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Staining A New Deck

Staining a New Deck

New Smooth Wood

Over the past year we have numerous questions asked on the site, but none was asked more than “What stain or prep is needed for my new deck”? There seems to be an incorrect opinion among homeowners 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 manufacturer 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 long 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, 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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1,134 responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. dorota says:

    We have a new cedar deck in Toronto Ontario. It is about 1 month old. Alot of topsoil dirt has gotten onto the new deck and we have tried brushing and hosing it off. It is still visible. Can we use a chemical on the new cedar that to remove all the dirt stains before staining? I have read that some cleaners will make the deck white looking and I want to avoid this. What is the best cleaner for new cedar deck before staining?

  2. Carla Rogers says:

    I am currently having a new redwood deck installed in SLC UT. Can I treat with linseed oil only and if so, how long should I wait before applying to the new wood? I sent in a question a few months ago and heard nothing back. Does someone actually read these comments???

  3. Nate G. says:

    Hello,

    I live in northern Illinois and just last fall had a new cedar deck put in, so it weathered maybe 6-7 months. It gets mostly shade, but one side gets a lot of sun. Mold issue is minor I would say. I've heard oil based is the way to go and would like something that lasts so I only have to do it every 3-4 years. Would like a medium to dark color option. What is your suggestion for a recommended brand?

    Thanks,

    Nate

  4. Joe Cotruvo says:

    What is the best way to remove the blue or black stenciled markings on supposedly premium pressure treated pine deck boards that is applied by the mill? I have tried bleach, alcohol, thinner, and paint remover without much success.

  5. Matt Wilson says:

    My deck was built last June, I cleaned and brightened and stained on Monday with Armstrong-Clark cedar trans, looks great. Rails structure are cedar and decking boards are pressure treated. It's rained once or twice after drying and I noticed the water is beading nicely on the cedar parts and only so so on the pressure treated deck boards themselves. The deck gets a tonne of sun, almost all day so I was thinking a second coat would be a good idea at least on the pressure treated boards. Would you recommend this? And if so what's the best process? Just wait until the rain has dried and re-apply?

    • Deck Stain Help says:

      Hard to say if a second coat would be a good idea or not. Too much stain is a bad idea. If it looks good, then leave as is and apply another coat when it starts to fade.

      • Matt Wilson says:

        Ok, thanks for the info. I've read on this site and on the AC website that recommends a "maintenance coat" every year or when the stain starts to fade. I can't find any info on what's involved with this maintenance coat. Do I need to clean and brighten again or just give the deck a rinse? I would be using the exact same AC stain.

  6. Spencer says:

    Bought pressure treated pine (bought from Home Depot) and had it delivered in late March. The wood sat outside until deck was completed by mid-April. I want to stain with toner or semi-transparent to protect from the sun while maintaining a close to natural color. I have two questions: (1) can you suggest a brand of stain, and (2) does that brand act as a water sealant as well? If not, should I follow stain with sealant?

  7. Anthony says:

    I live in Oklahoman, just had red cedar fence put up a month ago want to stain it , being just a month old should I still clean it or can I just apply stain ?

  8. Kris K. says:

    IPE deck in Central, TX – My deck is 7 months old and it has finally stopped raining enough for me to stain it. There are cracks in some of the boards (long cracks) that have appeared as the deck has dried. They are too deep to sand and they are rough to walk on (and are slightly raised in places). Is there a way to fill these cracks before staining? Do I sand the areas that are high to smooth them? Also, I have a couple of stained areas where metal fire towers sat on the deck over the winter. Cleaning and brightening hasn't removed these stains – should they be sanded? I'm worried the stain won't adhere evenly unless the entire deck is sanded (which I believe is a no-no for new decks). Many thanks for the help! Love the articles and look forward to having a beautiful deck with your help. ~Kris

    • You cannot and should not ever use a crack filler on outside wood. It will not work and will not blend with a stain. Cracks are normal on exterior wood. Just leave as is. As for prep, cleaning and brightener is normal. You probably have rust spots for the metal towers. Looks like black stains. A Wood Brightener typically removes this. If it does not, then it is very deep into the grain and I doubt sanding will remove it. As for the stain, look at Armstrong Clark in Amber or Mahogany color.

  9. David Puteska says:

    Hi, thank you for the great site. So informative and unbiased reviews. My question is a bit different as it's for a Cedar Playset.

    Location – Northern New Jersey
    Type – Cedar Playset installed in Early May 2016.
    Sun – Located in both full sun and partly shaded area.

    My questions are 1. How long to wait to Stain; What prep to do; and Recommended Product. Some ideas (thanks to your site) are Defy Hardwood or TWP 100 or 1500.

    Thanks,
    David

  10. Deb says:

    I am in Seattle and am about to install a tight knot red cedar deck, 425 SF, 13 x13 ft. It gets a lot of SE sun. I have read up on Penofin, TWP, Armstrong Clark and Timber oil Brand stains. I have ruled out Penofin.

