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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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1,056 responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. Ilene says:

    We just had our porch rebuilt with cedar at the end of August. We are in Calgary, AB so drier but gets lots of snow. It does face south to south west but it is covered, but edges do get wet. We were told to sand it down and then use sikkens Cetol SRD. One coat and as long as it dries 8 hours in +10 temp. Is this correct or should we not sand first? Is there another product that is better? Can we do now, or wait until spring when temp holds over night? Thank you!

  2. Ray says:

    Thank you for the wealth of information.
    1- My redwood deck is 6 months old, so even though some wood already started splittin, I will wait until spring to stain it as recommended. My concern is how to clean and treat the wood in the rail area. Rail top is 2×6 redwood, rail itself all around consists of regular unpainted hog wire held in frame of 2×4 in 8 sections total…I am concerned about what the cleaner solution will affect that hog wire and if it will bleed down on the redwood decking.
    2-Also how do I estimate how much stain I need for 533 sq feet of decking.
    3-do i have to use pressure wash when cleaning or just hose off?
    Please advise, Thanks

    • 1. Nost sure on the Hog wire and cleaners. Never had that experience. I would worry it would rust down the road and leave black stains in the wood.

      2. Depends on which stain you choose as they have different coverage rates.

      3. Lightly press wash will be needed.

  3. Ann says:

    I replaced floor and top rails of my deck in August 2014. I live in Toms River NJ. Nothing has been done since I replaced it with the pine pressure treated wood. I am leaning towards the dark oak stain. What steps do I do next? And can I get all prep and stain done now or can/should I wait til spring? Also any advice on how/who to hire to do the work?

  4. rick doss says:

    This is a great site. Two articles in regards to deck sealants were awesome and done correctly. Diagnosis before prescription. Well done.

  5. Bill Klein says:

    I have new deck boards, railing, steps and privacy wall as of mid-August, mostly comprised of pressure-treated pine No. 1, KD19, heat treated. It is built on a pre-existing superstructure. It is elevated one story up. I live in the Washington DC area. My deck faces south and gets strong sun all day. Average temps where I am go from 44F to 66F in Oct and 36F to 55F in Nov.

    Based on your reviews, I am leaning towards staining my deck probably using TWP 1500 semi-transparent after cleaning and brightening it (though I am open to other suggestions). I note that your review says, "Note that when staining brand new wood with TWP, we have found that it is best to let the wood season in the elements for at least 3+ months."

    My question is: Am I better off staining my deck before Winter sets in here, or am I better off waiting until Spring? We do get a pretty good amount of freezing temps and snow in Winter (okay, we're not Michigan, but still…).

    Great site, by the way.


  6. Kathy says:

    We had our porch floor replaced w/ pressure treated wood and extended it so some of it is not under a roof. It was done last summer. Obviously the different parts have weathered differently, but we feel we need to stain it before winter. We were thinking about the defy extreme partly because it is water based, but often you suggest TWP or Armstrong Clark. We live in Ohio and all of the porch floor gets at least a little sun daily, but some rarely gets wet with rain. Would Defy be a good choice? Thank you

  7. Cynthia says:

    Live in Central Washington. New rough sawn cedar picket fence. Full sun in summer to partial sun in late fall and winter months. Not much moisture so not expecting mildew. Has been 45 days since completion.

  8. Barb says:

    Living in Central Wisconsin….were all the weather conditions can bee seen in 2 days :/. Just bought pressure treated pine for a new deck. Covering concrete stair/platform and "patio". Deck will be along the North wall wrapping around to the east wall. Some covered by the roof over hang and the rest will be out in the elements. From reading the article it looks to be if we install the deck in early summer by mid fall I should be good to stain/seal…is that correct? Should i use a water base or oil base? We have children that are constantly in and out so the deck will have high traffic in areas.

    The decking is currently in our garage raised off the floor over the winter.

  9. D. Adam says:

    Vancouver, BC

    I have a load of green 4×4 cedar posts sanded 4 sides to be used with an aluminum railing system installed in the spring. They need to be seasoned. It will rain all winter here. Is it OK to leave them in the rain till spring (west coast winter = 100% chance of rain for 6 months.) Or should I leave them in the car port where it is open to outside by dry or some combination. Thanks in advance – great site BTW

  10. Cor in Auburn says:

    I have a new redwood deck that has full sun at 1,500 foot elevation in northern calif. I was thinking of using AC Redwood tone transparent color. I would like to retain the natural redwood color (or close. The weather has turned cooler with periodic rain. How long should I wait before applying the transparent stain and is this the correct product to use for the redwood deck? Thank You!

