Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

Best Stain for New Cedar Deck

New Cedar Wood

New Cedar Wood

What Stains Work Well a New Cedar Deck

There are many different types of cedar used for exterior surfaces with Red Cedar being the most common. Unlike some types of wood that need to dry out, new cedar should be cleaned and stained as quickly as possible to avoid water damage and sun fading (Always follow the stain brand’s directions though).

Many wood stains have difficulty penetrating new dense woods like cedar. If a stain does not penetrate the wood it will remain on the surface and become susceptible to peeling and flaking. The best wood stains for new cedar are deep penetrating paraffinic oil based stains that are thinner in viscosity. Stains for new cedar wood should dive deep into the wood to condition the wood cells and provide protection from UV fading and moisture damage.

We like a couple of different stains for new cedar wood. One is Armstrong Clark Wood Stain. It is composed of both drying and non-drying oils that break apart from one another throughout the application process. The non-drying oils dive into the new cedar to condition the wood’s cellular structure while the separated drying oils cure on the exposed surface to not only lock in the conditioning oils, but to protect the surface from natural weather exposure.

Another similar stain best for new cedar wood is Timber Oil Brand. This is a paraffin oil based wood and deck stain that penetrates deep into new cedar wood and decks. This cedar stain conditions the wood cells while providing water and UV protection. The Timber Oil brand promises ease of application of good penetration into new decking.

Prepping new cedar wood is important to stain life and performance. New cedar wood should be cleaned using a sodium percarbonate wood cleaner to remove mill glaze and other contaminants that may have infiltrated the wood during construction.

Once the new cedar wood has been cleaned the wood will appear darker. While the wood is still wet, apply a wood brightener to restore the cedar wood’s original color. Brightening wood after it has been cleaned will also open the wood pores to allow the conditioning oils to penetrate better.
Proper cleaning and brightening will ensure the best stain for new cedar wood will perform as expected and provide lasting beauty.

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223 Responses to “Best Stain for New Cedar Deck”

  1. Andy says:

    I have a 12 month old cedar deck that I am getting ready to stain for the first time. I used restore a deck to clean and brighten. After I was done and dried it was clean but very fuzzy. I used a low pressure (40 degree) nozzle and kept my distance from the wood, but it must have been too much. I then sanded the entire surface. It looked great at first, but now after a few days of rain, the deck looks really dark – almost black in some areas. There are also areas with little dots on it. When it dries there are grey streaks already on some of the boards. It was cleaned and brightened less than two weeks ago. I plan to stain with TWP Honeytone. Will it look dark and bad if I stain now? What other prep do you recommend? Thanks much.

    • You might want to brighten again. The sanding may have caused an issue. What did you sand with?

      • Andy says:

        I used a random orbital flooring sander with 80 grit paper.

        • I would brighten again to see if that takes care of the blackness.

          • Andy says:

            Thanks for your help. Looking closer it looks like there are also mold spots on some of the boards. Also, the edge of some of the boards are already greying (it has only been a couple weeks). Do you think it would help to use a bleach mixture to kill the mold? Do you think anything needs to be done about the new greying before staining – will it show through?

          • Yes you should prep with a deck cleaner and wood brightener to remove the graying and mold spots. Only use bleach as a last resort.

    • Dave says:

      Don't use any tone color on cedar,use a clear or natural,or it will look like barn paint on there,the streaks are from the water,you should stain or oil after sanding right away before it get wet,

  2. Brad says:

    I have a Western Red Cedar Fence that waws just installed a week ago. I'm looking to stain with a semi-transparent. What are some good options as far as stain brands. I want to get away from Home Depot and Lowe's. Is Sherwin Williams a decent pick?

  3. Cynthia Fung-Sunter says:

    My south facing front porch and steps have just been completed. My builder says that the wood is pure grade cedar, not kiln dried. I live in Vancouver, British Columbia so we have a lot of rain in the fall and winter (and spring, sometimes!) months. It is now September 8 and luckily there is a period of dry weather over the next week. I'm limited to Canadian available products like Penofin, Sikkens, Benjamin Moore. Would you recommend I stain it now? Which product? What kind of preparation do I need to do? (do I use a wood cleaner and brightener?) I've spoken to so many people in paint/stain stores – and they all have different answers! Help! Please reply ASAP.

  4. Kim says:

    Sorry, I'm a little confused and just need some clarification, want to make sure I do this right!! We have just built a new 18 x 22 cedar deck on the back of our house and aren't sure when to stain it. At the top of this article you mention that cedar is a wood that can be stained right away, but in your article about new decks in the comments section you give the advice for people to wait several months prior to staining their new cedar deck. Should we wait or go ahead and stain now? Thanks for a very informative web site.

