When to Stain a New Deck: How Long Should You Wait?  5/5 (65)

This post was updated on May 12, 2024

Hi, I am Scott Paul, a leading exterior restoration contractor and business owner with over 30 years of experience in exterior deck staining and prep. My reviews and help tips are based on my history as a wood and deck restoration contractor and actual hands-on testing, all designed to present you with the top product choices. See here for more info about me.

Want to Stain A New Deck in 2024?

Every spring, I 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 I created 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, I am here to help if you still have questions! Just post a comment below, and I’ll 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?

The best time to stain a deck depends on the type of wood used.

  • 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 and KDAT wood will need one to two months before you can stain it.
Rough Sawn Stained Light Walnut

Rough Sawn Stained Light Walnut

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

Almost all new exterior wood must be weathered before applying 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, you run the risk that the stain will not take. The wood needs to be porous so that the stain can soak in and reflect your chosen color. 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 hoped 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.

My Tips for Staining a New Deck

My new deck staining tips apply to all wooden exteriors, including decks, cedar-framed homes, log cabins, wood fences, and other structures.

How I Prep New Wood for Staining

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

Do You Need to Sand the New Wood?

I do not suggest sanding new wood unless you need to remove the “wood fuzzies” or some slivers. If the wood has raised fibers that make it look furry after prepping, 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. I have found that the first time staining new wood typically does not last as long as the second or subsequent coatings.

My Recommended Wood 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 (62)
  • 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:  4.6/5 (50)
  • 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 (41)
  • DeckStainHelp.com Rating: 8.69/10

My Best New Wood Deck Stain

Water-Based

My Best Applying New

Wood Deck Stain 

My Best New Wood Deck Stain

Oil-Based 

Months to Weather New Wood:

3 months for both semi-transparent and solid stain colors.

Months to Weather New Wood:

2-3 months for transparent and semi-transparent colors. 12 months for semi-solid.

Months to Weather New Wood: 

4 - 12 months for all TWP Series and Colors.

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

Questions? Let Me Help

If you still have questions about when to stain a new deck and how to do it, please ask below. I am glad to assist you.

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

author avatar
Scott Paul ~ Restoring Wood & Decks Since 1993 Owner
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites. All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.

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Susan Wolek
Susan Wolek
15 days ago

We have a new cottage that’s pine. It’s been sitting with no stain for 8 months. The area is subject to a lot of snow & rain. I like the idea of using an oil based stain because of penetration in the wood and looks really nice but since the wood could be damp I’m worried the oil could promote mold. I also would like to choose a stain from a store so that I can actually see the colors which I can’t if I ordered stain online. I live in Illinois/Wisconsin. Is there a high rated stain that can be purchased in a store (Home Depot, Ace, farm & fleet Sherwin Williams, Lowe’s) Is there an oil stain ( hybrid) that can be used on wood if it is damp? Thank you.

Justin
Justin
1 month ago

I have a client with a new deck out in last Nov. It’s knotty pine but she doesn’t like the knots and wants them filled? Or thinks it a weakness in the board protection. What do you think?

Thanks, Justin

Victoria
Victoria
4 months ago

Thanks for all this wonderful information. We are currently in the process of having three porch added to our home. We are in eastern NC. Front covered porch get morning sun, side covered lining gets nothing and prone to mold. Back porch is half screened in and half open deck and get mid-day and afternoon sun.

I didn’t realize staining a deck was so scientific but in doing my research on how to make this huge investment last I’ve quickly learned otherwise.

I have several question. For the front I would love to paint base and post white with the floor being stained too keep the wood look but I do want to alter the color. Is this a good idea? How should I go about doing this?

For the side I would love to keep similar to the front, but since mold is a problem should I consider something different?

The back, I was told by the builders I need to stain before they put the screens in because I won’t be able to get to the wood behind the screens unless I remove the panels. How do I handle this if I need to let the wood weather first? For this one I would love to stain in the color of the floors on the front and sides. What product do you suggest and what process should I use?

Thanks for any advice you can give me!

