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How Long to Wait Before Staining a New Wood Deck?

By: Danny Lipford

I want to stain my new treated lumber deck, but I’m told I have to wait several weeks. Is that true? -Gerald

Pressure treated wood decking is often delivered still wet with preservative. It needs time to dry out before finishing, so the stain will absorb into the wood.

How long you need to wait before staining will vary depending on:

  • The moisture content in the wood.
  • Whether the deck is in the sun or shade.
  • The climate and weather conditions in your area.

Depending on the wood and drying conditions, you should usually wait 4 to 8 weeks after installation before staining a deck.


Further Information

Video Transcript

Gerald Asks: I want to stain my new treated lumber deck, but I’m told I have to wait several weeks. Is that true?

Danny Lipford: Whether you have an old deck or a brand new one, it’s important to regularly apply a stain or sealer, so that you can keep your deck looking as good as possible and lasting as long as it should. But with the new deck, the new wood needs a little time to allow the chemicals or the moisture in the wood to evaporate a little bit, so that it will receive the stain or sealer in the best way possible.

Now, a lot of factors play into that, whether or not the material was stored outside at the lumber yard, how long ago it was that they actually treated the wood, and whether your deck is out in the sun or in the shade. So, as a general rule, I would say, wait at least four weeks after your deck is built, or eight weeks if you’re in a real shady situation. That way, when you apply the stain or sealer, it’ll stay there.


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23 Comments on “How Long to Wait Before Staining a New Wood Deck?”

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  • Todd Says:
    May 3rd, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Treated wood shrinkage. I replace some steps with treated YellaWood pine, butting up the 2 boards for each step. 3 weeks later there is about a 1/4 inch gap.
    Never expected that to happen, but it looks like the gaps were intentional. Looks factory perfect.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    May 5th, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Hi, Tammy! There’s no telling why the wood is creaking, but the solution is simple: tighten the noisy board, adding more screws or nails where you hear the noise. You can tighten right on the deck boards, or below the deck boards using screws. Good luck!

  • Tammy Daniels Says:
    April 29th, 2019 at 10:36 am

    I had a small porch built about a month ago with pressure treated pine. Why would it already be making creaking noise at my front door?? I haven’t stained or painted porch yet?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    April 14th, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Hi, Virginia!
    Try the ‘bead’ test to determine when it’s time to stain the deck. Here’s more information:
    Good luck. 🙂

  • Virginia Dillman Says:
    April 12th, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    We built a new deck, and it has been raining for a week, pretty much straight. It was built about 3 weeks ago. After we have some dry weather , how long should I wait to stain/seal and paint. Just my hand rails are being painted.

  • Rick Degrassi Says:
    October 23rd, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Two weeks ago I purchase Hemlock 2 by 6 and 6 by sixes how long do I have to wait for it to dry before I can stain it I cover it every night and if it’s going to rain I let out in the sun and wind on good days

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    September 26th, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Hi, Jane,

    For sanding tips, we recommend these videos:

    For tips on how to finish the deck, check out these resources:

    Of course, you also might want to have a friendly discussion with your contractor if these jobs were included in your order.

    Good luck!

  • jane davis Says:
    September 23rd, 2018 at 6:49 am

    My parents had an addition on their old deck installed in late July of this year and the contractor did not sand the rough cut edges on rails ( he was too busy) and didn’t put any sealer on it for winter which is coming fast in Maine. Is there anything I can do ?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 26th, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Hi, Jodee,
    We wouldn’t say you waited too long to stain the wood, or that the wood is necessarily cheap. Other factors may apply. For instance, do you see two nails set side by side near the outside of the board? If so, that could cause splitting. The same is true if the wood was wet when installed.
    Thanks for reading!