  5. Vic says:

    Hi, We have built a new porch and the interior walls are cedar (not the outside, nor the floor). We want to preserve the color. Some of the cedar is smooth, some is rough-hewn. What kind of sealer should we use?

  6. Barry says:

    I have a two year old cedar deck that I have sanded down with an upright orbital using 36 grit the to remove the previous stain (Sherwin Williams) and also remove some of the claw marks in the wood from dog claws and level out slight cupping in some of the boards. Can I go right to staining since it is down to fresh wood or do I still need to use a cleaner, then brightener before staining? Thanks.

    • A light cleaning to remove sand dust would help the stain absorb deeper.

      • Barry says:

        Ok, so no need to use a cleaner and/or a brightener at this point? I would rather not do if not needed but at the same time, if it would help I would do.

        • You can but you do not have to. Main thing is to remove dust and a good rinse will do that.

          • Barry says:

            I went with the TWP 100 series.Their specs call for a coverage of 100-200 sq ft per gallon. I have 500 sq ft of deck and in was only able to get one coat of the product on in 4-5 hours and used only one and a half gallons of product. I painted each board with a brush then backbrushed each board before moving on to the next one. I'm hoping this would be adequate but I see that their recommendation is two coats wet on wet. Prior to staining I washed the deck with a hose 1 1/2 days prior and squeegied any excess water away. We have have good warm temps around 80 degrees during the day so I feel confident the wood was nice and dry. Should I be considering a second coat at this point? And does it concern you that I was only able to get a 325-350 sq ft per gallon coverage rate?

          • New wood does spread much farther. Best to leave alone and do a light cleaning in Spring to remove dirt and apply another coat then. I will work better this way since you did not apply wet on wet.

  7. FoskeyC says:

    I'm having a new Red Cedar Fence installed in one week (It's December and I'm in the northeast) my question is, the linear feet of my fence is 345', are you saying I have to clean and prep this fence in it's entirety prior to staining? That is A LOT OF FENCE. Is it at all possible to just wait until Spring and then go about staining it?

    • If the wood is rough sawn (most fences are) then no need to prep. If smooth (like deck board) then yes you should prep. This removes the mill glaze allowing the stain to penetrate better. Waiting to Spring and you will still need to prep.

  8. Jamie says:

    We built a cedar deck 12 months ago and live in southeastern Ontario. We have just sanded the deck to get rid of the mill glaze, can we stain it right away or should we wait a few days? Do we need to use any sort of cleaner or brightener as well? Also, should we expect to have mill glaze again next year?? Home Depot says we may.

    • Wait a few days and make sure the lightly pressure wash with a deck cleaner. This will remove the sand dust and \”swell\” the wood pores so the stain absorbs a little better. Brighten as well when done. Mill glaze is one and done. It does not come back.

  9. Kathy J says:

    I had a knotty cedar deck installed 2 weeks ago- it's pollen season and very bad here in NJ right now- everything is covered in it and no rain in sight. want to clean, stain and seal the deck asap – so I suppose in another couple weeks it would be better. I an torn on what brand of cleaner and stain/sealer to choose. The deck gets full sun most of the day, and have a dog that is a bit rough running on it, so I need a little color for UV protection but want to keep the reddish cedar color as much as possible. I would welcome any advice.

  10. Kalpesh says:

    I installed 1×8 cedar channel underside of 2 nd floor deck. What stain I should be using

  11. Eric says:

    Slightly OT, but cedar wood-related. I live in southeast PA; I bought some cedar decking planks to make planter boxes. I love the smell of the cedar, but also want to preserve the longevity of the wood given my intended purpose for them. Is it possible to get the best of both (keep the cedar smell and stain the wood), or am I left to choose one or the other? What would you recommend, and what should I use? Thanks!

  12. Ann says:

    How long should I wait to apply the stain after the deck has been cleaned? Does the wood need to be completely dry?

  13. Tina says:

    Got a new deck and I want to stain it cedar with a shiney finish. Can I do that is it possible?

  14. Charles says:

    Rebuilding deck railing with white cedar. I have the opportunity to stain it before installing. Since it’s cedar, can I wash off the mill glaze, let dry, stain (looking at TWP 1500) then install or should I install the whole the new railing, wait a month or two, clean with deck cleaner (looking at restore-a-deck), then stain? The former seems easier to do while disassembled but will the latter give better results? Both options seem viable reading through your articles and comments but since I have the choice I’d like to pick the better one. Thanks for any help!

