new deckOne of the biggest misconceptions about new decks is that they don't need to be cleaned prior to staining. This couldn't be further from the truth. Every piece of new lumber has a coating of mill glaze on it that protects it throughout the production process. It can be removed by washing it with a deck cleaner or leaving it to weather for several months.

New deck wood is also very high in moisture content. You may have noticed how heavy a new piece of wood is compared to a more aged piece. Sealing a deck too soon can trap this moisture in the wood resulting in mold and mildew and even wood rot.

Timing is Everything
Depending on the brand of stain, you must allow new wood to "weather" or age for several months before washing and staining it. Some believe that a new deck must weather for an entire year before you can stain it. In most cases, this is a myth and truthfully most of the water and sun damage can occur to unprotected wood in the first year. Ideally, you want the moisture content to be 10-12 percent or less before cleaning and sealing it. This can be checked easily with a moisture meter. During the hot days of summer, if a deck has plenty of sun exposure, it may only take new wood 3 months or so to dry enough for sealing.

Cleaning a New Deck (step 1)
Once you have determined that a newer deck is ready to be protected the first step is to wash the wood with a quality deck cleaner. The sodium percarbonate deck cleaners in the powder form are very effective and will make your job easier. Apply the deck cleaner with a pump sprayer and use a stiff brush or pressure washer to clean the wood. You want to remove all the dirt, grime, mill glaze, and any graying that has occurred.

Brighten a New Deck (step 2)
Follow the cleaning process with a deck brightener application. Most deck cleaners contain caustic soaps that will darken the wood. Applying a deck brightening product will neutralize the cleaner and enhance the beauty of the wood. Deck brighter also restores the proper pH level so the new deck stain will penetrate properly.

Staining a New Deck (step 3)
Allow the wood deck to dry for a couple of days before applying deck stain. Using a leaf blower or broom clean the deck of any debris that may have fallen on it. It is imperative that you use a quality deck stain on new wood. Newer wood is denser than aged wood and only a quality deck stain will penetrate the wood pores to provide maximum protection. Follow the direction on the stain can for proper application and coverage rates. Allow the deck stain to cure for several days before use.

Prepping a new deck for stain is not hard but it is crucial to the deck's longevity. Knowing how and when to start the process is the key.

 Please ask any questions you may have below.

One of the biggest misconceptions about new decks is that they don't need to be cleaned prior to staining. This couldn't be further from the truth. Every piece of new lumber has a coating of mill glaze on it that protects it throughout the production process. It can be removed by washing it with a deck cleaner or leaving it to weather for several months.

New deck wood is also very high in moisture content. You may have noticed how heavy a new piece of wood is compared to a more aged piece. Sealing a deck too soon can trap this moisture in the wood resulting in mold and mildew and even wood rot.

Timing is Everything

You must allow the new wood to "weather" or age for several months before washing and staining it. Some believe that a new deck must weather for an entire year before you can stain it. In most cases, this is a myth and truthfully most of the water and sun damage can occur to unprotected wood in the first year. Ideally, you want the moisture content to be 10-12 percent or less before cleaning and sealing it. This can be checked easily with a moisture meter. During the hot days of summer, if a deck has plenty of sun exposure, it may only take new wood 3 months or so to dry enough for sealing.

Cleaning a New Deck (step 1)

Once you have determined that a newer deck is ready to be protected the first step is to wash the wood with a quality deck cleaner. The sodium percarbonate deck cleaners in the powder form are very effective and will make your job easier. Apply the deck cleaner with a pump sprayer and use a stiff brush or pressure washer to clean the wood. You want to remove all the dirt, grime, mill glaze, and any graying that has occurred.

Brighten a New Deck (step 2)

Follow the cleaning process with a deck brightener application. Most deck cleaners contain caustic soaps that will darken the wood. Applying a deck brightening product will neutralize the cleaner and enhance the beauty of the wood. Deck brighter also restores the proper pH level so the new deck stain will penetrate properly.

Staining a New Deck (step 3)

Allow the wood deck to dry for a couple of days before applying deck stain. Using a leaf blower or broom clean the deck of any debris that may have fallen on it. It is imperative that you use a quality deck stain on new wood. Newer wood is denser than aged wood and only a quality deck stain will penetrate the wood pores to provide maximum protection. Follow the direction on the stain can for proper application and coverage rates. Allow the deck stain to cure for several days before use.

Prepping a new deck for stain is not hard but it is crucial to the deck's longevity. Knowing how and when to start the process is the key.