  11. Agatha says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for the great site! Our new tongue and groove pine pressure treated covered porch floor which was installed a month ago was stained by contractor yesterday with TWP 205 (California Cedar) and it looks much lighter than the cedar railings with same color. We live in Georgia and would like to know when we can re-stain the floor to a darker color (TWP 206 or 207 Russett Brown or Butternut Brown) to look more like the cedar railings' color. Any idea which brown color would look closer to California Cedar on Cedar wood? Would really like to re-stain before X'mas :-)

    • It most likely will not take if you stain now. Will not absorb into the wood. Best to wait until Spring and prep well first. Not sure on which color would be best to blend.

    • Agatha says:

      Thank you!! We'll wait till Spring. The contractor sanded and vac'd the pine floors just before putting on stain and it's still a bit oily to touch after 3 days (today is the 4th day). How long will the TWP stain dry? It's been sunny, high around 60s, low 40s last few days. Thanks again for your advice.

      • In your scenario it could take many days to dry or longer. Sanding is not the best prep as it reduces stain penetration and the 200 Series is designed for shakes and shingles, not smooth decking.

  12. thom says:

    Replacing a deck that is plywood in arizona, I am using 3/4 inch pressure treated plywood, after reading all the reviews I am not sure what coating/sealer to use, wish to use a semi or solid color, any recommendations appreciated

  13. Rick T says:

    I live in the Okanagan country in British Columbia and we get anywhere from -22 C in the winter to plus 35C in the summer .I have a cedar deck which is 8 years old and I have just stripped it down and sanded it ready to restain this spring.What product would you recommend ?
    Thank you

  14. Venessa says:

    I am restoring a neglected 5 year old redwood deck that was not seasoned prior to staining and was also wet when stained so lots of mildew. I am sanding and will allow the wood to season until early October when I plan to clean, brighten and stain using the products you recommend.
    There are some deck boards that are worse off then others – with large peeling areas and "shards" of wood coming up. Sanding has mostly corrected this but in a couple of places I feel that to be safe on bare feet I need to fill in the areas of most damage. I have read "no wood filler" but there must be some way to repair these areas? Thanks for your help and this GREAT site.

  15. Stan Harris says:

    I had a new deck constructed last December with yellow pine. There was a cover over the deck connected to the rear of the house. The cover was a roof with yellow pine frame topped with 1/2 inch treated plywood, then felt paper, then sheet of corrugated steel. The sids of the roof were wrapped.

    Q1: How long to wait before staining the deck with oil base?

    Q2: Do I have to seal the under part of the roof seeing that it won't be open accessible by the elements all that much?


    • Hi Stain,

      As the article stats, how long to wait and prep really depends on the stain brand you choose when staining the new wood. You do not have to seal the underside of the roof unless your want to stain to match the rest of the decking.

  16. Alice says:

    Hello, we live in Missouri. Thank you for such a helpful website. Our new deck was installed last summer with Yellawood (pressure treated pine). We are ready to stain. The deck faces east, 12 x 18 size and with stairs leading to the lower ground. Which brands of stain and deck cleaner do you recommend? Do you think if I ordered 3 gallon each is enough? Thank you for your advice.

    • Try the Restore a Deck products for the prep. As for stain, look at TWP or Armstrong Clark. Hard to say on the quantity as brands differ on the coverage and how many coats to apply. Also would need a total sq footage counting all the flooring, rails, stairs, etc.

  17. Terri says:

    I live in Panama City FL. I just had an 8ft porch built around my house. We used treated lumber and yellow pine. How soon can I stain the porch?

  18. Christine says:

    I had the front steps replaced with pressure treated pine 6 weeks ago. I live in far southeast GA and get lots of sun and high heat. What semi transparent stain do you recommend and when should I apply it? I appreciate your help!

  19. Christine says:

    Will pressure washing remove mill glaze?

  20. Steve says:

    Hello! Great site!
    We installed a new cedar deck this past November and based on the advice we were provided on this site we left the deck untreated. We live in the lower Hudson Valley in New York and have experienced a fairly mild winter with limited snow. The deck has greyed and a few of the boards now have small splits and cracks in them so I don't want to wait any longer top apply finish. The site talks frequently about cleaning and brightening before applying stain. I'd like to know what products you recommend to clean and brighten the cedar before applying Sikkens Proluxe Cetol SRD SE translucent cedar colored stain. Thank you!!

  21. Carla Rogers says:

    I am installing a new redwood deck to replace my existing deck that is about 30 yrs. old. I don't want to change the color of the redwood, just want to protect it. What do you recommend? Hopefully it will be installed in April. I live in SLC, UT. I am also having a redwood fence installed to enclose it. I do want to match my redwood house stain which is a dark brown transparent stain. Please advise on both deck and fence. Thanks!

