Staining A New Deck: Best Brands for 2024  4.8/5 (690)

This post was updated on April 22, 2024

Staining a New Deck in 2024

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 deck 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.

See our Deck Stain Facts section with over 150 simple Q&A articles that answer all the questions that you have regarding deck staining.

My Best New Wood Deck Stain

Water-Based

My Best Applying New

Wood Deck Stain 

My Best New Wood Deck Stain

Oil-Based 

Months to Weather New Wood:

3 months for both semi-transparent and solid stain colors.

Months to Weather New Wood:

2-3 months for transparent and semi-transparent colors. 12 months for semi-solid.

Months to Weather New Wood: 

4 - 12 months for all TWP Series and Colors.


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.

Please ask any questions you have below.

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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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Conniea
Conniea
2 months ago

Last spring we applied TWP 100 to treated pine decking that had been untreated for approximately 4 years. We did a light sanding to clean up then did a powerwash clean after a couple of weeks. It was perfect all summer and fall, but now that it has wintered, the stain has come off of the boards in spots that appear to have knots or a ‘harder’ grain in the areas that catch the most sun (shaded part still looks great). I will say that the stain did not seem to penetrate these areas as well when we initially stained…..but maybe didn’t penetrate at all. We sanded off Behr water base stain on cedar railings and posts then power washed same as decking and all the railing still looks great. I do not detect any peeling of any kind at this point. Is it OK to powerwash and recoat this spring? If OK, do we need to do 2 coats or just one? Do you think it will do the same thing every year in these areas that do not penetrate very well? Thanks for any direction you can give us.

James
James
6 months ago

Building a new deck in Northern California using doug fir 2×6 decking. The deck is at grade, so will have minimal ventilation underneath. Is there an advantage, in this situation, to use the penetrating oil stain on the underside as well to help fend off rot?

Also, I must say it feels wrong to let the deck get rained on for months before staining. Is there a penetrating oil stain that you would recommend after weathering for 1 month?

Thanks!

James
James
6 months ago

Thanks for the quick response! So, there’s no concern about cupping with a deck that has poor ventilation underneath? People say that the top of the deck board drying faster than the bottom creates this, and I was wondering if by using penetrating oil on the bottom it might help fend off some of that underdeck moisture?

James
James
6 months ago

Here’s a photo, in case that helps.

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Nick V
Nick V
6 months ago
  1. Hi Scott…. I very recently rebuilt the backyard wishing Well roof and used cedar wood shingles. (Early October/23). Q: when is the best time to put a protective transparent coating/sealer ? From what I’m reading here it sounds like the spring of ‘24? I’m located in Ontario Canada not far from the Detroit MI border. Thanks (Oct 22/23)
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Zac
Zac
7 months ago

Hi Scott, 

Just had porch redone late June up in northern New Jersey so it’s been about 3 months. Constructed out of WeatherShield appearance grade pressure-treated board southern yellow pine lumber (Product/Purchase tags stapled on wood stated – “weathershield premium wood products awpa u1a uc4a mca reten std 0.15”)

The samples stains we are using is Benjamin Moore’s arborcoat waterborne exterior SOLID stain.

1) Is it necessary to sand/clean up in general the screw holes & other impurities before staining? If truly desired, how would I go about it – sanding? 

2) Adding onto the last question their are places where the wood has yellow marks & cement dust. Is this a definite place where I would need to sand?

3) Adding even further to the last 2 questions, I did a stain & single paint color tests. For stains one being black & other maroon, lastly single paint test in maroon. How would I deal with cleaning this up, sand off the color? Especially before winter before it really soaks into the wood?

4) Unfortunately, the contractor left some old boards that had old paint on them – image included. In order to fix this critical error, can I just sand off the old paint and then stain?

5) Is there a specific way to protect / deal with the porch metal braces, & obviously don’t stain over them?

6) With the humidity reader set to yellow pine selection – it reads around 7% – 9%, so safely under the advised 15% marker. While doing a water drop test in several places & letting sit for 10 minutes, the water did not soak into the wood – images included (mind you this was done at 6pm). By this information is the porch ready to stain?

7) Since it’s fall, there’s going to be a lot of debris like leaves, falling onto the porch, I would like to get the porch stained in October or November before snowfall. Though perhaps overall I just need to wait till spring as the earliest to stain? 

8) Lastly if I do ultimately need to wait until after winter, do I need to protect the porch with a tarp so the wood doesn’t become too weathered? Additionally, when spring does come around since the porch weathered for so long in the winter would the staining preparation process be different? Meaning, will I have to use a degreaser or borate to clean the porch first, or is it just a simple rinse before officially staining?

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Zac
Zac
7 months ago

Hi Scott appreciate the response, help, & guidance,

Do you have a specific product you recommend to clean & brighten porch? Can provide a link to the purchase page.

