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Staining a Cedar Deck: How & When to Stain a New Cedar Deck

Updated: Mar 21

You can’t go wrong with cedar for your deck. Of all types of wood, cedar is famous for its beauty and its ability to last, weathering frigid winters and scorching summers. However, many homeowners want to add more life and sparkle to their cedar deck — this is where knowing how to stain a cedar deck comes in handy.

Staining a cedar deck can give your deck a new life and a new luster under the sun. Staining your deck also adds a layer of protection, allowing your deck to last longer than you anticipated. Lastly, staining helps your cedar retain its genuine organic aesthetic longer.

If you’ve been racking your brain over how to stain a cedar deck, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through how to stain new cedar decks.

You’ll also learn how long to wait before staining cedar decks and how to prepare cedar deck for staining. This article will also answer the age-old question: “When should you stain a cedar deck?”

By the end of this article, you’ll be a pro at cedar deck staining that’s equipped with the best supplies for your deck.

Quality Cedar Products can meet all your cedar board needs. This blog is informational only and not a replacement for expert advice. Please consult a professional before starting any building project as your needs and specifications may vary and it may not reflect the most current building codes, regulations, or industry standards.

Is Staining a Cedar Deck a Good Idea?

Before we talk about how to stain new cedar decks, let’s discuss whether or not doing so is a good idea.

Staining a cedar deck is always a good idea, whether you have had it for years or you’ve just installed it yesterday. We recommend staining for a variety of reasons. We’ll start with the most commonly cited reason for doing so: looks.

Cedar is the go-to decking material for any homeowner going for an organic look. More solid and robust than composite, cedar has a genuine natural appearance that provides the perfect backdrop for parties and other get-togethers. Unfortunately, cedar typically won’t look the same after a few years. It can turn gray, depending on how often you clean it.

One way to maintain the appearance of your cedar deck is with staining. With the right stain and treatment, your cedar deck won’t just look better — it’ll look better for a far longer period of time.

Of course, staining your cedar deck doesn’t just add beauty. It can add serious longevity to your deck, too. Staining adds a layer of protection to the wood, staving off rot and water damage. This layer of protection also helps the cedar retain its shape, even under scorching temperatures.

In short, if you want to get more years out of your deck and more envious stares from the neighbors, staining your cedar deck is always a good decision.

When to Stain a New Cedar Deck

When should you stain your cedar deck? The answer can vary greatly. You could do this right after installing it or wait a bit. However, as a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t put off your plans for staining your new deck for more than two to three months.

We recommend waiting no longer than two to three months after installation because of what happens to unprotected cedar over time. Over time, cracks, peels, and chipping will damage your cedar deck significantly. Fail to address the damage promptly, and you may have to replace a part of your deck after a year. If you notice that cracks and chips have already appeared on the wood, you must stain your deck soon to prevent more from accumulating.

When to stain a new cedar deck will also depend on other factors. So when should you stain a cedar deck? While you should get it handled within the first three months, you should also be sure to stain your deck in good weather. If you put it off until you have to stain the deck in the rain or snow, this can be disastrous, leading to patchy shades. When this happens, you may need to re-stain the entire deck to even out the color.

When Should You Stain a Cedar Deck Again?

Stains give wooden surfaces a more aesthetic appeal, protect them from rot, and keep moisture away. However, they require a fair amount of maintenance to function well, especially if your home is often battered by extreme weather conditions.

To enjoy these benefits continuously, you should know when to re-stain your cedar deck. Normally, we recommend re-staining your deck after one year to keep it looking its best. If you’re less concerned with the appearance, you can wait up to two years. The original stain will still offer some protection from rot and bugs, but it will begin to visibly fade by this point, and your deck may become slippery.

To keep your wood in good condition and your home safe, you’ll eventually need secondary staining. You should re-stain your cedar deck as often as it takes to keep everything in good shape, typically every one or two years throughout its lifespan of 15 – 20 years.

How to Prepare Cedar Deck for Staining

Now that you have a solid plan for when to stain a new cedar deck, let’s talk about how to get started. In this section, we’ll go over how to prepare cedar deck for staining.

1. Clear Your Deck

Start by clearing your cedar deck of any furniture, decorations, and debris, like dried leaves, gravel, or twigs. Sweep the boards thoroughly.

2. Pre-rinse Your Cedar Deck

Your cedar deck will certainly have accumulated dust and dirt just from existing outdoors. Soften and rinse away debris and fibers by hosing your deck down with the low to medium pressure setting on your garden hose. If possible, rinse the areas under the deck, as well.

3. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

Deck cleaning solutions are available in any hardware store. However, if you wish to make your own, you’ll need water, dish soap, and oxygen bleach. For every two gallons of water, add a quarter cup of dish soap and two cups of bleach. Mix these in a large bucket outdoors to reduce your exposure to the fumes of the bleach.

