Pre-staining New Wood Decks Before Install 5/5 (20)

This post was updated on May 2, 2022

Pre-Stain New Wood Decks Before Install?

DeckStainHelp.com has become the Internet’s go-to site for professional wood deck staining tips. As before, we recommend you do not stain new wood prior to installation. Instead, wait 3+ months after installation before staining new wood surfaces. This will allow the wood to weather, creating an ideal porous surface that will hold the stain better. We encourage discussion on our site, so feel free to leave a comment.


Should you Pre-stain New Wood Before Install? The simple answer is No.

Wood decks are a great way to add extra outdoor living space to any home. Not only do they provide a place for the family get-togethers, but they can also add value to your home. Building a new wood deck or replacing some boards on an existing deck obviously requires using new wood. As you probably know the new wood will need to be treated with a wood stain to protect it from the elements. One might tend to think that pre-staining the new wood prior to the install will save some time. Although it would seem that way it is really not a good idea to do so.

New wood, sometimes called green wood holds a lot of moisture. If you have ever carried new wood, you know how much heavier it is than older dried wood. Sometimes while screwing down new deck boards you can see water being squeezed out around the screw. So there is no doubt new wood has a much higher moisture content than older wood.

Pre-staining new wood before an install would lead to a failed stain within no time. Wood stain, depending on what type it is, either penetrates into the wood pores or creates a film on top of the wood to lock out moisture and UV rays that can cause wood rot and decay. Pre-staining new wood would also, in turn, lock in moisture that is already present in the wood. This moisture will jeopardize the performance of the stain and lead to premature failure.

Trapped moisture can cause a stain to peel and flake from the surface. This moisture can also cause mold and mildew problems underneath the stain where it would be very difficult to deal with. This would undoubtedly lead to wood rot and jeopardize the integrity of the structure. Although pre-staining new wood prior to an install seems logical and like a timesaver, it will only lead to major problems down the road and is highly unadvisable.

To properly stain new wood, allow the wood to season for several months. Once the wood reaches a moisture level of 15% or less, it can be stained for weather protection. The only time new wood can be stained immediately is when using KDAT (Kiln-Dried After Treatment) lumber.

Staining a New Deck Tips Video – DeckStainHelp.com

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R. Gallardo
R. Gallardo
1 year ago

Great advice about letting wood dry for a few month before staining.
Thank you

Louis Silcox
Louis Silcox
1 year ago

I am replacing all my old deck boards. I bought my PT Sienna last fall and it has been drying in a shed with spacers to facilitate drying for 6 months so far. Would you still recommend not staining it until 3 months after installation? Does the underside need any protection?

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

“No need to stain undersides” is an interesting comment. Water drips down the side of the board, and creeps to the underside, rotting the wood from underneath, does it not? Do you disagree with that?

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

Thank you for the response. Makes sense. Regarding Restore-a-deck wood stain, can one apply this with success to new wood? It says it can be applied to damp wood. if that is the case, does one need the wood to “weather” and dry for months prior to application?

Michael Deppe
Michael Deppe
1 year ago

I am rebuilding my existing deck this year. I will be using cedar that is in a covered shed and stickered between layers. Want to presstain all surfaces before installing deck boards. Will be using hidden fastener for installation. Deck is on north side of house and gets afternoon sun. What would be a good stain ( semi- transparent) and would you presstain?

Richard Rollins
Richard Rollins
2 years ago

What is the best solid stain to use on a weather cracked deck

Chad
Chad
2 years ago

We are replacing and installing a new Redwood deck in a area that will have 5′ of snow and ice on it within the next 3 months. Should we not stain and do it in the spring when it all dry’s out 8/9 months from now. Any advice for best results.

Chad
Chad
2 years ago

Thanks for the advice.

Mike Voice
Mike Voice
2 years ago

I reached out over year ago about staining a neglected deck on an older home we recently purchased. With your advice and material suggestions I replaced some boards last fall and this spring cleaned, brightened, and just stained the deck and it’s beautiful. I have one question. I would like to have a few boards on hand for future use. When you talk about using seasoned wood, can I purchase boards and keep them in my shop for several months prior to treating or is there a need to expose them to the elements for a period of time?

Again thanks for all your help.

Mike Voice

Mike Voice
Mike Voice
2 years ago

Thanks for your quick reply and all the information you provide to us do it yourselfers.

