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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719 Responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. njoy says:

    A month ago (October) we built a covered deck (deck, railings and rafters are untreated kiln-dried milled fir; the posts are pressure-treated spruce; the steps are untreated spruce). Next spring we want to put a clear stain on the fir. We also want to protect the (uncovered) steps and provide a non-slip surface. We live in central British Columbia at 3000 ft where the temperature drops to 40 below (C or F) most winters. What are the best products to use?

    If Defy Ultimate, does anyone know where to buy it in Canada?

    Thank you.

    • Clear with no color or tint will give little to no UV protection from the Sun turning the wood gray. You will need a tinted color for this and the more tint you have, the longer it lasts. Not sure what you have available in your area but look at Defy or Armstrong Clark.

  2. Albert says:

    We built a brand new pressure treated pine deck in late July/early August. Our plan was to stain in October using TWP 1500, but time got away from us. Our contractor is now furious with us and has told us that we are going to destroy the deck for having waited this long. The weather has just turned cold. We will have highs in the 40's and 50's with lows in the 20's and 30's for the next few weeks. Only colder after that. Should we hurry and get a coat of stain on there? Should we wait till spring? We're getting quite a bit of pressure to do it now but I'm concerned that it is already too cold. I don't want our very expensive investment ruined! It is warping and cracking quite a bit. We live near Charlotte, NC

  3. Jess says:

    I had a pressure treated pine deck installed in January '14 and privacy fence installed in April '14. After reading the great advice on this site, I have let the wood sit untouched since then. I just re-read this article and realized I could have stained the fence immediately since it is rough wood. My loss. I planned on staining this fall, but life happened. Now I’m wondering if I should stain now since the deck is reaching a year old, or wait until the spring. If it will work, I would like to stain now vs. waiting. How cold is too cold? I plan on cleaning and brightening everything first, and I plan to use TWP 100. I live in southern Tennessee.

  4. Dave says:

    Live in the Charlotte, NC area (technically in SC) and had an enclosed porch installed along with an exposed porch (for grille and steps). Porch was completed mid-October. Wood is Cox Durapine treated (pressure treated) on both the screened and exposed porch area. I am thinking about staining the floor with an oil based stain and the posts, rails and ceiling white. Any recommendations on stains and paints? And is now the right time to do it?

    • I would wait until early Spring. Prep first with a deck cleaner and wood brightener. Stain the white parts with Flood Solid Decking Stains and the horizontal floor with TWP 100 Series or Defy Extreme.

  5. Ron says:

    After reading your excellent article, I know now that I better wait a couple of months before I stain my 2-week old pine deck. The contractor was scheduling a sanding and staining in the next week, but that will be put on hold. Based on your recommendations I plan to get Armstrong Clark semi-transparent wood stain, but I wanted to ask you think that's the right move. I live in south Florida (lot of heat, rain and humidity). Or would TWP 100 or TimberOil be a more suitable product for this weather? Thanks in advance.

  6. Laura says:

    I live in colorado, where we have hot dry summers with occasional rain, and some snow in winter. My deck is north facing in the shade most of winter and sun most of summer . It was installed in September and is treated redwood. I have not stained it yet. I cannot buy the recommended TWP or Armstrong in colorado! I do see Cabots, preserva, Olympic, Behr, here. I don't want any color just protection. What do you recommend, and would it be worth if for my new deck to pay to have TWP shipped? I already bought Preserva but have read many reviews that it is very sticky and never dries properly so I intend to return it.

    • No color means no UV protection from graying. If you are okay with it graying then use a true clear with no pigment but offers water protection. Of of the ones you mentioned for local pick up, Olympic as long as it is oil based would be your best option.

  7. Lemuel Gonzalez says:

    I live in the east coast of Puerto Rico and just redid a deck because it was so rotten, installed a new treated wood and just stained it. it came out great, however, now when we walk over it, it leaves it foot marks and I am obsessing with that. Is there a treatment i should be given the new stained deck in order to prevent the foot marks from showing on the stained wood? Also, should I be staining it again in a few months?

