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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795 Responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. Alan L. says:

    Help! I have just cut all of the notches and scalloped ends on the new rough sawn WRC boards for my pergola. I just picked up the 2X8's and 2X10's yesterday from the lumberyard. A couple of them seem much heavier I'm assuming due to moisture content. I want to assemble the pergola within the next couple of days. How long do you suggest I let them dry before staining? We live in central Indiana and the pergola will be in full sun for at least 7 months out of the year. (on the north side of the house) Which stain do you think will hold up best? I love the look of the wood, so I was thinking a transparent stain or semi-transparent…

  2. htdinh1002 says:

    Hello DeckStainHelp,

    I just installed all new 5/4×6 cedar deck and I read a lot of comments but still confused on what to use. TWP or Armstrong. I'm planning to wait until Labor Day's weekend to stain the deck, which give me about a 4 months wait period. Would you please let me know what is your choice of stain for my deck now. Thank you very much for your time!


  3. sml says:

    Ontario, Canada
    We just reclad our deck with pressure treated wood. Research suggests a wide range for "waiting" to stain the deck. What do you recommend. As well, we don't have a lot of the stain companies that have been reviewed but do have.Behr, Sikkens, Benjamin Moore stains seem to be the norm. After reading the Behr reviews I'm hesitant about using this product. We are looking at a semi transparent stain….any brands sold in Canada that someone can recommend. Our deck faces west so UV protection is important. Thanks!

    • Not sure what is sold there so hard to suggest the best option. As for waiting period, always follow the advice of the manufacturer.

    • aph says:

      I would not use a Behr product, as it peels off in a few years. Use a semi transparent stain such as an Olympic product. I would not stain for at least one full year. Do not stain for at least 4 days after a rain.

  4. Douglas Gluntz says:

    I just rebuilt our deck with pressure treated lumber. After waiting for the lumber to dry I will apply a TWP1516 stain. Do I also need to apply a sealer or other type of coating in addition to the stain?

  5. Samantha says:

    I was wanting some advice on a deck stain
    I live in north east Kansas
    The deck gets mostly morning sun and shade in afternoon and evening
    We get rain snow ice
    The deck is a year old so wood is older than a year
    It is pressure treated cedar
    And I want a solid stain
    I have cleaned the deck with a deck cleaner

  6. Eileen Hannon says:

    I recently had a new railing added to my deck and wasn't sure when to put on stain. I was told to wait until a small amount of water dropped onto the rail was absorbed. But the fellow who installed the rail told me wait a week. After one week the water still was not being absorbed. Your article showed me that I might have to wait up to a year. Yes. this was very helpful to me. Thank you.

  7. sheila says:

    We built our deck right at one year ago with treated pine now we need to stain and seal it we live in Southeast kansas our deck is partially shaded,want to know what would be the best stain and sealant to use

  8. awj says:

    hi, we just had our roofdeck built in Chicago with pressure treated pine. our contractor "pre stained" some of the decking in their shop and stained the rest onsite. two issues that i'm now facing:

    1. they didnt do any prep work/cleaning that i'm reading about here for new wood, which leads to;
    2. not only is the stain very uneven across the different boards, but the staining they did onsite doesnt match what they pre-stianed.

    its stained unevenly in a jacobean color, they used a professional stain but not sure of the brand. pretty sure its oil-based. for whatever its worth when everything is wet it looks pretty close to being good…but looking at it dry is another story.

    looking for the quickest path to an even coat..really hoping i dont need to sand the entire deck. would a cleaner/brightener combo and then a new coat of stain in the same color family or darker do the trick? any recco to specific products is appreciated. i have pics to share but dont think i can add to this post.

  9. Jo Ann says:

    I had a large multi-level deck and screen porch built in 2011. I guess I am lucky, because the contractor stained it immediately with Behr semi-transparent stain, and for the most part the stain has held up OK. The upper level of the deck has considerable sun exposure, and shows the most wear. The other deck is more shaded, and has some mildewing. The screen porch looks like new, as it is protected. I am planning to have all of it re-stained, and am looking for the best product for this. One contractor was touting TWP, but then he quoted Behr product. The other contractor is recommending S-W solid stains. None has indicated that the old stain needs to be stripped before reapplying the new stain. What product would you recommend?

  10. Caesar says:

    We live in Northern California (Oakland) and have just built a redwood fence (May 16, 2015).
    1. Do we need to wait to stain the fence? If so, how long should we wait?
    2. What kind of stain do you recommend (please include brand recommendations)?
    3. Do we need to prep the fence (cleaning and brightening) prior to staining? If so what do we need to do and with what product?

