Staining A New Deck 4.8/5 (445)

by Deck Stain Help

Updated February 2020

Staining New Decks in 2020

DeckStainHelp.com has become the Internet’s go-to site for all things exterior wood surface restoration related. As before, we recommend you wait 3+ months to stain new wood surfaces to allow the wood to weather, creating an ideal porous surface that will hold the stain better. The waiting period does vary based on the stain brand and type of wood. Our top stains for new wood are the Armstrong Clark and the Restore-A-Deck Wood Stains.

We encourage customer interaction on our site, so feel free to participate in our open discussion.


Over the past year, we have numerous questions asked on the site, but none was asked more than “What stain or prep is needed for my new deck”? There seems to be an opinion among homeowners that it is okay to stain new wood right away or even before the deck is installed. This is incorrect for most wood types and stain brands.

In this article, we will cover the required prep and the waiting period needed before applying a stain for the first time.

New Smooth Wood

New Smooth Wood

New Smooth Decking

New smooth decking boards are not porous enough for most stains to be able to penetrate properly. This is mainly due to:

  • Mill glaze when cut
  • High moisture content
  • Chemicals in Pressure Treated Wood

Most wood stains, when applied to new wood will have a very difficult time of penetration into the wood cells. This will result in an uneven application and premature stain failure by quickly fading or peeling. Remember, the deeper the stain soaks into the wood, the longer the life of the stain.

How To Prep for New Smooth Wood:

  1. Install wood and let weather for 1-12 months. This varies depending on the stain brand. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions
  2. After the waiting period, you should use a wood cleaner and a wood brightener. This will remove the dirt, UV graying, and mill glaze.
  3. Let the wood dry for a few days after the cleaning.
  4. Apply 1 Coat Only of the stain! Even after the waiting period, new wood is still not very absorbent. Over applying the stain will not give long-lasting results. One even coat that soaks into the wood is what you want to achieve.
  5. Be prepared to apply a maintenance coat in 12-18 months.

Once you get through the first couple of years, your deck stain will perform much better as the wood will allow more stain and deeper penetration into the wood.

TIP: Do not sand new wood. This will smooth the wood, reducing the stain’s ability to penetrate into the wood.

Rough Sawn Wood

Rough Sawn Wood

Rough or Rough Sawn Wood

Rough sawn wood is not used for horizontal decking surface, but rather verticals such as fencing, wood siding, etc. This side of the wood does not have a mill glaze and is very absorbent. As long as the wood has a low moisture content, it can be stained right away.

Stain Brands for New Wood

In our opinion, certain brands of stains will work better on new wood. Through the years we have tried numerous stains on new wood and we have found that stains that contain paraffin (non-drying oil) will penetrate into newer wood better, even coverage, and can be applied sooner.

We would suggest one of these brands for new wood if you do not want to wait 4-12 months to allow the wood to weather.

Best Deck Stains for New Wood

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain – Waiting period of 2-3 months

Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain – Waiting period of 3 months

Timber Oil Brand – Waiting period of about 1-2 months

If choosing one of these brands, you will still need to prep the wood to remove mill glaze with cleaning and brightening.

Please ask any questions you have below.

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Dustin
Dustin

This site is amazing! I live in Georgia and had a deck installed in July. It’s Southern Yellow Pine, radius edge decking, kiln dried, and heat treated. The deck doesn’t get much shade but it does get brown spots from nearby trees. I checked in November and water wasn’t absorbing into the deck so it wasn’t ready, but I think it is now.

If I understand correctly I’ll need to use wood cleaner and a wood brightener, to get rid of the tree stains, wait a couple days, and then apply one coat of stain. Is that correct, and if so can you recommend the best cleaner, brightener, and stain for my wood and environment? Pics attached if needed. Thank you!

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Tom
Tom

Live on west coast of Florida- lots of sun and rain- just completed a re -build of our dock on our lake- used marine grade pressure treated lumber and the wood looks deep green and wet. Looks beautiful! Want to get 15 years out of it and keep it natural . Two questions 1. How long should I wait to protect it? And what should I use to keep the looks and quality of the would- protected from both rain and sun? Thanks

Kris
Kris

We just had a new deck and pergola built. The pergola and railings are made of a beautiful cedar. The flooring of the deck is pressure treated pine. Would love some help as to how to stain this? I don’t want to lose the beautiful color of the cedar so I’m thinking a transparent stain, but I am never going to get the pine flooring to match so shouldn’t even try? Maybe go with a lighter similar color in a more semi-solid stain?