    • You cannot add anything on top of your stain to prevent foot marks. You may need to strip off the current stain and start over with a different brand that actually \”cures\” and hardens so this does not happen.

  8. Muddy46 says:

    HI, I am new to this and enjoyed the above article it helped out with a lot of my questions, all but one. What is the preferred method for removing the black ink stamped identifying marks off of NEW PT pine.. Sanding? Goof-off? chemical? or some other method?
    I could not figure out how to ask this in the forum (how doses one post in there?) nor could I find a way to post pics here of exactly what I am referring to so here are the links.

    • Two ways to remove these stamp marks:

      1. Let wood weather naturally until wood starts to gray then clean and brighten so it removes all of the wood cells that ink is attached to. This can take 6-12 months to weather.
      2. Sand the spots off. If you do this then do it now then leave deck alone for 3 months before prepping by cleaning and brightening. This will allow the sand spots to even out so they do not look lighter in color. Do not spot sand right before staining as the sanded spots will take the stain differently, resulting in a spotted deck.

      Cleaners such as goof off will not remove the ink.

      • Muddy46 says:

        Unfortunately we do not have that time to wait. This is my sons Eagle Scout project and it must be completed by the end of March. The beneficiary chose to have it stained with Zar Semi-transparent deck and siding stain. Looks like we will just be sanding and staining. Here is a bit more info that may help you help me:
        1) this project is using new PT pine 2×6 and the wood has been dried to ~10% and under moisture level.
        2) This project is being done inside in a temperature controlled storage area. (we are in a 4-season state and it is currently below freezing outside with snow on the ground)
        3) This is not a deck, just using the same materials as a deck. This is outdoor furniture, more specifically 8 picnic tables.
        If you could provide any additional help / suggestions / ideas it would be greatly appreciated. :) Thank you for your time.
        PS. Could you please do a review on ZAR Deck and Siding Stain, I have learned a lot on this website but could not seem to find any reviews for this product.

        • Sand the spots first then clean and brighten after to remove the mild glaze and hopefully even out the spots. Other option is to sand all the wood then use the brightener after and rinse well to get the sanding dust off. I would only suggest one coat of the ZAR. It is water based so it will not absorb into this new wood very well at all.

          We have not used the ZAR and it takes 2 years to see the results. It is not a very popular option so not sure 100% if we will be able to.

  9. Martha says:

    Thank you for this article! We live in Florida and had a new cedar deck installed a month ago. My husband assumed it needed to be stained right away so he went to Lowes and applied Olympic. It did not look good from the start. You can tell it did not absorb into the wood as it is blotchy and shiny. What should we do to fix this! Please help as we feel that we ruined our $8k deck!

    • You will need to remove and start over as you cannot \”fix\” an over applied stain. Use a deck stain stripper like the Restore A Deck Stripper and pressure wash off. Use the brightener when done. You may want to wait a few months.

  10. Tana says:

    We are a decking installation company in Oregon. Which stain do you think will be best? We have a lot of rain and warm summers. Not much snow. We have had problems with Penofin. We are currently using Storm System. Please let me know your thoughts.

  11. pat says:

    do yu need to seal under the deck ?

  12. Rosie says:

    New cedar deck installed in November 2014, located central Texas and have varied weather. Most of the deck has full sun exposure; a second area is shaded most of the time. Contractor just used Cabot Australian Timber Oil Natural (about 3 months after installation). Just found your website and now question our choices. Now expect that we'll have to re-treat either in the fall or about this time next year. What do you recommend?

    • Probably will nee to retreat in a year. If you want to switch to a different brand then you will need to strip and brighten for the prep for max results with the stain. Look at Defy Extreme or TWP 100 Series.

