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Uneven Stain On My Deck – Guide On How To Fix It Quickly

We all know how important it is that the decking in your backyard looks impeccable, especially if you have spent a lot of money on it.

However, you might have noticed that after staining your wood that some portions of your decking will look darker than others.

Uneven Stain On Deck

This is because wood such as maple, pine, and maple will often absorb the stain unevenly.

The result is dark patches in your wooden decking that won’t look that great. So how can you avoid this type of uneven staining?

Well, there are a few quick fixes for uneven wood staining. You can add a conditioner to the wood before you apply the stain itself. You can also apply a completely new stain layer.

There are a few other solutions for this issue, so keep reading to find out what they are.

Why Does Decking Stain Unevenly?

This is mainly because of the type of wood that your decking is made from. Often if you are using pine, cherry or maple, then this will absorb moisture at very different rates, resulting in blotchiness.

This can also be the result of uneven decking, causing the staining to run, which will result in streaking over the long term.

Also, if you apply more staining in one place rather than another, then you will also have blotchy and uneven patches.

But how can you rectify this problem? Well, we have a few solutions that you can use to resolve the issue of uneven staining on your decking.

Conditioning Your Decking

Conditioning is the underlayer that you coat your decking in before you apply the stain. It is an oily substance that the wood will absorb until it is completely saturated.

This means that the stain will sit on the surface and dry evenly.

This will result in a smoother stain that does not have any dark patches. If your stain is water-based, then you can use a wash coat, which contains far less oil.

However, you will still need to apply this conditioner evenly using a flat brush.

Make sure that the conditioner is completely dry before you apply the stain, otherwise you will have a similar issue of the latter not drying properly against your decking.

Coating You Decking In Another Coat Of Stain

If you have a blotchiness that is not too severe, then you can simply go over it again with another stain. This is a great way of minimizing the dark patches that can often occur with an uneven coating.

You’ll need to make sure that you are applying this coat evenly across your decking and ensuring that the first layer is completely dry before applying the second layer.

The only drawback of applying a second layer of stain is the fact that it might be darker than you first anticipated.

Sometimes you might notice that one side of your decking is lighter than the other. If this is the case, then apply yet another layer of stain to the lighter side until the two sides match.

Using A Gel Solution

Gel stains are great for fixing uneven staining on a more oily deck. Unlike liquid stains, a gel stain is not as runny and will be less prone to blotching

You’ll need to make sure that you are applying this gel stain in the right way so that you don’t encounter the same problem of an uneven deck.

Here are the steps you should follow to ensure your gel is uniform across the surface:

  1. Clean the surface of your unevenly stained wood. You should use a mineral spirit for this to ensure that it is completely removed.
  2. Make sure there is no debris such as leaves or dirt on the surface of your decking. If you apply the gel over debris, it will become embedded in the surface.
  3. Pick a gel stain that closely matches the color that you already have on your wood. If you choose a darker stain, it will bring out the natural colors of your wood.
Uneven Stain On Deck (1)

Sanding The Blotchy Area Of Your Wood

This is another great way to lighten the dark patch on your wood after staining. This is a great solution if you forget to apply the conditioner before staining.

You should get a sander and lightly scrub the affected surface. Try not to go too hard as this could lead to your wood looking far more distressed and faded.

Ideally, you’ll want the dark patch to resemble the lighter patches that surround it.

Alternatively, you can sand down the whole of your decking until it is uniform and then try staining the whole thing again. This will take a lot longer and we would only recommend it for perfectionists.

If you have sanded the whole of your deck, then you can reapply another coat of stain. However, the lighter shade of the sanded deck might result in a lighter final color.

You might also face the problem of uneven moisture absorption once again.

Chemical Stripping

If the uneven area of staining is quite large, then you might find some of the solutions above difficult to apply. This means that you might have to get rid of the entire stain on your decking and start again.

You can sand down the whole of your decking or, if you are short of time and effort, then you can apply a chemical stripper instead.

This is the quickest and most effective method of getting rid of stains from a larger area.

You’ll need to follow the instructions on your chemical stripper before you apply it to your decking. Do not apply too much otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the integrity of the wood itself.


We hope that our guide to why your decking stains unevenly as well as how you can rectify it has helped to achieve the look that you want.

Make sure that you are being delicate when removing the stain on the wood so that you do not damage its composition.

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