When to Stain a New Deck: How Long Should You Wait? 5/5 (51)

This post was updated on January 18, 2023

Staining A New Deck in 2023?

Every spring, we get hundreds of questions about when to stain a new deck, wood fence, or exterior of a wood home. This is the second most popular question on DeckStainHelp.com, so we decided to create an updated and comprehensive guide to staining a new deck, including some of the best stain brands and types of deck stains to use on your new wood. But as always, if you still have questions, we’re here to help! Just post a comment below and we’d be glad to assist you.

How Long Should you Wait to Stain a New Deck

How Long Should you Wait to Stain a New Deck

Should I Stain New Decking?

Yes. Staining your deck will help to protect the wood from the elements. However, it’s important to know when to stain a new deck to ensure that the stain absorbs properly.

How Long Should You Wait Before You Stain a New Deck?

New rough sawn cedar wood

New rough sawn cedar wood

The best time to stain a deck will depend on the type of wood that your deck is made of.

  • If your deck was made with new, smooth wood, you’ll need to wait at least three months before staining your deck.
  • Rough-sawn wood can be stained right away, as long as it is clean and the wood is dry. If you are unsure if you have rough-sawn wood, post a picture in the comment area with some basic info about your project and we’ll help you figure it out.
  • Kiln-dried wood and KDAT wood will need one to two months before you can stain it.

Weathering and Your New Wood Deck: Why Wait to Stain a Deck?

Almost all new exterior wood will need to be weathered before you apply deck stain. Many homeowners believe that you weather the wood to reduce the moisture content of the wood, but while this is important, it’s not the main reason you will need to weather the deck. The porosity of the wood is the main concern: Fresh wood needs time to become porous enough to allow the stain to soak into the wood. If the stain can’t soak in properly, it will dry on top of the wood, leading to premature failure of the stain.

What Happens if You Stain a Deck Too Soon?

If you try to stain new wood too soon, the stain won’t take. The wood needs to be porous so that the stain can soak in and reflect the color that you chose. If the stain doesn’t take, the color will fade in the sun and wash out in the rain.

What Happens if You Stain Pressure-Treated Wood Too Soon?

Like other types of wood, you can’t stain pressure-treated wood too soon. If you do, you will lose the stain, and your deck won’t be the color you were hoping for. Even if the stain doesn’t wash off, it can dry on blotchy, and you won’t be happy with the result. The same applies to Cedar and Redwood Decks.

When Should You Not Stain a Deck?

Don’t stain a deck when it’s wet or damp. The best time to stain a deck is after it’s properly weathered and when it’s completely dry.

Tips for Staining a New Deck

These new deck staining tips will work for all wooden exteriors, such as decks, cedar-framed homes, log cabins, wood fences, and other structures.

Prep the Wood for Staining

After the weathering process, it’s vital that you prep the wood. When wood is left exposed to sunlight, the UV radiation will turn the wood slightly gray or white. This oxidation of the wood will need to be removed. The new smooth wood may also have a mill glaze on it that will need to come off. Using a good deck cleaner will remove the mill glaze, oxidation, and dirt. After this step, follow up with an exterior wood brightener. We like the Restore-A-Deck cleaner/brightener kits for this prep.

Do You Need to Sand the Wood?

Do not sand new wood unless you need to remove the “wood fuzzies.” If the wood has raised fibers after prepping that make it look furry, sand with 60-to-80-grit paper, then use the brightener after the sanding to help open the wood’s pores. Rinse well with a pressure washer when done.

Follow Up With Another Coat

Be prepared to apply a maintenance coat of your preferred product to your newly stained deck in 12 to 18 months. The first time staining new wood typically does not last as long as the second or subsequent coatings.

Expert-Recommended Deck Stain Brands for New Decks

Armstrong-Clark Wood Stains

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain RatingArmstrong-Clark deck stains can be used on new wood and deck materials such as pressure-treated pine, cedar, fir, IPE, and exotic hardwoods.

  • Months to Weather New Wood Before Using: Two to three months for transparent and semi-transparent colors; 12 months for semi-solid colors
  • Number of Coats Needed for New Wood: One coat
  • Consumer Star Rating: 4.4/5 (60)
  • DeckStainHelp.com Rating: 8.5/10

Restore-A-Deck Wood Stains

Restore A Deck Wood Stain ReviewRestore-A-Deck wood stain can be applied to dry or damp wood. It can be used on new wood and deck materials such as pressure-treated pine, cedar, fir, IPE, and exotic hardwoods.