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Mary · 04/26/2019
    some of the new deck boards have a factory stamp on them. How do I remove before staining?
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      The Sealer Store · 04/27/2019
      Sand those of now. Let the wood weather for a few months and then clean and brighten for prep before staining.
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    Betsy · 04/26/2019
    I live in Maryland and had a new deck built of pressure treated wood in early March. It has numerous knots and checks which we have been told are normal. The checks are quite long on some pieces and appeared after the first two weeks; my understanding is that this is what happens as the PT wood dries. I have finally convinced the company to replace 9 vertical hand-rail posts where the knots go through 2-3 sides of the post. I will repair the other knots but need your advice on the best way to do so as I am reading mixed advice on using wood filler vs epoxy. If I use wood filler, I need to try to match the stain. If I use epoxy, I'm to put some coloring in it to match the stain. All this sounds very complex but the epoxy process makes more sense to me. I've also read mixed opinions on the need to sand the deck (I hope not!) Should do anything to treat the checks or cracks? We also had a carpenter bee infestation in our old deck and now the bees are looking for their homes in our new deck. I want to treat our deck before they start digging in. Given our circumstance, what do you recommend I do and what is the best timing for it? E.g., should I treat the knots as soon as this week of rain is over, or wait until closer to staining? I do not have a moisture meter. When do you recommend that I start the process of cleaning, brightening, and staining? Any tips to keep the carpenter bees from moving in while I wait. (They are also pollinators so I hate to kill them--I just don't want them damaging our new deck.) Many thanks for your advice!
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      The Sealer Store · 04/26/2019
      You cannot use wood filler on exterior wood. It will not work well and will not blend with a semi-transparent stain. Don't do it and just leave as is. No reason to as well. This is normal for your wood type to have checks and cracks and is not a big deal.

      Not much you can do about the bees outside of using an insecticide that will kill them. This would be applied after the staining.
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        Betsy · 04/26/2019
        Thank you! What about the knots? Should I fill them with epoxy so water doesn't sit in the worn out areas and/or to keep the knots from falling out?
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    The Sealer Store · 04/25/2016
    Let it weather for 2-3 months. Clean and brighten for prep.
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    walter schell · 04/25/2016
    we just built new deck with PT.do we let it sit or clean and then stain.we live in northern ontario canada.we plan to use AC stain
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    The Sealer Store · 09/18/2014
    Sand first then clean and brighten after for the old deck.
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    Bob Underwood · 09/18/2014
    I need to sand my old deck - should I do it before I apply the cleaner or when is the best time to do this?
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    Bob Underwood · 09/18/2014
    I need to sand my old deck to smooth out some rough spots. Should I do this before I apply the cleaner and brightener or when?
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    The Sealer Store · 05/09/2014
    hemali, best to clean and brighten the wood for the prep with the Restore A Deck Kit. Stain with Armstrong Clark stain.
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    hemali · 05/09/2014
    We had a pressure treated pine deck built in Aug. 2013 and let it weather over the winter months. When I sprayed down the deck yesterday with water, water still beads on the surface. There is no sign of mildew, mold, or graying wood. Would using only the Brightener help to prep the deck for stain? I was hoping to stain before the summer months. Thank you!
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    The Sealer Store · 03/23/2014
    Jim, if the wood is smooth then yes. If rough sawn, you can stain right away without the prep.
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    Jim Watson · 03/22/2014
    is this true for new cedar fences too?
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    The Sealer Store · 08/28/2013
    Wait a month or two and clean and brighten the deck for the prep. Samples are here: http://www.opwdecks.com/wood-stain-samples.htm
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    Rick Dunbar · 08/28/2013
    I've been trying to read through the comments to avoid having to write this. However, I remain confused, and reading 900 or more entries is tiresome. So, I have a large new cedar deck already installed. I've done nothing to the surface. It has a good deal of direct sunlight on 1/2 of the deck. I want to use the TimberOil because of the paraffins. I realize I'll need to clean, but not sure if I need to brighten. I hope to have this done this October which will be about 6 to 8 weeks after installation. What do I do? Also, are the sample kits available and how much are they? Thanks for your help.

    Rick
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    The Sealer Store · 04/30/2013
    I would not seal all sides. No need. Look at Timber oil Brand if you want to stain soon. With Defy you would need to wait 3-6 months and clean/brighten to prep.
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    JohnSW · 04/30/2013
    Brand new 5/4 x 4 western red cedar on a rental house. No time to space/stack wood and let it dry. Not much interested in drying/cleaning/brightening process on this rental. Should I seal all 4 sides before installation? Wait and seal only the top later in the summer? Best product to use? (I have been using Defy for hardwoods on my own deck at home.) Don't care about the color.