deck cedar staining

Cedar Staining: How Long Should You Wait To Stain Your Cedar Deck?

There was a great question posted in the Bob Vila forum that we wanted to share. It came from a homeowner who had recently had a new cedar deck put on and was now contemplating when to have someone come in to stain it.

His question on the forum: “I need some guidance. A couple of buddies of mine say that I need to wait a year before staining my cedar deck…I would like to wait for a dry period in the weather and then have it stained (within 2 months of building it). My buddies say the stain will not take as well. They say wait until next year. Any thoughts on this?”

This is a great question because many homeowners wonder how early they can have someone come in to stay after there is a newly built deck (or any other type of cedar structure like a gazebo or even a swingset).

One of the great responses came back from the Bob Vila staff that explained that staining the cedar sooner rather than later is best for many reasons. His response explains more:

“Your instincts on this are right on track. If you wait a year, the wood will turn gray, and may even show deterioration from the weather. Cedar should be stained as soon as it will accept the stain. This is easy to determine with penetrating semi-transparent stains. Apply the stain, if it soaks in its ready. If it pools on the surface, do it later.

By staining early, you provide UV and water protection to the wood. The natural drying process is slowed down a bit, but that helps prevent cracking. Even if you don’t get great penetration of the stain, the worst that will happen is that you will need a second application next year. Not a bad idea anyway. Penetrating oil stains will not form a film, so early staining cannot cause peeling, chipping or loss of adhesion. I recommend staining as soon as the wood feels and looks dry and weather permits.”

We completely agree. You don’t want to incur any chipping or pealing or cracking so staining within a 2-3 month period is best.

Cedar Deck Association adds a great quote on finishing exter cedar decks:

“Decks should never be allowed to weather before finishing.The simplest, but most labor-intensive, finish to maintain on a cedar deck is a water-repellent preservative, which may have to be applied annually. The next easiest is a semi-transparent oil-based stain. Both types of finishes are extremely effective in stopping the absorption of water and are recommended. It is important to ensure that the product has been specifically formulated to withstand the abrasive effects of foot traffic.”

What do you think?