Saving Money

DIY Deck Staining Will Save Me Over $500

diy deck staining, deck, renovating the deck

I’ve got a huge home improvement project looming in my immediate future. It was supposed to be done last year, but I just never got to it. My 20×24 cedar deck is due for a staining, and it’s going to be a lot of work.

I can either pay someone to do it for me, or I can do it myself again. We’ve gathered estimates to have it done before, and having someone else stain my deck would drain my bank account of between $700 and $900.

Before making a final decision, I thought about the labor and cost involved in doing it myself:

  • Power Wash : The previous coat of stain is peeling off, and must be completely removed before I can apply new stain. I’ll need a power washer to not only strip the old stain off, but also to clean the deck boards. Fortunately, I have an in-law that has a power washer that I can borrow for free.
  • Supplies: I’ll need brushes, rollers, rags and stir sticks. I have all of those things already.
  • Stain: To do a good job I’ll need 5 gallons of stain, each gallon costing about $35 for a total cost of $175.
  • Labor: The last time I stained the deck, it was one very long day plus part of a second day. I think I’d rather take two vacation days to pound it out. The less family around to distract me, the more productive I’ll be.


The advantage of having someone else do it is that it’s less work for me. The down side is that it costs more, and I’m at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.

The advantages to doing it myself is that it’s much cheaper, and I can just choose two non-rainy days to do it. The down side is that it’s quite a bit of work.

The Decision

It’s not even close, I’ll definitely be staining my own deck. It may be a lot of work, but hanging out by myself for a couple of nice days with the radio on swinging a brush doesn’t sound so bad especially if the result is a savings of over $500.

Then, for the rest of the summer, I can sit on my newly stained deck and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ll lean back with a cold one in my hand, and take just a little extra satisfaction in the fact that the deck looks great because of my effort. The extra cash in my pocket won’t hurt either.


Have you ever stained your own deck? Would you pay hundreds of dollars extra just to have someone else do it?

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I’ll one-up you on this. Before we moved we needed to replace our deck. The bid came in at $4000. So we did it ourselves. The lumber and screws cost less than $1000 and hubby already had all the tools necessary. We were able to use the underlying frame so it was just a matter of screwing the treated lumber on the frame, building new steps and closing in the underneath. Hard work but saved a bunch!

  • While you’re at it you can power wash the outside of the house and/or concrete to have everything looking spiffy for summer.

    Guess I should get my pressure washer out now that I think about it. *grumble*

  • I just did our deck this past weekend, but ours was not as involved. I am on a rotating schedule. Two years ago we did the full stripping and two coats. This year, we just started getting a little bit of peeling and such, so I do a light cleaning, sand down the areas around the peeling parts, and do a single re-coat. From our history last time, that should stay looking good until the end of the year. Next year, we’ll start getting significant peeling, but it’s enough to get us through. We just had our stair boards replaced last year, and I expect some of the top boards will need to be replaced in the next 2-4 years.

  • @Kathy – That’s GREAT! My neighbor built his own deck too… too him almost all summer, but he also saved thousands by doing the labor himself – AND he learned a new skill! Thanks for sharing, Kathy!

  • @MoneyBeagle – The last time I did it, I just stained over what was there…..but this is the “big job” part of the rotation. It’s gonna be work, but I can’t wait until it’s done – it’s going to look GREAT!

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