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How to Season a New Deck

New Cedar Wood

New Cedar Wood

When a deck is brand new usually the lumber is still very “green” and has a high moisture content. That is unless the lumber is KDAT lumber meaning, “kiln dried after treatment.” This type of wood is dried before it is sold. But for the average deck being built, regular cedar, redwood, or pine is used in the construction. You may have heard the term “season” and how it is important to let a new deck season prior to staining it.

To season a deck simply means to let it sit, for a season, before you attempt to stain it. This is because the wood still has too much moisture in it and staining it can trap that unwanted moisture. This can lead to many moisture problems like mold, fungi, rot, and decay. This term can be a bit misleading though. Normally a deck does not have to “season” a whole year. Many times, depending on weather and sun exposure, a deck can season much quicker. In most cases a new deck can be stained within 3-12 months of being built especially if the weather has been warm and the deck gets a lot of sun exposure.

How to season a new deck is really quite simply. You just leave it alone. Meaning you do not apply any type of stain or sealer until it has gone through the natural drying process. It can also be most helpful to keep things off of the deck that may trap moisture. Items such as rugs, mats, outdoor carpet, potted plants, grill pads, and deck boxes can keep an area from seasoning in a timely manner.

Once the deck has seasoned for several months, you can begin checking the moisture content of the wood with a moisture meter. Ideally, you want an average reading of 12% to 15% or less. Once the desired moisture content is reached then the deck is done seasoning and can be stained or sealed. How to season a new deck then is really just giving the wood enough time to dry naturally so it can then be protected with a waterproof stain or sealer.

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9 responses to “How to Season a New Deck”

  1. Matt Wilson says:

    My deck was built with a vertical privacy screen about 6-8ft tall with trellises around a quarter to half the deck with pressure treated deck boards & cedar posts. Going to clean and brighten entire deck, including privacy screen. Question is, how difficult will it be to use pump sprayer on vertical boards & posts as the cleaners recommend letting the cleaner "sit" for 15 minutes? Second question, I want to cleaner, brighter & stain both sides of the privacy screen, will there be any issue cleaning/brightening one side at a time, only to do the reverse side & likely have the cleaner/brightener bleed through to the already cleaned side? Lastly, would you bother cleaning, brightening & staining the trellis portion?
    Thanks in advance!

    • It is not a big deal to apply the cleaners with a pump sprayer, let sit, then pressure wash off. Doing one side at a time for the cleaning is fine. Brighten all the wood at once after all the cleaning is done. If the trellis is exposed we would prep and stain it.

  2. Mike says:

    We had a new redwood deck installed last fall and are ready to apply the initial coat of stain the surface has faded some but not much and the moisture content has dropped. Do I need to apply a cleaner or brightener (or both) first or can I power wash and apply the stain?

  3. Kevin says:

    My new deck is pine and following your suggestions, the deck sat before sealing. Unfortunately the elements (rain, snow, sun) appears to have caused the floor boards to cup and shrink. Is this unusual? Should it now be sanded before sealing to try and level the cupping?

  4. Pete says:

    The stain on my redwood deck has broken down quite a bit and several planks need to be replaced. I just stripped the entire deck with Defy wood stripper, then removed the degraded planks and placed the new redwood planks in their place. I then applied Defy wood brightener to the entire deck, thinking that the new planks needed to be brightened to remove mill glaze. But now the new planks are spotchy looking. Any advice? I am ready to stain the deck and am willing to work around the new planks and leave them unstained for several months for seasoning (they will get lots of sun exposure over the next several months).

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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.