Thanks for your help…

Sandy Campbell
Sandy Campbell

Building exterior barn doors in VA with untreated pine that was planed to remove ink stamps and some boards had to be tongue and v.grooved. T & G vertical boards will also be glued. I plan to use oil based semi transparent. 1 door is east facing and 1 is north facing. I’m looking for a consistent color coverage (not blotchy) and as always would like it to have UV/Mold protection and last as long as possible. It may be January before build is complete.
1. Should I stain before building doors to ensure all board sides have stain to include the T&G. If not, when should I stain?
2. What prep before staining?
3. What product?

Jim Clifton
Jim Clifton

It’s December and I just completed erecting my pergola here in Phoenix. It is rough sawn Douglas Fir. I’m planning to paint the top most members since they are least visible and most exposed to the sun. I will stain everything else using a semi-solid stain. I was planning to paint/stain in Feb or March. Unless you live in S Florida it is hard to imagine how brutal the sun is here for 5 months on the year. Is this the correct approach? What products do you recommend?

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Maria Arends
Maria Arends

I just installed new gates using new con heart redwood rough sawn. I used a sample of Armstrong and Clark Transparent natural on an extra board. It turned a very hazy grayish dark aged look with blackening on edges and knots. Did this happen because it’s new wood? We’re going into winter and I’m not sure whether I should wait till spring to let it age or get something on it now. The color of .y wood is beautiful and like to keep it as close to it’s natural color as possible and protect it from weather. Will waiting through the rainy season gray the new wood? Please help with advice on what is my best choice. I’ve research that oil based is best for redwood. Advice…?? 1st Pic My gates in the raw. (Would like them to look as close to this as possible after staining) 2nd pic unstained new side of board. 3rd pic. One thin coat of Armstrong and Clark Translucent Natural. (Do not like this outcome) why did this happen? Should I wait till spring? Should I use a semi transparent cedar to perhaps stay closer to this original color?

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Ken Fowler
Ken Fowler

I just installed a 950 sq ft redwood deck. I just want to confirm that it’s ok to wait until the spring to apply stain. I plan on using either Armstrong Clark or TWP. Which would you recommend?

Melba
Melba

We have made shutters out of rough red wood. What is the best to use to seal with to bring out its natural colors?

Carol pelton
Carol pelton

I live on the Central California coast.

This article doesn’t mention that oiler woods such as cedar and redwood should
be allowed to weather for a year before applying stain. (Maybe it’s specifically mentioned in another article that I missed.) I have a new (3.5 mos old) redwood deck and just finished applying the cleaner and brightner. I was planning an applying the stain today until I read on the bottle the above mentioned warning to not stain oilier woods before a year. Now that I’ve washed and brightened it, should I still wait the additional nine months?

Tim
Tim

I’m working on building what is essentially a deck that we are going to put a playhouse on. I’m using pressure treated pine. So after reading your site I’m planning on waiting until spring to stain with a quality stain that you’ve recommended. Should I or could I sand the deck after staining?

Carol
Carol

I built a bench from cedar that was taken from our front porch when we redid the porch. It had been outside for several years. The boards were then kept in my shop for over a year before planing and building the bench. The cedar is smooth and dry. Can I go ahead and stain with Restore a Deck wood stain or do I have to wait another few months?

Don
Don

We had a newly installed deck put in mid-June 2019. We were told to wait 3-6 months before staining/sealing it; however, time got away from us with kids activities/vacations and working wknds…and we had a lot of rain this summer/fall so far. Now its November and the morning frost is beginning in PA. Do we do it if the weather is decent before winter is truly here or wait until spring at this point? We get sun on the deck in the first half of the day (but neighbor has a tree that blocks a good bit of the deck in the morning now since the time change)…the deck is fully shaded by noon at this point. Please note we do NOT have a roof since we have so much shade from the house and neighbors trees. We just don’t want our investment to be ruined. Advice appreciated.

kate sawyer
kate sawyer

I live in SC–what is the best sem,i transparent stain for a new deck with lots of sun?

Ryan
Ryan

I have a new, pressure treated deck that has weathered over 12 months. I was hoping to stain before the winter, but from what I’m reading, it sounds like I should wait until spring at this point. I am in VA (very humid at times). I have a Graco paint sprayer I’d like to use (1000 sf deck). Temps this week will be highs of 55-65F, but we just had rain last night and leaves are falling on the deck now too. So my questions are: Can I stain now, or should I wait until Spring? Sand and/or brightener to prep, or neither? Best semi-transparent stain options? Thanks!

Reene
Reene

If you have kdat decking (floor boards, top of hand rail) on your new deck, but not for the railing spindles or framing, do you only stain or seal the kdat wood within the first month, leaving the rest unstained for 3 or more months?

