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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905 Responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. Tony says:

    Thank you so much for this great site! We're in Alameda, Bay Area, Calif. We just completed a 12X10 redwood deck and absolutely love the color. The under-girding wood is all pressure treated. The deck is 17" off the ground and will be in direct sunlight half the day. Based on reading this article and the comments, it seems we don't need to clean, seal, or stain it yet.
    1. When should we first clean and seal it?
    2. What Brightener do you recommend? Is Behr OK?
    3. What cleaner should we use?
    4. Is Superdeck ok for a clear seal without a stain and UV protection? OR should we use a TWP product?
    5. Do we need to treat the PT or just the redwood decking?
    Thank you!

    • 1. Depends on the stain brand you choose and what they suggest.
      2. Stay away from Behr products.
      3. Try Restore A Deck Kits
      4. Clear gives no UV protection from graying. Must have a tint or stain. TWP is better then SuperDeck in our experiences.
      5. Just exposed wood.

      • Tony says:

        Thanks so much for the response. You guys are awesome. We're going to do the Restore A Deck and either TWP or Armstrong. Couple final questions:

        1. Should we do the full 2-step Restore-a-Deck (cleaner and brightener), even though it's a new deck?
        2. TWP or Armstrong Clark, which is better for Redwood? And which color? "Sierra Redwood"?
        3. How should we apply the cleaner and the stain? I've read different opinions. Pressure washer with light fan motion? Or garden sprayer? Or brush & roller?

        Thank you!

        • 1. Yes it helps to remove the mill glaze.
          2. Either is fine. Not one is \”better\”
          3. Spray on cleaner and pressure wash off. Apply stain with a stain pad and brushes.

  2. Kyra says:

    Our deck was just built 5 weeks ago. It is cedar, I live near Seattle, Washington. It has been between 75-80 degrees every day and we have only had rain twice. I bought the "Restore a deck" cleaner & brightner. I'm getting a lot of pressure to stain it before the rains come. What kind of stain do you recommend and when is the soonest I can stain it? Thanks!

  3. Dave says:

    I live in NE CT and am installing new PT decking and a PT pergola (ref June 2015 Handyman magazine for the design). Installation is in August. Deck is on the North side of the house with full shade on 1/2 the deck all year round. The other half is partial sun in the summer. Slight mildew on deck side of house that gets pressure washed yearly. 2 questions:
    1) Should I wait to stain until next year? If so, does temperature dictate when I stain?
    2) would I use the same type of stain on the deck as well as the pergola?

    • 1. Yes on both.
      2. Yes use the same stain for all wood. Pergola will last twice as long as the deck floor. The floor on the deck will need to be reapplied every couple of years while the pergola should last 3-4 years.

  4. Melissa says:

    New wood-pressure treated basic wood from Lowe's, Northeast PA, deck gets full sun mid morning to mid afternoon. Just installed late July. TWP or Armstrong?
    Can I wait to spring to stain as long as I clean/prep in the spring?

  5. JEFF says:

    I stained my deck without waiting.should I sand my deck and wait 12mo before staining ? Im not happy with the way it looks. I used twp ceder hoping it might look better next time.

  6. Robert says:

    We have a brand new deck that is 5 months old and is PT pine. We live in Kansas and the deck will be getting lots of sun. I noticed that you recommend Timber Oil Brand on a new deck, would this be the best option for me? I was looking for a transparent grey look for our deck. Thank you for any information.

  7. John says:

    I have a new Pressure treated boat dock. Can I apply TWP after 4 months or should i wait longer? Since this is over the water, is there a Cleaner and brightner you would recommend?


  8. Peggy Weymouth says:

    New IPE deck and bench near tidal river in coastal Massachusetts. The deck and bench are attached to two sides of the house. I have gotten tiny splinters from the wood! Will staining help prevent the wood from shedding splinters?

  9. Johnny A says:

    We have an 1880s Victorian in Upstate New York. Last year we removed the old worn from porch flooring; tongue and groove fir 5/4" x 4". We were advised to use 1" x 4" which is actually 3/4" x 3 1/4" Yellow Southern Pine tongue and groove, kiln dried boards to replace it. We did this. We had it professionally installed and we stained it a week later as advised, by the distributor. We did this in the late summer. By November the front porch looked like a roller coaster. The boards bowed, buckled and twisted.

    We were told this was because we did not stain all four sides of the boards before installing them.

    We have now ripped that all up and have purchased 5/4" x 4" fir, kiln dried. They have been sitting in the barn "acclimating" for two weeks … we were planning to wait another week and then stain them on all side, then have them installed three to four weeks later.