  • Months to Weather New Wood Before Using: Three months for both semi-transparent and solid stain colors
  • Number of Coats Needed for New Wood: One coat
  • Consumer Star Rating: 4.7/5 (47)
  • DeckStainHelp.com Rating: 8.625/10

TWP 100 Pro Series Stains

TWP 100 Deck Stain RatingsTWP 100 Pro Series stains are only allowed in 35 states; use TWP 1500 stain if you’re in a low-VOC state. TWP 100 Pro Series stain can be used on new wood and deck materials including pressure-treated pine, and cedar.

  • Months to Weather New Wood Before Using: Four to 12 months
  • Number of Coats Needed for New Wood: One coat
  • Consumer Star Rating: 4.5/5 (40)
  • DeckStainHelp.com Rating: 8.69/10

How to Stain a New Wood Deck, Step-by-Step

Questions? Let Us Help

If you still have questions about when to stain a new deck and how to go about it, please ask below and we’d be glad to assist you.

Please Rate This. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

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Tiffany Yarrington
Tiffany Yarrington
5 days ago

I’m not sure how long to wait to stain this pressure treated wood? I live in Florida. It was done being built jan 7. So I wait a few months or can I do it now?

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Dan Saltarelli
Dan Saltarelli
8 days ago

Will be staining deck railing made of rough western red cedar. Really just want to protect and enhance the natural wood tone/color/grain, not really interested in changing the color. Contractor recommended SW Woodscapes but I’m reading about TWP on your site. Recommendation? If TWP, which one??? The oil based cedar tone?

ADRIAN ABSHIRE
ADRIAN ABSHIRE
20 days ago

Hi Scott, love this site and SO glad I found it. I bought 100-12foot long 5/4 cedar (maybe red cedar) from a local sawmill here in North AL. I planed down one side of the cedar to remove the saw marks and roughness with my Dewalt planer – hopefully that was not a mistake. I plan to leave the sides and bottom rough. I have not installed the boards on the deck yet. Should I treat the cedar bottom/sides before installing it? Did I screw up by planing the boards? They look gorgeous (PINK!) and would like to preserve some of that color. I sent my wife last night to the Big Box Store and got 5 gallons of Thompsons – I will be returning and getting the stains you recommend instead. Do I need to wait a few months (as in your comments here) to coat the bottom/sides. What about the top? I would like to router the edges and will be using Camo fastening system to hold it down… not sure whether to put screws on both sides of each board or just one… Thanks for a fantastic site!!! Adrian

David Clemmer
David Clemmer
1 month ago

You have made some excellent suggestions to help me with my deck questions. The top 3 solid color stains are not available in any retail store in my area. That said, if I choose to purchase the best local solid color latex stain, can you please recommend one generally found in the big box stores ? I’m afraid that the freight charge I would incur by ordering 4-5 gallons of the best from your company, would be outrageous. Thanks in advance for any asst you can offer .
David

Tim Jederberg
Tim Jederberg
3 months ago

It is the last days of october and I just finished my cedar deck. Wearher is now cold and wet. Shoild I wait until spring to seal or stain my deck. No warm days to come.

Debra pierce
Debra pierce
3 months ago

I’m told that some clear stains have a yellow look after staining. I definitely do not want that. Your thoughts? Thanks

Robin
Robin
3 months ago

I have an Amish built shed that just got built this summer. I placed my order in may and it was completed sometime in early September. The shed was delivered September 21. I believe they said it’s made with hemlock wood and it’s definitely rough cut. They also mill their own wood so I’m assuming it’s very freshly milled wood. I live in PA and I wasn’t sure if I should stain the shed now before winter hits or if it’s best to wait till Spring? I don’t want the shed to turn a darker color from being too weathered but I’m not sure how long something like that even takes.

Thanks in advance! I appreciate your input!

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Tina Callahan
Tina Callahan
3 months ago

I live in MD and just had all of my deck wood replaced (Oct 2022) should I wait until spring before staining the new wood ?

