Letting Wood and Decks Gray Naturally  4.2/5 (10)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

Wood and Decks Gray Naturally

Here at DeckStainHelp.com, we take pride in the fact that our people come to us for professional deck staining tips and tricks. As years before, we do not recommend you allow your deck to gray naturally from UV rays, as this damages the wood grain. Feel free to leave a comment or question below.


Is It Okay To Let The Wood Gray Naturally?

Most homeowners know that untreated wood left to the elements will gray over time. This graying is due to the sun’s UV rays. When the wood is not treated with the proper wood stain, it turns a rustic-looking gray.

Another enemy of exterior wood is moisture. This can cause the wood to warp, crack, splinter, and eventually rot. To protect the wood from water damage, a stain or sealer can be applied. When a stain with added color or toner is used it will not only protect the wood from water damage but also from sun graying. The added pigment of the toner helps block out the UV rays. When a sealer (clear stain) is used it will only provide water protection and no sun protection.

Some people like the look of weathered or grayed wood. But is it okay to let the wood gray naturally? Meaning is it okay to let the sun gray the wood even if it is still being protected from water damage with a clear sealer? For the most part, the answer is no. UV rays are actually damaging the wood fibers, which turns them gray or causes them to become faded. If allowed to continue, these harsh UV rays will also cause more extreme damage like board cracking, splintering, and warping. This can also cause boards to become loose as screws are loosened from buckling and cupping wood.

Best deck stain for weathered wood?

Just like moisture causes water damage, UV rays cause sun damage. Both will jeopardize the structure’s integrity and decrease the wood’s overall longevity. If a rustic-looking deck or other exterior wood structure is your thing there is a better way to go about it. Look for a semi-transparent stain in a gray tone. This would not only give the wood water and sun protection but would give you the natural gray look you desire. It is important to protect exterior wood from both water and UV damage. Allowing the wood to gray naturally without a stain will shorten the wood’s life costing you money.

Please Ask Any Questions Below

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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Rick Haner
Rick Haner
9 months ago

Is tinted linseed oil good to use on decks

Rick Haner
Rick Haner
9 months ago

Is there a good product to use on a weathered gray deck that will bring back some of the natural wood tones, before restaining

John
John
2 years ago

What caused the changed in letting the decking boards grey naturally before cleaning and brightening? Or am I misunderstanding.

John
John
2 years ago

Thank you. What’s my best course of action if I’m already passed that and heavily gray now? I Plan on using two dark oak

John
John
2 years ago

What’s the best course of action if already heavily grayed? I plan on using TWP Dark Oak.

Brian
Brian
2 years ago

I have a cedar pergola that has grayed beautifully over the past year. I would love a way to protect and preserve the look it has right now, but that appears to be a tall ask. When the cedar was new I tried a few gray semi transparent oil based stains on some scrap, and the end result was horrible–the orange/yellow cedar shows through the gray. I don’t want to apply something that will just sit on the surface and peel off eventually. I’d like something I can just reapply to the wood when I see the water soaking in again. Now that the wood is gray, is it time to try the semi transparent gray oil based stain or will the application not take unless I clean off the gray wood and get back to the orange cedar? I’ve heard the clear oil based sealers are really rather amber in color, which again, is not what I’m after. Thanks!

Jenny Overman
Jenny Overman
3 years ago

I have a 10 year old cedar deck that has always had a grey solid stain on it. I sanded it down to bare wood and it looks brand new. I want the gray look again… But it would be nice to see the woodgrain.
Is there any product out there to age cedar fast able to be used on a deck? Like a bleaching stain or a natural weathering powder?

Retagene Hanslik
Retagene Hanslik
3 years ago

Painters power washed my deck with bleach. I miss the gray weathered look. How can I get that back?

Ashley
Ashley
4 years ago

What if I cant get rid of all the grey on the wood? Tried a cleaner with a scrub brush. Tried a pressure washer. Going to sand away the wood fuzzies and then use a brightner andrl then stain it with a semi transparent stain. Will it work properly?

Ashley
Ashley
4 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

Should I try spraying the deck again with deck cleaner. Let it sit 10 minutes and use the pressure washer?

Ashley
Ashley
4 years ago

.

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Ashley
Ashley
4 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

This is after power washing and then two times cleaner with bleach sprayed on and scrubbed and then one more spray of cleaner and usedthe pressure washer again.

Ashley
Ashley
4 years ago

I know but I’m literally holding the nozzle right to the wood. Moving it very slow and going over each board 5 times to even get it like this andworried I’m going to ruin the wood as I’ve made two deep tears with the pressure washer.

What do I do about black spots all over the spindles?
Those are nearly impossible to scrub the deck is super high with 22 stairs

Ashley
Ashley
4 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

The deck was built in 2012 with no stain applied.
I’m hoping to use an oil based semi transparent stain, but maybe that wont work?

Andy
Andy
4 years ago

Is using a clear coat sealer after using acolored stain a good idea?

Julia Mac
Julia Mac
4 years ago

Can I let my wood gray and then stain it with a colored semi transparent stain. I like the gray look but I want some color. Or would I be better off mixing 2 stains?

Robin
Robin
5 years ago

Is there another way to gray wood with out stain, a natural process or method that helps decking to gray? At what point is it damaging to the wood decking (time frame) it is okay to withstand the elements to achieve the graying effect without damaging the wood?

Nancy
Nancy
8 years ago

I am about to reside our beach house with red cedar beveled siding – I do like the gray natural weathered look – but i know I need some type of protectant on the wood – what would you suggest??? I do not like the semi transparent look….thanks!

Jenny Overman
Jenny Overman
3 years ago

Bye putting a clear stain on Cedar, how long will it take to Gray naturally?

Stephen qualkinbush
Stephen qualkinbush
8 years ago

Very,that is what I want. Clear !! I have taken my 21 rear old deck and taken it down using power wash,then power to apply the wood stripper/cleaner,then applied brightened,now ready to apply the clear and will look for protectant!!!!

Portland Perplexed
Portland Perplexed
8 years ago

I live in Portland, OR – so lots of rain and lots of sun only 3 months of the year. I have been using clear water sealers for almost 20 years on one of our cedar decks. I've used different products – Olympic and Thompsons. I think I started with oil base and then 2 years ago used a water based Thompson "advanced" product. I've cleaned the decks only with Simple Green, not a stripper. I like the look but the unused Thompsons I planned to used curdled (they said I stored it in freezing temps but it has been in my basement where I shower – so no freezing there.) now I don't know what to buy that I can put over the Thompsons water based that will work. Can I put an oil product over the top? Do I really need to strip it first?

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