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

Staining A New Deck

New Smooth Wood

New Smooth Wood

Over the past year we have numerous questions asked on the site but none was asked more then “What stain or prep is needed for my new deck”? There seems to be an incorrect opinion among homeworkers that is is okay to stain new wood right away or even before the deck is installed. This is incorrect for most wood types and stain brands.

In this article we will cover the required prep and waiting period needed before applying a stain for the first time.

New Smooth Decking

New smooth decking boards are not porous enough for most stains to be able to penetrate properly. This is mainly due to:

  • Mill glaze when cut
  • High moisture content
  • Chemicals in Pressure Treated Wood

Most wood stains when applied to new wood will have a very difficult time of penetration into the wood cells. This will result in an uneven application and premature stain failure by quickly fading or peeling. Remember, the better the stain soaks into the wood, the longer the life of the stain.

How To Prep for New Smooth Wood:

  1. Install wood and let weather for 1-12 months. This varies depending on the stain brand. Read and follow the manufacturers directions
  2. After waiting period you should use a wood cleaner and a wood brightener. This will remove the dirt, UV graying, and mill glaze.
  3. Let wood dry for a few days after the cleaning.
  4. Apply 1 Coat Only of the stain! Even after the waiting period, new wood is still not very absorbent to stains. Over applying the stain will not give longer lasting results. One even coat that soaks into the wood is what you would want to achieve.
  5. Be prepared to apply a maintenance coat in 12-18 months.

Once you get through the first couple of years, your deck stain will perform much better as the wood will allow more stain and a deeper penetration into the wood.

TIP: Do not sand new wood. This will smooth the wood even more reducing the stain’s ability to penetrate into the wood.

Rough Sawn Wood

Rough Sawn Wood

Rough or Rough sawn Wood

Rough sawn wood is not used for horizontal decking surface but rather verticals such as fencing, wood siding, etc. This side of the wood does not have a mill glaze and is very absorbent. As long as the wood has a low moisture content, it can be stained right away.

Stain Brands for New Wood

In our opinion certain brands of stains will work better on new wood. Through the years we have tried numerous stains on new wood and we have found that stains that contain paraffin (non drying oil) will penetrate into new wood better, even coverage, and can applied sooner.

We would suggest one of these 2 brands for new wood if you do not want to want 3-12 months to allow the wood to weather.

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain – Waiting period of 2-3 months

Timber Oil Brand – Waiting period of about 1 month or less

If choosing either brand, you will still need to prep the wood to remove mill glaze with cleaning and brightening.

Please ask any questions you have below.

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989 responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. Ilene says:

    We just had our porch rebuilt with cedar at the end of August. We are in Calgary, AB so drier but gets lots of snow. It does face south to south west but it is covered, but edges do get wet. We were told to sand it down and then use sikkens Cetol SRD. One coat and as long as it dries 8 hours in +10 temp. Is this correct or should we not sand first? Is there another product that is better? Can we do now, or wait until spring when temp holds over night? Thank you!

  2. Ray says:

    Thank you for the wealth of information.
    1- My redwood deck is 6 months old, so even though some wood already started splittin, I will wait until spring to stain it as recommended. My concern is how to clean and treat the wood in the rail area. Rail top is 2×6 redwood, rail itself all around consists of regular unpainted hog wire held in frame of 2×4 in 8 sections total…I am concerned about what the cleaner solution will affect that hog wire and if it will bleed down on the redwood decking.
    2-Also how do I estimate how much stain I need for 533 sq feet of decking.
    3-do i have to use pressure wash when cleaning or just hose off?
    Please advise, Thanks

    • 1. Nost sure on the Hog wire and cleaners. Never had that experience. I would worry it would rust down the road and leave black stains in the wood.

      2. Depends on which stain you choose as they have different coverage rates.

      3. Lightly press wash will be needed.

  3. Ann says:

    I replaced floor and top rails of my deck in August 2014. I live in Toms River NJ. Nothing has been done since I replaced it with the pine pressure treated wood. I am leaning towards the dark oak stain. What steps do I do next? And can I get all prep and stain done now or can/should I wait til spring? Also any advice on how/who to hire to do the work?

  4. rick doss says:

    This is a great site. Two articles in regards to deck sealants were awesome and done correctly. Diagnosis before prescription. Well done.