Mike
Mike
5 months ago

Should i install new deck boards now before the snow hits or wait until spring? I bought some restore a deck and finished my deck 2 years ago. Deck had a tree in the middle we had cut down, now have to install about 8 new 15 ft boards. Probably get enough snow in Iowa where it will be sitting on the new wood most of the winter. Will this be extremely detrimental to the wood? I would like to stain the deck before the summer heat hits.

Scott
Scott
6 months ago

My deck and screened porch was completed in May 2023. The outside deck appears ready to stain. However, how much of the screened in portion do I stain? Do I stain the exposed ceiling joists too?

thank you

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Rob
Rob
6 months ago

I am just now installing a new western red cedar decking that has been kiln dried and is smooth. Is it OK to leave it untreated through the winter and wait for it to dry in the spring before applying sealant or stain? Thank you

Sam
Sam
6 months ago

Just finished installing new redwood deck2 weeks ago. It has already rained on it 2 times. I live in Northern California sierras, I will get snow. Do I try and stain in between weather? or do I need to wait for spring. If I wait to spring what damage will the snow/rain do. Iam very worried about my beautiful redwood.

Bethany Sponseller
Bethany Sponseller
7 months ago

Hello!
When weathering a deck, can you use an outdoor rug and/or have other items on it such as a grill, patio table, deckbox? Tia.

Andy
Andy
7 months ago

I am in Southern California and building a cedar wood gate. The cedar planks were purchased at Lowes and one side is rough and the other smooth. Are these Rough-sawn wood or only one side is rough sawn. Should I wait to stain or can I stain before putting gate together so both sides are stained. I plan to have the smooth facing out.
I am thinking of using Restore A Deck semi-transparent dark walnut stain.

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Felicia
Felicia
7 months ago

I had a new deck w/rails built in the back and new posts and rails built on the front porch about 3 months ago. Can I wait until next spring/summer to stain and paint? Pressure treated wood.

Felix Smith
Felix Smith
7 months ago

Hello,
I have new red cedar shingle siding, red cedar trim, and Douglas fir T&G soffits.
All were installed before March of 2023.
Can I use TWP without the cleaning prep step ?
Website says clear offers no UV protection. What percentage of UV protection is obtained with the TWP 100 stains ?
Thank you

Felix Smith
Felix Smith
7 months ago

Hello,
I have a new home sided with red cedar shingles. The trim is also red cedar. the siding was completed in March 2023. I want to use a clear finish on the entire exterior. The soffits are Douglas fir T&G. The house is located in Western Washington state near the salt water.
Looking at reviews of Penofin I initially thought the Red label might be the best , but seeing this comment site perhaps TWP is preferable ?
Please let me know your opinion.
Thank you,
Felix Smith

Dean
Dean
8 months ago

We had a new deck in early July. It’s a mix of green treated wood and rough sawed timbers for the vertical posts. Can I wait until spring to stain it all together? Or should I try and get this done before it freezes? Bare in mind, we live in South Dakota and can expect temps as low as 50 below zero.

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Portia
Portia
8 months ago

Thank you so very much for your advice and guidance. If I find something that works with the oil stains, I will let you know. I will move forward in purchasing the TWP 100 Series Stain. It is so nice to have someone to look to for help. Thank you so much again.

Portia
Portia
8 months ago

By the way, I live in East Texas where it is extremely hot and humid. Most of my deck is covered, but 1/3 of it is in the sun. I love the natural grain of wood which is why I want a transparent or semi transparent stain. Would you recommend the TWP 100 pro series (oil). I have always thought that oil is really good for preserving wood. I was going to purchase Cabot Australian Timber Oil until I did the research. I am a widow who does everything myself, so I need all the help I can get. Thank you so much for your help.

Portia
Portia
8 months ago

I have a new treated pine deck panel deck. It has been down now for about 6 months. Before I stain it, my old power washer leaked oil in several places before I caught it. I have used Dawn and 409 and power washed (with a new power washer) and it won’t come up. Any suggestions on how to get the oil out of the wood before staining? I want to use a transparent or semi transparent oil stain. Thank you so much.

Peggy
Peggy
8 months ago

I am building a redwood deck. I would like to use a clear sealer to protect it from the cold wet Winters and dry hot Summers. I want to see the natural wood grain under the sealer. What brand would you suggest to give this deck the best protection and look?