  13. Chris says:

    I live in Ontario, Canada, and I am having a new Cedar dock installed this spring. What would be my best choice of treatment to seal the new cedar? I'm looking for a product that holds it colour well, is somewhat resistant to peel or flake and is the least amount of maintenance.
    Thanks in advance

  14. Robert says:

    Great site. We put in a large redwood deck in July 2014. The house is in the Santa Cruz/Watsonville area of California. We are looking for a lightly tinted semi transparent look in order to keep the beauty of the wood. We will use restore a deck to prepare the wood but we need advice on a good stain. Mildew will be an issue.
    Thank you

  15. Peggy says:

    Great info here! We're having our composite deck replaced with a PT pine deck next week. The contractor says in South Florida you don't have to wait to stain/seal the new deck. Now I'm really confused what to do. Any suggestions?

    • Ha! Composite back to wood. We like it! Your contractor is wrong for most stain brands. Almost all stains brands want you to let the wood weather and you need to prep first as well. Best to follow the advice of our article and more importantly the advice of the stain brand that you choose as to what they suggest for new wood.

  16. Elaine Clark says:

    We are from Baltimore, Maryland and had a pine wood deck installed last October ,2014, When would be a good time to apply the first coat of stain ? There are some numbers on some of the wood boards , will they fade ? is there a way of removing them with out sanding them?

    • No you cannot remove the stamps without sanding. Best to sand them now then wait a couple of months to clean and brighten the wood for the prep. You want to do the sanding now to prevent sand spots when staining. That is why you let is weather for a few months after the sanding. Use Armstrong Clark or TWP 1500 Series for the stain after the prep.

  17. Aaron says:

    I live in Omaha, Ne, and have a cedar deck that is one year old and has never been stained what brand of stain do you recommend using on it?

  18. Teri says:

    Thanks for the info! We are getting ready to install cedar porch railings and I was going to stain immediately. Yikes! Found twp100 is available in our state. We will install porch and wait to let the wood age. Thanks for keeping us from possibly ruining a prominent feature of our house!

  19. J. Clark says:

    We are installing a new 600 square footage deck. We will be using Douglas Fir for the planking. Not ideal I know but it's what we can afford. We live in the Pacific Northwest (Southern Oregon to be precise). We were advised to use Rodda Sharkskin for a deck stain covering. They call it a hybrid stain/paint. Just wondering if anything is known about this brand. Can't find much other than the manufacturers own info. Any help would be appreciated.

    Also…do we need to coat the underlying structure and under side of planks? Is there any value to that?

  20. David A. says:

    We live in Louisiana where my PT Pine deck has aged for 6 months now. Do I need to use a wood cleaner and then a brightener over the new 6 months aged wood before I use stain, or can I use just a brightener only then stain. Which way
    will help the stain to penetrate the wood better?

  21. jr ross says:

    nice job on the site, to the point, quick, informative.
    we're in Kansas, I rebuilt my deck 4 to 6 months ago. PT 2×6 decking, Cedar railing and posts. From reading this, I know think I don't need to be in a hurry. So plans now are to wait until a very dry spell this summer when the deck will be 9 to 12 months old. From what I read below. TWP 100s or Defy Extreme on the Cedar. What is the best choice for the PT lumber? I want to stay with the golden, natural look. Thanks!!!

    • Either would work. Maybe get some samples as you are not in a hurry. Look at TWP 100 in the Honeytone and Defy Extreme in the Natural Pine. Make sure to clean and brighten for the prep.

  22. Randy says:

    I live near Minneapolis MN and built a new cedar deck last fall. I plan to clean, brighten and stain in May, what brand of each would you suggest? Thank you.

  23. PTS says:

    I have build a few chairs using 2×4 s4s Cedar. Should I put them out on that patio for weathering or can I use some cleaner to remove mill glaze and stain (planning to using TWP 1500 series)?

    Any suggestions including a different stain, etc.?

  24. Jeff Macdonald says:

    My new redwood deck has had clear sealant on it since it was built one year ago. I am planning to strip, brighten, and stain with TWP. Is one year with sealant enough time for TWP? The deck is really dirty, is stripping enough, or do I need to clean first?

