How to Stain Rough Sawn Wood 4.7/5 (43)

by Deck Stain Help

Updated February 2020

Staining Rough Sawn Wood Tips

DeckStainHelp.com has become the Internet’s go-to site for wood deck restoration tips. Rough sawn wood can be used to construct and stain a beautiful wood deck. In this article, we offer tips for staining rough sawn wood for the best results. If you have any questions on staining rough sawn wood, feel free to leave us a comment with pictures if you have them.


Easy Application Tips for Staining Rough Sawn Wood

Rough Sawn Deck Trim

Rough Sawn Deck Trim

Rough textured wood also known as “rough sawn” is wood that is used as originally cut. It has not been smoothed out or sanded in most cases. Wood like this is a bit more difficult to stain than smooth textured wood but it does not have to be an overwhelming task. Rough sawn wood is commonly used for exterior wood fences, decking trim, and house trim. Typical wood types are cedar and pine.

Using the right stain and tools can make the job much easier when it comes to rough sawn.

When dealing with rough sawn wood it is important to prepare the wood prior to staining. Use a wood cleaner to break loose any dirt, grime, and gray fibers. Then wash the wood surface with a stiff brush or pressure washer. Be careful not to use excessive pressure that could damage the wood surface. After using a wood cleaner, a wood brightener should be applied to neutralize the pH level and brighten the wood back to its original appearance.

Note: If the wood is new, no prepping is needed and staining can be done right away.

Once the wood dries following the cleaning it is time to stain. Check your local weather and make sure there is no rain forecasted for the next 12-24 hours. It is also best to apply wood stain in temperatures between 60-80 degrees. It should not drop below 32 degrees within 8 hours of staining.

Choose a wood stain that is specifically designed for rough sawn porous woods. You want to use a good penetrating stain that states it is best for rough-textured surfaces. Stay away from hardwood stains and film-forming type of stains.

For rough sawn wood you can use a brush and/or roller. A brush is good at getting into corners and cutting in along edges. If you use a roller a ¾” nap is best for pushing stain into the rough surface. Try not to stain in direct sunlight. Mask off any areas you do not want stained. Stain one board or section at a time to eliminate lap marks. If the wood seems really thirsty, you can apply two “wet on wet” coats if the stain you are using allows.

You can also apply stain to rough sawn wood using a pump or airless sprayer. Spraying the stain can allow it to get into the rough texture of the surface with less effort than brushing or rolling. Just be sure to mask any windows, siding, concrete and other surfaces in the area.

Note: Our favorite method for staining rough sawn is to lightly spray on the first coat with a pump sprayer. This will absorb deeply, giving a nice base coat. We then follow up with a stain pad or brush to apply a second coat right away. This will ensure a nice even coverage.

Always follow the instructions on the label of stain you are using. Wear proper personal protection. Depending on the stain you, use mineral spirits or soapy water to clean up all your equipment and tools after staining. Keeping rough sawn wood maintained can be easier by following these simple guidelines.

Have a Question on Staining Rough Sawn Wood? Ask Below!

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Weekend Warrior
Weekend Warrior

I had rough-saw (all sides) Port Orford cedar milled at a local mill for a board and batten, board-on-board fence I am building. The material was picked up green from the mill a few weeks ago and has been stickered in my shop. I live on the Oregon coast so there is plenty of rain in the winter but lots of sun in the summer and fall. Great UV protection as well as as having an excellent mildewcide is important to me in this caustic environment. With the cedar being rough-sawn, I was planning on pre-staining before installation so I would have 100% coverage but I am open to installing and staining later if this approach is best. What would you recommend? I have had better luck with oil based stains in our environment. Can you provide the name of the semi-transparent, darker brown-tone, oil based stain you would use in my application. Given my circumstances, would you apply your recommended stain with one coat, “wet-on-wet”, or as two separate coats? If you recommend installing the fence before staining, how long until you would stain the fence and would I have to use either a cleaner or brightener before staining? Thank you for your help!

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Samantha
Samantha

Hello! We are ordering cypress rough sawn lap drop for our home, using ebony PPG flood stain for trim and fascia, smooth tng soffit and entry cladding in pearl gray, and trying to find the perfect shade of blue grey for the rough sawn siding! Any ideas what would get us this color in a Cabot or ppg oil base? The manufacturer will be staining it for us.

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Mark
Mark

I made a grill cart from rough sawn cedar 2x4s and 2×6 boards. After completion, it has been sitting in my garage for about 5 weeks. I understand from other advise you have given that I can stain it when it is “dry.”
Can you please tell me how I can know when it is dry enough to stain?
Thanks a lot!

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis

We Have barn doors on our closet, they Are made out of rough sawn pine wood. They were installed in September, I am looking to stain them to look somewhat weathered maybe in a gray. Can you recommend A stain to use.