Mike

Michel de Coninck
Michel de Coninck
2 years ago

Thanks for this great information. How far apart should the ends of the deck boards from each other when they meet on a joist. I have a heard that 1/4 inch space will prevent rotting on the ends of the boards. I am replacing 45 year year old redwood with pressure treated southern yellow pine. Thanks for your help.

Dennis
Dennis
2 years ago

I’m in the process stripping my 20 year old deck and noticed the seams between planks have closed up causing pooling in many sections. Should I correct this before staining? I was thinking simply opening it up a bit with a circular saw. Thoughts?

Mike
Mike
2 years ago

Going to tear up the old boards and replace with new boards soon. Going with pressure treated and I’ve read the article !which reminded me that I need to hold off on staining for several months. I’m in NC so with our normal humidity during the summer months, assuming I put new boards down at the beginning of May, should I wait until Fall to apply the stain (September/October) or could I stain in late July/August without causing damage?

Also, this portion of the deck is highly elevated (probably 12′ or so). Should I stain the bottom as well? If so, do I use the same pre-treatment process (brightener, etc) and do I apply multiple coats as I will on top?

Lastly, when originally done, Sikkens was highly recommended by the builder and I had my painter use it. The interior portions of the deck (screen porch) looks beautiful to this day (12 years later) with no reapplication, just a light mopping from time to time. The exterior did not hold up as well. Could this be from application or more likely just due to the direct sunlight? Considering the expense of Sikkens, is there another product you’d recommend (I saw your reviews, but didn’t know if there was anything new that you’d now recommend) or would that be penny smart and dollar foolish (stick with Sikkens, but apply it correctly)?

Thanks in advance

Mike
Mike
2 years ago

Thank you for the quick reply. I did look at your reviews for the stain and saw some that can be applied sooner than others. Also read what you had to say about oil-based and water-based stains. I’m going to the hardware store later and will get stain color cards (assuming they make those like the paint cards) so I can closely match the interior stain.

Winston
Winston
2 years ago

Just received my new redwood deck boards should I pre stain them before I install them

Jency
Jency
3 years ago

Sorry, not a deck question, but rather a fence question. My question is: after applying a semi transparent stain, should I coat the bottom of pickets with oil based water repellent? The wood absorbed the semi transparent stain readily, very “thirsty” wood.

Based on Home Depot advice, I have a gallon of Olympic Maximum clear coat. My thought is to apply this in the bottom few inches of the fence, over the semi transparent stain, just as an extra protection coat. But then I thought, if water gets into the wood, maybe it would like to drain out the bottom of the fence, and maybe that coating would prohibit this process.

I don’t know… Any advice is most welcome! I just want to preserve the integrity of the fence. Unfortunately drainage is poor, so the bottom few inches sometimes sit in standing water when there’s a big rain storm.

walter salwen
walter salwen
3 years ago

Replacing a very large cedar deck in Michigan. I have had to replace many boards over the years due to wood damage/rot at either the ends or sides of boards. Any way to avoid this problem?

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

I have been trying to decide on what material to redo my deck in upstate New York. I am leaning towards kiln dried Western red cedar. From what I have read about staining a new wood deck the advice is to wait because of moisture content. With kiln dried wood the moisture content is 8-12, right range for staining. With new wood you have to remove planner shine and that is best done by sanding, 80 grit. So my question is if I use kiln dried Western red cedar, let it acclimate for several days, sand with 80 grit can I then apply stain? And what penetrating stain do you recommend?
Thanks Chris

