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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628 Responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. njoy says:

    A month ago (October) we built a covered deck (deck, railings and rafters are untreated kiln-dried milled fir; the posts are pressure-treated spruce; the steps are untreated spruce). Next spring we want to put a clear stain on the fir. We also want to protect the (uncovered) steps and provide a non-slip surface. We live in central British Columbia at 3000 ft where the temperature drops to 40 below (C or F) most winters. What are the best products to use?

    If Defy Ultimate, does anyone know where to buy it in Canada?

    Thank you.

    • Clear with no color or tint will give little to no UV protection from the Sun turning the wood gray. You will need a tinted color for this and the more tint you have, the longer it lasts. Not sure what you have available in your area but look at Defy or Armstrong Clark.

  2. Albert says:

    We built a brand new pressure treated pine deck in late July/early August. Our plan was to stain in October using TWP 1500, but time got away from us. Our contractor is now furious with us and has told us that we are going to destroy the deck for having waited this long. The weather has just turned cold. We will have highs in the 40's and 50's with lows in the 20's and 30's for the next few weeks. Only colder after that. Should we hurry and get a coat of stain on there? Should we wait till spring? We're getting quite a bit of pressure to do it now but I'm concerned that it is already too cold. I don't want our very expensive investment ruined! It is warping and cracking quite a bit. We live near Charlotte, NC

  3. Jess says:

    I had a pressure treated pine deck installed in January '14 and privacy fence installed in April '14. After reading the great advice on this site, I have let the wood sit untouched since then. I just re-read this article and realized I could have stained the fence immediately since it is rough wood. My loss. I planned on staining this fall, but life happened. Now I’m wondering if I should stain now since the deck is reaching a year old, or wait until the spring. If it will work, I would like to stain now vs. waiting. How cold is too cold? I plan on cleaning and brightening everything first, and I plan to use TWP 100. I live in southern Tennessee.

  4. Dave says:

    Live in the Charlotte, NC area (technically in SC) and had an enclosed porch installed along with an exposed porch (for grille and steps). Porch was completed mid-October. Wood is Cox Durapine treated (pressure treated) on both the screened and exposed porch area. I am thinking about staining the floor with an oil based stain and the posts, rails and ceiling white. Any recommendations on stains and paints? And is now the right time to do it?

    • I would wait until early Spring. Prep first with a deck cleaner and wood brightener. Stain the white parts with Flood Solid Decking Stains and the horizontal floor with TWP 100 Series or Defy Extreme.

  5. Ron says:

    After reading your excellent article, I know now that I better wait a couple of months before I stain my 2-week old pine deck. The contractor was scheduling a sanding and staining in the next week, but that will be put on hold. Based on your recommendations I plan to get Armstrong Clark semi-transparent wood stain, but I wanted to ask you think that's the right move. I live in south Florida (lot of heat, rain and humidity). Or would TWP 100 or TimberOil be a more suitable product for this weather? Thanks in advance.

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