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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631 Responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Keith, since this is a ceiling I would apply a wood brightener to help remove the mill glaze then apply the Timber Oil now. It will be fine since it is not exposed to snow, rain, etc.

  6. Jam, either would be fine for this 8 month old deck. Make sure to prep!

  7. Rich, 1 coat on new wood.

  8. Bill, I would contact Cabot about waiting or not. In our opnion it is alwasy best tow wait a few months then clean and brighten first before applying the stain.

  9. George, being it is rough sawn and vertical I would get a coat on now.

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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.

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