Then lastly to go back to my previous question #4. As I look back, I didn’t supply the photo.

4) Unfortunately, the contractor left some old boards that had old paint on them – image included. In order to fix this critical error, can I just sand off the old paint and then stain?

(Image included this time)

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Don Vandoski
Don Vandoski
7 months ago

Picture of my new wood deck relating to my comment/question

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Don Vandoski
Don Vandoski
7 months ago

I have a new wood deck that was installed one year ago and not stained until 9/21/23. Two weeks prior the deck was pressure washed but not cleaned and brightened as you recommend. One coat of Flood pro series semi-transparent acrylic/oil stain was sprayed on. The application is very uneven darker in some areas and lighter in others. Should I have the contractor apply another spray coat and back roll or would you recommend another course of action? I am willing to wait until next year if that is best per your recommendation. I do not want peeling or make matters worse with the second coat now.

Jerry
Jerry
8 months ago

Pictures from my above comment. Thanks!

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Jerry
Jerry
8 months ago

Great article, great I found it before staining.

I have a NEW brand deck at a new home in Charlotte NC location (Hot weather, with unusual rains this year ’23), looks like made of Pine threated wood. Built in Feb ’23.

Now looking to have it stained for the first time. I have done the prep with Valspar all in one wood prep. But stopped trying to figure it out if I should cover the screws heads with wood filler to create a neat look? That’s my first question.

Wood looks and feel kind of smooth still, very few screws look like have moved from straight to slightly inclined position, that’s what most concerns me. I am ready to Staining it, should I do it now? that’s my second question.

We most probably continue to have good conditions through October from there I should have to wait until March ’24, But that will be more than 12 months from the time it was built. The Builder emphasized to have it stained ASAP.

Last one, got Valspar stain and sealer for exteriors, I saw your review about this product 🙁 what should I use instead to secure a long life of service? Pictures attached taken today.

Thank you very much!

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L.B.
L.B.
8 months ago

I have a home in Bend, Oregon (dry high Oregon desert). We installed a new deck in April 2022 which the contractor immediately stained when it was finished. Attached is the picture of what it looks like today 18mo later. Sure looks different! Another contractor said it needs to now be sanded down before it is re-stained. I plan to do the work this week. After watching your video, can I just use deck cleaner and then a brighter before I stain? I’d rather not sand it down. What process do you suggest? Also, what brand stain works best for the high Oregon desert? Thanks much for your advice.

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Michelle Paulsen
Michelle Paulsen
8 months ago

My deck is being built as we speak. It is the middle of August. I live in Portland Oregon. It pretty much rains all winter starting in October so I could possibly have only 1 1/2 – 2 months before it’s going to be wet outside until next spring. Should I let my wood “weather” only 1 1/2 months of guaranteed dry weather before I stain it or should I let it get wet all winter and stain it in the spring? We usually do get some snow at least once in the winter. Will the wood be ruined if unprotected until next spring?

Bill
Bill
10 months ago

It’s doubtful I’ll buy this online. Is there a TWP dealer in the Portland, Oregon area?

kdonehoo
kdonehoo
10 months ago

Which solid stain would you recommend between Defy extreme or Flood for vertical railings on 8 month pt wood? We need a solid stain for railing to match our house trim. I will need a tintable stain to go with the white trim. The RAD was way too white. We are using TWP 100 on the floor. We are in northwest ga.
Also, how do you get one of these stains tinted if it’s not available at local stores? And can I get a sample in the tinted colors?
Thank you for all your help!!

Barth X. deRosa
Barth X. deRosa
11 months ago

How does a Cabot semi-solid stain rate in humid South Carolina low country; is there a risk for mold and mildew growth — the porch is shaded, and the wood appears to be oak tongue and groove. Kindly advise, thank you.

Ann Marie Fraser
Ann Marie Fraser
1 year ago

I have a deck that’s about four years old. I was told I could use a specific paint from a local paint store. Instead, it has peeled horribly on the rails and the floors? I’ve been told to replace the boards and slash told to scape and paint. What is the easiest way to fix this? I plan on staining it after whatever fixes I need to do.

Ann Marie Fraser
Ann Marie Fraser
1 year ago

Here you go!

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Cheryl
Cheryl
1 year ago

Hi Scott, We repaired/replaced our 30 year old redwood deck one month ago, with beautiful new redwood. We will let it weather for 3-4 months and treat before painting the entire building. We are in Northern California, get lots of direct sun; it’s an entry deck for a small condo complex so gets a lot of use. Previously the deck would become slippery when it rained. Is there a treatment for the new deck that will not result in a slippery surface when wet? (Sorry I don’t know what product was used previously).
Thanks!

Tania Vazquez
Tania Vazquez
1 year ago

If you have a deck that surrounds a semi inground pool is it better to use oil based or water based stain?