    I do not mind waiting until September or next spring for it to weather and see better reviews and overall ratings for TWP, but your new wood deck article recommends the paraffin ingredient in a stain, which can be applied in 1-4 months, with Armstrong or Timber Oil.
    . It looks like TWP does not have paraffin but I am not entirely sure. I a m just going by internet information. The TWP website does not show their ingredients.
    Can you enlighten me?
    thank you,
    Deborah

    • Very little to no paraffin in the TWP. Use the AC or TO this year. You can always switch later if you want to.

    • Deb says:

      Thanks for your reply. I decided to build the now 13 ft x 14 ft completed deck with AYC, Alaskan Yellow Cedar b/c it was such great deal: 3/4 x 6 boards. I read and was told AYC is more rot, mold and mildew resistant than red cedar. It has a very smooth surface and it quite light yellow in color.

      More info: it is only a foot at the most from the ground which is dirt, with weed control fabric over dirt. Joists are PT on pier blocks. I wanted a smooth transition to walk onto deck from existing paver pathway next to it, so we kept the deck level with this.
      I have looked further into the best stain choices and remain confused: I have read that the linseed oil in some products attract mold.

      the deck gets full sun until about 3, when we have sun, and has no over hang or awning.

      So what is the rationale of AC over either TWP 100 or 1500? I see other Seattle or NW posts with TWP 100 or 1500 recommended. Semi transparent best? How long should I wait to apply stain?

      I am like everyone else, wanting ease of care, longevity and beauty.

      thank you again,
      Deb

      • Wait a few months at minimum and clean and brighten the wood to prep and remove any mill glaze. Of those brands, the TWP 100 would give better results for mold prevention. Use a semi-tranaparent. Defy also makes some good stain that do well to prevent the mildew and mold.

  11. Wayne says:

    I have ordered kiln dried western red cedar for the surface and mahogany for the railing and balusters. If you're familiar, this is a "deck house" home. What would you recommend?

  12. Pete says:

    New Kiln-dried Canadian Western Red Cedar installed late Oct. 2015
    Low-deck (under 2 feet) off house and about 13×24 ft
    Pacific Northwest, Portland, fairly rainy with moderate temps, but all sun south-facing and can be toasty May-Sept
    Planning to apply cleaner and brightener and then medium pigment semi transparent penetrating stain
    Deck more white then rich red now and bit grayed when wet with a bit of mildew or water like spots in a few places and some board cracking
    Recommended cleaner and brightener?
    Any other prep recommended beyond that prior to staining?
    Recommended stain and why based on what characteristics of ingredients and my conditions?
    Thank you so much! Very helpful to see the different threads here.

  13. Christie says:

    I’m restoring a large cedar deck in the Toronto, Ontario area, that was not properly finished by the previous owner (sealer used, not stain). That said, I sanded down to bare cedar to start over (deck age is about 5 years, but now looks close to new). At this point, I planned on cleaning the deck, but do I need to complete another quick sand with say 120 grit before staining? Appreciate some help, so much conflicting information online!

  14. Ned says:

    Just installed a new cedar deck (Toronto area) and plan to stain it with Aussie Timber Oil. After sanding it (w/grit 80), do I hose it down using regular garden hose or just brush/mop debris before applying the stain? If water is used, how long (drying is enough) before applying the stain?

    Thanks

  15. Heather says:

    I find your site to be very helpful. Thank You! We are "renovating" our deck (in Southwestern Ontario, Canada) by removing one area that was elevated by 8". Now the perimeter of our deck (3 boards wide) is old and the central area is new MicroPro Sienna. We're planning to wait until the Fall to clean and stain the entire deck. In the meantime, can I strip the solid stain off of the old perimeter or should I wait to do it all in the Fall? Also, we're installing a new Trex railing and will need to strip the old stain from around it. Is there any concern about using the deck stripper around the post sleeves? Any insight you can provide is much appreciated.

  16. C. Lash says:

    I've always used a moisture meter & won't stain unless the wood shows 15% or less. Never had a problem in 40 yrs.
    Also, I used Cabot's Deck Correct on a badly weathered deck recently & the result was impressive.

  17. Aggie says:

    Hello,
    Our new deck was completed and stained (within 30 days by contractor using semi transparent TWP California Cedar) in November last year. It faces afternoon sun so is already needing a second coat pretty badly. How should I prep/clean deck and should I use the same TWP stain again? Anything with better sun protection available? Thank you!

  18. Dan says:

    I had a new deck installed last week using what I understand to be higher grade treated lumber than the big box stores typically carry. Installer said I can stain/seal after 2 weeks, as this lumber is treated differently than the pressure treated I have been familiar with in the past – minimal need to dry out. The labels read "Select, micronized copper azole, Culpeper". The boards are definitely brighter, cleaner, smoother than decking lumber I have used in the past. It already appears to be dry to the touch. After a rain, there is no beading.

    Is it really ok to go ahead and stain in the next couple of week or two?

    I am partial to TWP 100 having used it on my fencing. Would this be appropriate for my new deck?

    Thank you,
    Dan

    • No it is not okay to do now. Always follow the directions of the stain manufacturer that you choose, not your builder. TWP wants 4-12 months of weathering, unless it is KDAT. KDAT should weather for at least a month. All new wood needs to be cleaned and brightened as well.

