staining pressure treated wood, How to Stain Pressure Treated Wood

How to Stain Pressure Treated Wood

Is it time to hit the deck with a fresh coat of stain? Are you ready to revitalize your outdoor space, like the deck, railing, and more? A fresh coat of stain in these areas is a great way to do just that.

Before you get too far ahead, though, there are some factors to consider. If your deck is made from pressure treated wood, you have some special steps to follow in order to get the job done right.

Pressure treated wood requires a special touch, and the team at Decks & Docks has all the answers you need! Let’s jump into the specifics of staining pressure treated wood.

What is Pressure Treated Wood?

This type of wood is produced to withstand outdoor elements. This is accomplished by taking milled lumber, like cedar or pine, and saturating it with chemical preservatives. The chemicals attach to the wood and decrease vulnerability to rot, fungus, and insect infiltration.

Understandably, wood saturated in any type of liquid can be a little wet. This can cause stain to peel and is one of the reasons staining pressure treated wood requires some forethought and planning.

Can You Stain Pressure Treated Wood?

The short answer is yes! The long answer is a bit more complicated.

You can stain this type of wood, but it is not like staining regular decking. If you use the wrong materials or time it wrong, your stain will peel rather quickly.

Special Considerations Before Painting

Check out these tips prior to staining:

Ensure Dryness

Before breaking out the paintbrush, the deck should be completely dry. If it is dry to the touch, you can conduct the water test. This test just requires spilling water and seeing what happens. If the water beads on the surface, the wood is not fully dry, and it is not time to stain yet.

The drying process takes time. You can speed the process by keeping the wood in a warm, sunny spot, but beware of warping. If kept in the dark and damp, wood is unlikely to dry. It can take between two to four months for pressure treated wood to completely dry. 12% moisture content or less has always been the rule of thumb.

If you are crunched for time, you can consider a kiln-dried pressure treated option. This means the wood was specially dried after treatment, and your timeline will be considerably shortened.

Wash It Out

Once the wood is dry, it is time to get it wet again! The wood needs to be spotless before you stain anything. Take a stiff brush and soapy water and get ready to swab the deck. This willremove unwanted grime and dirt that will inevitably accumulate. It also takes off surface chemicals to clear the way for primer and stain.

Now that it is clean, it is time to let it dry out again. It can take a few weeks since you have added more liquid to the chemicals, but it will be time to stain once it passes the water test again.

Prime It

Before staining, unfinished wood requires a coat of primer. This will give the deck that smooth surface and help the stain adhere easily. Primer also acts as a protective barrier between the wood and stain. Wood can soak up the stain, which means you would need to add more layers and spend more time and money to get your desired hue. Primer means you will not need quite so many layers.

There are various primers on the market. The main consideration for staining pressure treated wood is that it needs to match your stain. For example, oil-based paint requires a stain-blocking oil-based primer, while latex will need a stain-block latex primer. Choosing the right primer is another special consideration you should mull over before staining.

Finally, after the primer dries, you can lay down the stain! You will want to do your due diligence in selecting a stain that is formulated for exteriors and apply at least two coats to start.

How to Maintain Your Pressure Treated Wood After It’s Been Stained

Now, every homeowner knows the project does not end once the stain dries. After successfully staining pressure treated wood, you will want to begin regular and routine deck maintenance.

Here are some steps to incorporate into your routine:

  1.  Clean the wood with a brightener/cleaner containing mildewcide. This is a preventative measure that, you guessed it, kills mildew.
  2. Regularly perform the water test for absorption. If the wood absorbs the water quickly, layer on a water-repellant.
  3. Depending on your lumber, you may have special considerations due to sun exposure, moisture, foliage coverage, and more. We recommend a redcoat every two years or as needed.

Signs of Trouble

We have been around a few decks in our day, and we know that recognizing warning signs is half the battle in maintaining wood. If you notice any of the following, your deck is in need of some attention.

Swelling and Shrinking

Wood naturally expands and swells over time, but too much water causes cupping, twisting, warping, or splitting defects. Most of the time, a fresh application of sealer can fix this.


Pressure treated wood is formulated to resist mold and mildew, but it can still happen. If you are in a humid climate, this is something to watch out for. Again, mildewcide will go far in addressing this concern.

UV Ray Damage

If you are in a sunny climate, the ultraviolet rays can drain the color from your wood. This can cause your lumber to look dull and lifeless well before its time. To combat this, keep the deck clean and use a water-repellent finish with special ultraviolet stabilization. While discoloration is inevitable, the process can be slowed.

The Bottom Line

Pressure treated wood is an excellent lumber choice for durability, rot resistance, and insect deflection. With a few extra steps and help from experts Decks & Docks, you can be on your way to staining pressure treated wood and having the deck of your dreams!