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When to Seal or Stain a New Wood Deck

By: Danny Lipford

Water beading up on new wood deck.

Wait to stain a new wood deck if water beads up on it.

The wood on a new deck needs to dry thoroughly before sealing or staining. If the wood came still wet with preservative, allow it to dry about 30 days before applying stain or sealer.

To test the wood to see if it’s dry enough to stain or seal:

  • Pour a little water on the wood.
  • If the water beads up, it’s still too wet to finish.
  • If the water is absorbed into the wood easily, it’s ready to seal or stain.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: One of the things people often ask about wood decks is how long do I have to wait before I seal or stain the pressure-treated wood?

The short answer is around 30 days, but there’s a number of factors to consider, including the weather, and how long the wood sat in the lumber yard or home center. The best way to know for sure is to test the wood.

This is what the folks at YellaWood suggest. Pour a few drops of water on the deck. If it beads up, it’s still too wet to coat, and you’ll need to wait a while. If it absorbs the water easily, it’s ready for sealer or stain.

Whether you choose a clear sealer or a semi-transparent stain, look for one with a long warranty and UV stabilizers. Then apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and you’ll be giving your new deck the best protection possible.


Please Leave a Comment

12 Comments on “When to Seal or Stain a New Wood Deck”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    June 20th, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Hi, Ruben,
    With sealers and stains, the question isn’t which comes first and which comes next, it’s simply ‘which one?’
    Both are deck finishes, but each has a different effect. Stain penetrates the wood, for instance; sealer does not.
    Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.
    This video has more information.
    Good luck!

  • Ruben Rivera Says:
    June 14th, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Just built a porch .. I’m new to this but what should I apply first .. sealer then stain .. or the other way around

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    December 31st, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Hi, Lynn!
    What a great question! We recommend submitting questions about unique situations like yours to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show.
    Please use this form to contact Danny Lipford, America’s Home Expert, directly:
    Take care!

  • Lynn Carroll Says:
    December 29th, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    We just built a new home and have a beautiful deck (1/2 screened and 1/2 open). At my last home I had a new fence and a pool house that I put Sherwin Williams Super Deck transparent right on the pressure treated wood. I hired a painter to spray the fence and I personally brushed on the pool house. The color was amazing and really looked golden. Within a very short time, the sprayed on portion looked like there was nothing on it but the brushed on really seemed to hold up better but was starting to show some need for a redo. Is there a product that I can get that same look but not have to worry about a reapplication that quickly? It is not an inexpensive product. Thanks in advance for your help.

  • ODIS FROST Says:
    November 21st, 2018 at 7:00 am

    I have clean pressure washer my deck how cold can ‘t it be for to stain it .

  • Jackson Says:
    September 13th, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    We just built a new deck last month. I had spoke with a few people about when best time to seal is. I have been told that waiting after winter would be fine amount of time before sealing. Thoughts?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    September 6th, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Hi, Mike,

    We recommend contacting the manufacturer for product-specific questions.
    Here’s where you can do that:

    Good luck!

  • mike Says:
    August 30th, 2018 at 10:19 am

    if I use CWF first can I use Behr deck stain over it…..and do I need to clean the deck with deck cleaner first…..

  • John Says:
    November 15th, 2017 at 1:24 am

    I am wanting to know if I can sand my new deck and then paint it in stages. My health has not been to good and am wanting to do this process in stages rather then trying to do it all at once. The deck is 26square meters and the deck floor is Aquila. Can you please tell me if this is ok?

  • Sherry Hays Says:
    August 14th, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Want to paint my steps and porch .It’s about 2 months old I want to put something down that will last a long while.Suggestions please?

  • manny Says:
    July 3rd, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    is it advisable to seal adeck after i stain it? will it help the quality of the work if seal on top of stain?

  • Farhad Says:
    September 6th, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Hi ,
    On a new deck I used two different sealer ( they supposed to be the same , same name, number, bar-cod and …. ) while applying I realize one is a little darker but just because I did not see any differences between the two container ( i read all the details in the container even the bar_cod is the same) told my self that the result would be the same ( suppose to be clear ) . now I see the end result is different .
    half of the deck is brighter than the other half .
    Could you please tell me how I can fix this ?
    Can I use a solid stain ? or semi transparent? or any other idea ?

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When to Seal or Stain a New Wood Deck