    What do you recommend?

  10. Dan says:

    Hi, I have a new pine screen porch and live in Maine. The wood is now 1.5 months old and has gotten a lot of really hot days and spaces seem to have stopped growing between deck boards. There is text on a lot of wood pieces I want to sand off, which grain should I use because I read I shouldn't sand ? I want a light stain/sealer that will last long on the deck rails since the screen would have to be removed to re-apply product. I also would prefer not to wait any longer for the deck to dry before sealing since cool months are coming and I want to get it screened in. What product would be recommended? Thanks

  11. Rick says:

    New pressure treated deck with cover, NE Oklahoma. installed first of August, would like to stain in October before winter,what stain would be best?

  12. Laura Baareman says:

    New wood-pressure treated basic wood from Lowe's, Augusta, GA, deck gets full sun all day until 5:00 pm. Just installed early July. We would like long-term upkeep to be the least time consuming as possible. Would just a sealant be best or a semi transparent stain? Also, can we wait to spring to stain as long as we clean/prep in the spring? THANKS!

  13. Ray says:

    I purchased about 250 – 5/4 x 6 x 8 PT boards (from lowes) for dog kennel flooring/decking. The goal is to dry and seal the decking before the dogs are allowed into kennels to avoid wood soaking up urine etc…On a time constraint though…i thought to dry boards, kilz primer them, then paint them….seems like staining may be better…what is your suggestion?

    wood is drying slowly, all stickered on porch for about 2-3 weeks now.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Not sure on this one as it is a totally different use than exterior decks. Not sure if you can 100% seal them with a paint. Stains do not seal 100%. I think the urine and the heavy traction form the nails will get though the coating no matter what.

  14. Sam says:

    Great web site. Just built hemlock pergola and railings , on pressure treated pine deck. I know to wait on the decking before treating however what are your suggestions for the hemlock pergola? It was lightly sanded after construction to smooth roughness. We are in northern Vermont. It is southern exposure deck. Also suggestions for particular stain?? Thank you so much

  15. Sam says:

    Great site. Just completed hemlock pergola over new pressure treated pine. I know to wait on the PT to stain and seal but what about the hemlock? Do I do both same time to keep color continuity? Live in northern Vermont, may have to sit a winter. PT not passing moisture test yet so have to wait. Can the hemlock sit all winter also? What stain do recommend? Thank you so much.

  16. jim says:

    I have a pt deck that is 3yrs old, i sealed it once well over a year ago with Thompsons. Last week i did a light power wash and today i sanded it with 100 grit pad sander. I purchased twp 1530 and now i find you suggest not to sand. Help… what are my options.
    Thanks, Jim

  17. Nikki says:

    We have just purchased new redwood for our deck. We plan to install this weekend. Our contractor is pressuring us to stain and seal all 4 surfaces prior to install. But after reading all the advise cautioning to wait for drying/seasoning time, we are concerned. Is it possible to only seal the edges of the boards that will be inaccessible after install now, then wait the appropriate seasoning time to seal the rest? We really want to do this right. Thanks!

  18. Janet says:

    We just built a brown Pressure Treated Deck and Pergola, do we need to use a Cut and Seal product on all boards that were cut and are exposed?

  19. Cheryl says:

    Just built a new cedar deck 3 weeks ago. What prep is needed before sealing it? How long to wait before sealing it? Live in Nebraska, so deck sees full sun, rain, and snow. Overnight temperatures will be dropping soon. Want to keep the natural color and keep it from splitting, checking, and absorbing water. Many clear coats make the wood look orange, yellow, or gold. Would like something more tan. Not interested in a stain. We realize clear coats don't have UV protection. Your help is appreciated. Thanks!

  20. Lex Benjamin says:

    What method do u recomend for removing lumber mills ink stamps off Doug Fir?

  21. Mike DZ says:

    Just finished pressure washing my 1100 SF, 4 year old pressure treated deck. Ben procrastinating a bit! That was a big job! This will be the first time any stain/protection coat has ever been applied. Now that the pressure washing has been completed, can I start applying a stain? I did not use any cleaners or brighteners. I live in Eastern Ontario Canada, the deck has full sun exposure (when not buried in snow and ice) with a hot tub and pool built in. Balusters are the black aluminum tubes with 2×4 wood rails. I'm considering Thompson's Water Seal, but am really seconding guessing if that's the right choice! What steps/products would you recommend?

  22. Ryan says:

    Hi, I live in central Illinois. We just put up a pressure treated deck in May. The deck is surrounded by trees and is 90% of the time in the shade. Looking at semi transparent stains. What would you recommend?

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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.