Bryant
Bryant

Rough sawn douglas fir shade structure in Phoenix, AZ. Looking for a stain that will hold up in scorching summers. I have been scouring hardware stores for Defy Extreme and TWP products- no luck yet. Do you have a suggestion for particular stain, color, and transparency should I need to order online?

Thank you for your help this site has been amazing.

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John
John

My house has rough ceder plank siding. It is currently stained grey. Can I white wash it so you can still see some of the grey or is this a bad idea?

Nicemare
Nicemare

Need suggestions on stain for outdoor porch rough cedar post (picture below)

Want post a tad darker to contrast against rock.

. Aiming for brownish / red tint We have tried several brands semi transparent natural and some with light brown tones. Everything goes on REALLY dark! Advice greatly appreciated…

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Chris
Chris

I’m using 750(!) 1″x2″x6′ (nominal) rough redwood boards, placed end-to-end horizontally, for a new 6′ x 50′ outdoor fence. There will be a 1/2″ gap between each “row” of boards on the fence. And because of the design, all those boards will be exposed to the California sun/rain/wind on –pretty much–all 6 sides of each board. I want to coat them with something transparent that will help the boards keep their redwood color. One paint guy I talked to said to first use Behr All-in-One Wood Cleaner on boards in case there’s mill glaze on them–or use it just to help prep boards to take the transparent stain. I’m not so sure about that (and would love to avoid touching each board TWICE). Then he suggested I use Behr Premium Transparent Stain to seal it after cleaning. What do you think? I have one shot to seal this as best I can before it goes up. I want to do it right. What product/process would you recommend?

Jocelyn
Jocelyn

We are having a hard time selecting a stain for our exterior posts made of rough cypress. We would like a reddish brown color as pictured. Please help!!

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Jen
Jen

We are having a new cedar porch put in this week. All of the columns, rails, and floor boards will be smooth cedar. I prefer the smooth feel. The kick plate, skirting, panels framing the lattice will be rough sawn. Will the stain adher to the smooth and rough cedar the same? Will I be able to apply stain to the smooth cedar right away? Do you recommend an oil base or a water base? Our previous porch was painted so the staining thing is completely new to me.

Sheila
Sheila

This site is a great resource – thank you.

Beginner’s question: can all products labeled as “deck stains” be used on houses? Or should you only use certain stains on home exteriors? (We have rough-cut cedar exterior on our house.)

Also, our rough-cut cedar hasn’t been stained in at least 15 yrs and has gone grey. We like the color fine. Is it still worth staining for protective purposes, or is it too late to be beneficial?

Thanks again!

trish
trish

I am putting up a new pergola, rough sawn Cedar and want to stain it before we put it up. The wood was just delivered. Live in CO and Pergola will face South. I was going to use Behr Premium Semi Transparent Cedar Naturale but after finding this site will stay away, thank you. What brand do you recommend that will be a semi-transparent cedar color, the Q&A is helpful but i don’t see anything specific i can buy. Thank you big time!

Larry Dinsmore
Larry Dinsmore

All stain people say you have to sand the surface or the stain will peel.I want to stain my rough cut board and baton siding which has been up for six or seven years. I power washed the wall using a cleaner to get rid of dark black dirt that had built up. There is no way I know of sanding a rough cut wall. How does one prepare this surface for a tinted transparent stain. Thanks.

Mike
Mike

How long after installation should you stain a new rough sawn redwood fence? I heard it should be done as soon as possible to prevent cracking.

Ryan
Ryan

Can you paint/stain rough sawn wood right away? Or does it need to dry out for months like PT wood

Kris
Kris

We are replacing a deck, and in the process have discovered our wood siding has rotted where the deck was attached to the house. We are replacing the siding and in this process have also discovered that what I was told was rough sawn cedar siding is actually rough sawn pine. The house is currently stained brown with an oil based stain (or so I believe because now everything is in question) but we are wanting to stain the entire house in a flat black. Our first project will be the new siding. I’ve spent about a 6 months researching staining cedar… what advice and product recommendations can you give on staining rough sawn vertical pine that is new in flat black as well as staining what we do not have to replace that is currently brown? Thanks so much!

Thomas eveland
Thomas eveland

we have a 2nd story deck with 6×6 douglas fir posts. Its about 1 year old now and we want to stain. Didnt think we should do it till now cause the wood was fresh and still producing sapt. Do I need to sand those posts, power wash them, or use a brush to clean? Attached a pic

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Shawn
Shawn

Can I use an antiquing treatment on rough cut pine?

