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.

388 Responses to “Staining A New Deck”

  1. Mark N says:

    Great Article! If your building your deck with kiln dried wood do you still need to wait a few months before staining? I'm building a deck in Southern California were termites are a serious problem, do you have a recommendation if I should use pressure treated wood then stain or is it just fine to stain untreated wood? Also if you have a recommended stain for a direct sun deck, low moisture/rain, with the woods I'm using; pressure treaded pine (for ground contact areas), Cedar for fence pickets around deck, and California Redwood for Decking. And, Thank You!

  2. Shari S says:

    Very informative! What is the best finish for new Ipe for full sun in Austin, Texas? What is the best finish for new cedar for full sun in Austin, Texas?

    • Shari, for the IPE try Armstrong Clark in the Mahogany color. For the cedar, look at the Timber Oil or the Armstrong Clark if under 4 months old otherwise consider TWP if 4+ months.

  3. Nikolay says:

    Test comment

  4. Derrick says:

    Hi – I have a ground deck in partial shade. I've read that oil based stains sometimes induce more mold/mildew. Would you recommend defy extreme for a new cedar deck?

  5. Wendy says:

    Hello – we have a pressure-treated wood deck that was put in last summer but not stained yet. We want to stain it soon – we have a grey house and a grey patio next to it, so we are thinking a grey stain. We are in upstate NY; mostly full sun on deck. I've seen some posts about cleaning the 'new wood' first before staining? Recommendations on what stain to use? Thanks!

  6. Steve says:

    Raleigh, NC I replaced my 22 year old deck boards with KDAT pine 5/4×6 in November, so they have been on for 5 months. I assume I need to do the following 1. use something like RAD to clean deck, 2. put down one coat of TWP 1500 now, and 3. put another coat on next summer (after a light cleaning). Also how much of a problem do I have when the specs said use an 8 penny nail for spacing when the boards were put down and the boards have subsequently expanded to close the gap in 10-15% of the deck so I can't even put a piece of sheet metal between them? Thanks

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