  11. aks says:

    We just installed a pressure treated pine deck about a month ago and planned to stain by the end of June. We live in Illinois and have had an unusually wet spring/early summer. Should we stain now, or wait (how long is recommended) and what would the best brand to use be? Also, is there an advantage in using a semi transparent stain over a transparent one?There seems to be a greater color selection with the semi-transparent.

    • Semi-trans last longer. Also as the article suggests, you should wait 1-3 months or longer based on the stain brand you choose. You could look at the Armstrong Clark. Make sure to prep first and stain with just one coat this year and another light coat next year.

  12. MKR says:

    Is Thompsons water seal product good for a new deck? I live in PA, it gets snow, ice and lots of late morning sun.

  13. MKR says:

    Having the floorboards and rails replaced on my 12×12 deck in northeast, PA with new wood in 1-2 weeks. Are there any brands you'd recommend other than Armstrong or Timber oil that can be purchased at a local store?

    • Sorry but no idea as to what is available in local areas or not. We just stay away from all big box stores these days as the quality is poor and the stains they carry give BS warranties for marketing gimmicks.

  14. 4boydogs says:

    Have a treated pine deck that has a waiting period now of a year. Here's what I am questioning. The wood was stamped in blue on both sides for some reason, what route do I go rectify this? It was suggested by one to try the Sikkens Rubbol product. Another was the Rymar Deck Reflections. Which of these products in your opinion is a better option? Live in Wisconsin and the deck faces to the South with full sun exposure and salt water pool that meets up to 1/4 of the deck.

    • Sorry but have no idea what you mean by blue? You mean the mill stamps as to the wood type? If so those cannot be cleaned off but sanded off. You will then need to clean and brighten after for prep. We would not use the Sikkens and we honestly have limited knowledge as to the Rymar. We would suggest the TWP 100 Series.

    • nick says:

      That ink will usually come out if the wood is treated with a sodium hydroxide (lye) solution when it is cleaned. Let a professional pressure washer do this for you.

  15. paula says:

    Which stain would you suggest for a dock in Coastal Nc. Full sun. Looking for a gray weathered tone. Pressure treated has been sitting for 14 months.

  16. Robert says:

    I am about to replace the top of my existing deck (15'x50'). I'm using 2x6x8s 10s and 12s. I was at Home Depot and was told that I should stain/treat the bottoms and sides of the wood before putting them down. I've read some comments here stating that you do not have to do it and some stating you do have to do it. Could you please provide your recommendation? Also, what cleaner/brightner/stain I should use for this area. I live north of Seattle and the weather for the next few weeks will be warm and dry. Thank you.

    • No need to stain all sides of the board and most stain manufacturers want you to let the wood season and prepped when dealing with new wood. Use the Restore a Deck for the prep. Follow the advice of the stain manufacturer as to how long to let the wood season.

  17. Nick says:

    WE are replacing our deck with douglas fir, what is recommended drying time before staining and what what stain?

    • Nick, as the article suggests, you will need to wait anywhere from 1-12 months and prepped first. This is based on the stain brand you choose. We do suggest a couple above.

  18. Bill says:

    North Shore Oahu. lots of ocean mist, direct sun, rain and mold. We are getting ready to stain our new deck, 3 stair cases and all of the glue lam's underneath the house. We are right next to the ocean and get lots of salt air straight off the ocean. we also get lots of sun and rain which lends to moldy surfaces. Our tempter stays between 60-85 nearly all year. What stain would you suggest using. Thank you for your help and love the site!

    • Bill, other consumers in HI have not been able to find all the top stains there. Can you list what is available to you and then we can work from there as to what is your best option?

  19. Judy says:

    I'm just off of the beach in Virginia Beach, Va. I have a new set of back stairs and a new outdoor shower – both a combination of pressure treated lumber & decking, both in the sun most of the day. I love the look of new wood so I want a transparent or semi-transparent stain. Do I use the same product on both the lumber and the decking? What would you recommend?

  20. Janet says:

    Hi there, about to build my dream deck, finally! Pressure treated pine, near Raleigh NC. Gets sun in morning, till about 3:30-4:00 p.m. Lots of mold/mildew issues in this area. Contractor wants to use Premium dry deck boards, and handrails. (The rest of the wood, posts etc. will be "wet"). Balusters will be dekorator black aluminum. What is the best way for this deck to go together, and which product will give an even, non-darkening, mold-resistant, no peel finish? And, is it necessary to use cleaner/brightener on the dry wood, and should this wood be stained immediately (before or right after install?) We aren't sure how to coordinate staining the dry deck boards and railings with installing the metal balusters…and then staining the other "wet" wood later. Should the deck boards be stained underneath as well? Thank you…..just want it to look nice and last!

    • As the article states you have to clean and prep all new wood and you have to wait based on the brand you choose. Best to follow the stain brands instructions on new wood and not the contractors unless the same. Staining now is not a good idea.