Anita
Anita
3 months ago

My deck was just built Sept 15,2022 . Pressure treated wood.When should I have it stained. Iam allowed transparent color

kim
kim
4 months ago

We replaced our pool deck in March, we stained with ready seal two coats it in April. We live in Florida; the deck is so faded now some places don’t even look like it was stained. We are ready to stain again but want to use the right product. What do we have to do for pre work and what stain would you recommend?

Marie
Marie
4 months ago

We are replacing old cedar deck with new cedar deck boards and aluminum railing. Live in Minneapolis area. Can I use a deck wash to prepare the new cedar for stain or do I need to let it weather over the winter and apply stain next spring? Would like to get done this fall, but the weather may be an issue.

Grace Nuth
Grace Nuth
4 months ago

Our deck was installed in mid July, so mid October is just barely 3 months after installing. Also we are not sure what kind of wood we have…the paperwork just says “treated lumber.”

What kind of wood are we dealing with?

Would it be better to wait until spring to stain in warmer weather? Would the wood be ok over winter in Ohio?

We are thinking of staining the horizontals (deck boards, steps) and painting the verticals (railings, stair backs) white with exterior paint. Any tips or advice on that combo?

Thank you for any help you can provide.

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Joan
Joan
4 months ago

We just replaced the deck boards with clear heart redwood. The boards have been outside for about a month or so. Since we are at the beginning of October, I’m afraid to trust the weather to hold. Do we wait until next spring/summer to stain or get it done? We are in the Sierra foothills.

Todd
Todd
4 months ago

Hi,

I have some lumber that I bought JUL 2021, intending to build a project before winter and stain in fall. The wood has been sitting in my garage on a flat bed trailer (off of the ground away from moisture) since then. I’m building the wood planters and the fencing around them to block off an area from dog use.

1) Is it just that the wood needs to dry of moisture for aging or does it need sunlight as well?

2) How can I tell if it is ready for stain?

I would prefer to build and stain quickly because I have dogs and they’ll pee all over the wood, so I would think it’s better to get stain on it before they start doing all that.

Kathie
Kathie
4 months ago

Hi. We live in Pennsylvania and had a new deck built with pressure treated wood in May. How long do we need to wait to stain it? Is it too long to wait until next May? Thanks. Kathie

Kathie
Kathie
4 months ago

Thanks so much

Josh
Josh
4 months ago

Hi Scott –

I’m building a new deck in the Seattle area. I’ll be decking with Yellow Balau, and was thinking of using Ipe oil to treat it.

I’m not sure how long the wood had been sitting in the warehouse before I picked it up. Would it make the most sense to install the decking and allow it to weather until Spring for the first coat? Or should I do that before the rains come? Does your advice above apply to hardwoods like Yellow Balau as well?

Thanks!

Josh
Josh
4 months ago

thanks Scott!

Miriam
Miriam
4 months ago

New kiln dried cedar wood decks at my Midwest house as of today. I appreciate the natural color but want to protect my investment the best way possible. What if any should be the waiting period before treatment and what treatment/product/procedure do you recommend? 30 day waiting period may work but after that possibly the weather may not cooperate. Is it best to wait till spring or try and treat the wood soon?

Miriam
Miriam
4 months ago

Thank you for that information.  if we did a light sanding now will that takeoff the mill glaze? And what product do you recommend oil based or water based? I’m still a little confused if “stain” allows for wood to be natural. Or we are to use just a sealer or a product that is both or another option, just oil like linseed? Is Marine grade a good idea or not?
Thanks for your help.

Joanne
Joanne
4 months ago

We are staining/sealing a new cedar deck. It was built 1 year ago. We live in Northeast MN so get plenty of snow. We cleaned the deck with a cleaner (also power washed) and got some fuzzies so I lightly sanded using 80 grit sandpaper with an orbital sander. This was before I read on your site not to sand newer decks. Do we need to wait to stain now–which for us would put it off until the spring? What would be your advice.

Jjay
Jjay
4 months ago

Some stains / sealants claim they last 5 years, 7 years, 25 years or even lifetime. Do they really?

Eric
Eric
4 months ago

So here is my issue….I had to sand off semi solid old stain to get ready for the new semi transparent. I have a huge deck and this project has taken me all summer. Due to the elements, my oldest sanded planks are now darker than the fresh. Can I just stain it all? Do I have to sand again?power wash? Not sure what to do

Shirley Archer
Shirley Archer
5 months ago

We used doig fir decking and treated wood.for.the frame…it rook about 3 wks to build bc we are slow…how.long do we wait.to seal it qith thompsons? Also can we ise our deck while waiting? Ie deck furniturr, gazebo…etc?