Jeff
Jeff

I have a 3-4mo old deck that had severely cupped boards. I recently sanded to 80/100grit to remove cupping. Deck is in full sunlight all day. Winter is quickly approaching and I want to protect the deck. Using TWP-100, do I need to let the deck weather again and, if so, how long? How do I clean the deck after a winter of weathering?

Mark
Mark

I’m using new treated wood for the railings on my porch. The surface of the boards will be reshaped with a table saw for reasons of esthetics. Do I still follow the waiting period before staining, or does reshaping change the equation? Also, at what point in the process can I sand the reshaped boards if needed? I have used #1500 clear TWP on the porch boards and was planning on using the same for the railings. Thanks!

Mark

Harriet
Harriet

Do your recommendations apply to outdoor furniture? We have a newly built wooden swing made from white oak. It is still in the workshop as we are trying to determine what finish we need to apply to provide proper protection.

We live in SW Montana where we receive about 12 inches of moisture each year. Basically, high dessert country with abundant sunshine and a lot of wind. Although located under a covered porch, the swing will be on the south side of the house, and will receive direct sunlight at least 6 hours a day for most of the year. Rain and snow will blow onto it, but it will not be fully exposed to the elements.

We would like to let the beauty of the grain show, but know we need UV protection. What are our options? Thank you.

Tracey M
Tracey M

These new wood cedar arches were just installed last week. It is my understanding that I wait a month or so, apply wood cleaner, wait 2 days, no sanding, then brush on a good quality oil-based stain, one coat to preserve wood – on a clear day with no rain in the forecast. Am I on the right track?

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Ivan
Ivan

Hello, I installed an 86 sqft mahogany deck and was wondering if it’s okay to stain it? The wood was cut 6/25/19 and sat in a bundle in a garage until last week, so 4 months. Does it count as weathering sitting in a bundle or does it need to sit in the elements for another 4-12 months before I clean and stain it? I already have the clean and brighten kit and Armstrong harwood stain on hand.

I couldn’t attach the pictures for some reason but the wood is smooth, clean and dry.

Also does the cleaner and brightener affect painted surfaces? We have painted metal planters next to this deck.

Thanks for the help the informationa on this website has been tremendous so far.

Ivan
Ivan

Here is the picture

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Richard
Richard

Sorry this question seems to be answered but just want to get an exact confirmation: Just built a fence out of rough sawn cedar that I purchased at Home Depot. I am here in the plains of Colorado with the weather starting to get colder but we still have plenty of sun and not a lot of snow yet. The cedar appears to be very dry (not sure about porosity) and it’s been sitting outside for about three weeks now. Temps in the day are 50s – 60s plenty of sun. Here on the plains we may get 6 to 12 inches of snow but literally within a day the sun burns it all off and everything is super dry again.

I desperately don’t want the fence to turn gray and I believe I would have enough time until spring but is it possible to stain it now with my paint sprayer or should I just leave it?

Also, is there any stain that is totally clear, guess it would defeat the purpose of being a stain just want to have that yellow natural look not something darker.

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Heather
Heather

Hello! We are building our window shutters out of the rough sawn cedar used for fences. We live in Colorado with intense sun exposure due to altitude, and in an area that is more dry farm country exposed to minimal moisture. From this article, is my understanding correct that I do not have to wait as long to go ahead and stain the rough sawn cedar as compared to smooth wood meant more for decking? And if so, what type of stain would you recommend for the rough cedar in this type of climate, keeping in mind that the shutters would be screwed against the side of the house against the paint, etc.? Thank you!

Heather
Heather

Also, for new rough sawn wood, do I need to use cleaner and brightener on it like a deck prior to staining since it is fairly porous and can stain right away?

Monika
Monika

Hello! We’re looking to stain our new cedar fence less than two weeks old. The cedar planks are rough sawn but the posts are pressure treated wood. 1) Do we need to wait 3-6 months (Spring) to stain or can we stain in the next few weeks before winter and snow start? 2) We are also wanting to use Restore A Deck stain due to mold/mildew on our previous fence. Would we need to use the cleaner and brightener if we wait until spring or could we do just the stain at that time? Thank you for this website it’s so helpful!

LAVETA BONNEY
LAVETA BONNEY

what do you do to a new deck that has stain dripped on it?