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

Thanks

Andrea D
Andrea D
3 years ago

Greetings from Arizona! I am surprised to read your answer to this question, although your explanation makes perfect sense. I have the same question, but my reason is not based on saving time in the future, rather, shouldn’t the entire piece of wood, not just the top surface, be protected? I am in Phoenix, AZ and our summers are long and extremely hot. So, I was thinking that applying protection to only the top surface would leave the under side raw. My 75 y.o father is building a walkway/sidewalk in the back yard in an area with no shade. Because it is close to the ground, there is not a lot of room for air circulation. But that is OK because obviously, moisture is not my major concern, well, not too much moisture…I’m more concerned with a lack of moisture. I thinking if we do not apply stain/protection to the entire piece of wood then the underside could face a dry-rot-type situation. However, when we do get rain, we get a ton in a very short period of time, and because the ground is so dry, it is hard, and the water does not quickly go away. And, in this case, for a day or two during and following each rain, the wood could actually be sitting in the water. So I guess too much moisture is a small concern.
You may be asking yourself why my 75 y.o. dad is doing this by himself, well, he is a stubborn 75 y.o. man and wants to do this himself. 🙂 However, my concern is that in one year or even two, he may not be able to make the repair or replacement himself and the potential cost of hiring a pro most likely will not be an expense they can afford (retired, fixed income). If they don’t get it fixed, it could become a hazard. Here is where I come in…I am pretty certain when the time comes, it will be I repairing or replacing (I would not have done wood in this case, I would’ve opted for pavers of some sort, but that is neither here nor there, LOL). When the time comes, do you offer any instruction on repairs/replacements? Should I encourage a different surface? And for the present, he has begun to lay down the boards to the frame and has already stained the top. Should I suggest he pull the boards up and lay down new, untreated? And lastly, can you suggest a good product that is made to weather the high temps and provide moisture resistance?

Any guidance, information you can provide will be greatly appreciated!!!

David Pyka
David Pyka
4 years ago

Prestaining cedar decking, could it cause boards to warp?

Roxy
Roxy
4 years ago

We are installing new steps on an outdoor stairway, and had the pressure treated wood cut to size already. We’re planning to seal with a tinted wood sealer (after installation as you suggested). My question is, should the steps be sanded prior to installation? There are some really rough spots, plus the wood has a green tint now, I guess from the pressure treatment. Okay to sand? Thanks!

Joanne
Joanne
4 years ago

I am getting pressure treated decking ground contact for front stairs. I had planned on letting it dry in my basement for 6 weeks then staining or painting all surfaces. Question is there a problem doing it this way ? Will it help to coat all surfaces including cuts made? The stairs get a lot of rain and am afraid they will never be dry enough to coat if I install the wood first.

Jack
Jack
4 years ago

A deck has now dried out for 6
Months. Do I need to pre-treat the wood before staining?

Jack
Jack
4 years ago

And then a stain?

Jon
Jon
4 years ago

Does this apply to pressure treated wood also?

Tammany Flats
Tammany Flats
5 years ago

We are installing new “Roasted Poplar” (Google it) on our porch floor and steps in NE Pennsylvania. The floor is under roof, with open sides. Steps are not covered and get about 4 hours of sun. We want to preserve the grain and rich brown color, hence something clear or transparent seems appropriate. Not much selection in this area, but a couple local suppliers suggested Duckback Superdeck Transparent (1900 series).

1. What protective/preservative product(s) do you recommend?

2. Should we apply the product to all 4 sides & cut ends prior to installation, as we have intended? If not, how long should we wait? We really want to coat it ASAP so we can avoid major cleaning & prep work.

Note that we have some Roasted Poplar kitchen countertops (sealed with food-grade mineral oil) and really like them!!

Thanks

Karen
Karen
5 years ago

I am replacing mahogany boards on my deck that have rotted. I will never be able to get under the deck to touch the bottom side of them after they are installed since the deck is only 8 inches off the ground. Would it make sense to use a sealant on the bottom before i install to protect from future rotting ..and then do the top side in a few months after it weathers?

Karen
Karen
5 years ago

So what do you suggest i do to insure a good life for the new planks. Should i do any prep before in install? Pls guide me. Here

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

Am i correct that any weathering tha takes place beteeen now and spring will be reversed with the ckeaning and brightening process?

Max
Max
6 years ago

My contractor is telling me that a waiting period is not necessary because he is using resawn wood (douglas fir) to build the pergola. He says that he's been doing this for a long time, and he has never had problems. Should I believe him?

Bob
Bob
7 years ago

kiln dried deck wood what prep before stain

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Bob
Bob
7 years ago

clean and seal before stain?

Jill Springer
Jill Springer
7 years ago

We have a new Fiberin deck. It is 2 stories high and was finished in early May. We are planning to stain the main joists running under the deck that are a pretreated cedar. After cleaning how long does it need to dry before staining? Do we really need to scrub the wood? Temps tires are going to be in the high 70s, low 80s with rain expected in about 3 days. The deck is in direct sunlight all day.

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