Wayne
Wayne
5 months ago

This is my first time building a new deck an fence using the Sienna Brown pressure treated lumber. I live in Toronto, the fence has been up for two months an I’m just installing the deck floor this weekend, should I wait until next year to apply transparent water proofing with stain, I don’t want the wood to turn grey. What’s the best sealant stain you recommend. My parents used Behr on their new fences 10 yrs ago with recoating every two yrs an they still look great. I heard a lot of complains about Behr??? Thks

Randy
Randy
5 months ago

Just used Restore a deck cleaner and brightener, deck is clean and looks great. Have 5 gallons of Armstrong-Clark stain. Minnesota humidity is 90 degrees overnight and early morning and 55 to 65 degrees by noon. Is it OK to stain in the afternoon with the overnight humidity so high?

Kristen Heider
Kristen Heider
5 months ago

I have rough-sawn oak I am using to build a deck. There is some mildew on a few of the boards from being stacked. What’s the best way to get it off? I’ve tried Borax and water with no luck. Is there a stain you recommend for this type of wood? Thank you!

Melissa Longmeyer
Melissa Longmeyer
5 months ago

Scott, we moved into our new home May 2022. Home was a spec home so not sure how long back deck had been built. We have not stained yet. Have been out of town working. Returned home and deck looks like it might be mildewing. I have never had a deck so this before. Deck gets morning sun, afternoon and evening. Suggestions??

Dave
Dave
5 months ago

Thanks for the article, Scott. We sanded our cedar deck almost 2 months ago but the weather was pretty uncooperative. On and off rain, then us being away for a time. We’ve used the deck as normal in its natural state. I know we have some work to clean it up, but is 2 months too long to wait without resanding?

Scott M
Scott M
5 months ago

Before seeing your website I washed my 8 month old cedar deck with a mixture of bleach, TSP, and water in preparation for staining. This left varying degrees of white stain marks all over my deck (especially around wood knots) that are very difficult to remove. If I stain over will it show through? Should I sand it off? What is this caused from? At this stage wishing I just left the deck alone to naturally weather……comments?

The cleaning mixture I used also was fairly aggressive on the wood fiber creating quite a bit of pulp slurry that stuck to everything. The ratio of bleach, TSP, and water seemed pretty typical (average) of all my research.

Scott M
Scott M
5 months ago

See attached photos.

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Monique
Monique
5 months ago

Hello,
We just built a new deck with pressure treated lumber and the boards have many chips and splinters sticking up in areas that I want to sand smooth. Some pieces might require wood filler due to the size of the gouges. Is this ok to do and should I spot stain those areas until I can stain the whole deck? Thank you.

Leigh Becker
Leigh Becker
6 months ago

HI – I’m fed up with Behr semi transparent deck stain. It’s actually more of a solid stain and looks as lousy and exactly like the pictures on your review page. Peeling and ugly. The deck is cedar 5/4 x 6 and also 2 x6 on the upper part. Total area close to 1500 sq ft. I’m currently sanding it and using pretty rough sandpaper – like 20 grit – with an orbital sander. I tried less griity sandpaper but it was taking too long and going through a lot more paper. The 20 grit bites better but it’s still slow going. I’m about halfway through sanding and it’s taken about 12 hours of sanding so far. The deck went up about 10 years ago and some parts have been replaced. My question is do I need to apply any other agents or conditioners before staining ? The wood is well aged. I understand the wood needs to be dry as well. Thanks

trish
trish
6 months ago

Just installed a new, western red cedar dock at our cottage in southern Ontario, Canada. Western exposure… so it gets sun from about noon on.
When the cedar gets wet, there is no beading etc and it looks just like the pics in your video of “ready to stain”… but then I read that we should wait and have to use a brightener etc. so I’m confused.
We want a clear stain as we like the weathered gray.
1) can we stain now? Without having to weather it?
2) what is the best penetrating oil based product to use?

Trish
Trish
6 months ago

thanks Scott! I really appreciate your help!

