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DIY on Deck: Exterior Deck Staining with Benjamin Moore Arborcoat


Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Stained deck with plants

There’s nothing quite like summertime in the Chicagoland area, and there’s no place quite like your deck. From peaceful afternoon lunches to evening family BBQs, it’s a summer sanctuary where you can grill, gather, and enjoy the weather, and it shows.

Now that the end of summer is in sight (sad face), it’s the perfect time to refresh your deck with a coat of stain or color. Whether the wood on your deck is starting to chip or fade, or if you just want a whole new look, the end of summer and the beginning of fall offer the most favorable weather conditions for exterior deck staining. 

So now that the timing is almost right, let’s get you primed and prepped to tackle this DIY project effortlessly. The first step is understanding the different types of stains you can choose from.

There are oil-based stains and water-based stains. Oil-based stains last longer, and the wood absorbs the stain better for enhanced color retention. However, oil-based stains have strong fumes, and the prep work is more intensive. Water-based stains come with the benefits of latex paint but with no harsh smells. Just keep in mind that water-based stains may not last as long as oil.

Pro Tip: It’s best to avoid mixing oil- or water-based products. If you previously painted your deck with oil-based stains, you should stick with that. Typically, water-based stains can go over a previously painted oil-based stain, but oil-based stains should not go over a deck previously painted in a water-based color.

Benjamin Moore Arborcoat is a stain that’s specially designed to protect your outdoor spaces, and it comes in both waterborne and classic oil finishes. This particular stain offers superior performance when it comes to durability and longevity. Its primary purpose is to extend the life of your deck, and this one will continue looking great for years to come. And one of our favorite things about Arborcoat is that you can get it in any Benjamin Moore color (solid stains only). So, whether you go with a traditional stain that highlights the wood beneath or a solid color that adds a bold pop of color to your backyard, you can design a custom outdoor oasis that’s all yours.

White home exterior with gray arborcoat deck and blue chairs

Come stain or shine, your local JC Licht associates are always available to support your DIY journey and answer any questions you have. Stop by one of our 57 Chicagoland locations to find the perfect stain for you, along with all the painting supplies you’ll need to get started right away.

Deck Out Your Deck in a New Hue

Step 1: Choose the type of stain you want.

Exterior deck staining is a great way to preserve the natural texture of the wood while giving it a renewed look. You can choose to stain your deck in four finishes: transparent, semi-transparent, semi-solid, or solid.

A transparent finish saturates the natural look of the wood tone and creates a vivid feel of the colors that make up the particular wood species you are staining. Benjamin Moore Arborcoat comes in 6 ready-made colors in transparent stains.

Semi-transparent has some pigmentation to it, so you can slightly alter the color of your wood while maintaining the look and appreciation for the natural wood grain beneath the stain.

Semi-solid stain showcases more of the pigmented color of your choice with minimal visual influence on the natural wood tone and graining.

Solid stain looks like actual paint but with all the benefits that come with stain. If you paint your deck in a solid stain, you will not be able to see the features of the wood beneath, and it will be difficult to revert to the natural wood grain look.

Pro Tip: Solid stain is a good choice when the wood you are working with is not in the best shape or if you want to minimize the number of steps before application. If you have exterior cedar siding, a solid stain is a preferred choice.

Step 2: Choose the color that will enhance your outdoor living.

A simple approach to choosing a color for your deck is to take an accent color from your home’s exterior and incorporate that into the deck. You could use that accent color for the railings and spindles and go with a natural-colored stain for the deck flooring. Combining both the exterior palette and a natural stain can complement the beauty of the outdoors while also tying in the outdoor living areas of your home.

Arborcoat Stained wood deck with round wicker chairs

You can go as bold or as neutral as you like. If you take pride in your landscaping or have elements in your yard that you prefer to highlight, staying in a wood tone color family that is more natural will best accentuate those features. If you choose something too bold or striking for your deck, you run the risk of overshadowing your garden or immaculate yard.

If you feel your yard is lacking and want to make the deck your focal point, go big and bold on your exterior deck painting project! You can follow current trends on color palettes because you genuinely have no limitations (the sky is the limit here). Check out the Benjamin Moore Color Trends 2021 Palette for some inspiration on the trendy colors of the year.

Pro Tip: Darker colors heat up faster while lighter colors have better heat retention.

You can choose any color you want in solid stains. Whites are always classic, timeless, and fresh, while dark, rich colors often give a modern, updated look and feel and enhance a home’s curb appeal. Natural-looking semi-transparent stains can be anything from rich, moody browns to contemporary grays or gold and red tones for more warmth and vibrancy. The possibilities are infinite when creating your backyard retreat. 

If you want some help deciding what is best for your outdoor space, the expert color consultants are always available to assist you at JC Licht. Contact us to see how we can help revive your outdated, peeling, or weathered deck.  

The Prep Work Makes the Deck Work

Arborcoat Stained wood deck with patio furniture and umbrella

Your deck takes a beating daily, so prep is extremely important when staining your exterior. That’s because damage from extreme weather, UV rays, debris like dirt and leaves, and old chipped stain can complicate the absorption process if not removed and cleaned properly.

Step 1: Treat your wood.

Benjamin Moore carries a variety of treatments for the type of wood you’re working with.

New wood: Use Benjamin Moore Brighten, scrub the product into the wood (the wood can be wet), and power wash the surface. Give it 48 hours to dry, and then sand the surface before staining.

Weathered wood: Use Benjamin Moore Restore with a stiff brush to clean off the loose, dead fibers on your deck. Rinse off and scrub Benjamin Moore Brighten into the wood, followed by a power washing. Let dry for 48 hours and sand the surface before staining.

Flaking and peeling wood: Use Benjamin Moore Remove to take off the old stain. Rinse off and scrub Benjamin Moore Brighten into the wood, followed by a power washing. Let dry for 48 hours and sand the surface before staining.

Step 2: Check the forecast.

Ensure that you have a dry 48 hours ahead of you before you embark on your DIY staining project. The deck will need sufficient time for absorption and drying before rain or foot traffic starts weathering the surface again.

Step 3: Always test your color.

Use a scrap of wood that’s the same species as your deck, or choose an inconspicuous part of your deck to test out your stain. Sometimes stain appears differently based on the type of wood you have, so you must make sure it’s the color you want before staining the entire deck.

Step 4: Stain the wood.

Use a roller for speedy application and follow the direction of the boards to apply the stain evenly. Paint just like you would paint a wall, which means you must also back brush to ensure proper coverage.

Step 5: Let dry and enjoy.

Let the stain dry for a full 48 hours, and then get outside and enjoy your updated backyard oasis!

Staining your deck is a simple and rewarding DIY project that can reimagine a tired or outdated backyard and enhance the existing beauty of your exterior. At JC Licht, we love to see your transformations come to life. Stop into your local store to get some advice, purchase your supplies or get the custom stain color you need.

Don’t forget to share your finished product with us on social media! Just tag us using @JCLicht.


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