Lori
Lori

I bought a house in snow area. Deck was replaced within 4 months I think.. It has not been sealed. I need a good sealer for 1st snow which should be coming in about a month time

Bob nowicki
Bob nowicki

Interesting that what is important about staining is not addressed. You should worry less about how many months you wait and more about the moisture content of the wood. You can get a moisture meter pretty cheap now a-days. You can stain your wood a few days after you put it up, if the wood is dry enough. There are also stains that say you can apply when the wood is not fully dry.

zaralop
zaralop

Gary M
I installed new PTP decking, steps, and handrails on my 15 year old deck, about 6 months ago. I plan to clean and prep the deck, and wanted to know what products you would recommend. Also, which brand of deck stain would you recommend. After reading and researching as much information as i could, I was leaning toward TWP 100, or Armstrong Clark, but wanted your expert opinion with respects to what stain I should use, given the age of the wood, and my location, which is Chesapeake, VA. There is a three foot wood skirt (made from deck boards) around the entire deck. It was treated with Flood stain 14 years ago, it does not look like much of the flood stain remains, so will cleaning and preparing that area work, or do I need to strip it, before restaining. The deck gets full sun most of the day, has very little foot traffic or use, as the attached screened in porch is our preferred area.

Kim H
Kim H

I have a newly installed deck around my chlorine pool. The deck boards are already drying out and shrinking leaving large spacing between the boards. It’s only 1 month old and we have harsh NE winters. The contractor recommended hitting it with Thompsons before the winter and in the spring. I would rather used something that penetrates the wood better. What do you recommend and when would be the best time?

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LAVETA BONNEY
LAVETA BONNEY

I love your site. so helpful

Toby267
Toby267

Hello, I just ordered some culpeper 5/4 KDAT deck boards to replace my 2nd story deck, and at the same time I am going to install EPDM underdeck waterproofing ( similar to DekDrain). Since the new boards will be dry, I plan to seal the entire board with one coat of sealer prior to installing, then do the second coat after the boards are installed. I have read about an Australian deck sealer called Cutek Extreme which is fairly new to America, but gets high ratings from Pro’s. Have you heard of this product? Do you have an opinion on it?

LAVETA BONNEY
LAVETA BONNEY

i stained the spindles and railing. i got some stain on the floor and wipe it off. will it be darker in some area because of the stain being dropped?

Malcolm
Malcolm

I would like to stain my new deck soon if possible. It is 3weeks old now. Could I use Timber Oil brand now, due to its lower wait time, And then follow up with a different brand like Restore a Deck in 12-18 months, since it has a more longevity? Are there issues with switching brands like this?

Eric
Eric

We had a new pressure-treated pine deck installed in early June. We have been waiting for the wood to weather before we stain/seal and we are now getting close to Chicago weather that isn’t conducive to meeting the temperature guidelines. We were hoping to get it done before the winter but that looks more difficult at this point. Would it be problematic from a wood longevity perspective to leave the wood untreated through the winter and address in the spring?

Also, this deck is installed on our roof where we don’t have a water line which makes pressure washing the deck difficult. Are there any alternatives that wouldn’t require pressure washing prior to stain application?

Denise W
Denise W

Defy Extreme Stain-Cedar Tone
One yr old deck. Used the defy 3 step process (clean, bright w/power washer) stained with push car wash type brush.
BEYOND THRILLED with the Defy product.
Only issue (our bad) we edged under railings and that area appears darker in color now.
Not sure if we should attempt a second coat using a roller where we would be able to get underneath the railing to do one complete full stroke of stain OR leave it alone and either apply another coat of stain in the Spring of next year OR just wait another 2 yrs and go through the cleaning process and apply another coat of exact same product depending on how deck surface holds up. Do you agree?
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Tim
Tim

I didn’t pay attention when spraying (i was rushing) and now have significant overlap lines. This is Armstrong Clark on a 3 month old redwood deck. I sprayed and back brushed. Is this fixable with another light coat and immediate wipe down?

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Cin
Cin

What color stain did you use? It’s really nice.

Tamara Olson
Tamara Olson

We are replacing an aged deck with treated pine. Due to the grain, my husband is installing boards, so the grain curves downward to prevent future bowing as he noted on some of the old boards he removed that were laid with grain curving upwards. The problem is there is black printing on some of the boards by the lumber company. We are intending on using the Armstrong Clark semitransparent Driftwood Gray stain. I am concerned that the print will remain visible and I’ve read where you advised against sanding new wood. Is there something we can do to prevent the black printing from showing through the semitransparent stain?

Merike
Merike

Our deck – pressure treated wood – weathered for 14 months and was just cleaned and treated with TWP 100 series Pecan stain. It looks like the application was a bit uneven, as sections of the deck (which are also the highest traffic areas) appear lighter. After today’s rain, those lighter areas seems to be absorbing water while the other sections are beading up. Should we apply another light coat to those lighter areas?

