It can take between 2 and 48 hours for deck stain to dry. The amount of time depends primarily on the type of stain used and the weather conditions in which the stain was applied.
Wooden decks benefit from a coating of stain, which protects the wood from harmful ultraviolet ray and moisture damage. Stain provides both types of protection while deck sealers often provide only moisture protection. Stain helps keep excess moisture out of the wood but allows the wood to remain hydrated enough to resist spitting and cracking, particularly when applied according to product and deck manufacturer instructions.
Acrylic-based stains dry quickly, often within two to three hours. Oil-based stains take anywhere from a few hours to 48 hours. The time frame is based on a number of factors. Outdoor weather conditions are an important consideration when preparing to apply stain to a deck. Humidity affects drying time as does the location of the deck. Many stain manufacturers suggest that stain should not be applied when the sun is directly overhead. Additionally, dryness of the deck wood affects how well the stain sticks to the wood.
Owners should also consider the difference between drying and curing time. Drying time is usually offered to indicate when it is safe to walk on the stained deck, while curing time suggests when the stain is completely dry and ready for a coat of finish or sealant.