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How to Stain a New Deck After Weathering

Do you have new deck that you left to weather for 6-12 months? Before you stain a new deck, follow these cleaning steps for the best results.

Waiting to stain a new deck is hard, but with proper prep, you can make it look amazing! | wood stain | deck cleaning | new deck cleaning | new deck weathering | new deck season
Believe it or not, new decks should not be stained right after they're built. The mill glaze and high moisture content of the wood will prevent the stain from soaking in. It's common to allow a deck to "season" or "weather" for 6-12 months, leaving the wood raw and exposed to the elements. Before staining a new deck after weathering, the UV damaged fibers, dirt and mildew need to be removed first. I'll show you the process, and some tips on how to get it done quicker.

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Edited to add:

Two years after staining our new deck, it needed to be cleaned and stained again. I made a video of the cleaning process, and a better tutorial too. You can check them out here.

Make your deck look like new again! This video and tutorial shows you how to use deck cleaner without scrubbing!

Our deck was built back in November, and was left to "season" for nine months. It might look ok right now, but without protection from the elements, the wood would gradually deteriorate. This summer, it was time to stain the new deck!

It's important to stain a new deck 6-12 months after it has been built.

I never start a project without a ridiculous amount of research, and I was probably using that excuse to procrastinate a bit as well. I read almost every page on, and decided to use TWP stain in their lightest color, Honeytone.

We wanted the deck to be the color it was when the new wood was wet, and this was almost an exact match. Here, you can see the difference between the stained wood at the top, which is beading up rain nicely, and the bottom, which is unstained wood. Pretty close!

We wanted the stain on the new deck to match the color of the unfinished wood when it was wet.

Before staining the new deck, I needed to remove the dirt and gray layer of UV damaged wood fibers. The Restore-a-Deck kit includes a deck cleaner and brightener that will make the wood look like new again. Armed with our new power washer, I started on my epic journey to protect our deck from the Pacific Northwest weather.

I used a pump garden sprayer to spray the Restore-a-Deck cleaner on damp wood. After 10-15 minutes, I used the power washer to clean away the grime. It was amazing how easily the grayed wood came off.

After I finished a section with the power washer, I went over it with a spray bottle of wood brightener. This stuff restores the pH of the wood and neutralizes the cleanser. It was an instant reaction, which was pretty cool to watch. Here you can see the cleaned and brightened boards next to the boards that currently have the cleaner working its magic.

Before you stain a new deck, you need to clean the surface of dirt and UV damaged wood fibers.

Here you can see the difference between the restored wood and the weathered wood. Such a huge difference!

Before staining a new deck, give it a proper cleaning! You can see the difference clearly here.

After everything was cleaned up, the wood needed to dry for at least two days before staining.

To stain the new deck, I used a Shur-Line deck staining tool. It has a little groove that you can pop out to get in between the floor boards. It fit perfectly in the gap and I only had to touch up a few spots with a paint brush. The horizontal surfaces of the deck were stained in less than an hour, and I was feeling quite proud of myself.

When you stain a new deck, start with the railings and work your way down.

Then I started on the vertical slats of the railings, and realized my mistake. This was going to take forever! I hadn't thought to use a sprayer before I stained the floor boards, and the overspray would have left little splatters all over the finished surface. So that's why they tell you to start at the top and work your way down...

So with my trusty little paintbrush, I went to work on every single surface of those railings. It.took.forever.

When staining a new deck, use a sprayer on the railings instead of a paintbrush to make the job go faster!

Next time, I'll remember to use a sprayer on the slats first! But at least the final result turned out beautifully!

The stain of our new deck is beautiful!

Stain a new deck 6-12 months after assembly

By waiting 6-12 months before staining a new deck, you allow the wood to dry out and lose the mill glaze on the surface.

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Waiting to stain a new deck is hard, but with proper prep, you can make it look amazing! | wood stain | deck cleaning | new deck cleaning | new deck weathering | new deck season

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Tuesday 18th of April 2017

Thanks for posting pictures of TWP honeytone. I have been debating which color to use on our deck and your pictures really helped! Love the dark oak...but like you said a lighter color won't stand out as much when it fades. It does look like new wet wood just like the TWP website says.

Juanita Sloan

Sunday 16th of October 2016

I have a problem with the stain fading on my deck. The stain has a guarantee of 5 years but the color has faded after 2 years. It get a lot of sun. Any ideas on how to make the color last.


Tuesday 18th of October 2016

If the stain has a money back guarantee, you should contact the company to see about a refund. It's been almost two years since I stained my deck, and although the railings are looking a bit faded, the rest is going strong. Make sure to use a penetrating stain, not one that will sit on top of the wood. Using a wood cleaner and power washing will remove the top layer of wood cells and allow the stain to penetrate deeper. Hope that helps!


Tuesday 31st of May 2016

I just re-stained my deck too. It is a lot of work, but it looks so much better...and yours looks brand new!!! I love the color you chose.

The Handyman's Daughter

Tuesday 31st of May 2016

Thanks so much, Mary! It's a big job ,but it makes such a huge difference.


Thursday 7th of April 2016

Oh MY GOSH! What a lot of work! I'm going to be doing this soon on our deck as we built it last August so this August we're going to have to really start planning on getting it done before fall. I helped my mom stain her deck a few summers ago and it was just absolutely endless, just like you said. I'm not looking forward to tackling ours but what a difference it makes and its so important for protecting the wood. Your deck looks gorgeous!

The Handyman's Daughter

Thursday 7th of April 2016

It was a lot of work, but the deck still looks as perfect now as when I stained it last summer, so all that work was worth it! Good luck with yours!

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