  • Jodee Malone Says:
    July 24th, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I had a new wood fence installed in January. They told me to wait three months before I stained it. I live in Missouri and the weather is crazy here. In April, which would have been three months, it was still snowing. Then in May and June we had record high temps up to 100 degrees and it rained a lot. So, I’m just now starting to stain the fence , but the side boards are already splintering. Did I wait too late or did they use cheap wood?

  • Denise Says:
    June 2nd, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    We stained our deck right after it was built with new materials. Did not know we had to wait newer woods. Now it creaks really bad and we don’t know how to fix it. Please help if you can shed some light to this matter thanks

  • Robert Levensky Says:
    November 5th, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I had me deck put up about2 weeks ago and I just put on the water seal. I didn’t know I needed to wait30 day’s. Will I need to reapply the water seal?

  • Ray Caron Says:
    September 3rd, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    To speed up the drying process on the boards from my previous email should I place the boards out in the sun or just leave them where they are.


    Ray Caron

  • Ray Caron Says:
    September 3rd, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I purchased yellow pine deck boards July 15th, 2017 which are drying in a garage. The boards are sitting on pieces of scrap wood and separated from each other. I’ve measured the moisture content in the boards and depending on where you place the moisture meter the wetness content runs from 13 to 29%. How dry (i.e. what % should they be – less than 10%?) must these boards be before I put a paint stain on them.

    Regards and Thank You

  • Jim kimbrell Says:
    August 16th, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Dry is important, in summer it dries fast. One thing I heard that makes sense, is to sand, because there is dirt, and other things getting in your way. Sanding does make sense, I just sanded mine, tomorrow comes the stain

  • Ernest Paul Says:
    June 3rd, 2017 at 6:02 am

    To betty brownfield.
    You can stain now as long as it’s 48 hours prior to rain 24-48hrs light foot traffic 72hrs before placing furniture on it as long as it’s 70° and up its fine higher humidity follow the hour rule on the longer side I have already stained 5 decks this year if you use a roller be sure to back brush what you roll for an even professional look.

  • Ernest Paul Says:
    June 3rd, 2017 at 5:53 am

    I use to paint and stain professionally for 7 years in the northeast region and as I was thought a good rule of thumb is if your decks porches fences etc: was built or installed in the summer of this year you should let it go thru the season till next spring. Then pressure wash it with straight water then next afternoon pending ur in the sun start ur staining. Our work would last approximately 3-5 years

  • Betty brownfield Says:
    May 15th, 2017 at 11:02 am

    we had a deck put in last August and we want to clean it and stain it we were told that we should wait till June or July my husband wanted to do it now which is May I would like your opinion if we should wait till June or July

  • deck staining Says:
    April 3rd, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    It is a good idea to use a cleaner on a new deck. It helps to get rid of the treatment chem on the top of the boards.

  • Ted Says:
    March 31st, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I had a new floor and top hand rail put up on my deck early fall last year, the other part of the deck is still the original and in good shape but is painted. I want to paint the entire deck to make it match up; however, how long do I need to wait before I can paint. It has been raining the past 2 days but has stopped and isn’t supposed to rain for the next few days.

  • Jon Provorse Says:
    October 1st, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I have a brand new installed cedar deck and railing can it be stained right away I live in the northeast and winter is coming

  • John Perkins Says:
    September 26th, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    After waiting the required time, is there any special cleaning required
    of the wood before applying the sealer. This question is about new wood.

  • Tony del Says:
    July 27th, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Have a new wood deck, I was told when built in Oct-Nov to stain in the spring (or 6 months after)?
    The company had to redo parts of the deck (new board, dents, gaps)
    Redo with wood (floor wood) are not flat with other board, many mitered joints now, missing screw nails, edge boards separating, screws being pull out, water puddles in a few boards. Nail-screws placed sideways on a board. Different colored boards.
    My question is, do I have to change the wood on the deck.The company wants to stain now while more work is done. Do I wait? I could have done it if not disabled now.
    Thank you,
    Tony D

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How Long to Wait Before Staining a New Wood Deck?