How to Stain a Wood Pergola 4.9/5 (8)

This post was updated on May 2, 2022

Stain a Wood Pergola Tips

We at Deckstainhelp.com offer tips for a plethora of projects besides deck staining. In this article, we offer our insight on how to best approach a pergola staining project when it comes to prep and stain application. We always appreciate your input, so feel free to leave a comment below with pictures of your pergola stain projects.


Deck Stain PergolaA wood pergola can be a great way to reduce the amount of sunlight heating up your wood deck surface. It can offer shelter from the smoldering sun on extremely hot days without fully enclosing your deck. A pergola can also stand alone in a garden, over landscape features, over a hot tub, and more. Like any exterior wood surface, a pergola should be protected with a wood stain to increase its appearance and lifespan. Knowing how to stain a wood pergola is key.

To stain a wood pergola it should first be cleaned using a scrub brush or pressure washer. If the wood is only moderately dirty and grayed, a wood cleaner can be used to loosen any contaminants during washing. However, if an old existing wood stain is present, a deck stain stripper should be used. This will not only loosen natural contaminants like a wood cleaner but will soften and break down any old stain so it too can be washed from the wood surface. A clean wood surface is the key to a long-lasting refinish.

After the wood has been cleaned with either a wood cleaner or stripper, it should be coated with a wood brightener. This will neutralize the darkening effects the cleaner has on the wood and will help to enhance the wood’s natural beauty. Brightening also creates a more acidic surface and opens the wood pores for optimal stain absorption. After applying the brightener thoroughly rinse the surface with fresh water.

Allow the wood pergola to dry for a day or two. Prepare the area for staining by covering any surfaces you do not want to get the stain on such as concrete, landscaping, windows, etc. It is best to start at the highest point of the wood pergola and work your way down. Following the stain manufacturer’s recommendations for applying stain, coat each board using a stain pad, brush, roller, or sprayer.

Be sure not to over-apply the stain, which can lead to peeling and flaking problems. Apply as much stain as the wood will soak up and wipe away any excess after several minutes. To eliminate lap marks coat one board at a time from one end to the other before moving to the next board. This technique will give you more professional results. Continue until all the wood pergola is stained and allow it to cure for several days.

Using a quality wood stain will make application and maintenance much easier. The stain should last several years but once it is in need of attention you can simply perform a light wash and recoat with the same wood stain product.

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Thomas
Thomas
2 months ago

I live in Phoenix AZ. The sun destroys the stain in my cedar pergola. It is gone in 6 months, any help?

Phyllis Heitsman
Phyllis Heitsman
1 year ago

What color is this stain an where can I get it?

Mark Stafford
Mark Stafford
1 year ago

Hello – I’m in central Minnesota (frozen winter) and had a new deck and pergola installed this last August.

  • Deck is a composite material and large pergola is rough sawn cedar. For the pergola, the temps may allow for staining in late April or May.
  • Based on age and climate, should I pre-clean or treat, or not needed?
  • Are the differences between transparent, semi-transparent and semi-solid just preferred appearance, or what are the protection and likely years between re-staining for these options, on this rough sawn cedar?
  • Is there a recommended brand or stain type for this wood?
  • Is one coat typical with all, or some should have a second coat on this new wood.
  • Spraying does not seem an option for an open air pergola. What application method seems to work best on new rough sawn cedar? (2 x 4 slats over 2 x 10 joists).

Thank you!
Mark

Randall Winward
Randall Winward
1 year ago

Hello, I live in Houston,Tx. I am building a pergola with pressure treated pine. I want to coat and seal it to look like cedar. What steps do I need to take before I can stain it and what stain sealer do you recommend? Thanks in advance.

Randy

Randall Winward
Randall Winward
1 year ago

Thank you! If I don’t want to wait 3 months to stain treated pine my only option is to get rough sawn?