MDavis
MDavis

Hello!
We are planning to build a pergola using rough sawn cedar but we have no experience with staining wood so we have questions. Are we correct in thinking that we can stain rough cedar before assembly without any prep and it will look nice as long as we adhere to the temperature guidelines, stay out of direct sun, and avoid rainfall for 8 hours after staining? Would you recommend one or 2 coats? If 2 coats, one right after the other without any drying time between them? We are planning on using Restore-A-Deck in light walnut (semi-transparent/water based) – any thoughts?
Thank you so much,
Margie

Mindy
Mindy

Hello! We just built a rough sawn cedar deck and used Thompson Water Seal Timber Oil in Cedar and the color pulled SUPER orange. We live in Colorado and the deck is south facing outside. What can we do to counter balance the orange for the color to pull more of a warm/reddish brown?

Norma McManus
Norma McManus

We are covering some ugly painted columns and support beams (exterior) with rough cut fir. Have been applying semi-transparent stain to the fir and wonder if it should be stained on all surfaces before attaching? Could this help prevent any warping later? (We live in northern British Columbia so we get a lot of variation in temperatures.)

Ruth Pasker
Ruth Pasker

Looking for someone to spray deck treatment on a bunk house

AJ SanDiego
AJ SanDiego

Trying to stain a new rough cut pergola. It’s all redwood, except the longer beams may have to be Douglas fir (due to cost with custom sizes). Was hoping to stain it transparent or semi-transparent. I like the color of the “true redwood” Penofin stain, but afraid it ends up turning black. Wanted to know what stain you’d recommend. Would you recommend oil or water based stain? I live in San Diego, CA. How often would I have to re-stain? Would you recommend against Douglas fir? I saw it is less rot resistant.. thank you in advance!

Steph
Steph

We had new fir posts put up on our front porch about a month ago. The weather has not been right yet to stain them, so I was wondering how long can you wait before it becomes a problem? My husband says they are going to rot because we haven’t done it yet and thinks we should ignore the application instructions on the stain can and go ahead and do it, even with temps dropping into the teens and 20’s at night. Please help!

Chris
Chris

I have just put up rough pine walls in a board and batten style. I am looking for an indoor product to just seal the wood but not stain it or color it. Any help is appreiciated.

Matth
Matth

I am installing rough sawn ship lap for the walls of my “man cave.” Should I use a wood conditioner prior to staining? I will be using Vermont Natural Covering’s all in one stain and finish.

Sharon
Sharon

I had a rough sawn cypress wooden fence installed in May of this year 2018. The fence company advised me there’s no need to stain or treat the wood since cypress is naturally resistant against decay and rot but that if I plan to stain it, to wait 6 months as the wood needs time to age first, and to only use an oil-based paint. 6 months will be in November; however, due to the temps, I am planning to wait until the Spring which will be 1 year post-installation. Just following up to make sure they are pointing me in the right direction with this? Please advise. Thank you smile

Douglas Strade
Douglas Strade

Have a shed made from ruff cut lumbar, and sealed three urs ago with Thomson water sealer in ceder color. I want to re-do in more of a charcoal gray.. Anyone with advice how to make this happen.. IE, what product should I use

Claire
Claire

What’s the moisture content supposed to be before applying stain on rough cut Douglas fir?

Ashley
Ashley

We have rough sewn cypress beams on the front of our house that we tried staining and it turned out almost black. The painter has already sealed it, but is there any way to strip the stain or lighten it? Thanks!

Lori
Lori

How long does it take to dry? I’m staining it in the garage and I don’t have a lot of room , I’ll need to stack it …how long should I wait ?

Lisa
Lisa

Full house view for Lisa’s question. ~ I hope the pictures help.
Thank you smile

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Lisa
Lisa

Closeup pictures for Lisa’s question.

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Lisa
Lisa

Pictures for Lisa’s question.

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Lisa
Lisa

Deck Stain Research

I have multiple surfaces, with a variety of wear and issues.
Our house, in Central Georgia, has vertical rough sawn cedar siding. 1) Most of the house was stained 30 years ago when built, with what appears to be a semi-transparent med/light grey. No peeling, but a variety of fading due to weather. 2) A newer addition (12 years ago) also rough sawn cedar siding, was never stained. I realize that the two areas will never be identical, but would appreciate advice on what will be best for these surfaces.
3) There are also 2 smooth treated pine decks, built 8 years ago, that have never been painted or stained. We prefer stain. 4) The garage door and trim are painted, but need to be repainted as well. The gutters are brown, but do not need painting.

~ What order should we approach these projects, for prep and staining of the house and deck, And the prep/painting of the hard wood garage door and trim?
~ What process do you recommend for prep of each surface?
~ What brand stain would be best for each surface?
~ What prep, product and process is best for the painted trim and garage door?
~ What colors do you recommend; a grey for the house stain, a brown for the deck stain, a brown paint for the garage door and trim. Gutters are remaining a chocolate brown.

