when to stain a new deckThere are many questions as to when a newly installed deck should be stained. Some stain manufacturers suggest you should wait 3-12 months to let the wood dry while others say to stain the deck right away. The answer can be both just as long as you prep the new wood properly for an application of the stain.

We are going to explain both scenarios and the proper steps to take.

Let the New Deck Dry and Weather for 3-12 Months:

  1. Most common suggestion by the manufacturer. New wood is suggested to dry since it has a high moisture content. This reduces the stains ability to penetrate.
  2. The wood will dry and turn gray from the exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.
  3. After 3-12 months you would need to apply a wood cleaner to remove the gray wood cells. This can be done with scrubbing and or light pressure washing. After cleaning the deck you will need to neutralize the wood deck cleaner with a wood brightener.
  4. Let dry for 24-48 hours then apply your deck stain of choice.

Stain New Deck Right Away.

  1. Not the most common approach but can be done if you prep properly.
  2. Apply a wood deck cleaner and thoroughly scrub and or pressure wash lightly. Neutralize with a wood brightener. These two steps will remove the mill glaze and "open" the wood pores.
  3. Apply a deck stain that is "thin" in viscosity. A heavily bodied wood stain will have a hard time penetrating into the new wood. Using a stain similar to The Sealer Store TimberOil will penetrate into the wood.

Do not over apply a wood deck stain/sealer to a new deck. The excessive stain will not soak into the wood causing the finish to dry on top of the wood. Many manufacturers suggest only one coat on newly installed wood.

For deck staining instructions please read: How To Stain a Deck

If you have any about staining a brand new deck please ask below. All questions are typically answered within a day.

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    Kim · 10/14/2021
    We’ve just put in a new, bare, not pressure treated douglas fir deck. We’re zone 5, meaning winter will soon be upon us. We plan to stain beforehand to protect the wood. It seems from other comments you might advise to wait until spring? Thank you!
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    Travis · 09/24/2021
    Brand new Garapa deck being right now , about a week away from being done .  Cooling down here in Ct,  Wondering if i should  stain it now or wait till spring . Or water based now  and oil in the spring if thats possible …
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    Gail Nelson · 09/16/2021
    Build a new deck this past may!   I like the natural look but when should I put a finish on it ?    What product would you suggest
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    Linda · 06/12/2021
    We had a small deck done last summer so now are ready to stain. If we need to clean it before staining what is the best way and best product to use
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    Milt F · 05/13/2021
    We have just built a new redwood deck with air dried boards. Our contractor wants to stain now (with AC) after sanding, no prep. This sections intro says thats OK, but the answers in the discussion are all to wait. We don't know whether to overrule our contractor and wait or go with his plan.We are in Northern California, partial shade. Which is best: transparent, semi-trans, or hardwood amber?
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    bob · 05/03/2021
    i replaced some of the deck and stairs in august 2020  with pressure treated wood. the older part of the deck has painted stain. what is the best way to get the rest of the paint/stain (see pic) off?
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      The Sealer Store · 05/03/2021
      You will need to sand this to remove the solid stain/paint. Strippers will not work on this.
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    Jordan · 05/03/2021
    I'll be using TPW 1500 to stain a pressure treated pine deck after installation last summer, and cleaning/brightening earlier this spring.  I just decided to put down a pressure treated pine walkway from the deck along a pond (properly elevated).  I would like know the best suggestion, short of letting the new walkway age till the end of the season, that would allow me to stain both the deck and the walkway at the same time.
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      The Sealer Store · 05/03/2021
      Yes, let the new wood age and then clean, brighten, and stain all at the same time.
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    Erin · 05/02/2021
    Deck built in sept 2020. Unsure of type of wood as just moved into home. When are we okay to stain? 
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    Pete · 04/22/2021
    I am replacing just the cedar on my 35 yr old dock with new Western Cedar 3/4” x 5.5” x 30” planks … Rough on one side smooth on the other. I obviously am going to use the smooth side up. I will be using 2” x 2” x 10 ft cedar bracing underneath as well. The lumber yard told me the cedar is dried already and can be stained immediately.When I do go to stain it, I want to use a clear product, and I want to use the easiest application method possible. 
    1. Do you recommend staining it immediately? If not, why? And when should I stain it, and what process and stain should I use?2. If I can stain it immediately, do I need to do any preparations of the cedar, even though it’s brand new? And, which product should I use on the cedar? Thx. Pete. 
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      The Sealer Store · 04/23/2021
      No, you have to weather and prep. it is not about how dry it is but the porosity and new wood is not porous enugh for new coatings. Also, you must have a stain if you want to prevent UV graying. A clear will not offer any UV protection and will allow the wood to gray naturally in months. Try the Armstrong Clark stains: https://www.opwdecks.com/armstrong-clark-stain.htm
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    Evelyn · 04/16/2021
    1 more pic here ... also forgot to mention... interested in AC rustic brown or TWP dark oak type of semi-transparent stain. Thanks!
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    Evelyn · 04/16/2021
    Hello, thank you for being this invaluable resource to everyone!  New Deck & Awning just went up (April 2021) in a mix of PT Pine (deck posts), Pine (T&G ceiling in deck), and Cedar (Awning Corbels).  In north GA.. property gets some partial shade in the day.  How long to wait?... Interested in Armstrong Clark and TWP...  Should we stain at different times according to different wood? For ex, should cedar and pine be stained soon... and weather / wait on PT pine posts?  Thanks!
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      The Sealer Store · 04/16/2021
      Wait 3-4 months and the prep and stain all then. TWP and AC would be great choices.
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    Mallory · 04/13/2021
    I am replacing pieces of wood in a old deck, after I pressure wash, how long should I wait to put the wood brightener on? Just before I prime and stain or after I pressure wash? I also have already purchased a primer because this part of the deck receives all of the elements opposed to the rest of the deck, is this recommended? 
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      The Sealer Store · 04/13/2021
      You brighten right away after using the cleaner. Primers should never be used for deck stains.
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    Jennifer · 04/03/2021
    I live in Phoenix and am replacing old broken wood gate planks with new cedar fence pickets from a big box Home Improvement store. Everything I'm reading says to install the fence first, wait until the wood dries, then stain. I also read that when I spray the wood with water & it soaks in, the wood is dry and I can stain. Well I sprayed one of these planks and the water soaked right in. I'm so confused! Is the wood dry or not? Should I stain them now, before installing, or wait? If I wait, how long do I wait? THANK YOU!
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      The Sealer Store · 04/04/2021
      If the wood is rough sawn then you can stain now. If not, install, weather the wood, prep, and then stain.
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        Jennifer · 04/05/2021
        Thank you, that's very helpful! How do I know if it is rough sawn- do I just ask the employees at the store? Sometimes 3 people give you 4 answers there.....
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    David · 04/01/2021
    Our cedar deck has been left untreated for two and a half years. (We had been advised to build with cedar so as to avoid needing to apply any stain. But now we understand that was probably bad advice.) Would our best plan be to first sand with 60 grit, then apply brightener, then wait until fully dry and finally apply oil-based stain?
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      The Sealer Store · 04/01/2021
      You will need to use a deck cleaner and then a wood brightener. https://www.opwdecks.com/best-selling-cleaner.htm