Adrianne
Adrianne

A question about deck turning white. Some parts of the deck, when dry, is a whiteish color. Deck is PT pine, 14 months old, never treated, just power washed a few weeks ago. When wet everything is the same color. But when dry/drying some sections start turning white, or have a white haze that doesn’t wash or sand off. Any idea what’s causing it?

In the pictures, the part the dog’s sitting on is the white part. The deck is just starting to dry after a rain. The part that’s white is practically dry already. The other part doesn’t turn white, and although the white part is practically dry, the other part is still wet.

Since when it’s wet it all has a uniform color, as shown in the picture, would that white haze have any effect if we put a semi-transparent stain on?

Could that white haze be efflorescence of some kind? It’s weird that just the boards in that one section are doing that and not all the boards.

Once again, when posting, the pictures rearranged, so I have to edit my comment. Why does it do that???? The 2 dog pictures were next to each other and the wet/dry pics were next to each other. Then they rearranged after hitting “post”.

The first picture is of the deck completely dry. The 3rd picture is of it completely wet. You can see the uniform color in the wet picture and the whiteish haze in the dry picture.

Thanks again for your help.

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Adrianne
Adrianne

One of our PT posts (2x8x8) has what we thought was the beginning of graying – blackish streaks. However, after power washing and sanding it hasn’t all come off, so we think it could be mold. How would we get rid of it so we can stain/coat the wood?

It’s a new deck, weathered 14 months now, never treated, just power washed. Want to use the Defy Extreme or Extreme 40 semi-transparent in the clear or pine color. Waiting to find out the difference between the Extreme and Extreme 40 first since I can’t find that out anywhere. Asked that Q here. But this Q is about getting rid of the mold.

Thanks for the help.

Adrianne
Adrianne

Found out that the Extreme 40 is for use in California, which has strict restrictions. So if we use the Defy product, we’d use the Extreme.

Frank
Frank

I installed my new deck with pressure treated wood, and weathered for about 3 months. What should I do now before staining it? Clean, prep, brightening? How do I do that? What products do you recommend to clean, prep, and brightening?

Valerie Just
Valerie Just

My deck was built a year ago – treated pine lumber. I have a canopy over a part of the deck. I’m noticing that the wood under the canopy is still ‘yellow’, where the wood not covered has bleached or weathered. I don’t want to use a solid stain; however, want a uniform color across the deck. Any suggestions when my wood is not ‘aging’ at the same rate?

Tiffany Lueck
Tiffany Lueck

We are siding our house with douglas fir that we milled and planed ourselves. The siding has been planed on all sides and has been drying for 6-10 weeks. We would like to stain it on all sides before mounting it on the house. How long should we wait, how should we prep, and what product would you advise using? We would like a lighter semi transparent color that looks natural, not orange or red toned.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

Sue
Sue

New redwood deck 7 months old, what brand is best for redwood? Will need to clean to also. Deck gets full sun all day, in Colorado Springs. Is oil or water base the best and easy to apply? Also where to find local dealers to see colors? Thank you!

David Kremer
David Kremer

I live in Portland, OR. I Purchased 5/4 cedar decking boards about 4 months ago and they have been sitting in my garage all summer. Im ready to lay boards. Are the boards ready for stain or should I be giving them time to weather outside? Also, should I be looking at applying stain to the underside of the boards? My deck is bout 12 inches off the ground in a very wet climate.

Thanks!

Robin LaTorre
Robin LaTorre

New deck weathered for 14 months . Want the natural wood color but grain enhanced. So I need a wash and brighter what kind and what stain ? I’m new to this

LAVETA BONNEY
LAVETA BONNEY

my husband applied TWP stain and over applied the stain, I have read ALL kinds of ways to correct this. what is your suggestion?

Karin
Karin

Heres the picture for the beliw question. I couldn’t get it to post together

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Karin
Karin

I have a new deck and we didnt seal it right away because we were waiting for the wood to dry out. We are now ready to seal the deck but when we moved our umbrella holder the sun bleached around it so the wood is a lighter color. My question is if we seal it as is will the sun eventually bleach that area so it matches or do we shave to wait for the sun to bleach it so it matches then seal it? Picture above

LAVETA BONNEY
LAVETA BONNEY

we stained our deck on 9/18th of sept 2019. we used a brush and some boards look a little different color than other. after they dry and still look like that what do we do?

Lisa
Lisa

We have a new de k that was installed in April.. We are getting ready to stain it but the boards closer to the house are darker then the wood that is pretty much always in the sun… Is there anything we can do about that?

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