  5. Bill Klein says:

    I have new deck boards, railing, steps and privacy wall as of mid-August, mostly comprised of pressure-treated pine No. 1, KD19, heat treated. It is built on a pre-existing superstructure. It is elevated one story up. I live in the Washington DC area. My deck faces south and gets strong sun all day. Average temps where I am go from 44F to 66F in Oct and 36F to 55F in Nov.

    Based on your reviews, I am leaning towards staining my deck probably using TWP 1500 semi-transparent after cleaning and brightening it (though I am open to other suggestions). I note that your review says, "Note that when staining brand new wood with TWP, we have found that it is best to let the wood season in the elements for at least 3+ months."

    My question is: Am I better off staining my deck before Winter sets in here, or am I better off waiting until Spring? We do get a pretty good amount of freezing temps and snow in Winter (okay, we're not Michigan, but still…).

    Great site, by the way.


  6. Kathy says:

    We had our porch floor replaced w/ pressure treated wood and extended it so some of it is not under a roof. It was done last summer. Obviously the different parts have weathered differently, but we feel we need to stain it before winter. We were thinking about the defy extreme partly because it is water based, but often you suggest TWP or Armstrong Clark. We live in Ohio and all of the porch floor gets at least a little sun daily, but some rarely gets wet with rain. Would Defy be a good choice? Thank you

  7. Cynthia says:

    Live in Central Washington. New rough sawn cedar picket fence. Full sun in summer to partial sun in late fall and winter months. Not much moisture so not expecting mildew. Has been 45 days since completion.

  8. Barb says:

    Living in Central Wisconsin….were all the weather conditions can bee seen in 2 days :/. Just bought pressure treated pine for a new deck. Covering concrete stair/platform and "patio". Deck will be along the North wall wrapping around to the east wall. Some covered by the roof over hang and the rest will be out in the elements. From reading the article it looks to be if we install the deck in early summer by mid fall I should be good to stain/seal…is that correct? Should i use a water base or oil base? We have children that are constantly in and out so the deck will have high traffic in areas.

    The decking is currently in our garage raised off the floor over the winter.

  9. D. Adam says:

    Vancouver, BC

    I have a load of green 4×4 cedar posts sanded 4 sides to be used with an aluminum railing system installed in the spring. They need to be seasoned. It will rain all winter here. Is it OK to leave them in the rain till spring (west coast winter = 100% chance of rain for 6 months.) Or should I leave them in the car port where it is open to outside by dry or some combination. Thanks in advance – great site BTW

  10. Cor in Auburn says:

    I have a new redwood deck that has full sun at 1,500 foot elevation in northern calif. I was thinking of using AC Redwood tone transparent color. I would like to retain the natural redwood color (or close. The weather has turned cooler with periodic rain. How long should I wait before applying the transparent stain and is this the correct product to use for the redwood deck? Thank You!

  11. Agatha says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for the great site! Our new tongue and groove pine pressure treated covered porch floor which was installed a month ago was stained by contractor yesterday with TWP 205 (California Cedar) and it looks much lighter than the cedar railings with same color. We live in Georgia and would like to know when we can re-stain the floor to a darker color (TWP 206 or 207 Russett Brown or Butternut Brown) to look more like the cedar railings' color. Any idea which brown color would look closer to California Cedar on Cedar wood? Would really like to re-stain before X'mas :-)

    • It most likely will not take if you stain now. Will not absorb into the wood. Best to wait until Spring and prep well first. Not sure on which color would be best to blend.

    • Agatha says:

      Thank you!! We'll wait till Spring. The contractor sanded and vac'd the pine floors just before putting on stain and it's still a bit oily to touch after 3 days (today is the 4th day). How long will the TWP stain dry? It's been sunny, high around 60s, low 40s last few days. Thanks again for your advice.

      • In your scenario it could take many days to dry or longer. Sanding is not the best prep as it reduces stain penetration and the 200 Series is designed for shakes and shingles, not smooth decking.

  12. thom says:

    Replacing a deck that is plywood in arizona, I am using 3/4 inch pressure treated plywood, after reading all the reviews I am not sure what coating/sealer to use, wish to use a semi or solid color, any recommendations appreciated

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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.