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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 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 deeper 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’s 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. Over applying the stain will not give long lasting results. One even coat that soaks into the wood is what you 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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1,215 responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. Joe says:


    Central Texas
    Full Sun
    Yes, next to pool
    New deck

    Great site! My deck is almost finished. And the deck builder is going to do the staining for me, all I have to do is supply the stain. They said that they will plan on scheduling the staining in about 2 to 3 weeks. I balked after reading your articles, but they said that they come in and sand it all down and then do the staining. Does that sound right? And would that lend itself better to the Timber or the AC?


  2. Joyce says:

    We just got our shipment of rough sawn cedar for a pergola. Some of it is a little wet. should we let it finish drying before adding stain or can we go ahead and stain. Also, should we remove sawdust before staining? Thanks so much.

  3. Dawn Wilson says:

    Columbus Ohio
    New deck – pressure treated premium lumber
    Full Sun

    We are just finishing our deck and I've been told to wait a "season" to stain. I'm guessing that means approximately 3 months which will take us into probably November. That being said, depending on the weather, my guess is next spring will be staining "season".

    1. Is there any concern with waiting until next spring to stain?
    2. If we wait until next spring, would you still recommend that one coat be used initially and then reapply at 12 months or by next spring is it okay to apply 2 coats – what would be the cutoff period? (For example, if November/December is unusually warm and we decide to stain – one coat, reapply 12 months later? Next May – two coats right away?)
    3. What cleaner and brightener do you recommend – Restore A Deck kit?
    4. I can get Flood Pro Series stain at cost – how would you rate this brand? I would be using a semi-transparent (color: Cinder)

    Thanks for your guidance….

    • 1. No
      2. Yes one the one coat. Apply another coat within 6-12 months. Only one coat the second time.
      3. We like the RAD kits
      4. Not a fan of the newer Flood products. If you decide to use it, make sure it is their true oil based version, not the Acrylic.

  4. Michele Danelice says:

    We will be installing a deck in kiln dried Cumaru (Brazilian Teak). A very hard wood, like Ipe.
    We will let the boards acclimate to Vancouver for about 10 days. (North West Coast: rainy Nov-Feb but mild winters). The deck will have full to partial sun (southern exposure).
    Our contractor suggests sealing the ends of the boards and using the Ipe oil on the boards (all sides) BEFORE screwing them in. The cumaru lumber dealer also agrees.
    We want to keep the wood's original colour.I am confused from reading all the posts about "letting the deck weather", but this seems more to refer to staining, rather than using penetrating oil.

    So: to oil or not to oil before constructing the deck? Thanks in advance!

    • Since your wood type requires annual recoating, it will not harm to stain first and just expect to redo again next Spring or Summer. In your scenario and with your wood type, there is nothing negative about doing this.

  5. Cathy says:

    Help! We mistakenly trusted our contractor who insisted he needed to apply 2 coats of Sikkens Cetol SRD RE to our previously untreated new deck. It's tacky and shiny and looks like it will never dry. What to do and when should we do it?

    • Cathy, no easy fix for this. You will have to remove and start over. Pressure wash with a stain stripper and remove as much as you can. Sand if needed to remove all. Brighten all wood after.

  6. Tom and Ruth says:

    Cedar replacement of a deck and railing in a shaded side of our home in Seattle WA (moist/cloudy country). We just brought home beautiful 2×4 and 6's of Top Choice KD S4S cedar. Most are in perfect shape, others need a few edges and surface areas sanded to remove splinters. Please advise on a few ?'s;
    1) Sanding ..if we sand part of a board, should we sand the entire board to even it's mill glaze out?
    2) Curing …any way around "weathering" it before staining it with a semi transparent oil, since it's kiln dried? Like to get stain on it before October rains set in. Using Cabot's Australian Timber Oil.
    3) Washing …if I surface sand the mill finish off, would you still recommend washing it?
    Lastly, thank you for sharing your time and advice with all of us out here that care enough to want to do it right. tb

    • 1. Yes, but why are you sanding? Better to clean and brighten for the prep and to remove mill glaze.
      2. No way around weathering. Kiln dried is different though. 1 month should be fine.
      3. would not bother with sanding, reduces the stain\’s ability to soak into the wood.


  7. Joel says:

    Wondering your suggestions for a new wood – using standard construction 2 x 6 Doug Fir decking over treated framing. North Side,only 32 square feet with two steps. would like to see the grain, and wonder about using a very light tint, as it will not be receiving much direct sunlight in Michigan. How long should I wait to stain it, as it is not typical deck lumber? Many thanks for the helpful site and your help!!

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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.