This post was updated on May 2, 2022
Staining a New Deck in 2022
DeckStainHelp.com has become the Internet’s go-to website for all things exterior wood surface restoration-related. 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.
How Long Should you Wait to Stain a New Deck?
Over the past 10+ years, we have had 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 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:
- Install wood and let weather for 1-12 months. This varies depending on the stain brand. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions
- After the waiting period, you should use a wood cleaner and a wood brightener. This will remove the dirt, UV graying, and mill glaze.
- Let the wood dry for a few days after the cleaning.
- 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.
- 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 or Rough Sawn Wood
Rough sawn wood is not used for horizontal decking surfaces, 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.
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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.