Applying Stain to a New Deck
Clean, rinse, and stain to finish your deck.
You completed your wood deck and can’t wait to stain it. You buy the stain and plan to have your deck transformed into the color you carefully chose. Then you read the directions on the can.
Different types of woods and finishes have different requirements. Some manufactures say you can apply their products right away, while others say that for best results you should let your deck weather for a month or more before staining. This is because the wood may harbor moisture that will repel the stain. While especially true of pressure-treated wood because of the chemicals autoclaved into it, even brand-new wood like cedar will harbor some moisture and might even have a waxy film on the surface. In the end, choosing a product that is compatible with the wood you’ve installed and following the manufacturers instructions is the best way to get good results.
LIGHTLY TINTED OR CLEAR STAIN
Nearly transparent, these stains gently enhance the color of the wood to show off—and preserve—its natural beauty.
For a bump in color, these add more tone while still allowing the beauty of the wood grain to show.
If color is your priority, this semi-opaque stain masks most of the wood grain.
For decks that have been around for a while or when vibrant color is what you are after, solids add a smooth, colorful finish.
After the seasoning period, your deck will need cleaning and perhaps brightening. Apply stain when air and wood surface temperatures are between 50°F and 90°F. If at all possible, avoid applying in direct sunlight. Don’t apply stain if rain is forecast within the next 12 to 24 hours.
Why brighten new wood? Even after a few weeks, wood will accumulate dirt and mold. More important, using a brightener with a cleaner removes mill glaze—a waxy finish common on new lumber—opening up the pores of the wood for better stain penetration.
Most stains can be applied with a pump sprayer, a great way to get the stain into the cracks.