How to Season a New Deck  5/5 (14)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

Seasoning a New Deck 2024

We at Deckstainhelp.com strive to provide the most up-to-date information and tips for your deck stain projects. The tip for a beautifully stained new deck is the first step, letting the deck weather before applying the cleaner, wood brightener, and stain. Feel free to also submit a comment below.


New Cedar Wood

New Cedar Wood

When a deck is brand new usually the lumber is still very “green” and has high moisture content. That is unless the lumber is KDAT lumber meaning, “kiln dried after treatment.” This type of wood is dried before it is sold. But for the average deck being built, regular cedar, redwood, or pine is used in the construction. You may have heard the term “season” and how it is important to let a new deck season prior to staining it.

To season a deck simply means to let it sit, for a season, before you attempt to stain it. This is because the wood still has too much moisture in it and staining it can trap that unwanted moisture. This can lead to many moisture problems like mold, fungi, rot, and decay. This term can be a bit misleading though. Normally a deck does not have to “season” a whole year. Many times, depending on weather and sun exposure, a deck can season much quicker. In most cases, a new deck can be stained within 3-12 months of being built especially if the weather has been warm and the deck gets a lot of sun exposure.

How to season a new deck is really quite simple. You just leave it alone. Meaning you do not apply any type of stain or sealer until it has gone through the natural drying process. It can also be most helpful to keep things off of the deck that may trap moisture. Items such as rugs, mats, outdoor carpet, potted plants, grill pads, and deck boxes can keep an area from seasoning in a timely manner.

Once the deck has seasoned for several months, you can begin checking the moisture content of the wood with a moisture meter. Ideally, you want an average reading of 12% to 15% or less. Once the desired moisture content is reached then the deck is done seasoning and can be stained or sealed. How to season a new deck then is really just giving the wood enough time to dry naturally so it can then be protected with a waterproof stain or sealer.

Staining a New Deck Tips Video – DeckStainHelp.com

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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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Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
9 months ago

Scott, Just to clarify when staining in the spring do I need to pre-treat the existing deck flooring with anything? All will be power washed of course.Thank you!

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
27 days ago

Scott, Its spring and I am getting ready to deal with the now seasoned deck. Following your advice: Do you have a preference between Defy and Restore-a-Deck ? Do they have their own cleaners and brighteners for prep?
Thank you!

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
13 days ago

Scott, I am about to order from RAD. Is cleaner sufficient for my situation? Rather than a stripper? And either of these products can be used while doing the power washing?

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
12 days ago

You can see from the photos that is has had old bad stain much of which has been sanded to remove the peeling aspects. Not every spindle or board has been sanded but the raining and floor mostly are. The upright privacy panel looks pristine. Lots of old stain left on the spindles, but they have been brushed to remove loose particles etc. About to order solid stain as you recommend from RAD. Just wondering if the stripping aspect is needed. An imperfect surface to be sure. The power wash and cleaner/stripper happen at the same time? I have to hire someone to do this and want to clarify the steps required.
Thank you, Scott!!

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
11 days ago

Scott, I can see them on the site…this is strange.

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
8 days ago

My apologies, Scott! I didn’t understand these were different threads. Thank you for taking the time to track down the initial thread with photos, and I greatly appreciate your advice. I can move ahead now to purchase the products.

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
9 months ago

Scott, here are the photos to illustrate my cquestion below. Let me know if you need others to help. There are big strips of the stain/sealer that have peeled off revealing wet wood. Rotted board not yet replaced but is part of the issue when it is new. How do I proceed? Let everything season til next year? I now see I was not using the best stain/sealer. Appreciate your expertise!!!