  21. Paul cook says:

    I'm having a new deck installed on Saturday and my plan was to stain it right away before guests come over on the 4th of July. I'm reading your tips that say wait 1-12 months before staining due to wood not being able to absorb stain. If I wait won't I now have problems with wear (common traffic areas) scuff marks, etc.. that I have to deal with when I go to stain the deck in the future?

  22. char ameli says:

    our deck was stained 6 hours ago and we just had a down poor rain which now has pooled on top of the stain, what should we do

    • Depends on the stain band and if it had time to dry or not. Worser case means you start over by stripping and or sanding it off. Best case the stain had time to dry and there is nothing wrong.

  23. AlfredG says:

    I have some sanding & wood-filling/repair questions. I know most recommend AGAINST sanding a new deck … which apparently smooths the wood and closes the pores, making the wood less absorbent for the stain. However, we have a couple of rough areas that I would like to sand to prevent bare feet from getting any splinters. Can I sand those areas with an 80-grit paper, or will it make the stain look uneven? We also have a couple of small wood knots that have fully or partially popped out, which leaves an open cavity/gap in some spots. Can I put a wood filler in those areas? And if so, is there a good one you'd recommend which takes wood stain well? We have a pine pressure-treated deck and plan to use TWP100 honeytone stain. Appreciate your feedback on these issues. -Al

    • Wood filler does not work on outside decking and does not blend or take a semi-transparent deck stain. It will show through as white spots. Spot sanding can create uneven staining. If you do it then hand sand, do not power sand.

      • AlfredG says:

        That sounds good. I'll lightly hand sand those rough areas, and plan to use an 80-grit paper (unless you recommend a different grit). For the few areas where there are some small gaps from missing/popped-out knots and other imperfections, since wood fillers don't take stain, it sounds like I'll just need to stain right over those areas, correct?

  24. Jay says:

    I am refinishing my 17 year old deck. I have previously applied Behr semi-transparant stain and have lost all the wood grain appearance due to the number of coats I have used. I have sanded the rails and ballusters and intend on removing the deck stain with stain stripper in order to get down to bare wood. I am trying to get back to Square 1 on the wooden structure and then use TWP 100 stain due to it's good reviews. I intend on using deck cleaner and brightener as recommended prior to applying stain.

    I have read that stain should not be applied to recently sanded new wood. Makes sense to me…. However, I wondered if my 17 year old wood which has been sanded is still a problem. I have used an 80 grit paper to remove the prior stains. I intend of sanding again with 120 grit to remove some of the roughness of the surface.

    I am in no rush to stain and can wait until Fall to let the deck weather if that helps the wood open the grain.

    Any recommendations?

    • Sand with 60 and 80 grit. do not go higher. Strippers may not remove this so you may need to sand all the wood. After the sanding, let wood sit until Fall then clean and brighten for the final prep.

      • Jay says:

        Thank you so much for your advice and quick reply.

        I have been a bit hesitant about the stripper anyway. I have landscaping in the area and sanding is probably a better choice for the landscaping. After your reply, I sanded a small portion of the horizontal decking and it is not as labor intensive as I was thinking. The minor cupping of the 2×6 decking is somewhat problematic for sanding but I can adjust. It is probably more labor in the long run, but much safer for the landscaping (and me and the house siding).

        I will only use 80 grit sandpaper as a final finish as you suggest. I did not find that sandpaper of a higher grit would actually remove the previous layers of stain in a reasonable amount of time, which is why I chose 80 grit sandpaper. 80 grit works fine, maybe 60 grit would be even better. I was concerned about the final finish being too rough with a more coarse sandpaper.

        So, after I do all the prep work on my deck, which is significant, should I only apply one coat of TWP 100 Cedar 101, or two? Since my wood is old (17 years), there are no issues that new wood might present. As mentioned earlier, I intend on using a Deck Cleaner and Brightener before staining. My deck is redwood if that makes any difference.

        Thanks again for your great website.

  25. Zehbe says:

    Sanding new wood prior to staining is usually recommended. However you do NOT recommend it for smooth wood (example pressure treated wood). I installed a cedar deck about 9 months ago and the product that I intend to use for sealing it requires sanding. Any thoughts?

    • Sanding closes pores and reduces penetration of the stain into the wood grain. Better to prep to remove mill glaze and oxidation with a deck cleaner and wood brightener.

  26. Ted says:

    I installed a new cedar deck back in October. I have not put any stain or cleaner on it. I am looking for suggestions on what I need to do. What would be a good product to use? Should I wait longer? I live in the Midwest and we have had a lot of rain in the past couple of weeks. Also, the deck gets a lot of sun. Any recommendations?

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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.