    • If you do not add color then you will not provide UV protection from graying. You must have a tint for UV protection. The more you have, the better the protection will be from preventing graying. Look at the Armstrong Clark products for both.

  22. Jay Scott says:

    We are putting on a new Cedar deck and this was extremely helpful to clear up the question on timing of any possible staining.

  23. Rose says:

    Northeast-in RI
    Full sun
    Pressure treated- 2 ft. off ground
    1 year old deck with rails and small steps

    Oil or Latex?

    Thank you!

  24. Carl Randolph says:

    I have a new sanded redwood fence and deck. Some of the boards are darkened with black residue. Per your advice on not sanding, would it be better to remove this with a wood cleaner, and do I need a wood brightener. I have read that if using these products on redwood and oxalate based product is better. Is that true?

  25. jennifer says:

    Hello. We have a pressure treated deck that was built in December. We were going to have it stained this weekend. The man who is going to stain said he was going to sand it on Saturday and stain it on Sunday with a clear stain. After reading your articles, I have 3 questions.
    1. Should we have him sand the deck?
    2. Do we need to use a wood brightener before staining?
    3. Should we avoid a clear stain and select a color? What stain should we use (it seems Thompson's has poor ratings)?

    • 1. Why sand? Clean and brighten makes the wood more porous for the stain.
      2. If you clean then yes a wood brightener helps.
      3. Clear without any color means it will gray naturally. Applying a tinted stain will prolong the graying. See our ratings for deck stains that we like and consumers choose.

      • Jennifer R Fleisher says:

        Thank you for the response. The gentleman said that he would sand the entire deck in order to remove the black print marks/stamps (from the manufacturer) on the wood and to make sure the drink rail is smooth.

        We were going to use clear the first time around until we were sure which tint would suit us best. It appears we should find a tint. Would it be a bad idea to wait until the fall in order to give us more time in deciding on the correct tint? The deck was built in December/January?

        • Black ink marks will only come out with sanding or natural weathering. Cleaners will not remove them. We sand them off then clean and brighten after when we deal with them. If you add a clear now you will need to remove it later if you want to stain. I would suggest going with a lightly tinted stain now as opposed to a clear. This will get you through the year.

  26. Cheryl says:

    Boise Idaho
    3 tier deck – upper level full shade, 2nd level partial shade/sun, lower level full sun
    Orginal stain was Olypmic Oil Stain 704 transparent Redwood,
    Deck is redwood, fence is pine
    spent the last 2 days using a commercial power washer
    some of the stain is still in place while other boards are completely clear
    would like to put a redwood color stain back on since some of the stain remains
    Part of the deck is 30 years old and standing great – part of it had to be replaced.
    Fence is 18 years old and we will replacing 30 boards. Fence is about 85-90' down each side of property.

  27. Luna says:

    We just had a new deck done Douglas Fir untreated wood. Do we need to clean it before we stain it and if we do how long de we need to wait in between in order to apply the stain? We live in Colorado and three days after the deck was complete it snowed and the forecast calls for rain these next couple of days.

    Your advice please

    • Yes you need to clean and prep before staining. Yes you typically need to wait before staining. Please reread the above article and make sure to follow all manufacturer directions for new wood.

      • Luna says:

        Thank you for your response. How long do we need to wait? Should we cover the deck since it will be snowing again?

      • Lunaf says:

        By the way no manufacturer directions. All I know is that the wood is not per treated and I am worried about all of the snow and rain on it since we have yet to stain. Full sun exposure during the day. I understand that we need to clean and prep before staining. Are we able to do this right away or do we need to wait to prep the wood till we have better weather? Your advice is greatly appreciated!

        • As the article stats, waiting period is based on the stain brand manufacturer directions. If it is not on the label, then try contacting them to see what they suggest.

  28. Joanne Mello says:

    We are building a deck with southern yellow pine pressure treated wood. It came delivered with a moisture content below 15%. We were told that we could stain right away. Opinion? We are aware we need to prep, deck cleaner or sanding? We are in NC . The deck will get some sun, some shade. Best stain for high use?
    Thank you in advance!

  29. Andy says:

    I have a new deck pressure treated pine that was built last July. I have just cleaned and brightened. What stain do you recommend in the case where we have waited 9 months? We are in Cleveland, Ohio and the deck is more shade than sun – a large sugar maple over most of it – gets full sun about 3 to 4 hours a day. Deck is also about 12 to 18 inches off the ground depending on grade. Facing boards for side and steps are cedar. We want a darker color but want to see the full grain – don't want it to look "painted". Did a sample of arbor coat semi-transparent and hated it.

  30. deckrestore says:

    I have seen bad reviews on RESTORE and DECK OVER from Behr. Now I heard about a product from GULF, on the DECK STAIN website. Has anyone used this product and how long does it last?