  19. Bridget says:

    I'm stressing out trying to determine when I should stain my deck. I just moved into my house in May and obviously want to protect my investment and get my deck stained ASAP. The inspector said I could/should wait until the late fall/winter so the wood dries out, but others have told me the wood will warp sooner.

    The deck is made out of pressure treated lumber (any specifics I'm not sure since we bought the house as is), and I'm going to assume it was installed around January or February of this year (so 6-7 months ago). From what I've been reading, the wood should be ready to stain, but the problem is I live in Florida and summer is our wet season so trying to find a 72 hour window where the weather is 100% guaranteed dry is a bit difficult. I've bought a Behr brand all-in-one transparent acrylic stain. The paint can says it will dry within a few hours, but takes a day or two to cure. I'm thinking the Florida sun and heat might even make that process a bit faster :p The deck is completely sun exposed and is showing signs of weathering (greying etc.).

    I guess my main question is, should I wait until the dry season comes to stain the deck when I'll have a guaranteed window of dry weather, or should I stain the deck now to prevent any further weathering and/or potential warping even if it may rain within 24-48 hours? Which would be the lesser of two evils?

  20. Glenda Botwinski says:

    We took up our 13 year old deck boards and turned them over to expose the underneath side. Should this be treated as a new deck or an old deck when staining. I have Cabot stain to apply but nit sure what waiting time and/or prep should be done.

  21. Wendy M says:

    We have a 28 year old full sun floating deck in western PA. We had planned to replace it this year, but other expenses arose. We have replaced the worst boards with pressure treated pine. We're considering Sherwin-Williams solid stain so as to match the colors as evenly as possible. We are hoping to get another 3 years of use before we replace the whole deck. What do you think of this product? And would about 4 weeks be enough drying time for the replacement boards? They are about 1/8 of the total surface. Thanks so much; your advice has been so helpful!

    • Deck Stain Help says:

      Not a fan of SW products. If you want a solid, try Flood or Cabot solid stains. Wait a another month or two for the new wood to weather and clean for prep.

  22. Jake says:

    Good day, thanks for the great website.
    I live in eastern VA with lots of sun and humidity, and rain. Previous wood on deck saw a lot of mold/mildew so apparently I am prone to a high degree of that as well.
    I only replaced the horizontal wood since the vertical is still decent. Previous wood stain was oil based semi-transparent by Olympic. I laid new pressure treated decking around May 10, 2016. Looking to lay a stain down here in the next month or two. Questions are: 1. Should I wait for the high humidity months to pass and apply in Sept? Is humidity a factor? 2. Oil vs Water based stain? 3. Also, is Cabot semi-solid as good as the Cabot gold? The Gold has a good description with the important keywords, like mold, water, UV, etc resistant. 4. What can I re-coat the vertical wood with that was previously applied with semi-transparent oil based? any prep necessary?
    Any other stains you would recommend?
    Thanks again.

    • Yes Sept would be better. Oil based. Cabot is a poor products nowadays. Strip and remove the verticals and coat all the same. Use TWP 100 series or Armstrong Clark.

  23. Amy says:

    I have just used RAD to clean and brighten a new PTP deck (built 10 mos. ago). I noticed the 4×4 vertical posts holding the railing are still quite green due to the chemical treatment of the wood. The rest of the deck has virtually no green showing. Is it still ok to stain the entire deck now with AC semi-solid stain, or should I wait to do the posts later, after more weathering? The deck faces southeast, mostly full sun during the day, located in PA.

  24. Swami says:

    Hi,

    I'm new to this post. It is a great website with lot of information.

    My deck is 18 months old. Is this time good enough to stain? I'm from crown point, IN (near to Chicago area). What stain, cleaner and brightener product do you recommend? Some people are not recommending power washing and they suggest a wash using a hose. I believe these are the steps:
    1. washing
    2.appy cleaner and then brightener
    3. washing
    4. stain.

    What would be the waiting time for each step?

    Which method is best for staining? Spraying or hand brushing or rolling?

    Thanks

    • Yes you can stain now. Nothing wrong with using a pressure washing as a high pressure rinsing tool. The issue is when it is used to aggressively or bad technique:
      http://www.deckstainhelp.com/deck-cleaning-tips/

      Apply the deck cleaner and pressure wash off at 8-12 inches away using a pendulum motion. Rinse well when done. Apply the wood brightener and rinse only after 15 minutes. Use a Restore A Deck prep kit for this.

      Wait 48 hours to dry and apply the stain. Use a stain pad for applying.

  25. Mike Weiss says:

    Deck Location State: San Jose, Ca
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: partial shade will put a gazebo (metal with canvas top) on top of the deck
    Wood Type: 2×6 Redwood
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No

    Would prefer little to no pigment (as close to clear as I can get while still getting UV Protection). Also, if there is a product that could be used on the new redwood fence (1×12 boards) as well, that would be a huge bonus.

    Any guidance would appreciated!!! Thanks so much for your time!!!

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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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