  25. Renee says:

    We have a redwood deck and are in LOVE with the strawberry blonde color…any suggestions for a product that will seal it but not compromise it's gorgeous color?

  26. Jen says:

    We just got a 5 gallon bucket of TWP rustic for our stockade fence. The fence was installed two years ago and never stained so it has grayed. Is there anything we need to do before we put the stain on?

    Also our deck was originally stained with a solid color and it chips and peels every year. What is the best way to get the remaining paint off so that we can use an oil based transparent stain?

  27. K.C. says:

    I live in Nashville and have an 8 month old pressure treated pine deck. Most of the deck gets partial sun, part of it gets full sun. I would like to use a semi-transparent stain if possible. What product do you recommend? Also, should I wait until fall, when the deck will be 12 months old, or do it now? Thank you!

  28. Mike says:

    I have new Douglas fir rough cut wood for my pergola .It's in the garage drying out only a week. I live in Colorado and have a western exposure. So it has afternoon intense sun. I'm looking for the best UV protection. I like what I read about TWP 1500 but really don't want to wait 6 months to stain it. Any recommendations? Thanks, Mike

  29. Diane says:

    I had a deck built in December between 2 snow storms. Snow has been on the deck since, just recently melted. How do I properly seal and stain the deck. The deck is built between 2 trees, and my last deck had mold growth. How long should I wait to seal? How long should I wait to stain? What is the best product to use in cold, damp, shady area?

  30. Lisa says:

    I live in Cochane alberta and want to stain a north facing front porch and a south facing back porch. it is 3 year old untreated bare wood. We've had a dry winter and dry spring. The north facing porch has a roof over it but gets very limited sun. My question is when can I stain it and do I need to sand it?

  31. JA Lacy says:

    Very helpful info. I wasn't sure of time frame and I own my own handyman business. Great advice. ,Thanks

  32. Evgeny says:

    Great info is here. Thanks.
    I didn't get a couple of things: when I can sand properly stained deck (cedar)and what are recommended refinishing steps in regards to maintenance.
    Deck is on sunny side. Pretty much dry climate in mountain area. Calgary , Alberta.
    Thank you in advance.

  33. Gretchen says:

    H! I have a deck that was installed last spring, so it's been exposed and untreated for 12 months.

    Georgia (Atlanta area)
    Pressure treated Pine

    I think I've learned on this site that we need to use restore a deck and then stain with Armstrong Clark. I was wondering if we definitely should do a semi – solid as opposed to a semi-transparent, and what are the advantages?

    Thank you!

  34. Katie says:

    When staining a new deck, after applying the cleaner, should you use a brightener as well before applying the stain?

  35. Darcy says:

    My contractor keeps telling me I can stain right away and to use Superdeck. I have two toddlers and am very concerned about the chemicals. I dont even know if I can buy the stuff in New York. He said its old pressure treated that couldn't be stained right away. Could I stain soon with the Defy? I like that it doesn't have all the chemicals for my babies. Also, what can I use on a 1 year old Pine swing set that has started to grey? Thank you so much. I've read everything on your site today!

    • You have to wait for new wood and how long depends on the stain brand. You also have to prep first. Defy wants you to wait 3 months. You should follow the advice of the stain brand you choose, not the contractor.

  36. Paula says:

    Hi…We want to stain a pressure treated rough sawn pine fence that has aged about a year. Looking at Acri-Shield or TWP 1500. I think I understand that since it is not smooth wood it does not have the mill glaze? Is this correct, and if so can we skip the cleaner and brightener? Any opinions about these two stains or any others would be appreciated. Thank you.

  37. Kay says:

    After the prep and staining, do I need to use a sealant?

  38. Alan says:

    I have a pressure treated pine deck here in southeastern SD. Installed last summer and want to stain this summer. Should I use restore a deck first and then a TWP semi solid stain after?
    And should I sand prior to restore a deck?