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Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
9 months ago

Scott, I have a deck that was never properly seasoned when constructed some years ago. I continued to use the same semi transparent stain/sealer the contractor used: Behr Premium Waterproofing Stain and Sealer in chocolate. The deck has been peeling the sealer for a while, and its has been stained annually. Now a board has rotted and will be replaced by the HOA. We have sanded and scraped so its mostly clear wood on the deck floor. Not easy bc of some cupping of boards. Its not new deck wood…except for the expected replacement board, but if the original wood was never seasoned, so can it wait til next year without any treatment to allow it to finally dry out? I live in Eastern PA. I have a canopy over the deck for most of the summer and into fall but take it down before winter so deck floor is protected. Would it need to be treated before staining if it is allowed to season? Is there a product you might recommend if so? There is a privacy wall that seems to be just fine with no peeling or wear. Is it OK to continue with Behr or perhaps a Sherwin Williams product? Semi transparent is ok or is solid required at this point? Appreciate your thoughts and expertise!! Thank you!

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
9 months ago

Scott are you still out there answering questions? I need your advice.

Tracey J Wilson
Tracey J Wilson
2 years ago

We have cleaned, scraped puttied, & pole sanded our deck which had Behr premium deck over (russet color) on it. There are still a lot of areas that have intact deck over on, but also many bare areas. We are ready to put a coat of Rustoleum Rock Solid Deck start primer on it, but the Kilz porch floor and deck paint (silver gray) will not arrive for another 4 or 5 days. Is it OK for the primer to sit that long without the top coat? If so, can we just vacuum it before painting or will we have to clean it again? Is there a different exterior paint product you would suggest, that we could pick up to do right away if needed? The Kilz had to be ordered as no one carries it here.

tracey wilson
tracey wilson
2 years ago

We bought preassembled 6 foot sections of pressure treated and alluminum railing from home depot. I don’t see any notes in the attached paperwork that it is kiln dried. How can I know for sure if we have to wait to stain the wood? It will have full Southern exposure when put up in central PA.

Brian M
Brian M
3 years ago

Hello, I recently had 2 Deck’s put on my house. The company that installed them used AC2 treated pine boards & 5/4 deck boards. This stuff was so wet you could almost wring it out. I need to do some sanding on some of it. Should I sand it now & then let it weather instead of letting it dry out & then sanding it. It seems like I would have less “wait” time if I did it this way.

Alan
Alan
5 years ago

I installed a new redwood deck in July of last year. I want to use Armstrong Clark semi-transparent redwood stain. Due to the stampings on the wood I sanded it with 12o sand paper with and orbital sander. I was fearful of using a more coarse grit in fear of leaving swirl marks in the wood. As is expected, the wood is now discolored from the winter rains and I am planning to stain this month. I will prep as you suggest with cleaner and brightener, but am wondering if the 120 grit sanding was too fine. Please tell me what you feel about the sanding issue.
Thanks!
Alan

Alan
Alan
5 years ago

I sanded all the wood prior to installation last, not just the stamps. So, I should be good to proceed now? And, the 120 grit will be okay? Your help is greatly appreciated.

ProClean Pressure Washing of St. Petersburg
ProClean Pressure Washing of St. Petersburg
5 years ago

How long after staining would you recommend waiting before you power wash a deck? Our deck is always getting dirty from rain, the dogs, the kids, plus we love entertaining out there so we’re always having to wash down the deck and steps but it needs a new coat of stain. Suggestions?

Will
Will
5 years ago

I put thompson’s water seal on a cedar fence about 11 months ago – bad idea – want to strip, sand or whatever to remove and re-stain the fence with something better.

Recommendations?

Darron
Darron
5 years ago

I had a deck built in the spring (approximately 6-7 months ago) with pressure treated pine. Within a month, mildew began to appear. It quickly spread. Now there are mildew spots across the entire deck and I’m afraid some if it has probably grown fairly deep. What’s the easiest way to get rid of all the mildew before I stain it? It’s an elevated deck and I have vegetation below it, so I’d rather not use anything that will kill grass/plants if possible.

Renee Alexander
Renee Alexander
5 years ago

Hi – we installed a new deck but but weren’t aware of a seasoning period and stained a week after. There are lots of brush strokes/uneven staining (wishing we had read this article before). Should we sand it all off and wait the year or leave as is? I would really like to get those white spots covered (just for aesthetics) but don’t want to make it worse. Also it didn’t seem get in between the boards. What’s the secret? Thank you!

