Whether you plan to stain your deck or fence yourself or hire a Tennessee fence sealing company to do the job, you might be wondering about the steps needed to prepare for the process. In either case, certain parts of the preparation process can be done by a homeowner, while others are offered as services by a Tennessee fence staining company, like Stain and Seal Experts. 


For professional-looking results, it is essential to properly prepare the wood to be stained. The type of preparation necessary depends on the condition of the deck or fence. A new wood deck or fence requires minimal preparation, while additional steps are needed for old or damaged wood to ensure the best results when applying wood stain. We are sharing this simple guide to walk you through the steps to prepare a fence or deck for stain. 

Plan to Prepare Your Fence or Deck for Staining

Even preparation takes preparation! Whether the wood is brand new or you are working to restore an older wood fence or deck, the first step in getting ready to stain starts with an inspection. This should only take a few minutes, but it is a key step to determining what is needed and making a plan. Take a close look at the wood to see what level of dirt, debris, or organic growth needs to be removed. The results of the inspection will help you decide if just a quick power wash or more in-depth care is needed before staining. If you’re not sure of the best way to prepare your wood fence or deck for staining, professional recommendations are always available from your local Tennessee fence staining company. 

Check Weather Conditions Before You Begin

Prepping a deck for stain right before it rains will cause the job to take longer than necessary. Checking the weather in your area can save time and ensure that your fence or deck is at the right moisture level. Most stains require dry wood and a 24-hour window of dry weather after the stain is applied in order to cure. Having all your tools and materials ready to go will help in the case of a short fair-weather window. 

It’s a good idea to avoid high temperatures (above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) when you start your stain prep. In extreme heat, the cleaner may dry too quickly, causing uneven penetration. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit cause drying time to last longer. Humidity isn’t necessarily a problem, but it will take longer for your deck to dry in humid conditions. The perfect temperature range for prepping a deck to stain it is between 50 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit on a low-humidity day. For most areas in the country, spring and fall are great times of year to stain your deck. 

Thoroughly Examine the Wood

There is no point in applying stain over a damaged wood deck or fence. Staining wood that is damaged or improperly prepared will neither improve the appearance nor provide protection from the elements. Before you clean a fence or deck, it’s important to perform a thorough inspection. Ensuring there is no damaged wood and that the structure is sound is an important step. 


  • Inspect the surface for popping nails or broken screws. Look for any broken or warped deck boards. Replace any nails, screws, and wood boards as needed prior to cleaning. This is especially important for older structures.
  • Check any part of the fence or deck that is in direct contact with the ground or connected to the house, including joists and beams, for water damage. Tighten any loose screws and replace any that are rusted.
  • Check for rotting wood on the deck or fence using an awl or screwdriver. Probe around posts where they make contact with the ground or foundation blocks. Any wood that is soft should be replaced before staining.

Test the Stain

If your deck is new and unstained, or you already know what type of stain was used previously on your fence or deck, you can move on to the step of cleaning. However, if you don’t know whether the stain on your deck was water-based or oil-based, you will need to perform a quick test. Water-based stains must be stripped off before applying a new finish, while oil-based stains can be recoated after using a deck cleaner. 

To test the stain, first apply a small amount of deck stripper to a small area on your deck. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then wipe it off with a cleaning rag. If the stain comes off, the stain is water-based. Follow the directions on the deck stripper to remove the stain from the deck. If the stain does not come off, the stain is oil-based. A high-quality Tennessee fence sealing company like Stain and Seal Experts only uses our own brand of oil-based stain, saving you this step in the future. 

Clear and Sweep

The next step is to remove all your patio furniture and potted plants from the deck. It’s a good idea to cover any landscaping in the area with plastic sheeting to protect them from the wood cleaner as well as the spray from the hose or pressure washer that will be used next. Thoroughly sweep the deck to remove all leaves and other debris. Once all of the loose dirt is removed from the surface, prepare the cleaning solution.

Apply Cleaner

Your Tennessee fence staining company is happy to provide this service for you or supply you with our brand of cleaning solution like our Expert Clean and Bright line of cleaners and brighteners that you can apply yourself if you prefer. 


To apply a wood cleaner to your fence and deck, be prepared to go through the following steps. First, mix the cleaner according to the manufacturer’s directions. Next, apply the cleaner to the deck or fence using a sprayer. Allow the cleaner to penetrate the wood for 15 minutes or the recommended time. While the deck is wet, check for water beading. If you notice this, that means the surface is not porous and it needs to be either lightly sanded or scrubbed until water is easily absorbed into the wood. 


At this time, you should check for black spots that indicate mold or mildew, and if found, treat these with a product to remove it. After the 15 minutes of soaking time, use a scrub brush to work the cleaner into the surface and scrub thoroughly to remove residue. Work in small sections to make sure the area stays wet at all times. Last, rinse the surface with a garden hose or carefully use a power washer. Allow the deck to dry completely. 


Although cleaning a deck or fence is a task that many homeowners can successfully tackle themselves, calling a professional to handle this job is always an option. We are a West Tennessee fence staining company that offers expert cleaning services as well. 

Outdoor Wood Staining Prep from an Expert Tennessee Fence Sealing Company

When you’re looking for a reliable stain and seal company, you also want to consider if they offer exceptional service in the area of cleaning and brightening the wood that you aim to improve. Our own cleaning and brightening product line, along with our brand of high-quality oil-based stains, make us a one-stop shop for the best products and the best service. As a great Tennessee fence sealing company, we have a wide selection of products for you to choose from and will be able to offer guidance on what will work best for your specific project. 


Stain & Seal Experts offer cleaning, staining, sealing, and restoration services for wood decks, wood fences, and wood structures. Our oil-based stains are available in a variety of colors in three levels of pigmentation: transparent, semi-transparent, and semi-solid. Additionally, you can purchase products from our line of industry-leading wood staining, cleaning, and restoration products online and have them shipped directly to your door on our online store for contractors and DIY-ers. 

Contact the Best Tennessee Fence Staining Company Today!

When you need expert solutions for your next Tennessee fence staining project, contact Stain & Seal Experts. Our entire team is knowledgeable and trained to offer support and assistance with your project. Call us today at (615) 785-1861 or email us for more information. We are here for all of your wood cleaning and staining needs!