How Long for a Deck Stain to Dry? 5 Tips to Dry Faster

By MWB-Team •  Updated: 05/28/23 • 

Wood is the most popular material used for decks. It is cost-effective, easy to maintain, beautiful, and can it last long if properly maintained. Maintaining your deck reduces the effects of elements such as rain and UV, which keeps the deck looking pristine for years to come.

Staining the deck is the best way to keep it looking good. Deck staining can be done by a professional, or you do it as a weekend DIY project. Once applied, a deck stain can last several years, depending on the type of stain you choose. Proper planning when applying a deck stain is essential to how it performs over time. Check out our ultimate deck stains guide for more on types of deck stains

For DIY enthusiasts, one of the factors to consider is the drying time. Generally, once applied a deck stain can take anywhere between four hours and 24 hours to dry. However, the drying time of a deck stain will depend on several factors. These are:

The Type of Deck Stain Used

Water-based deck stains dry faster than oil-based deck stains. Generally, water-based stains take between two to four to dry, and you can apply a second coat afterward. However, although they dry faster, water-based stains will take longer to form a protective film or fully cure. Wait for the curing time to elapse before you add heavy objects or furniture over the deck.

Oil-based deck stains take up to 48 hours or longer to dry once applied. However, the longer dry time means they get to penetrate deeper into a wood deck, thus offering better protection against elements like rain and water.

Weather Conditions

Most manufacturers recommend applying deck stains when temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees. The temperature during application can shorten or lengthen a stain’s drying and curing time. The sun will also enable stains to dry faster compared to applying in the shade. However, having a full sun is only sometimes good. Stains can dry faster, which can cause uneven application and blotches to the appearance.

Apart from the temperature, the humidity, rain, and snow can also affect the drying time of a stain. High humidities can cause the stain to dry slower because the moisture takes longer to leave the stain. Cold winters not only prolong the drying and curing, but oil stains cannot penetrate the wood properly, while water stains do not adhere fully.

Rainwater on a deck

Rainwater on a deck

If you’re done staining your deck, and it rains, rainwater can soak into the wood and displace the stain. This leaves the deck stain looking patchy and uneven and can also peel off. If it rains 12 hours after staining your deck, the stain might withstand the rains. However, if it rains before 12 hours elapse, accesses the damage and recoat following manufacturer recommendations if necessary.

If it rains before you stain your deck, give the deck enough time for the wood to dry before staining. Dry wood makes it easier and better for wood to receive the stain.

Type of Wood and Age of the Deck

The type of wood you’re staining and its age can also affect how long the stain takes to dry.

Hardwoods and pressure-treated wood decks will dry off quickly compared to softwoods. Because softwoods are more porous, they will require more time to dry.

New Installed Unstained Deck

New Installed Unstained Deck

When building a new deck, people often advise waiting before you can stain the deck. This is because newly installed deck wood has significantly more moisture content, which makes it harder for the wood to absorb the stain.

If you stain a new deck, it will take longer compared to older wood, which is much drier. Before staining a newly installed deck, give it time to dry completely.

Tips to Make a Deck Stain Dry Faster

  1. Choose a warm and low-humidity day to stain your deck.
  2. Allow the deck to dry completely before staining it.
  3. Apply thin and even coats of stain. Once the stain fully soaks, wipe off the excess.
  4. Increasing the airflow around the deck using large fans.
  5. Allow your new deck time to dry properly before staining.


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