4. Clean Your Deck

Spread your cleaning solution across your cedar deck, either by gently pouring it onto the planks or by applying it with a mop. Be careful to not splash the solution onto your skin, as bleach can seriously irritate your skin.

Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes, and then use a deck brush to scrub your cedar deck thoroughly. Once you have scrubbed the entire surface, rinse your deck again.

If you would like your deck to be extra-smooth, allow your deck to dry for a day or so and then sand the surface. You will need to rinse the surface once more to remove the sawdust, as this can interfere with the stain.

5. Wait for Your Deck to Dry

Many homeowners who don’t know how to prepare a deck for staining judge the dryness of the wood by how it feels, but this is a common mistake. There’s a bit of a science to determining how long to wait before staining cedar decks; however, as a rule of thumb, you must wait for 48 – 72 hours after cleaning.

To determine dryness, you can use a moisture meter. Make sure that you do not stain your deck until the meter’s reading is below 19%.

How to Stain a Cedar Deck: Step by Step Guide

Now that you’ve cleaned your cedar deck and allowed it to dry, you’re ready to stain. For this part of the process, you’ll need roller brushes, paint brushes, and, of course, your deck stain.

Once you have your supplies ready, follow our step-by-step guide on how to stain new cedar decks:

1. Choose the Right Stain

It’s possible to paint stained cedar. However, you can hit two birds with one stone by choosing a stain color that you love.

There are many stain colors available for cedar decks that range from red to brown or tan. You can also find less natural choices like light blue, green, and yellow. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s made to weather the elements and protect your deck for a long time.

If you prefer the original color of your cedar deck, you can opt for transparent stains. Transparent stains envelop your cedar boards in a protective layer without drastically changing the shade of the wood. These stains also have UV filters that protect your cedar deck from the sun.

There are also semi-transparent stains, but these stains typically last a couple of years at most.

2. Take Note of Your Cedar’s Grain Pattern

The grain patterns of your cedar boards will determine the direction in which you stain. Inspect the grain patterns of your cedar boards and make a mental note of them.

3. Apply Your Deck Stain Following the Grain of Your Cedar Boards

Use a roller brush to apply your deck stain to save time. When staining your cedar boards, apply the stain evenly and in one direction, following the grain of your deck boards.

Painting against the grain can work, but you’ll really need to double down on your pressure during application.

4. Finish off Hard-to-Reach Areas Using Your Paint Brush

You may have missed some areas using your roller brush, such as the spaces between cedar boards or tight corners. Use your paintbrush to get your stain into these hard-to-reach places.

5. Wait for the Stain to Dry Completely

It can take four to eight hours for a cedar deck stain to dry if the weather is warm and sunny. However, during the fall or cooler months, it can take up to 48 hours before your cedar deck is completely dry. Expect a much longer drying time if you live in cold areas like Alberta, Quebec, or Yukon.

Looking for New Cedar Deck Boards?

Staining can only get you so far. If you want to get the most out of your deck, you need to choose the best cedar boards in Canada — like the boards we offer here at Quality Cedar Products.

Our cedar decking is the #1 choice throughout Canada. We offer top-quality select-grade cedar boards, pre-cut and perfect for any deck design.

Our cedar deck boards come in various cuts and sizes, guaranteed to suit your cedar deck projects all over Ontario and the rest of Canada.

Final Thoughts on Cedar Deck Staining: When & How to Stain a Cedar Deck

Now that you know how to prepare cedar deck for staining, how long to wait before staining cedar decks, and how to stain a cedar deck, you have all of the knowledge you need to bring new life and longevity to your deck.

However, if you’re after a stunning finish and unparalleled durability, staining can only do so much. You can get the best results by choosing our select-grade cedar deck boards. Anyone looking for Western Red Cedar Lumber suppliers needn’t look any further — at Quality Cedar Lumber, we have all of the cedar posts & boards you need for any type of project. Whether you’re hunting for sauna cedar or rough-sawn cedar, you’ll find it here with us.

If you need the right lumber for the job, give us a call for a free quote.

Quality Cedar Products does not assume any liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information provided in this blog post. The reader is solely responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented. Any reliance on the information is at the reader's own risk. Quality Cedar Products is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage that may occur as a result of following the suggestions, tips, or recommendations provided in this blog post. Building projects involve inherent risks, and it is essential to exercise caution, obtain proper permits, and engage qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of external links, references, or recommendations in this blog post does not constitute endorsement or guarantee the quality, reliability, or suitability of the linked sources. The reader should independently verify the information and assess its relevance to their specific circumstances. The author reserves the right to modify, update, or remove the content of this blog post at any time without prior notice. It is recommended to check for the most recent updates or consult with professionals to ensure the information is current and applicable. By reading this blog post, the reader acknowledges and accepts the above disclaimer and agrees to use the information provided responsibly and at their own discretion.

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