Tania Vazquez
Tania Vazquez
1 year ago

Wow thank you for this answer. I have been getting mixed answers on this. One has said because of the chlorine and high level activity in this area it should be oil based and another said water based only if sanded. Since this is a brand new deck and sat for 12 months I wanted to just do water based so thanks for confirming this answer!

Kevin Mast
Kevin Mast
1 year ago

We are planning on having our deck done early April, when is the best time to start doing stain?

Dave
Dave
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Mast

Any stain requires the wood to be DRY before application to obtain maximum results. In many areas of the country just coming out of wet winter, the moisture content of the wood will be in the double digits, guaranteeing bad results

Anita
Anita
1 year ago

Hello! We’re in the middle of a laundry/mudroom/garage addition and there will be a small cedar deck leading to the backyard. We’re in northern Illinois so winter has just begun. From what I’ve been reading we should wait at least 3 months before staining the cedar — is it okay to build the deck now, leaving the wood unstained over the winter?

michele
michele
1 year ago

hello, So need help.
I’m trying to figure out how to stain these stairs so they look more gray like A natural ipe or teak would look as it grays out. Any suggestions of stains colors etc…

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Rodrigo
Rodrigo
1 year ago

Hello – I have a couple questions regarding a new rooftop deck.

Location, Chicago IL.
Deck Installed, May 2022
Rooftop deck, direct exposure to rain and sun
Wood type: Souther Yellow Pine / Drying method: KDAL
Treated: Fire Retardant Pressure Treated lumber (brand: FX Lumber Guard XT)

Questions:

  1. Would staining the deck take away fire retardant capabilities?
  2. Is there a need or benefit to staining the new deck since it has been treated with fire retardant product? In terms of protecting the wood from future years of weather.
  3. Any special steps to prepare the lumber that has been treated with fire retardant?
  4. Recommendations for a stain that works best for lumber treated like this one?
  5. What is the optimal temperature range for stain application and drying period?
  6. What is the optimal temperature range for pretreat the lumber?
  7. How long does it take for the stain to properly dry under the ideal temperature?
  8. Would the stain be negatively impacted if it rains over it after a couple of hours of being applied?
  9. Is there a list of recommended tools or applicators to get?
  10. For the first application, is it better to weather the lumber for 12 months after install or would 6 months be preferable?

**See attach pictures.

Thanks in advance,

Rodrigo

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Deck Estimator
Chris Henry
Chris Henry
1 year ago

Hi, We have a new deck “Yellow Wood” Pressure treated and I was wondering when I can stain with a Semi-Transparent stain. The builder said wait 2 months which put us into late October / Early November in the Midwest. I was just told by a paint company to wait at least 6 months (even thru winter) and then stain in the spring instead of late October? Any thoughts?

Thanks

Rose Robertson
Rose Robertson
1 year ago

I have a new redwood deck that I’d like to stain before winter and have read so many conflicting things about sanding/staining, some say sanding opens pores others say it closes them!? As of now I’ve just cleaned it with oxiclean but there are chalk/paint like marks on some of the boards that washing did not remove I’m not sure if I should sand to get them off… Also I did sand just my top railing cap before installing it so it wouldn’t cause any splinters is this going to be an issue? I’m planning on using Ready Seal semi transparent stain. Thx!

Rose Robertson
Rose Robertson
1 year ago

Ok, so since I have already sanded the railing do you have a suggestion? And do you have an alternative for how I may get the marks that came on the wood off?

Also why is ready seal not a good option? I used it on my fences a few years ago and it was super easy to apply and they still look great…

Rose Robertson
Rose Robertson
1 year ago

what semi transparent (I want to see some grain) oil based stain would you recommend? I’d like one that has the easiest prepwork for reapplication? Also I live in CA

kelly st germain
kelly st germain
1 year ago

Hi Scott. We had a redwood deck built last fall in Lake Tahoe. TWP stain, dark oak, was applied in 15 degree weather after 6 weeks install, to protect wood from winter snow. At snow melt, brand new deck was very blotchy, seems stain penetrated very unevenly. Contracter sanded and powerwashed. Deck is almost free of stain but lots of little circular squiggles. Please advise on steps to get the deck to look nice again! THANK YOU!

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Krista
Krista
1 year ago

What is your opinion on Cabot Gold stain for new wood? Our new deck was installed 2 months ago, and we are slowly getting the mold spores/graying out of the wood & allowing it to weather.
thank you.

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

I have a new cedar deck. I thought the builder used extremely rough wood for the rails and posts, so I sanded all the rails and posts with 120 sandpaper using a random orbital sander. Now they look great but are not porous. Was that a big mistake? I still have not stained and sealed the deck. How long should I wait to do so and what steps should I take in preparation to stain and seal it? Thanks!

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