    Also, I left the railings in place which were painted with an a acrylic white (before we moved in). It is also pressure treated but older wood. In pretty good shape. We'd like to leave it white so what kind of product should be used…restore a deck and then paint with an oil based paint??


    • No need to sand. Just the RAD Kits for prep. You can prep the rails the same way to remove the dirt and any loose paint. Apply a solid white paint/stain. Water based is fine for this. Use TWP 1500 for the deck is fine. It does not come in a semi-solid though.

      • Alan says:

        From reading a few articles here I thought a semi solid stain would be the best for UV protection for the long term. I thought there was a semi solid TWP product but can't find it right now?? that would work. Frankly a semi solid might look better covering up the greenish ACP lumber.

        What do you guys think??
        Thanks…lots of great info on the site.

  39. Bill says:

    I have a 1.5 foot high floating deck. Plain douglas fir decking. I would not be able to reach the underside of the decking after installation.
    Should I:
    a) install to weather 3-12mo, clean, brighten, twp 100
    b) install to weather 3-12mo, but treat the board ends with (something?), then clean, brighten, twp 100
    c) apply something (product?) to the undersurface of the deck first, then install to weather 3-12, then clean, brighten, twp 100
    d) some other option

    Air flow under the floating deck is fair to good. I'm worried about the differential drying causing warping problems, and/or, rot/mildew etc under the deck.

  40. P Parrish says:

    In Northern VA, our PT deck was completed in late September, we waited the winter to do the stain and are now trying to decide which semi-transparent to stain to use. I would prefer oil based (thinking it will soak in better), the other half says water… we have a dry-snap ceiling on the underpart and are concerned about the chemicals on the PVC/Plastic… (also PVC rails/trim). suggestions? Also, we've done the cleaning on it and now there are several boards with the splinter issues, do you recommend a light sanding on those?

  41. John says:

    Can I legally buy and use TWP100 in my area of Virginia which is 50 miles north of Richmond?

  42. Claire says:

    Hi, we live just south of Nashville, TN and have had a new pine deck installed. My question is this, we have put furniture on the deck until such a time as we can stain and seal it, when moving the furniture, the wood underneath has not darkened as other parts of the deck have due to those areas not getting sun. Will this be a problem when we get to the time when we need to stain and seal it, by leaving marks where the furniture has been ?

  43. C.Pruyn says:

    Live in Calgary and just did a spruce deck. The comments are to let it weather 2-3 months then clean it. I do not want to use any cleaners as it is surrounded by plants. Also comments are not to sand for proper penetration. In past projects I have cleaned it first and that raises the fibres and you have to sand them off. I am leaving the pressure treated frame until next year but want to stain the deck boards. We do not have access to TWP, Defy or Armstrong in Canada and I prefer not to order online. HELP

    • You have to prep. If you want to prep by sanding then do that first then heavy rinse the deck with water to remove sand dust and swell the wood pores some. Use 60-80 grit. Not sure what stains you have in your area so hard to suggest one that will work well.

  44. Aubree says:

    Pine deck, north facing in upstate NY, 75% of the day is in the sun. Well be adding a roof this summer too…We've let it cure for a year and are ready to stain. Are the low VOC oil based stains any good or are we better off with water based? What brands do you reccomend. We'd like a semi transparent. Do we go oil or water? We've done a lot of research and have come up with mixed reviews on both

  45. Anna says:

    Hi, we are installing a new redwood (Heart B grade) deck in N. CA. It will be in the sun half the day. My husband is very concerned about it going gray/dark amd want to stain right away. I am glad I found this site so we can have it done properly. It sounds like Armstron Clark might be the best option for us, it sounds like semi-transparent stain (redwood?) should work, although I would prefer something less red but not seeing as an option.
    Armstrong Clark instructions don't seen to mention deck cleaner and brightened use, just say to wash with soap and water or power wash prior to application. Is that true or so you still recommend cleaner and brightener?

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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.