  15. William Parker says:

    Can I just sand a new cedar deck and apply the timber oil brand or the armstrong clark brand sealer to it? It has dryed out for 1 week. I suppose the oil based products are the best to use. I do not wish to apply a stain to it.

  16. Robert Murray says:

    In the next week I will be resurfacing my deck with Cedar. Should I clean and stain the planks before I lay them down or after?



  17. Matt says:

    I will be installing a new deck skirt and building a new privacy fence using cedar 1×6's.

    Should I clean and brighten, let dry and then stain with Twp right away before installing or should I install first?

    If install first, should I let it all weather for 4 months or so and then clean, brighten and stain in place?

  18. Katy says:

    we are having a cedar deck installed – the company is staining the deck for us but we have to supply the stain. I want a beautiful red cedar deck – I also want a stain that will last 5+ years before I have to do the entire thing again. We have been told that Sherwin Williams is great, also got a few great reviews on 'One Time Wood', and I was looking at Lowe's for their stain variety. Can you tell me which is best and why? and Why to stay away from other types?

  19. Damon says:

    Hi i live in the U.K (we have a lot of rain and some sun if we are lucky!). I had a western red cedar deck installed about 4 weeks ago and treated it with Owatrol Seasonite (not sure if this is a familiar brand for you?). But after four weeks the deck seems to be greying, i've noticed it starting to get lighter patches almost white looking.

    Is there anything i can do to keep it looking new or how it looks when it is wet?

    Thanks for your help.

  20. Liz says:

    Hello! We live in central Illinois. Just put in a new cedar deck. We love the variation in wood color when it rains on it and would love to get that look after its treated. I put Flood brand uv blocking clear natural tone on the railing aND it looks all orange. Is there a truly clear product that will provide uv and water protection?

    • No a clear will not provide UV protection. Try a light \”natural\” tint like the Armstrong Clark Natural. Take in mind that the lighter you go, the quicker it fades. You may have t do this every year.

  21. Allison says:

    In the process of building a large 24×12 ft, covered red cedar deck in northern British Columbia . Extremely disappointed today when preparing the decking with B Moore Arbourcoat Natura transparent (f- 623 10)…once gorgeous cedar boards now look prefab and artificial and definitely a darker , almost painted brown colour. Stopped at doing one side of boards and will sit these boards face down on the deck. Ill be returning the other two gallons of stain that i bought. Looking for a few diff suggestions . I Want to retain the beautiful , natural look of the cedar. Dont want an orange tone. …is there a decent clear out there? Limited in buying options here and brand availability here…..but may be able to get the right stain shipped in….help!!!

    • Look at Armstrong Clark brand.

    • Kristi says:

      Did you have any success? We are about to build a cedar deck and my biggest concern is finishing it and it having that awful orangey-brown tinge to it that looks so fake and takes away from the beautiful natural tones. Also live in BC and can't seem to find the Armstrong-Clark brand.

  22. Scott says:

    Hello, just finished installing a new cedar deck (14×18). I've read that I have to clean/seal/stain right away…however I will be away for the next few weeks and Won't be able to. Is this bad for the wood? And where (Canada) is it recommended to buy the stain … A hardware store or paint store? I want to do two different colours. One darker stain for the border and then lighter for the inner. Any suggestions?

  23. Rod says:

    Much enjoying your site. I have a 15 year old cedar deck. 2 years ago my brother and I sanded it down and refinished it. My brother convinced me to go with some linseed, lemon oil concoction he made up and for the rest of the summer the deck looked absolutely stunning with a deep rich glow. The following summer however was a different matter as the whole thing turned super ugly blotchy black over the winter (who knew oils were so tasty to molds). I have now sanded it down again and was wondering why you would recommend washing and bleaching over simple sanding? My wood finishing knowledge tells me the last thing you want to do to wood it get it wet and open up all the grains to be exposed to the elements (not to mention that it kills much of the natural beauty). Or is this the trade off for highest penetration of preservative?

    • You want to open the grain as much as possible so the deck stain absorbs deeper. Better wear and tear this way on outdoor wood. It will not harm the natural beauty in any way.

  24. dan pedersen says:

    what do I use on a cedar deck that one year old and never stained

  25. albert says:

    i just installed a NEW large 25x30ft Alaskan red cedar deck. Full sun in the afternoon. Nebraska weather. high humidity and hot in the summer and cold low humidity in winter. Are you sure i need to put a brightner on new cedar after cleaning with
    sodium percarbonate wood cleaner to remove mill glaze ?

