How Long Should You Wait Before Staining A New Deck?

Buying a piece of solid lumber for your outdoors is a heavy investment. Therefore, the decision to stain it needs all the thoughtful consideration you can give it. You want to transform your outdoors into a tremendous, livable space, so it is only right to approach the process wisely.

This begins with the best time to stain your new deck. You need to take several factors into account for this purpose: how long should you wait before it is appropriate to stain the deck? Which is the best time during the year to stain your deck? Etc.

In this article, we’re going to discuss these factors and some others in detail to enlighten you on the staining process.

Staining Your Deck – Why You Need To Do It

Staining might seem like a tedious process to some homeowners, but in truth, it is the best effort you can make to maximize the longevity of your lumber. Investing in lumber requires a chunk of hard-earned money, so it is worthwhile to do everything possible to make it last for long, including staining.

You most likely will use treated cedar or lumber for your deck, and in most cases, these stand strong against the elements. However, regular staining ensures the life of the wood extends even further without its strength diminishing.

Staining is a process of penetrating through the upper layers of the wood. With staining, the first couple of layers absorb the substance, thereby transforming into a protective barrier between the UV rays, moisture, and the interior of your lumber.

If you get too lazy at some point and decide to forego staining entirely, you will notice your woodturning rustic and gray. While you may find the weather-beaten look appealing, it is actually a sign of the damage the wood is suffering. The more rustic and gray, the weaker and damaged your wood has become.

Staining does change the color of the wood, but it also strengthens it internally and maximizes its life. Besides, the best advantage is the variety of color options available in stains. You can match the color of your new deck with the rest of the home’s interior and enjoy a stylish home.

How Soon Can You Stain Your Deck After Power Washing?

When you powerwash your deck, the wood will retain some moisture in it. If you do not allow it to dry completely, the stain may very well trap the moisture inside the wood. Under perfect drying conditions, forty-eight hours are good enough to dry the wood sufficiently for staining.

Your New Deck – Should You Stain it or Seal it?

Staining and sealing wood are different. Sealing is a transparent cover that merely coats your wood’s outer layer but does not penetrate inside the layers. It does nothing to maximize the strength and wellbeing of the interior of your lumber.

Sealers are not long-lasting either. They only stay for a year at the most, after which it becomes necessary to reapply the sealer on the wood. However, the sealing process is far easier than staining and is the easiest deck maintenance method.

The application barely takes any time to complete; you can do it conveniently in the morning, and transparency means there are no chances to mess up anywhere. You do not have to fear ruining the look of your wood with a transparent sealer.

Sealers can preserve the original color of your wood for a year, not more than two at the most. Eventually, the color will fade, and you will have to reapply the sealer.

Staining, on the other hand, combines both its own effects and that of sealing too. So your wood gets a stain plus a protective barrier against the harmful elements in the staining process. You can trust the stain to last at least five times longer than the sealer because stain absorbs deep into the layers of the wood.

Yes, the cost of staining will certainly be more than a sealer, but then you get the added advantages as well. Moreover, you must never apply a sealer on a stained deck. Sealers and stains are both meant to work on raw wood, and using the two together will negate their abilities to secure your wood.

When is The Best Time To Stain It

Is it possible to stain your new deck right after you install it? Yes, it is possible, but it certainly is not the best time to stain it. A new deck right after installation is still too wet to be suitable for staining.

If you really want to stain your new deck at the right time, then you wait for at least three to twelve months after installing it. Yes, three to twelve months after installation is the best time for wood staining.

You’re probably wondering why you should wait three to twelve months. Well, if you have ever paid attention, you must have noticed your hands feeling damp soon after loading your treated lumber into the back of the trailer. The reason behind this is the pre-treatment of the lumber with liquid chemicals.

The lumber feels damp in your hands upon purchase because soon after its pre-treatment, it has to get into a stack and not see daylight again till you buy it. The problem is that moisture in the wood, or at least too much of it, does not allow for the stain to penetrate the wood well.

Imagine a cup half-filled with water. If you try staining it, only the other half of the cup will fill up. However, if you let the water in the cup evaporate for a couple of months and then stain the glass, the stain will go all through it.

As ironic it sounds, new wood really has to remain unprotected for up to twelve months until it is thoroughly dry and prepare. Only then should you stain it to protect it better. You should at least try not to attempt staining in less than three months.

The weather and the amount of sunlight you receive determine how fast your wood will dry out. For example, new wood in a warm, sunny area will dry faster than the one in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

Best Times of the Year To Stain a New Deck

Ideally, fall and spring are the best times of the year to stain a new deck because the temperatures are not as extreme as they are in the winters and summers. Even for those in live in moderate climates, fall and spring are the times for staining a new deck.

Extreme temperatures are not the only consideration. UV light is an equally great concern because direct exposure to the rays is very detrimental to the health of the wood. Applying a stain right in the middle of when your wood is at maximum exposure will not produce successful staining results.

You need to select a time for staining when there are no rainfalls and chances of moisture, as well as a favorable temperature. This is the only way wood will absorb the stain thoroughly. Fall may be a good time to stain, but then the falling leave could pose a problem for the wet stain.

When Does The New Deck Dry Enough For Staining?

You may initially think it is soon enough to stain your wood, but a little patience may work in the best of your interests. When you buy pressure-treated lumber, you must know that it will initially come with lots of moisture inside it, more than cedar. This happens because of the pre-treatment process.

The easiest and the best way to test if your lumber is ready for staining or not is to apply a little stain on a piece of your new deck. If you see beads forming at the top of the wood, it means it is not quite ready. You will have to wait for a couple of more weeks, perhaps to dry it. However, if the stain goes right through the layers of your wood, then your cedar or pressure-treated lumber is ready for staining.

Best Time to Stain Your Cedar Deck

If you have a cedar deck, then you must know that the staining rules for it are vastly different from a deck of pressure-treated lumber. There is no chemical pre-treatment for cedar; it is chemical-free and all-natural and thus requires no enhanced protection. Due to this, it is possible to stain or seal your new cedar deck within two or three months of installation.

However, you need to be aware of the fact that cedarwood is not exceptionally hardwood. It can easily fall victim to nicks and dents from people using it daily or walking on it daily. If you do not buffer the outer layer with chemicals, you will allow your cedar decking to fall susceptible to cuts and nicks. Have no illusions; cedar is more likely to wear off and get damaged early on in comparison to the pressure-treated wood.

Cedar begins to weather the moment it comes on your deck, in fact, even when it turns into planks and sees a retailer. So when you finally get to installing the cedar, it is already drier than your pressure-treated wood would be. Three months is long enough to stain your cedar deck.

What Is The Best Stain To Use?

When it comes time to stain a deck, most people just head to their local big box store and buy stain there. The stain available in these stores are good, but I wouldn’t say they are the best option available. I’ve tried several different types of stain over the years. I never saw much of a difference until I came across one particular brand. Since then, it’s been the only stain I use for my outdoor projects.

That brand is TWP Stains. You can find many of their products here (Amazon Link). TWP’s stains was incredible easy to apply and the wood soaked it up in no time.

It’s been 4 years since I stained my deck and it has held up great. I stained my deck about the same time as my neighbors. Both of them have re-stained again. It’s not even a project that’s on my radar right now because of how well TWP has held up.

Final Thoughts

Staining your deck is the best way to protect it. Preparing the wood well before staining it produces even better results. The best way to prepare the wood is to open its pores so that the maximum amount of stain can absorb it.