Thank you for your expertise. This is my first rodeo…

Chris Latham
Chris Latham

My builder used what I would call “very” rough sewn cedar posts on our front porch about a month ago. He wants us to decide whether to stain them or leave them natural. Some have already changed color and one hand rail has turned blackish on top. I think I want them stained with a semitransparent stain but have two questions. Should they be sanded first before staining? Should he use a staining product with a water sealer in it like Thompson makes?

Thanks for any help on this because I know little about it.

Jennifer STORK
Jennifer STORK

We just milled a fir tree 2weeks ago. Next we will be building a deck. The question of how soon can we stain has come up. Most articles say build the deck, wait 60 days, then stain. Your note says you can stain right away.

Please explain

Patricia Calderone
Patricia Calderone

My builder is using rough sawn cedar for my great room ceiling beams. He is using a Sherman Williams stain color Coffee Bean. I am worried the color will be too dark for ceiling beams. What advise can you give me.

Dennis Cudworth
Dennis Cudworth

I am staining live edge bark off siding white cedar. The rough sawn wood is taking the stain great but the edge where the bark was isn’t taking at all. Any suggestions?

Kim Ritchie
Kim Ritchie

What can I do to fix damaged fiber from pressure washing too hard

Sue Carfolo
Sue Carfolo

Followup to my question below… how long should we wait to apply a protective coating? Garage was completed July 10, 2018. Thank you!

Sue Carfolo
Sue Carfolo

We just built a garage out of hemlock. We live in W. Pa. What product would you recommend for allowing the wood to remain natural looking but still providing a protective coating?

Lucy
Lucy

I have 2 questions: Our rough sewn wood is new, and i’m confused about whether you are saying we do or don’t need to clean and brighten prior to staining. We are using defy extreme stain and it says we need to clean and brighten even “new” wood. Above, your note says “if the wood is new, no prepping is needed and the staining can be done right away.” Which is correct? Also, I’m confused about weather we need to keep our new rough sewn wood out in the elements for some about of time. Some sites say 3 months to 12 months. What happens if we stain it right away (after prepping, or even not prepping?) Thanks in advance!

Michael Freeman
Michael Freeman

Hi!
First post here…
This is a rough cedar siding home that someone screwed up with a pressure washer. The client wants a bid for staining the siding and painting the trim. They are hoping to get it restained back to a more uniform look. It’s not the best photo, but there are all kinds of across grain/across siding shingles swirl marks from up close pressure washing. :/
I’m not sure how to get a uniform look or how to keep the across-grain/across shingles gouges from soaking up more stain and becoming darker, very visible lines. Any ideas on a plan of attack?
Thanks!
Michael

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Sue
Sue

One year ago we put up a larch rough sawn fence.. according to the Amish guy we got it from it’s in the hemlock family but it is harder and lasts longer. We live in NE Ohio. My husband tried to seal the fence with kerosene mixed with used motor oil and it gave a Beautiful color but after one winter it is gone! We can’t do this every year. I sampled Berh semi transparent but it appeared more paint like and the color of choice is not close. Do you know a stain that will give us the same look and will last a few years?
Thanks!

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Lucy
Lucy

Sue, what color did you use for your railing? What color family? It looks like brown, with reddish highlights, which i would love. Not sure what color to vear towards. Thanks!

Earl. A. Lorick
Earl. A. Lorick

I’m building a pergola I’m using rough sawn Vedder I want to protect it before I install what’s the best way

Brianna
Brianna

How do you remove the stain from the rough sawn wood? Or can I stain over it? Powerwash, wood cleaner or anything take it completely off? Thanks!

Jeff
Jeff

Hi, we have a new home and our builder is installing a small split rail fence on either side of the driveway entrance. It’ll be rough sawn wood. We would like to stain it to match the white trim of our home. Can we use a solid stain such as Flood on it? With it brand new and untreated do we need to prep? Thanks.

Mark
Mark

I just finished staining a wood beam for an indoor gas fireplace mantel. I used wood conditioner prior to staining (if that even matters). Both were water based. I am wondering whether I need to or should apply some sort of sealer/protectant? I would hate to lose the look. Does it make a difference that it is above a gas fireplace i.e. heat? Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks

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Brad
Brad

I just had to rebuild my patio because it rotted through. We used pine bead board for the ceiling and rough sawn cedar for beams on the side. We are trying to decide what to do with stain. We are located in the south so we have to deal with heat and humidity. Ideally it will be a stain that darkens the wood just slightly without losing the grain and look. We are kind of lost on color. Right now we are between PPG semi transparent atlas cedar and Olympic Rustic Cedar. Would you suggest staining the cedar and bead board the same? How about a coat of polyurethane, does that make sense? What should we do to prep the wood ahead of time? Any thoughts that you have are much appreciated. Thanks

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