each of these options has various advantages and disadvantages, so today, we decided to look at both to give you a balanced opinion.


Staining is used exclusively on wooden decks, or decks made with some sort of wood-based materials. It’s usually used to highlight the colour of the wood and give the deck a rustic, traditional feel.

Staining Pros:

1. Stain is an effective barrier against moisture, which can protect your deck from rain and water damage, and deteriorating when soaked for long periods of time.

2. Stain is also very easy to apply, much easier than paint. It usually only takes a couple of coats and doesn’t require primer.

3. As stated, stain gives your deck a very natural look that can highlight the beauty of the wood.

Staining Cons:

1. Stain requires a lot of prep before application, including sanding and even stripping before applying a new coat.

2. Most stains last only a year, two at the very maximum, and so you will get very used to re-staining every year.

3. Stain doesn’t cover up, so any blemishes or unsightly aspects of your deck will still look that way after a good staining, even with the best products available.


Painting a deck is often more labour intensive, but it can also yield longer lasting results. Plus, paint can be applied to more than just wooden surfaces and comes in multiple colours. So if you have a particular design in mind, paint can help unify your vision.

Painting Pros:

1. Painting typically last longer than staining, usually by a few years. A quality paint and paint job can last anywhere from 3 years and up.

2. Stain comes in a few colours: grey, brown, those sorts of colours. Paint comes in nearly every colour under the sun.

3. Being opaque, paint will cover up blemishes and stains on your deck completely, which can give you extra time on old or unsightly deck wood that’s still structurally sound.

Painting Cons:

1. Deck painting is no easy task. It will require multiple coats, and plenty of preparation. It will last longer, but it’s no small feat painting a deck.

2. And despite lasting longer, painting isn’t as moisture resistant as staining. If you live in a wet climate, paint may actually be a bad idea and cause your deck to deteriorate more quickly.

At an average cost of $2-5 dollars per square foot for each of these products, you can choose to stain or paint your deck on other factors, like look and frequency of maintenance. Just be sure that, no matter the material you choose, that it is applied properly and, most importantly, safely. Follow the safety instructions, and always make sure you leave the new coat of stain or paint time to soak in and dry.

Searching for deck stain? Consider ARBORCOAT

Can of ARBORCOAT from Benjamin Moore

If you have a wood deck that you are planning on staining, you may want to think about using Benjamin Moore’s ARBORCOAT exterior stain. While there are many deck stains on the market there is nothing quite like ARBORCOAT. This stain is a water-borne acrylic based product, and comes in a two-component set. This means that two coats are required: one coat of stain, and one coat of finish. The first coat provides the actual stain while the second coat seals in the stain and protects it from graying, mold and mildew, and weathering.

ARBORCOAT deck stain is especially good at repelling mold, mildew, and algae, due to its use of zinc oxide. Another signature feature is its resistance to graying. This stain really keeps its color for years, and is great to us if you have experienced graying in the past. Since it is acrylic-based, the end result may have a bit of a “plastic” look, so be aware of that before beginning.

Gather The Right Materials

Before starting out, we recommend that you make sure that you have all the tools and materials you are going to need. Whether to use paint brushes or rollers really depends on the size of your deck and personal preference, but we would recommend using rollers for large areas and brushes for cutting-in on edges and railings.

Another tip is to purchase some Benjamin Moore paint extender and mix it in with the coating. This will keep the stain wet a bit longer, and keep it from showing lines when it dries. For ARBORCOAT stain this is especially important, and you may end up with lap lines if you do not use it. Obviously the speed at which the stain will dry is dependent on the weather and humidity, so you are going to see faster dry times on a hot dry day than a cold humid one.

Preparing Your Deck For Staining

You’ll want to make sure that your deck has aged for at least 12 months before staining. Some people think cedar decks can be stained right away, but we recommend always allowing your wood to thoroughly dry out.

Starting out with the prep-work, you will want to make sure that bare wood is exposed. If there is a pre-existing coat of stain on the wood, you will need to remove it with a combination of stripping, sanding, and power-washing. We would recommend using a high-PSI power washer to wash dirt and grime off first, careful not to damage the wood. Start out the sanding process with a coarse grit sandpaper to remove the large imperfections, then switch to a finer grit to really smooth it out.

An improperly prepared deck may not allow the stain to stick to it or penetrate at all. This means that you will quickly see the stain start to peel and crack. Taking the time to prepare the wood greatly increases the chances of the stain penetrating and leaving a lasting impression on the wood.

Apply the stain smoothly and evenly

Once the wood is ready, you can start applying the deck stain. Apply it smoothly and evenly. Remember that any imperfections will quickly show up once the stain dries. Make sure that it is applied totally evenly. For large flat surfaces, use a roller for quick applications. Also be aware that the stain will start to dry quickly after being applied, so don’t lollygag once you have started.

After the stain is applied in a smooth, even coating, you can apply the final protective clear coat. This should be applied just like the stain was, smoothly, evenly, and quickly. Allow time for the clear coat to finish. Once again, any imperfections will be more visible once the coating dries. Furthermore, imperfections in the protective coating can create weak spots in the defense of your deck, allowing a spot for peeling to start, or for mold to start growing.

For further information be sure to take a look at this video Benjamin Moore put together:

If you have any questions about ARBORCOAT deck stain, or need advice on your deck staining project feel free to contact us.