Bob Patterson
Bob Patterson
8 months ago

Help! I need to re-stain a deck, but I do not know the original stain brand or color. it was done by the previous owners. This is what it looks like now… some of it is under a roof, and some of it is exposed to the elements
Thanks! Bob P

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Brad
Brad
8 months ago

I’ve got some boards that were replaced a year ago, and I need to replace a few rotted boards as well. All the old wood is gray and weathered, a little bit of mildew… Should I replace boards with pressure treated pine now and plan to stain in the spring? Also, is there something I can do to prevent more wood from starting to rot over the winter?

kdonehoo
kdonehoo
9 months ago

How long should we wait for a second coat of Twp 100 stain on a 8 month old pt pine deck. We will get first coat next week. North ga.

Mohammad Alshafie
Mohammad Alshafie
9 months ago

Hi Scott,

I really appreciate your site and all the information you provide, you have saved me a lot of stress so THANK YOU!

I had a pressure treated deck put in about 3 months ago May 9,23. It’s now August 11, 23. The deck is in Columbia SC where summers are hot, humid, and rainy. The deck gets plenty of sun throughout the day.

Few questions please regarding staining/next steps:

1) It’s been 3 months but water still beads up on top of the decking boards and rail when I do the water test. It’s over an hour before the water droplets absorbed into the wood. Should I wait more to stain? How long? I was going to buy Sherwin Williams but not after reading some of the reviews. What would you recommend for my deck?

2) I heard this somewhere but Is it true that Oil-based stains are a bad idea in the South East with the warm and humid climates? Apparently creates a perfect environment for mold/mildew.

3) Some of the rails have warped already. Why is this happening?

4) It seems from recommendations you’ve made in below posts the recommendation (even for new decks) is to clean then brighten then stain? If fuzzies appear then sand with 80 grit. Correct?

Thank you so much!!

Last edited 9 months ago by Mohammad Alshafie
Sam
Sam
9 months ago

Hi Scott

We live in Raleigh, NC just finished building a new deck ( 8/7/23) 20 X 20 with 30 steps and 5 X 5 landing using pressure treated pine lumbar. We decided on black aluminum balusters for railings. Would you recommend the Defy semi transparent sealer and stain or the Armstrong Clark Hardwood stain. Does the Armstrong stain come in water based? I want to use a water based semi transparent stain.

Another question I have is what are your thoughts on sealers like the ones offered by DuraSeal that say they have a 25 year warranty
on their sealer. They claim you won’t need to seal your deck again for over 25 years.

Thanks
Sam

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Chris Atkinson
Chris Atkinson
9 months ago

Paul
Thanks for all of your great and patient answers to all the DIY questions. You are a Saint!

Rich
Rich
9 months ago

Hi, I’m getting conflicting opinions about when I should treat the Red Western Kelm Dried Cedar I just reboarded my deck with. The lumber yard I bought it from says once it absorbs water it’s ready for treatment, but I believe you are saying wait at least 3 months. We live in MN so waiting that long would put us in Nov where the temps are in the 30 or 40F range. I’ve stained with TWP before and really like the product someone else recommended Sikken stain. I want the wood to match the existing railing which I stained with TWP 101 Cedartone(See pic). Do you have a recommendation of what product/s to use first and after achieve this.

Thank you.
Rich

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David
David
9 months ago

I used PPG Proluxe semi transparent stain on my house, the same stain that it was cover in orginally. The result isn’t good. It was prepared properly. Now I want to redo it in a solid stain. Which solid stain will work best? Should I use PPG’s solid or can I go with another company? Stripping the current stain is not an option.

David
David
9 months ago

To remove it from the entire house would be very difficult and expensive.I’ve already dropped 10k on the project. I can’t do it myself because much of the house is two stories high and I”m too old to be climbing ladders. What if I were to cover it with a good primer and put a solid stain over that? From the videos I”ve seen, the primers are effective. If that is an option, what combination would you suggest? I know this is a deck forum but it is a staining issue just the same. It is so difficult to get good information on this topic. So much of it is contradictory.

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