      Then apply a stain like the Armstrong Clark: https://www.opwdecks.com/armstrong-clark-stain.htm
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        David · 04/02/2021
        OK thanks for helping. I have one follow up question - Should the application of cleaner and then stain be done before or after the sanding, or do you recommend not sanding at all?
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    fisher gabriele · 03/29/2021
    We stained the new wood deck with semi transparent Cabot stain. A week later black mildew spots appeared under the stain not on top of it. What happened? The deck was about 1 week old before it was stained. How can we fix the mildew , it seems to be spreading all over the deck.
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    David · 03/11/2021
    Total square footage is about 680.
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      The Sealer Store · 03/12/2021
      One Restore-A-Deck Cleaner and brightener prep kit and about 4-6 gallons of stain.
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    Jon · 02/15/2021
    I am building a deck with Garapa wood (Brazilian hardwood) in the spring. I live in Michigan. When should I stain the deck? Do I need to clean or sand prior to staining?
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    Grant Beckett · 11/11/2020
    I see many of your recommendations to wait until spring to stain a new deck - especially if living in a cold area as I do (Boston, MA). My question is does your recommendation change for new mahogany wood deck boards?
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    Bryan · 11/10/2020
    I had a new deck installed in late August and the installer said to wait until next spring to stain. But, he said I should apply a water sealer this year before winter, which I did. Reading your article above, I am now worried that this will inhibit the stain penetration next year. Do you think it will and, if so, are there any steps I can take beyond the prepping mentioned above? Thanks in advance!
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    Dan Perry · 11/05/2020
    I installed some new deck railings this summer in Minnesota. My father in law says I should stain them before winter. Should i stain them now or wait til next year?