  26. Marta Piresferreira says:

    A Thompson's water sealer ruined my cedar deck, Can I strip that off with a solvent. And revive my cedar deck? It has been about 2 years.
    Thank you

  27. Baird says:

    I built a new cedar deck a year ago. Now I see that I should have stained it right away. The deck is on the south side of our house with no shade. The deck is graying of course and showing some cracks. I understand that i need to use a deck cleaner before treating, and have read that the TWP products are my better choice for stains. My question is, if I use the TWP product, which is the better choice, 100 or 1500? Or is there another brand I should use? I'm concerned about water getting in the cracks in the winter, freezing and splitting the wood.

  28. Colin says:

    Just recovering a fully covered deck with cedar deck boards. from the suggestions here, letting it live for a few months may make sense.

    Any suggestions for dos and dont's over the upcoming winter that will help our deck be the best.


  29. christina says:

    just finished building a covered 200 sq ft cedar deck in portland oregon about 4 weeks ago. Only the edges will have exposure to sun and rain. The rain is getting started but we have some forecasted 4-5 day gaps of sun still before its all rain for the next 9 months, will that be enough time to seal? How can we test it to see if its dry enough to seal? And how much time does it need to have before the next rain? There's no mill glaze, water seeps right into the wood but it has gotten dirty and has water spots already from the rain in the last week. WIll the wood brightener you talk about take care of both so then we can seal? How much time in between the brightener and the sealer?. Wer'e planning on Armstrong – dark brwon, but can only find it locally in "natural", does it matter where we order it from online, or is there an easier way to find it locally?? (I've just been calling around to deck and lumber yards). Armstrong is one that can just be reapplied over itself every few years without stripping and sanding correct? LOVE YOUR SITE! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR RESEARCH!!

    • There is always mill glaze on new smooth cedar boards. Make sure to not skip the prep. You need both a deck cleaner and a wood brightener for the prep. AC is a great stain and would work well for this but make sure to aonly apply a light coat for the first time staining.The Rustic Brown or Oxford Brown will hold color much better then the Natural.

  30. christina says:

    one more follow up question, if I use the armstrong clark "natural" that is available locally, next year can I use rustic brown? will it take the new color next year fine since its darker on top of the natural? I'm worried just waiting for the shipping we'll loose our sunshine and our chance to do it :)

  31. Curt says:

    can I cover it with plastic, a new cedar deck, while I wait a year or so to stain it. Will it help from turning grey fron the uv rays

  32. Codie says:

    We have a new cedar deck and its been out about 3 weeks and probably a bit at the lumbar store as well. So my question is we are going to clean and brighten (best to buy each individual or is there a good two in one brand?) And then seal with one of the two above stains you recommended. Which is better for snow/cold winters (ND) and then full sun West side. Of house in summers. I've read you said only one light coat the first time too and then second the next year. We plan to do a dark brown stain and probably will have to order online. Is it best to order directly from Armstrong or Timber oil or anywhere ok. Thanks for your help.

  33. Vermiciousknish says:

    Built a new outdoor shower out of Wester Red Cedar in southeastern Ontario. The shower has a small deck portion (8'x5'), walls (fence board laid horizontally) and a pergola style roof. I do not want to be bothered with staining or sealing every couple years. I understand that I will lose the natural looking tones and it will grey. Ideally I would like to keep the warm natural colours if possible but I don't want to choose the wrong stain that is too dark or too orange. I am seeing a lot of orange-y coloured stain and and reading about many stories where the stain was just outright ugly. I imagine I will have a hard time staining the joints now as I already built the darn thing. The shower is 30 days old now. Should I just let the whole thing age naturally? Do i need to put on a sealer? Is it worth trying to stain if I will have a hard time getting in the joints anyway? I dont want blotches of stain.

    Should I just wait a year and then decide? I spent muchos $$$$ on this damn thing and would hate to screw it up now either with the wrong stain, no stain, or black and mildew-ey boards.

    Advice would be appreciated.

  34. Sandra meyer says:

    We just finished our cedar deck here in Gordon Wi, and are looking at stains that leave somewhat of a wet look, without a severe darkening effect. We want the cedar to look enhanced to colored. I've used Australian timber oil on other species of wood and love the way it wears……what I'm afraid of is flaking and cracking on the deck floor and top rails….