Joe Khirallah
Joe Khirallah
6 months ago

Here’s the picture of the new redwood fence. Rough hewn?

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Joe Khirallah
Joe Khirallah
6 months ago

Hi, I just put in two days ago a new redwood fence, looks roughhewn to me, picture attached. Would like to stay in right away if possible. Want to prevent any and all UV fading, hate that gray brown color. Any advice for top two or three semi transparent single application redwood stains?

PS thought I posted this comment/question somewhere else but I can’t find it now so apologies if this is duplicated

Xan
Xan
6 months ago

We had a wood deck built last May 2021. We haven’t stained it yet. How long is too long to wait to do it? Thank you!

Bill B.
Bill B.
6 months ago

Hello. We had our large deck by the Delaware shore replaced this week with#1pressure treated wood by a reputable contractor. We want to use a solid or semi solid stain using one of the top rated stains you recommend. The three month mark for us would then be the end of October or we would have to wait through the winter and do the staining in the spring. Do you see a downside to going through a Delaware winter? Would the cleaning process be more intense?

Yves
Yves
6 months ago

Hi

New cedar fence being installed this week.
When can I stain with Armstrong semi trans stain ?
And do I need to prep ?

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David
David
6 months ago

North facing deck in lower Michigan. 21 yrs old. Treated 1×6.
Original stain likely solid as peels and flakes every year. No absorption. Olympic Max solid last @10 years to spot or restain all yearly.
Currently replacing about half rotted or cracked boards. Can I strip remaining old solid stained boards? Sand ? So match new. Recoat all with brightener and semi trans ?

dave
dave
6 months ago

Thank You. Looks like I’ll replace most boards (about half replaced as of today) and try stripping and sanding the rest (were olympic max solid stain), then brightener and semi trans with “restore a deck” you recommend. A lot of my 21 year old boards peel every year, are soft and rot at ends where there is a trim piece that covers the cut ends and I think traps water. Replaced several last year which not peeling yet. 3 Pics attached. Given condition, any thoughts vs. just power wash, brighten and do another solid? appreciate your site and expertise.

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David
David
6 months ago

Thx. At this point after 21 yrs I’ll keep replacing until I run out of energy, then sand the @ 10 that replaced and solid stained last year. Wait 60 days. Brighten all and semi stain.
From my pics and your articles, sounds like I didn’t wait long enough and prep well originally even if I did start with semi t, and solid recoating was bad choice over the years for Michigan flooring.
If you can see routed spindles in pics, any local Oakland County sources you like that might have them?

David
David
6 months ago

Thx. Thinking I can sand many of 21 yr old boards rather than replace, or is that about the time to replace in michigan? Also, if I read correctly you recommend not using solid stains for flooring in michigan…too likely to peel after just couple years?

Pline
Pline
6 months ago

I see a lot of articles and questions about how soon after cleaning and brightening you can start staining. My question is what is the longest you can wait between the cleaning/brightening/sanding stage and staining? I ask because I’m having a hard time buying my stain and I already did the prep work. I didn’t realize my existing container of stain was old.

Daytime temps are between 85 and 93 right now. The porch is on the northern side of the house. It’s been fairly cool at night. Covered porch, two stories, has previously been stained using a semi-transparent stain. Thanks!

Last edited 6 months ago by Pline
Pline
Pline
6 months ago

Thank you so much.

Pline
Pline
6 months ago

Would this same advice apply if I had to wait up to 2 months? It’s doubtful it will take that long to get the product. But just in case.

Sean
Sean
6 months ago

We have an old (installed around 1950-1960) covered deck. It is north facing and the wood is like an interior wood floor. This is in the front range of Colorado. Someone once said they thought it was redwood but I’m not so sure. It is currently painted with a couple of layers. We intend on sanding it down to bare wood again and re-finishing it. We had hoped to whitewash it but all the products to do that seem to be interior based. Should we treat it like any other deck and sand it down, wait 3 months and then stain it?

