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

deck cedar staining

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?

12 thoughts on “Cedar Staining: How Long Should You Wait To Stain Your Cedar Deck?

  1. wlislyr Post authorReply

    Thanks for reading! Leave a comment below for us!

  2. Elizabeth Pattara Reply

    Do you have any thoughts on staining a cedar fence in a soft black or dark grey color? Is it a maintenance nightmare? If we were to pre-stain before installing the fence how long should the boards dry out before applying the stain and installing the fence?

  3. Eden Derita Reply

    The bread and butter of every well-made pressure washer is the hose that’s transferring the pressure from the water pump to the spraying wand.

  4. Joe Hall Reply

    I really like that you talked about using water-proof substances that can be applied annually to your deck. My spouse and I want to fix up the old deck on the back of our home this year. That way, we can finally enjoy those summer nights the comfort of our home.

  5. Services Reply

    Ripping down your wooden deck might seem like a pretty big job, but even a beginner DIYer can get it knocked out in a Saturday if you approach the job systematically and make a plan

  6. Patti Pernell Reply

    Deck stain adds beauty to your deck but more importantly, it protects the wood. Changing weather can play havoc with wood. Leaving it unprotected will only mean that it will rot and deteriorate faster. Some brands have a water sealant incorporated into them. These are time savers as you do not have to apply the water sealant in a separate coating. Though wood stains are available in numerous colors, use one that will complement the natural color of the wood.

  7. Cynthia Campbell Reply

    So what happens if you did wait about a year because you thought you had to, and only found out just now that I should have done this last year? Do I need to do anything special before applying sealant? It has grayed a bit but is otherwise not showing any signs of deterioration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *