Staining A New Deck 4.9/5 (680)

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 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 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.

Staining a New Deck Tips Video – DeckStainHelp.com

Please ask any questions you have below.

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Laura
Laura
1 month ago

We have a new redwood deck. We were actually told to do a sanding with 80 grit to open up the wood. If we apply a clear oil sealer, will the wood still weather to a soft grey? Should we wait more than 3 months to seal if we want to seal it at the grey stage?

Ann
Ann
1 month ago

I decided to ask as I don’t see this question answered and I want to do the right thing. New cedar KD deck. We live in Maine and have snow or melting snow/slush on our deck sometimes for a couple of months (you never know). We are south facing, big deck, on a hillside above a tidal river. So, I think water damage is our biggest threat. Love the natural cedar color. Thank you.

Sandra Storer
Sandra Storer
1 month ago

What are these black marks? They look like something is bleeding out in the wood? This is brand-new, Kiln dried western red cedar, 1×6 railing tops and also split 2x4s. These black marks emerged within about a week of having been constructed. I am planning to wait 6-8 weeks, use the RAD clean/brighten system, and then stain with Armstrong Clark Semi-Transparent. Railing only, no decking. But now I see these black marks. Not sure what they are and what I’m going to need to do about them. Thanks!

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Sandra Storer
Sandra Storer
1 month ago

On further research I think it’s rust spots. They were grinding the galvanized mesh to cut the ends. Do you think it matters if I do it ASAP or wait a month or so until I stain? And could I do it now and then again in a month? I’ve heard rust spots come back… trying not to cry or scream. I wanted a natural and beautiful railing. Wondering if I made a big mistake. Finally, what happens if it keeps coming back? Can I apply stain over the rust? Will it just be ugly, or prevent the stain from doing its job? Gaming out my worst case scenario. Thanks.

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

I have a new deck of pressure treated pine, and there are some green stains around the knots as a result of the treatment . How should I handle these when it comes to staining the deck? Should I let the deck weather and hope the green stains disappear? Sand them off at the risk of removing the treatment? Hope that the stain will conceal them?
Thanks so much!

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Dave Z.
Dave Z.
1 month ago

I have an eastern facing pressure treated pine deck that was installed summer 2021. With a tree line bordering my yard I have mold issues where my deck is located. I am looking at using either Armstrong Clark semi-transparent, or TWP 100 series. I live in Michigan so I can get either stain. Which stain would offer the most protection against mold and be the easiest to apply, maintain and re-apply? Thank you.

Pepe
Pepe
1 month ago

I have a new pressure treated pine deck that was completed mid January in New Hampshire. Do the general wait times still hold for cold and snowy winter months, or does the wood need 3-4 hot summer months prior to staining? In others words, should the deck be ready to stain now in mid May if it was competed 4 months ago in the winter?

Thanks!

Pepe
Pepe
1 month ago

Awesome! And followup- for this new deck’s very first stain is there a benefit to using oil based over water based? It’s in full southern facing sun and gets a ton of dog traffic. Was think about using Defy Extreme unless there’s a benefit otherwise regarding durability and longevity. Is either appropriate even for the very first stain? Thanks!

Mike McCoy
Mike McCoy
2 months ago

Would like to stain new “heart” redwood deck as soon as advisable.
Was getting ready to use Behr highest rated stain after prepping with their products suggested. To me a stain should “stain” the wood and not crack and or peel. Looking like kitchen cabinets look. I stained them with dipping small piece of cloth in stain for cabinets and then just rubbing it on the cabinets. I’d like to stain the deck not paint it. Fought the old deck peeling for 20+ years. Can this be done?

Here’s my info:

1. Northern CA.
2. East-facing, morning sun and in summer, hot 95+degrees for 6-7 hours in afternoon.
3. New “heart” redwood built 4 weeks ago.
4. No Mold or Mildew Issues
5. Main Issues with Previous Stains. Stains were more like paint.
6. Other: Parts of this deck are relatively heavily trafficked. In addition, the deck in the summer has pool water get on it from swimmers going to and from pool.
7.Had a little rain last week and deck was beautiful with the rain on it.
8.Any other info helpful please ask.

Thanks

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Patrick Flanagan
Patrick Flanagan
2 months ago

Looking to buy TWP semi solid stain as close to natural as possible need high uv protect for Florida as per your rec from yesterday if uv gose up with color the lightest best uv is what I need no local dist in my town what about on line need 5 gal min

Darlene
Darlene
3 months ago

I have a fresh cedar balcony floor. Our contractor is holding off on put in the aluminum railings on balcony until after I stain. He recommended Penofin Stain & Seal. He said I don’t have to wait for curing time. BUT- the 3-recommended stains for new wood on your website have curing times. If the woods moisture reading is below 15 or 20%, do I still have to wait the recommended curing months? Should I have him install the aluminum balcony railings now or wait months until I can stain? You do not recommend Semi-transparent stain for first coat, why is that? What is your stain recommendation for Texas, full sun, no shade, southern exposure, on new cedar wood. Thanks in advance for your reply.

Last edited 3 months ago by Darlene
Letsgo
Letsgo
3 months ago

Pressure treated wood deck completed 12/20
Now ready to stain
Rubber doormat and stair treads used since 4/21
Stain suggestions?
Will Armstrong Clark semisolid not penetrate all areas because mats and treads were used?

Mike
Mike
3 months ago

What is the best sealer for a Cumaru deck next to a salt water pool? What is the downside to stealing it upon installation, and then again in 3 months? Essentially not waiting for the weathering break in period you are noting in the posts

Mike
Mike
3 months ago

Is there any special consideration that the Cumaru is directly next to a salt water pool? It seems weird that I would put bare wood there for 3 months, especially the end grain, as I need to cut them all with a slight curve.

Jeff Marshall
Jeff Marshall
3 months ago

I live is southern California and recently installed a new redwood deck. It is in the shade for half of the year and has direct sunlight for part of the day for most of the summer. What stain would you recommend for keeping that redwood look without turning the light parts of the wood yellow. We love the look of the wood we used for the step in the picture. Thanks and love the website

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Jeff
Jeff
3 months ago

What stain would you recommend for Southern California? Not much rain. Have you tried Nova Exo Shield? I found they have light colored and clear stains with UV protection and was wondering if they are any good.

Abs
Abs
3 months ago

Hello, in GA and we have a new treated pine deck that was installed 5 months ago. Next to a salt water pool so wondering what stain is best? We like the wood grain look but are open to all options (transparent, solids, semi), whichever is best at protecting the wood and preventing cracks.

Also, do all cleaning and brightening agents require one to use a pressure wash equipment? Can it be manual? Thank you!

Last edited 3 months ago by Abs
Thomas
Thomas
4 months ago

I plan to stain Pressure treated kiln-dried boards before installing. Any guidance on products or timing?

Dave
Dave
4 months ago

1. Washington, DC
2. Southern-facing, parts of the deck get full sun, other parts are fully shaded by a large tree
3. New PT pine (installation completed Jan 2022)
4. No Mold or Mildew Issues
5. Main Issues with Previous Stains: N/A
6. Other: Parts of this deck are relatively heavily trafficked. In addition, the deck will have multiple large/heavy planters and therefore I’m looking to prioritize durability and minimize the frequency of restaining due to the very significant effort involved in clearing the deck for work.

I’ve spent time reviewing your FAQs and videos, including the “how long to wait…” video but still struggling with how to proceed. Based on the requirements above, it would seem that a semi-solid stain would be the best option. However, if I understand correctly, you don’t recommend applying a semi-solid stain on new wood floor decking for at least 12 months after installation. So are my best options in preferred order to:

1) Wait a year and use Armstrong-Clark Semi-Solid, 1 coat.
2) Wait 3-4 months and use one of the darker A-C Semi-Transparent colors (e.g., Chestnut; Rustic Brown; Sierra Redwood; Mahogany; Black Walnut), 1 coat.
3) Wait 3-4 months and use Restore-A-Deck Semi-Transparent Dark Walnut (seems like the darkest by far), 1 coat.
4) Wait 3-4 months and use TWP 1500 Semi-Transparent (Black Walnut; Dark Oak; Redwood; Cedartone), 1 coat.

Regardless of which option I go with I’ll of course follow your guidance to prep with RAD 2-stage cleaner/brightener.

Thanks for any additional guidance.

Steve
Steve
6 months ago

My wife and I are in the process of remodeling a cabin in Flagstaff, AZ. The contractor finished the redwood deck approximately 5 weeks go but it has not been stained. There has already been 1 snowfall and the daytime temperatures over the next 2 weeks are expected to run from the high 30s to the mid 40s. Are there significant risks to waiting until the spring to apply the stain? Also does the elevation (approximately 7000’) impact the choice of stain”

Steve
Steve
6 months ago

Thank you! What stain or deck oil do you recommend for a redwood deck that will be exposed to snow during the winter months?

Amanda
Amanda
6 months ago

Had a platform built for a hot tub coming in the next few weeks. The platform has been done for about 2 weeks. The they redid our deck. I’m fine with waiting to stain the deck but once the hot tub is in place and filled we won’t be able to move it. It’s huge. Any thoughts on what to do with the platform?

Last edited 6 months ago by Amanda
TJ Jackson
TJ Jackson
6 months ago

I am planning on replacing the old deck wood over an abandoned swimming pool in Phoenix Arizona. Not much rain but as intense of sun as it gets. I was planning on using Douglas Fir, same as what is used for 2×6 studs. I contacted Cabot and they stated that type of wood accepts stains well without weathering and they suggested a test to see if water would readily penetrate it and stated if it did then it was OK to apply immediately. I like this so that I can apply on all six sides before installation.
If heard a lot of pros and cons about Cabot. Some love it and some hate it. I called the Cabot company and it appears that they offer a true oil based stain as well as a “modified” oil based stain( OVC compliant). One cleans up with mineral sprits and one with soap and water. It appears that the oil based stains are only in smaller markets (meaning not big cities). I discovered that I could buy the real oil based Cabot Australian Timber oil semi-solid stain by purchasing in a nearby county (it is not sold in the Phoenix area).
What is your take on the above? I want good results and this gets full sun nearly all day. As I said, not much rain here, 6-8 inches annually but several feet of hot sun. I expect to have to recoat in a few years but don’t want a disaster. Your input appreciated.

Eileen
Eileen
7 months ago

Help? Very frustrated and I am holding up the contractor. We have a beautiful new pressure treated pine deck. It was built in July. For weeks, I’ve been looking for a stain that I like and we would go top of the line. The contractor uses Behr (open to others). I’ve had help at the store adjusting Behr color pigments and have tried 13 samples. No luck ugh. Art is a hobby so I am sensitive to colors. The yellow in the wood is an issue and I’ve used a color wheel and research to try to figure out how to compensate. In Northern Va, it is very warm for the next couple of weeks. 1- What should we do? Can the contractor use a waterproof sealer only for now and then stain in the Spring? Deck is large and gets sun. 2- Any quick advice or stain recommendations are appreciate. 3- Does a stain with gray hue help lessen the yellow? We don’t want solid but semitransparent and was hoping for an earthy, light brown or brownish gray. Feel free to email me. Photo of deck below. Thank you!

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Ron Priddy
Ron Priddy
8 months ago

Should you prime deck boards before using Defy solid stain

Kyle Varel
Kyle Varel
8 months ago

I installed a new pressure treated pine (YWood) in May, 2021. The deck was built over a brand new poured-concrete patio. I planned to seal (no stain) the decking, stairs, support posts, and exposed framing for the first time this fall. Will any of the chemicals you recommended for prep and sealing new decks damage/stain new concrete or painted brick? I’ll try to cover everything as best I can but something’s bound to splash or drip onto the concrete. I’m in Western Kentucky. Great website. Very informative. Thanks!

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Kyle Varel
Kyle Varel
8 months ago

Any chance either product will harm new concrete or painted brick?

rider
rider
8 months ago

why is it bad to get stain on concrete or brick please ?

Gregg Mattison
Gregg Mattison
8 months ago

I put in a pressure-treated deck in late July. Should I wait until spring to stain or can I do it in November?

Barry H Neumann
Barry H Neumann
8 months ago

what would be the best stain and sealer for new cedar, I live in Houston, TX

Matthew
Matthew
8 months ago

I’m prepping a new deck (just about twelve months old) for staining. I waited this long as I was planning to use a semi-solid, but now feel a semi- transparent would be a better long-term maintenance choice. I have completed the standard bleach-and-water and power washer prep and have filled a few small spots with wood filler. While everything is now drying, general appearance suggests that I have not prepared optimally; the ring stains left behind by my wife’s tomato plants really reinforce this.

I had planned to use a Cabot semi-solid, but now feel that either TWP 100 or Restore-A-Deck semi-trans would be much better choices. While neither might be immediately available, I’d be willing to postpone staining in order to use the best stain.

Any advice here regarding deck preparation, choice of stain or timing of application? I’d really welcome your advice.

Thank you for your help!

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Matthew
Matthew
8 months ago

The deck wood has aged almost twelve months. At this point, would two coats of TWP semi-trans be necessary, or would one coat suffice?

Regarding the Cape Cod Gray (TWP) and the Cottage Gray (RAD): I’d love to use either on a deck, but I’m concerned that they would start to look dirty or just not look quite right soon after applying either. Do you have any field experience with these colors on decks, or are they strictly a fence and lattice color?

Again, thank you!

Brian
Brian
9 months ago

I have a new 16×20 pressure treated pine deck in Alabama which was just completed. Plan for stain at least 3 months from now (gets a lot of direct sunlight)…. after reading your website (which is fantastic!) I am concerned about my stain choice coming up. I have a smaller deck on the other side of the house that I used Cabot Australian Timber Oil – Honey Teak on about 4 months ago and we love the look of it (did it about 6 months after it was built). Seems like you’re a bigger fan of the TWP 100. Given the size of my new deck I want to get this right and make maintenance as easy as possible… and it seems like maintenance is easier with TWP 100..? We had planned to use Cabot again to match the other deck but given the time and money invested in this large deck I want to use the best product (for look, wood preserving, and maintenance) regardless.. we’re okay if the match isn’t perfect if it saves headaches every 2-3 years. I guess I am saying should I use Cabot Timber Oil to match or switch to TWP 100 Thanks for this awesome website!

Brian
Brian
9 months ago

Will do. Thanks! After reading more on this site it looks like my deck is all KDAT wood..
1. so 1-2 months weathering process right? Lots of rain currently, not sure if this is hurting it
2. This puts me late Nov or December.. should I wait until spring or go ahead and do it? I don’t want to ruin the wood waiting another 4 months.

Live is Alabama so not exactly the coldest of winters.

Thanks for all the great information and answering all of our questions! Great site

Gary
Gary
9 months ago

I had a new covered deck built in May. The steps and 4×4 posts are ready to seal but the rest of the deck still beads water. Should I seal steps and posts now or wait till rest of deck is ready?

Sally
Sally
9 months ago

Hi, we have a new cedar fence that has aged 3 months. We share the fence with a neighbor and want to stain our side. If we use a sprayer will it run between boards to their side of the fence? Would we be better off with a brush?

Diane
Diane
9 months ago

Do you need to also seal a new deck after staining; I am cleaning it with the Restore a Deck product and then staining it with Restore a Deck. Do I also need to purchase a sealer. This is a new deck which has been weathered for about 5 months.

Diane
Diane
9 months ago

Thank you
Do I need to seal it at all, before it is stained. If so, is there a certain sealer which is recommended with Restore a deck products as I didn’t find one on their site.

Jena
Jena
9 months ago

Hi, I’m glad I found a place where I can ask a pro about exterior staining. I’m re-doing my old deck and I’m planning to replace the floor with PVC boards for longevity and easy maintenance, but the railing will be done with wooden posts, wire cable and same color PVC board on top. I really like the light grey look of sunbleached wood and I would really like to stain my wood railing posts and the “drink rail”-supporting 2×4 to make it look like it came from a beach boardwalk. The posts will be new and treated, so there might be some green tint on them. I understand that I will need to leave them to dry for a few months, so I won’t stain until spring. Do you have any tips how I can achieve that natural grey weathered look? Thank you in advance!

Tina
Tina
9 months ago

We have a brand new deck made with UN-treated cedar. How long is the waiting period to seal and stain a deck that has NOT been pressure treated or does it need to be sealed asap? Also, do you recommend an oil based semi-transparent sealer/stain and if so, which brand/type do you recommend? The deck is on oceanfront property on an island in the Puget Sound in Washington State and the deck is approx 1500 sq ft. Thank you!

Joe Hotkewicz
Joe Hotkewicz
9 months ago

I replaced four boards on my old deck with pressure treated lumber and did the water bead test. The old wood unserved the water but new wood beaded. I wanted to seal and stain the whole deck (12’ x 14’) before winter. It’s now September 12. I watched a YouTube video and in it they said there is a formula to treat the new wood to be able to seal and stain it much earlier. Are you familiar with this procedure and does it work? What should I use?

Theresa
Theresa
10 months ago

Hi – I have a new wood cedar deck that has been weathering for about 8 months. I plan on using Restore-A-Deck semi transparent stain for the deck floor and Defy Extreme Solid stain for the railing and posts so I can custom color match the stain to my house trim. Is it okay to clean and brighten the railings and posts with the RAD cleaner and brightener even though I will be using Defy stain on them? Also, for the pressure washer what tip should I use so I do not damage the wood? Thanks so much!

Theresa
Theresa
10 months ago

Thanks for the reply! The area I am staining with the RAD is 290 sq ft. Will 2 gallons be enough to cover it with one coat? How long does product last if I have left over product opened or unopened? Thanks again!

Theresa
Theresa
10 months ago

Thank you!

Theresa
Theresa
10 months ago
Reply to  Theresa

Last question…I hope! If after cleaning and brightening my deck it rains before I stain it, is it necessary to clean and brighten again? Thanks again for all your help, it’s appreciated!

Theresa
Theresa
9 months ago

I’m a bit confused as to how long I need to wait after cleaning and prepping my deck until I can stain. I am using Defy solid stain for railings and RAD semi-transparent for the deck floor. Both products say they can be applied the same day as cleaning and prepping, but I have seen on your site somewhere that deck needs to be bone dry before applying a solid stain. How long after clean & prep do I have to wait before applying solid stain? RAD can be applied to damp wood correct? Thanks!

Theresa
Theresa
9 months ago

My deck is cleaned and prepped and now working around weather to get it stained. I think these are my final questions…

  1. If it rains do I need to wait 48 hrs to stain for both products I’m using: RAD semi-trans and Defy Solid stain?
  2. For RAD, one coat this year and another in 12-18 months?
  3. For Defy, apply two coats now? Do the 2 coats need to be applied the same day? If so, how long to wait between coats?
  4. How long do RAD cleaner & brightener last once opened?
  5. I hope weather works in my favor, but what is the absolute longest I can go between cleaning and staining before I would need to clean deck again?

Thank you so much for this site and all your answers to my many questions!!!

Theresa
Theresa
9 months ago

Thanks! For the brightener & cleaner, I meant how long does the leftover dry material last once the bags have been opened?

Samantha
Samantha
10 months ago

Do you have to weather Douglas Fir Plywood Sheathing? Or can you stain it immediately? Are there any special staining instructions for Plywood sheathing since we aren’t using traditional deck planks? We live by the coast.

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Steven
Steven
10 months ago

I just installed a tongue and groove covered front porch with African tally wood two weeks ago. There are a few inconsistencies With the thickness So I’m having a floor refinisher go over it with a flooring sander this week. I’m not familiar with this wood And can find very little information on it, it is similar to ipe But I would say it’s not quite as hard. I’m thinking of using the Armstrong Clark Or the defy product Labeld for exotic hardwoods. The porch gets morning sun and I’m in South Carolina so high humidity Will be a factor. Anything I missing here? Is there another product I should be looking at? How long after sanding do I need to wait to apply product? Thank you!

Steven
Steven
10 months ago

What is the optimal recommended clean and prep product for exotic hardwood?

LuLu
LuLu
10 months ago

Just had new redwood deck installed around driveway leading to house entrance. Live in San Francisco Bay area, lots of fog/moisture in the am and direct sun in afternoon. Trying to decide between water and oil based. I read your article, but still confused. Thanks for your assistance!

LuLu
LuLu
10 months ago

We did have some mildew issues on one side, that is located under redwood trees. Does that have a bearing on oil or water based?

Tahir Mirza
Tahir Mirza
10 months ago

Hi, thanks for the advice on here. Really helped in my education!

I’ve recently bought Iroko hardwood with some oil. However, i didn’t get a chance to oil it before then rain hit the decking! And now i’ve got rain damage. 🙁
Not sure what to do next so have some questions please.
1/ Is the hardwood ruined?
2/ Should I oil them now to prevent further damage?
2/ Should I lay the decking and then oil them? 3/ How do I remove the obvious rain damage?

Thanks in advance!

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Tahir Mirza
Tahir Mirza
10 months ago

Thank you!
When you say ‘clean and brighten’ what should i use?

And can I ask what you mean by ‘weather and prep’?

Carrie
Carrie
10 months ago

I bought RAD and I’m getting ready to put cleaner/ brighter on. It’s over 90% humidity in AL right now. Should I wait? I was going to do cleaning/ brightening today and then if weather looks ok tomorrow or next weekend stain. Is it bad if it rains on cleaner/ brightener?

david welsh