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Lori Edwards
Lori Edwards
6 months ago

I have a redwood deck with a small bridge over a pond with fish. Is there a safe way to stain it?
Thank you,
Lori

Linda
Linda
6 months ago

Can you wait a couple of months before staining a power washed deck

Marc
Marc
7 months ago

Hi Scott, Folow up question for pine wood on balcony.
Wish I would have found your site before staining my balcony. So we sanded the pre-stain pine wood and removed the semi transparent stain superdeck by sherwin williams and we will wait 3 months for weathering. My question is that the pine is bleeding from the knots. What should we do specifically about it? I plan to stain again but should apply a product on the knots before staining? Thank you. Marc

Michelle K.
Michelle K.
7 months ago

We are planning to install new boards on our deck this week and will wait until at least mid fall to stain but can we use the new deck as normal until then? For example can I store a covered grill on the deck until it is stained? We currently move it off the deck to us but store covered on the deck when not in use.

John Wilson
John Wilson
7 months ago

I hung new Redwood T&G on my house above the stucco band and below the roof overhang. Sanded 150/180/220. Less than 4 months ago. For TWP 1500, I see that you do not recommend the ‘wet on wet’ method or more than one coat unless the redwood weathers at least 4mos. Am I reading that correctly? Can I let a 1st coat dry and then apply a 2nd coat? I’ve done that with Behr for better semi-transparent color and life. I haven’t used TWP, but I’d like to.

John D Saylor
John D Saylor
7 months ago

I am about to stain my previously unstained deck following your advice. After reading all the Q & A I have the following question: Next year when I go to put on the next coat, I understand I will need to prep. Is there a difference between the prep required prior to recoating a water based product (RAD) vs recoating an oil based product (TWP)?

Eric E
Eric E
7 months ago

Great site. thanks for all your answers. New deck boards – pressure treated. Yesterday applied Flood CWF-UV penatrating wood finish, Cedar, with a brush. Though it looked good applying, we now have visible overlap marks. See pictures. Is the only way stripping it and starting over?

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Sabrina
Sabrina
7 months ago

I have one month old rough milled cedar that is currently stickered that I am about to use for my deck. I read on your sight that rough sawn can be treated without weathering first. Do you recommend treating it before building the deck or after and what product?

HIne
HIne
7 months ago

Hi there! Is there any way to stain during wet season – perhaps under cover or using some heater?

I’m in New Zealand where we’ve just started winter. Deck was installed summer (late Dec). I really want to stain it ASAP but our winter is currently very wet and very unpredictable. It’s a south facing deck so no direct sun to dry fast so will need at least 2 days for it to dry which will be months before we get that

LuAnne
LuAnne
7 months ago

We live in Minnesota and have snowy winters and our deck gets shoveled often. Our old deck never took stain well. Over the years, we started with redwood semi transparent stains, then went to a solid stain and that has worn off. We decided to remove the deck boards, flip them over, ran the bottom side through a planer and sanded the old stain and mildew off the edges in order to start over with fresh wood. Our railings are still a solid redwood color, as I believe they would be difficult to strip.

Do I need to do any prep before I stain the new side of the boards or can I put an oil based stain directly on it? They are clean. After reading reviews of several stains, I am hesitant to use any of them in fear of this happening again. I am considering leaving it natural but am wondering what clear product I can use to help it from turning gray or is it just a bad idea to use clear? What is your opinion of the Penofin penetrating oil finish product for this application?

LuAnne
LuAnne
7 months ago

I assumed the old wood would be weathered already after all these years and hate to see it turn gray by fall. Is it just to fresh to stain right away? It seems damp and takes on moisture easily now that it’s been planed and takes a while to dry after it rains since it is on the north side of the house. Do you recommend the water based RAD stain instead of oil based stain on this deck? Anything I could use that would keep this natural look? Thank you.

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LuAnne
LuAnne
7 months ago

I guess I don’t want graying, so will probably choose a TWP 100 pro series semi transparent oil base stain. To prep this bare wood, should I use both the RAD cleaner and brightener kit or do I only need to brighten it since it was run through a planer? Thank you for your quick replies to my questions.

Tom
Tom
7 months ago

In New York, is it ok to install new pressure treated decking in the summer or fall and then wait until spring, after the winter, to stain? Will this cause any undesirable issues? Thank you!

Mark
Mark
7 months ago

I stained some new cedar fence boards with Cabot’s semi-transparent oil stain, it soaked in well and even and I’m happy with color, but it’s dry and kind of flat looking. Is there an oil or other type of topcoat I could use to give it more depth? Maybe Thompson’s waterseal? I’ve tried searching but keep finding conflicting info. Thanks!