Al Pareja
Al Pareja
2 years ago

I have a new cedar deck and pergola. The actual deck is made with Kiln-dried cedar. How long should I wait to stain? I know that the recommendation is 3+ months, but considering it’s kiln-dried, can I stain now? It’s been 2 months since the deck was installed.
Also, any thoughts on using small rollers to stain the pergola’s small boards?
Thanks in advance

Al Pareja
Al Pareja
2 years ago

Thanks for your response. My 2nd option was to spray the TWP 1500 stain with a handheld paint sprayer like this one. Understand that it may not be the best option but the sprayer would do the job much faster than a pad or brush. Any thoughts?

Sam
Sam
2 years ago

Just had a cedar gazebo built one week ago. I would like it to be solid white and super durable. What product would you recommend. Thanks.

Sam
Sam
2 years ago

Thanks for the quick reply and links. I’m confused by this tip in the article however:

Staining a New Deck Tip #1: Rough sawn wood is already porous and can be stained right away as long as it is clean and the wood is dry.

Esteban
Esteban
2 years ago

I purchased dried Redwood for a pergola project. Does it need to weather before sealing? I’m in Los Angeles.

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Esteban
Esteban
2 years ago

Thanks. What are your thoughts on the brand Ready Seal?

Esteban Montanez
Esteban Montanez
2 years ago

My pergola has now weathered for more than 3 months. Im getting ready to prep and stain. How long should I wait between the wood cleaner and the stain, and how long does it take for stain to dry. Planning to use RAD cleaner/brightener kit and Armstrong Clark stain. I’m in LA, Ca.

Pat Matusko
Pat Matusko
2 years ago

This article is most helpful. I now need to know which products to buy is the cleaner, brightner and stain and where they are available. I live in Edmonton Alberta Canada
Thank you

BettyAnn
BettyAnn
2 years ago

So after it is stained, then do I need to seal it?

T Beck
T Beck
2 years ago

What kind of applicator do you recommend so that I don’t get stain running down my arm when working overhead?

Carlo C
Carlo C
3 years ago

I just got a redwood pergola arbor installed. When should I stain. I live in San Jose Ca, and we may have a dry winter this year. I’m getting results on this questions. Some say now, others say wait. Help!!!!

Peder Svendsen
Peder Svendsen
3 years ago

I heard that you have to sand old cedar before sealing, is this true?

Derrick Laughlin
Derrick Laughlin
3 years ago

Hello,
I just bought a pergola kit which was stained from the company but not sealed. It is a light cherry stain. We want to restain a darker color with a solid or semi transparent stain out of the box before assembly. The manufacturer states it is a Chinese cedar wood. Any do’s or dont’s before tackling this project? Any advice will help.
Thanks
Derrick L

Jude
Jude
4 years ago

Is it better to use oil based or water based semi transparent stain on my new rough cedar pergola?

Lindsay
Lindsay
4 years ago

What color stain is this?

Susan
Susan
5 years ago

You said my rough sawn wood should have a moisture content of less than 15% to stain. How do I know what mine is and should it be up for a few months before staining.

Susan
Susan
5 years ago

Can you stain immediately before installation or does rough sawn wood need to dry?

Karen
Karen
6 years ago

What's the best stain for a cedar pergola.

Kyle
Kyle
6 years ago

I am putting in a pergola for a customer. They are going to be putting grapevines on it witch over time they will eat. I need to know what kind of oil or stain I can use that will not effect them eating the grapes

Nick
Nick
7 years ago

I'm planning to build an open patio( attached pergola), I got the redwood from home depot which it was not cheap ($6000),
And I want to make the wood look good and last as long as possible, I was thinking of staining and sealing it before building it, but I'm not sure if that is a good idea or not, how can I know if the wood is dry enough to be stained and sealed? And does it need to be cleaned with any kind of cleaner before staining or not? And also I'm having hard time choosing the brand to use, I'm in Las Vegas and uv protection is very needed here, please advise,
Thanks

rooz
rooz
7 years ago

I am building a pergola using pressure treated wood that i believe to be wet, they have been sitting in sun and rain for over two weeks now but in the event that they are not cured yet which i am almost sure they are not, and i still want to stain it, what would be the best choice in that. The posts will be in a load bearing column, fiberglass i believe is the column material. I am staining essentially the lattice roof. It should be mentioned that i will be growing grape vines that will eventually cover the roof area. suggestions? should i also stain the posts that is being covered up by the column?

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