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Kristen
Kristen
6 years ago

Our cedar deck is 1.5 years old. In the fall we cleaned and sealed it as instructed by the builder (at that point it had seasoned for a year already). We live in Ontario, Canada- a long winter ensued…
It is now spring and the deck looks really dirty…some areas have what looks like a dirt film on them too.
My question is…can we use a cleaner to fix the dirtiness and not re-seal it? Or do we have to re-seal it if we use a cleaner?
If the advice is no cleaner, then whats the best way to get rid of the dirt film?

Thank you!!

Kristen
Kristen
6 years ago

I used Thompsons water seal (we have a pool). I will attach pics of can and deck. Thr second deck picture os after I scraped the deck with my shoe.

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Kristen
Kristen
6 years ago

Thank you. How much pressure= lightly?

Aimee G
Aimee G
6 years ago

I cleaned my brand new deck with Olympic cleaner 4 weeks after it was built with the intention on staining shortly after. After further research, I have decided to wait a few months before staining. Is that a bad idea since it has already been cleaned/prepped?

Ralph Baker
Ralph Baker
6 years ago

We have a 25 year old cedar deck. It was coated five years ago with a heavy solid body finish that peeled badly. We have just sanded it down to bare wood. It looks great and is in good condition. We plan to use a clear or light color (cedar) semi-transparent stain. After sanding, is it considered a new deck in regards to seasoning?

We live in Eastern Washington in a forest. 50/50 sun/shade. Heavy snow in winter. No mold/mildew issues. What is your recommended stain?

Thanks for your help

Jade
Jade
6 years ago

How about the railings? We are doing redwood railing for our redwood decks. Do you also need to give it some time before staining? Is semi transparent stain or solid one better for that?

John
John
6 years ago

I put in a deck about 1500 sq.ft. of PT pine 5/4″ boards from Home Depot. I live in San Antonio and built it in December so it should be plenty dry by now. I am using the Defy products and started with the cleaner and brushed it in. My problem is that when I used my pressure washer it’s almost like it is starting to take off some kind of coating or something. The wood looks really weird and I’m not sure if I should not do this on other parts of the deck? Any advice on what to do?

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Pete
Pete
7 years ago

The stain on my redwood deck has broken down quite a bit and several planks need to be replaced. I just stripped the entire deck with Defy wood stripper, then removed the degraded planks and placed the new redwood planks in their place. I then applied Defy wood brightener to the entire deck, thinking that the new planks needed to be brightened to remove mill glaze. But now the new planks are spotchy looking. Any advice? I am ready to stain the deck and am willing to work around the new planks and leave them unstained for several months for seasoning (they will get lots of sun exposure over the next several months).

Kevin
Kevin
7 years ago

My new deck is pine and following your suggestions, the deck sat before sealing. Unfortunately the elements (rain, snow, sun) appears to have caused the floor boards to cup and shrink. Is this unusual? Should it now be sanded before sealing to try and level the cupping?

Mike
Mike
8 years ago

We had a new redwood deck installed last fall and are ready to apply the initial coat of stain the surface has faded some but not much and the moisture content has dropped. Do I need to apply a cleaner or brightener (or both) first or can I power wash and apply the stain?

Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
8 years ago

My deck was built with a vertical privacy screen about 6-8ft tall with trellises around a quarter to half the deck with pressure treated deck boards & cedar posts. Going to clean and brighten entire deck, including privacy screen. Question is, how difficult will it be to use pump sprayer on vertical boards & posts as the cleaners recommend letting the cleaner "sit" for 15 minutes? Second question, I want to cleaner, brighter & stain both sides of the privacy screen, will there be any issue cleaning/brightening one side at a time, only to do the reverse side & likely have the cleaner/brightener bleed through to the already cleaned side? Lastly, would you bother cleaning, brightening & staining the trellis portion?
Thanks in advance!

Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
8 years ago

Thanks. I guess my question is about letting the cleaner sit, if it's vertical posts & boards, it's just going to drip off?

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