  35. Bret says:

    I completed construction of a new cedar deck 3 weeks ago near Cincinnati, OH with wood that was purchased about 6 weeks ago. Yesterday I stained the deck using Amaretto Woodrich Wood Tux after cleaning and brightening with Woodrich products. I did not notice that I used Wood Tux rather than Timber Oil until tonight. The only reason I started looking into it was because of the uneven absorption of the stain, the tackiness of the stain, and the very grey areas around the knots. I know it's only been stained for one day but the finish is very unsatisfying. My questions are:

    1. Is Wood Tux generally not recommended for new cedar?
    2. Should the finish even out over time…meaning does it simply take much longer for the Wood Tux to dry verses the Timber
    3. If the finish can't be expected to even out what is the best product to use to remove the Wood Tux?
    4. If removing the Wood Tux is the way to go, what should I then use to refinish?

    Thank you for your advice. This website has been a great resource.

    • 1. It will have a hard time penetrating new wood.
      2. Probably will not even out.
      3. Strip and brighten with Restore A Deck Products but you may want to wait until next Spring as it can be difficult to remove a newly applied stain.
      4. If you wait until next year then use the TWP stains.

  36. Jill says:

    Put a new cedar deck on, did not treat first. it rained for days, and it actually looked like a wave. Had to removed, dry out, and plan on staining now. It looks like stain only lasts a few years before you need to re treat? What would be the best method to get longer life out of what you pain on? Does this stain get brushed, sprayed, or wiped on?

    • You cannot get longer life then 2-3 years on a deck surface. First time staining does not last quite as long as future applications either as the new wood is not very absorbent. Use a stain pad for applying. Just one coat this year and another in 12-18 months.

  37. Codie says:

    AC in a semi solid color like Oxford brown would that still show wood grain? We want it to look like wood still not painted on. The rustic brown wouldn't be dark enough I don't think

  38. Carolyn says:

    Input a huge new cedar deck in June 2015. Previous cedar lasted 15 years. It was recommended for us to use penofin. What a disaster!!! Completely black by August!! I would like a recommendation as to what to apply following the cleaner and brightened penofin suggested. I don't even know that it will work, just saying my prayers it does. I do not want to use the product again due to what has occurred. Suggestions??

    Thank yiu

  39. Chuck says:

    What is the best stain for Tigerwood and can you prefinish it prior to installation

  40. Ben Adam says:

    Hey there! We just got our brand-new cedar deck installed, and I really want to hit it before the it starts getting really rainy here (Portland, OR). From the construction and people walking around on it after it rained, it is already dirty/discolored, so certainly needs a clean before the stain application. What cleaner would you suggest? And would the Timber Oil Brand stain work well right after as a stain? Lastly, how long does the stain take to dry? Thanks!

  41. LGB says:

    Just installed a new tongue & groove (5" boards) red cedar ceiling on a large covered terrace in NE Ohio. Ceiling is protected from direct sunlight, rain & snow. Any specific product or application recommendations for this type of installation? Previous wood ceiling was painted, but decided to do stained wood for the replacement. Prefer a rich medium tone brown color that does not accent the red & has NO orange tones. Great site & very helpful! Thank you in advance for your consideration & reply!

    • Use Armstrong Clark in Rustic Brown. Lightly prep with a deck cleaner and wood brightener to remove any milk glaze.

      • LGB says:

        Thanks! Need 2 gallons of product based on square foot coverage. Is it possible to mix 2 colors of stain to obtain a custom color? And what if they are different transparencies (Rustic Brown Semi Transparent with Oxford Brown Semi-Solid)?

  42. Ashlie says:

    You mention applying brighter while wood is still wet. Do I let the brightened dry before going to suggested stain?

  43. Chad says:

    I installed a red cedar deck in May/June of 2015, cleaned it and applied Thompson's clear sealer. Needless to say, it did not perform well. A couple spots have some mildew and it holds dirt horribly. So I plan on cleaning the finish off and am looking at a different finish. I love the natural red cedar coloring and want as clear of finish as I can find. What product can you recommend?

  44. Tom says:

    Just had a new cedar deck installed. Our builder recommends TWP or Olympic stain. We live in Michigan and understand that TWP wants us to wait 4 months before applying stain. Should we do TWP now before winter and avoid the 4 month recommendation as it will be January (middle of winter) when it's 4 months old? Should we use Olympic instead? Or should we just wait until spring after winter to apply? So many questions! So sorry!

  45. Dave says:

    Sorry took a bit to figure how to post pics from iPad
    Here’s what the old wood looked like before I started and it appx. 13-15 years old

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.