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When to Seal or Stain Pressure-Treated Wood

By: Danny Lipford
water on wood deck

When water soaks into the wood instead of beading up, it’s time to seal or stain it.

It’s important to finish typical pressure-treated wood as soon as possible after completion of a deck in order to protect it.

Splash some water on the deck boards. If it beads up, the wood isn’t quite ready to be sealed. Wait several days and test it again. When the water absorbs into the wood, it’s ready to seal or stain.

Video Transcript


People who are building pressure treated wood decks for their outdoor living space often want to know how long they have to wait before they seal or stain them. It’s important to finish typical pressure treated wood as soon as possible after completion of a deck in order to protect it.

In the past, people waited up to 6 months before finishing projects but that’s no longer necessary with newer treatments like micronized copper. The new rule of thumb is 30 days, but your project could be ready in less time depending on factors like weather conditions and how long the material was in the lumber yard before you purchased it.

The best course of action is to test the surface yourself. Splash some water on the deck boards. If it beads up, the wood isn’t quite ready to be sealed. Wait several days and test it again. When the water absorbs into the wood, it’s ready to seal or stain.


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8 Comments on “When to Seal or Stain Pressure-Treated Wood”

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  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    September 6th, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Hi, Willis!
    Whether you stain or seal your deck, either option will protect your home’s addition. That’s the good news! So we don’t have a preference when it comes to sealing or staining the deck; it really is a matter of personal preference since the most important thing is protecting your investment.
    Staining and sealing each has its benefits. For instance, you will need to reseal your deck once each year but may just have to re-stain the deck every three years (depending on how much use and wear and tear it gets).
    Good luck with your project!



  • Willis Says:
    September 5th, 2018 at 8:27 am

    What is the best to do in your opinion what is best to do stain or just seal”and what is best to use?


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Hi, Cara,
    It certainly depends on the quality of wood but generally, it’s better to install the wood first, and then if you’re concerned with its smoothness, the easiest thing is to use a pole sander. That would be a sanding pad attached to a pole, which will make it very easy to run over the surface of the deck. We suggest using 80-grit sandpaper.
    Good luck!



  • Cara Says:
    May 24th, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Hi thanks for this information! I’ve been reading conflicting things. What would you recommend as far as product type or brand to put on a new pressure treated deck? would you sand first?
    Thanks!



  • Havi Says:
    April 24th, 2018 at 1:15 am

    How and when do i stain pressure treated plywood floors in a metal shed for kennel use? I have kennel seal but want to stain floor first. Bought Evo stain from Home Depot but it has a pic on box of before & after pic 1 being oak colored and the other walnut but then in small print says if you want it to be colored you have to put 5oz of tint into mix..But LOL home Depot refused to do so. So if I decide to just tile over treated wood floor should I still use kennel seal? Or will the tile and all block the voc’s?



  • Debbi Says:
    April 3rd, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    I just had my front door reframe now it’s time
    Seal it stain it
    Which do I first
    Please let me know as soon as you can
    Thank you for your help



  • Peggy Says:
    September 1st, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I have oak hard wood floors. In the seem between my eating area and desk area are boards that do not fill the space allotted properly. I have applied wood filler before but that has crack and fallen away. Is there a simple cost effective way to repair this area. My husband is out of work and we are trying to get the house ready to put on the market.
    Thank you.



  • Ginny Says:
    July 10th, 2016 at 11:04 am

    What is the longest lasting sealants for a wood deck?


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When to Seal or Stain Pressure-Treated Wood