How to Stain a Pergola

Staining a pergola is essential in protecting the wood and keeping it looking its best. Staining helps protect the wood against water damage and adds a layer of color to give your outdoor living space an extra style. Even if you have never stained wood, applying stain to a pergola is relatively easy and requires only a few basic supplies.

How to Stain a Pergola

Staining a pergola can enhance the overall look of your outdoor living space. Staining a pergola helps to protect the wood from weather damage and provides UV protection. In addition, staining a pergola gives you more control over the color of your wooden structure, allowing you to choose any shade or hue that best suits your outdoor decorating style. Read this blog post to learn how to stain a pergola.

Step-by-step Instructions for How to Stain a Pergola

Step 1: Inspect the Pergola

Inspect the pergola for any signs of rot or decay. If there is damage, make sure to repair it before starting. You’ll need to start with a clean surface to ensure a professional-looking finish. Wash the entire structure using a pressure washer and detergent before rinsing it off.

Step 3: Remove Old Finish

Use a paint scraper or sander to remove any old finish. If you’re using a pressure washer, wear protective gear, as the high-pressure water can cause damage if used too close to the wood. After all the old finish has been removed, sand the entire pergola to make it smooth. Use medium-grade sandpaper and work in sections until you’ve covered the whole structure.

Step 4: Wipe Down Structure

Once you’re done sanding, use a cloth or brush to remove any sawdust or debris that may have been collected during the sanding process. Now, it’s time to apply wood stain. Start at the top of the pergola and work your way down, using a brush or roller to ensure even coverage. Be sure to let each layer dry before applying another coat.

Step 5: Let Dry

For best results, let the stain dry overnight before continuing. This will give it time to penetrate the wood so you get a better finish. Once your stain has dried completely, apply a clear finish such as polyurethane or varnish for extra protection. Use a brush or roller and apply in thin coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

Use a Paint Scraper

Step 6: Let Dry

Let your clear finish dry overnight for best results. You must give it time to cure so you get a professional-looking finish. Once your stain and finish have dried completely, it’s time to enjoy your beautiful pergola.

Regularly cleaning your pergola is the best way to keep it looking new. Use a mild detergent and water to clean any dirt and debris that may have collected over time. This will help keep your pergola looking fresh and new for years to come.

Safety Precautions for How to Stain a Pergola

  1. Wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a mask when working with wood or chemicals.
  2. Read and follow all safety instructions related to the products you are using.
  3. Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated to avoid breathing in any fumes.
  4. Place a drop cloth or tarp underneath the pergola to protect the ground surface from stains.
  5. Wear old clothes as staining can be messy, and you want to make sure your good clothing is good.
  6. Use a ladder or scaffolding when necessary to be safe and secure.
  7. Never mix different chemicals, as this could be hazardous.

By following the steps and taking safety precautions, you can enjoy a beautiful stained pergola for years to come.

Maintenance After Staining Your Pergola

  • Regularly inspect your pergola for any signs of rot or decay.
  • Clean your pergola regularly and remove any debris that has accumulated over time.
  • Reapply wood stain every year or two to maintain the original color.
  • Apply a clear finish such as polyurethane or varnish once a year for extra protection.
  • Inspect for any loose or broken hardware and replace it as necessary.
  • Clean mildew off the wood with warm water and soap if needed.
  • Touch up any scratches or chips in the finish to keep your pergola looking its best.
  • Make sure to re-stain any areas that may have been exposed to the elements.
  • Clean off any bird droppings or other debris that has landed on your pergola.
  • Protect from weather elements by using a waterproof sealant on the wood. This will help keep it looking like new for years to come.
Use a ladder or scaffolding

Overall, staining a pergola can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience if you follow the steps outlined above. It is important to take safety precautions when working with wood and chemicals and to carry out regular maintenance to keep your pergola looking its best.

What Type of Stain is Best for a Pergola?

The type of stain you should use on your pergola depends on the material type and intended purpose. Generally, an oil-based semi-transparent wood stain is ideal for most outdoor structures, such as pergolas, as it provides a durable finish to protect the wood from the elements.

If you are looking to add a touch of color to your pergola, a water-based stain is the best option. It dries quickly and is also easy to apply. Whatever you choose, read the instructions on the product label before use for best results.

Are There Any Special Techniques You Should Use When Applying the Stain to Your Pergola?

Depending on the type of stain you are using, it can take 1-3 hours to dry completely. It is best to work in small sections when applying the stain and start at the top of the pergola, working your way down. When working with oil-based stains, use a brush or roller with synthetic bristles, as these will provide the best coverage. 

You should also allow enough time between coats so the stain can penetrate and dry properly. Lastly, apply a clear finish such as polyurethane or varnish after staining for extra protection and durability. Make sure to let it dry overnight before enjoying your newly stained pergola.

Use a Brush or Roller

How Can You Protect the Stain on a Pergola From the Elements?

Once you have stained your pergola, you can take a few steps to protect the finish from rain and sun. First, apply a sealer or outdoor clear coat to the wood. This will help protect it from water damage and UV rays. Additionally, if the pergola is exposed to high winds, add silicone caulk around any screws or other metal pieces that could cause the wood to split. 

If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, check the sealer periodically and reapply as necessary. Finally, when staining your pergola, use a brush or roller instead of a spray can; this will help prevent any unsightly drips from appearing on the surface.

Is It Better to Apply Multiple Coats of Stain for the Best Results on a Pergola?

The truth is, there’s no hard-and-fast answer here. It depends on your preference and the condition of the wood you’re staining. Generally speaking, a single coat of stain is sufficient for most pergolas in good condition. However, if the wood has been damaged by weather or bugs, a second coat of stain may be needed to protect it further from moisture damage. 

Applying multiple coats of stain can also help to darken the color, providing a richer look. If you plan on staining your pergola a darker color than what’s currently on it, multiple coats may be necessary to achieve the desired result.

How Often Should You Re-stain Your Pergola?

Depending on the climate and weather you experience, it may be necessary to re-stain your pergola more or less frequently. Generally speaking, you should plan to re-stain your pergola every 2-3 years.

Applying Multiple Coats of Stain

However, if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions (especially a hot and sunny climate) or have an exposed pergola, you may want to re-stain your pergola more frequently. This will help preserve the wood and keep it looking nice for years.

On the other hand, if you live in a dry or temperate climate, and your pergola is sheltered from direct sunlight, it may be possible to stretch the time between re-staining jobs. When it comes to staining a pergola, prevention is key. Regularly applying a good quality stain or sealer to your pergola will ensure that your outdoor asset looks its best and lasts for years to come.


Despite all the beautiful results you can achieve with staining a pergola, there are some drawbacks to consider. Staining your pergola will require regular maintenance, upkeep, and occasional reapplication of stain or sealer.

In conclusion, staining a pergola is a relatively straightforward process that protects and enhances your outdoor living space. It’s important to select the stain you want first, then properly prepare the surface before beginning the staining process.

Once you’ve completed the steps detailed above, your newly stained pergola should provide you and your family with years of enjoyment. This article has been beneficial for learning how to stain a pergola. Make Sure the preventive measures are followed chronologically.

You can check it out also : Anchor a Pergola to the Ground

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Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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