  31. Joseph Gniewek says:

    Here is thing! I need an advise according to a new cedar deck. We installed a brand new cedar and our carpenter sanded this deck and informed that we have to wait so wood must be dry before applying the stain and sealer or top finish.After a few weeks (2-3) we noticed grey spots looking like needles on boards. There were spots with a lot of them and places with minor amount of them. Part of the deck is under the old trees where we had a lot "grey like needle looking spots".
    Area next to house under the roof is looking fairly good. We think to ask carpenter to sand our deck again. Is it right,
    where was the mistake, did we something wrong or cedar boards are somehow "infected". Please help. what is the reason of these grey spots?

  32. Lynn says:

    How to correct if you stained new deck before building ( smooth cedar) ?

  33. Rick C says:

    what if I put to much stain on and it has been a week already and it is still sticky? What can I do? Will it ever dry? Do I have to put some stain removal and start over?

    • McKenna says:

      I just read on a site that folks with the sticky problem did not thoroughly wipe down the deck after applying stain. Go to your stain manufacturer's FAQs or call. They will have a treatment you can apply to help with this problem. Good luck.

  34. Heather says:

    Thank you for this site! I am staining our 2,000 sq foot pine deck that was installed last summer (!) and don't want to screw up!!! Our home is in the woods on a lake in Ohio. Mostly shady all day with a few hours of sun. I was set on the Behr Professional Dec Stain in Boot Hill Grey until I started seeing the bad reviews. I like this color…can you suggest an alternative that can be tinted to match?

    • FYI, we did respond to you earlier:

      When you custom mix a color for a deck stain it means you will have a stain that dries on top of the wood like a film. This makes it more prone to peeling. You could try the Armstrong Clark in Driftwood Gray. This is penetrating oil but is a stock color that cannot be custom mixed. to you earlier as well. This is what it said:

  35. Clint Miller says:

    Excellent information and valuable tips. Thank you!

  36. Hassan says:

    I have a new cedar deck that was built 2 or 3 days ago do I have to prepare and clean it this year or just pressure washer

  37. NHTreehouse says:

    New Hampshire

    I am building a treehouse+deck with PT pine. Filtered sunlight in the woods, with threat of mold and mildew. Extreme winters. From what I've read, I should plan to apply a penetrating semi-transparent stain later this summer. Are there particular products that are better for mildew and mold prevention? What is a lower-cost stain that will get the job done? Thank you for this fabulous site!

  38. Doug says:

    We are in Thousand Islands, NY, and have a small deck and steps off back sliding door that was installed in October, 2015. It is pressure-treated pine and south-facing. We would like minimal stain and care, and prefer water-based. Thanks!

  39. jamie mctagert says:

    Just ransomed off a grandchild and added 5,000' new Cedar Deck. August 2015. Oregon Coast. Lake 1 mile from ocean. Waiting for long dry spell to stain. (1) Can I get by with just washing off deck with hose and first stain? (2) Suggestion for good stain for climate?? Read where you also recommend Flood UV. Great website. Thx

    • 1. No, you need to prep with a deck cleaner and wood brightener and a light pressure wash to remove mill glaze.
      2. Not a fan of Flood UV since they changed their formula. Try TWP or Armstrong Clark Decking stains.

  40. david fuller says:

    We live in Tampa Florida and recently installed a PT wood deck using 5/4 PT pine, that receives full sun. The deck has been completed for about three weeks now and due to the sun it is extremely dry. Reading this site I seem to be getting conflicting opinions as to how long to wait before staining it. As mold is a chronic problem in Florida what would be the best stain to use (hoping to keep the natural look of the wood) and how long should we wait to apply it? I understand that it needs to be cleaned and the use of a wood brightener is recommended.prior to staining. As such what would be your recommendations regarding the stain, cleaner and brightener to use, and how long to wait before staining?

    • How long to wait depends on the stain brand you choose. This articles explains the waiting period and the stain brands we suggest. Prep with Restore A Deck Kits.

  41. Ben says:

    Central Texas, PT wood in mostly full sun. We have let the deck weather for about 8 months. What do you suggest for stain brand, brightener and cleaner? The wood has lettering on it (brand, wood type, etc.), will the wood cleaner get that off? Do I need to give the wood a light pressure wash?

    Thanks so much!!!

    • Cleaner does not remove stamp marks on new wood. You may need to sand those off first then clean and brighten. Use Restore A deck Kits for prep and stain with Armstrong Clark or Defy Extreme.

  42. Steve Leece says:

    State: New York
    Sun exposure: Morning shade, afternoon sun
    Mildew/mold: not yet
    Pressure treated pine
    Never stained–new last June (12 months ago)

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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.