I Stained My Deck The Wrong Color. What do I do?

Last Updated on June 7, 2022 by Bright Calister

Having your deck stained is a great way to rejuvenate it and look new again. However, if you don’t pick your color properly, your deck may look much worse than before.

I Stained My Deck The Wrong Color. What do I do? I mean, it’s one thing to choose a deck stain in the store. It’s another thing to see on the deck.
Frequently, people get to pick a particular color they love, only to hate it once applied.

While it can be so frustrating to stain your deck the wrong color, fortunately, there are some ways in which the color could be changed to give your deck the refresh you’ve always desired.

A lot of people are stuck with this same challenge. I’ve gotten several questions about it. So, peradventure, you’re reading this, and you need an answer to this challenging quest: “I stained my deck the wrong color; what do I do?”Then you’re in the right place.

By following the steps below, we’d put you through how to get the right stain color for your deck.
Although it can be quite frustrating, you can rest assured that changes can still be made.

What to do when you’ve stained your deck a wrong color

Go darker

One effective means of fixing your deck’s color is by having it topped with a solid color stain. If you intend to change a stain color, choosing a darker color will likely yield a better result.

To transform from a darker shade to a lighter one, you’d be required to strip and remove the dark shade first. This exterior staining type delivers a completely uniform and predictable color over the wood.

Solid shades mask the normal variation color of the deck’s grain and vein while highlighting the wood’s natural texture.

I know staining over a stain can be more of a gamble as to the outcome of your wood structure. This is why you must take steps to reduce the danger. Take a scrap piece of wood from your project and stain it with your first stain.

After that, you apply the second stain and wait to see what it looks like. Perhaps there is no scrap wood; try to get the most hidden area of the wood you’re working on and test there.

This way, you can know what to expect when the stain is applied to the entire project. So if you find the new test option much better than the current color, you want to go for it.

Note: Ensure the stain being applied the second time is equally the same type as that used initially.
Although it could be a different brand, make sure at least they are both oil-based. Because if oil-based and water-based stains are mixed, it could land you in trouble.

Wood bleach

The next thing to do now is to have one of the several varieties of deck strippers or bleaches applied to the initial stain job.

Using this method, you must first ensure the wood stain is completely dried to avoid a toxic chemical reaction. I often recommend waiting for a day or two before proceeding with this method, just to be very certain.

You want to test the bleaching product on a small area to check its effectiveness before applying it to the entire deck. If you have no doubts about the bleach/stripper, then apply it according to the manufacturer’s description.

After which, you rinse the deck thoroughly using a pressure washer or a garden hose and allow the surface some time to dry completely.

Note: You must know that the bleach would do something good or bad. However, you can’t know what exactly this will be without first putting it to test on a piece.

To bleach the piece, you want to apply the product using a sponge or spray bottle. Then you leave it on the project for a while before rinsing it with water. Dry the piece with a towel or rag and let the wood dry for 1-2 days before applying a topcoat.


This is the most traditional way of fixing unwanted wood coloring. Sanding the object down should only be considered if you have a dependable orbital sander, as hand sanding would take a long time.

This method is mostly suited for a deck with a flat surface as a table or desktop. Sanding curves can be time-consuming and tricky because intricate carvings need to be done by hand.

However, if you’ve got a good orbital sander and flat surface, sanding down the wood can be much easier.

To start with, use low grit sandpaper such as the 60 grit, and sand until most of the stain is gotten rid. Then you get your pencil and squiggle a light line in your wood.

After that, you use the next grit sandpaper(80 grit) and sand again until the squiggle disappears.

Paint the deck stain

Perhaps everything else fails; having the wood structure painted is yet another option. You may need to go for a double-toned piece, where you’ve had all the hard-to-sand areas stained.

While it’s possible, you can achieve the pretty deck look you’ve always wanted by sanding down the piece, and you can save yourself the hustle and apply paint over the deck stain.

Staining over a painted deck

The rule that bounds staining or painting a deck is.

If you have paint on your deck and it’s probably due for a recoat, then go ahead to coat it with paint. Never apply stain on a painted deck.

Stain ordinarily needs to absorb into the surface of your decking boards to ensure your deck is properly protected and leave it looking great.

So putting a coat of stain over the paint will only stop the stain from soaking into the surface.

And this way, the stain would peel off, and there won’t be any protection for your decking boards.

Also, the stain won’t mask any blemishes on your deck, making it look worse.

So it’s not ideal and never advisable to stain over a painted deck.

Likewise, painting over a stained deck. If you want the paint to adhere effectively to the surface of your decking boards, make sure that any previous coatings have been removed and that the surface has been thoroughly cleaned and primed before painting.

This means you can’t paint over a stained deck. The primer is designed to adhere to timber and not stain. So if you paint over a deck stain, trust me, you’d have your deck bubbling and beginning to peel off in no time.

Don’t be surprised if your recent paint job lasts for only a few months.

What if I want to change my deck stain color?

Whenever a particular stain is applied on top of a stained deck, it’s best to stick with the exact color of the product used initially and ensure the same color is used.

When you start applying colors over other colours, the result can be risky and could lead to your deck looking all blotchy.

Water-based stain over oil-based stain?

You should be aware that when you seal your deck, you should use the same product type as the last time or, better still, strip it back and start again. This is also applicable to putting a water-based deck stain over an oil-based one.

These products were never designed to work on top of each other. Water-based products generally won’t adhere to an oil-based coating. And by trying to cut corners, you’d only end up with an ugly deck that’d peel and fade within 3-6 months thereabout.

Also, the blemishes in your current oil-based coating (if any) will not be masked by the water-based product.

So if you’ve got an oil-based deck stain on your deck, you either give it a coat with the same product used previously or strip it back and start again.

Perhaps you don’t know the type of product; strip it back and start over again.

Conclusion – I stained my deck the wrong color. What do I do?

In the first place, you are here only because you used the wrong stain on your deck. Meanwhile, the easiest and most promising trick is to test your stain and finish it before applying it to the piece.

However, if you made a mistake already staining your deck color, you have little or nothing to worry about.

With the steps explained above, you can rest assured that your deck will look exactly as desired.
I hope you find these tips helpful!

Important Reads:

How to Restain a Deck Without Stripping

How to Remove Old Stain from Deck