Deck Stain & Paint Tips For Minnesotans

Preparing Your Deck for Spring Staining & Painting

When the temperature rises and the sun finally shines our thoughts here at Murphy Bros. turn to mush as the calls about staining decks melt our switchboard into a lump of smoldering plastic and tiny white numbers.



“After a winter like we’ve had, it’s entirely predictable that people would jump at the chance for winter recovery in all its forms—especially painting and staining,” explains, Dan Flaherty, Murphy Bros. Paint & Fine Finishing manger. So, before you rush outside with brush and can there are a few things our resident finishes expert wants you all to know so that you don’t waste time, effort and money in your quest to put color back into your favorite fading surfaces.


Natural cedar deck and mixed use aluminum/wood railing


“By now making sure you’ve got enough predictable warm temperature over enough dry time should not be a problem, but it’s still a good idea to look at the forecast and read the paint instructions just the same. Our blog on paint and temperatures in general has all that detail,” explains Flaherty


Dirt and debris from tree pollen, leaves, insects and other airborne elements can prematurely age a deck if not periodically washed.


You do not necessarily need to power wash your deck in order to clean it properly. A stiff brush and a cleaner and a brightener will do the trick. However, if you do use a power washer, make sure you are using it at a lower setting and that your spray is constantly in motion and not closer than 8-10 inches away from the deck board.

Dan recommends 1 cup of bleach mixed with a cup of TSP in a gallon of warm or even hot water. Be sure to tarp off nearby plants and siding to protect from any spills or overspray. Use a stiff brush and liberally scrub the decking boards and rinse completely and thoroughly. Let dry 2-3 days. Don’t forget to uncover your plants or you will kill them!

“You can buy a moisture meter if you want, but frankly just drip a couple of drops of water on the boards. If the water soaks in, it’s dry, if it just sits there, then it’s not,” explains Dan.


Category 2 Toned & Semi-Transparent Exterior Finish


Just some of the many finishing products & colors we have used on client projects


If your deck was finished with a waterborne stain or paint and it is failing, you will need to remove it by sanding or stripping down to the natural surface and then recommends Flaherty, “Use a semi-transparent oil based stain. Some waterborne stains are pretty good, but they will never outlast an oil based product,” says Flaherty.


Example of staining with brush and pole.


“I like to work on two boards at a time. Prepping each board by wiping with a fast evaporating thinner like Xylene and then a 6-inch deck-staining brush apply the semi-transparent stain. The Xylene opens up the wood to accept more stain,” explains Flaherty.

“Oh, and find a brush that has a removable handle, so you can attach a pole to your brush—unless of course you like spending all day on your knees,” instructs the seasoned paint expert, now in his 22nd year at Murphy Bros., “I for one am not in favor of it.”

Generally speaking all decks should be washed every 2 years, whether composite or natural wood to remove pollen, tree sap, dirt and other debris. “There is no such thing as maintenance free,” summarizes Flaherty. “And that goes double for life in general.”


Dan Flaherty has been in the paint and fine finishing industry for more than 30 years and with Murphy Bros. for more than 20 years.



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