When staining your deck, be careful not to apply too much of the stain. You don't want to get surface film on the wood when what you're really going for is penetration. Also, be sure to keep a wet edge so you don't get unsightly lap marks. Apply stain in the proper weather conditions. Avoid applying the product in direct sunlight, and be sure there is no chance of rain for the next 24 hours.
The general ‘rule of thumb’ for painting a house is start at the top and work your way down. I suggest painting gables first, then siding, moving horizontally with the boards. Windows, trim, doors should be done last.