How Long to Wait to Stain Pressure Treated Wood?

how long before you should stain pressure treated wood

When it comes time to stain, paint or finish pressure-treated wood, there is a little secret – which is about the right time to stain the wood.

Remember – staining a new pressure-treated wood too soon is not good because if you do that, the chemicals and the stain itself will not get enough time to penetrate deeply into the wood, which means you will not get all the protective benefits you seek.

To get the best results, it is recommended that you wait and stain your pressure-treated lumber after two to three days until the new wood soaks all the chemicals and gets enough time to dry adequately.

Then you can apply a protective stain when the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees. Avoid staining in direct sunlight, and also, before staining, make sure that your wooden fence, deck, or any other surface is fully clean and dry.

Why Stain Pressure Treated Wood in the First Place?

Pressure-treated wood is basically a type of lumber that has been impregnated with chemical preservatives to protect it from decay and insect damage. It’s often used to construct outdoor structures such as decks, fences, playgrounds, gazebos, and other projects where exposure to moisture or insects is likely.

The process of pressure treating wood involves placing the lumber in a pressurized container and then injecting a preservative fluid into the chamber. The pressure forces the preservative deep within the wood fibers, providing long-term protection against decay and insect damage.

Most pressure-treated lumber also comes with a unique oily smell (due to chemicals present), markings (stamped), and an end tag that can help you know whether the wood is treated or not. Many of these stamped markings also indicate whether the wood is rated for “ground contact” or “above-ground use” only.

Even if it’s treated, wood is susceptible to rotting and developing cracks with time, especially when it is constantly bombarded by solar rays, moisture from rain and snow, or even wind.

Staining and sealing treated wood increases its lifespan by many-fold by reducing the chances of getting damaged soon. Not only does the wood stain (with added preservatives and chemicals) offers extra protection against the previously mentioned hazards, but also it will give the wood a fresh new look.

Staining Pressure Treated Lumber

The Best Stains for Outdoor Pressure Treated Lumber You Can Use

When buying the stains for exterior pressure-treated wood, you may check out some of the best brands available online at very affordable prices.

To get an idea of how the specific product performs and how much other DIYers liked them, you can go through the reviews and pictures they have posted on Amazon.

1- DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Cedar-Tone Exterior Wood Stain

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood...
  • Water-Based Semi-Transparent Wood Stain – This water-based deck...
  • Fortified With Zinc Nano-Particle Technology – It’s like sunscreen...
  • Durable Quality That Lasts – DEFY Extreme wood stains are made with...

*Last update on 2024-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

DEFY semi-transparent wood stain is a water-based formula that comes with zinc-nano-particles – the technology that offers unmatched protection to pressure-treated wood. 

The wood staining formula is available on Amazon, and you can purchase it in 1 or 5-gallon containers. Not only is DEFY affordable, but it’s also environmentally friendly (VOC compliant) and easy to maintain after you have applied it to the lumber.

The only drawback is it’s a bit more expensive than other products on our list. But with the finish and durability it offers, I can say that it’s one of the best wood stains worth investing in. 

2- Thompsons Waterseal Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain

THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 Semi-Transparent...
  • Color: Woodland Cedar
  • Semi-Transparent
  • Wood sealer and stain, all in 1

*Last update on 2024-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Thompson’s WaterSeal waterproofing stain is another excellent solution that offers a semi-transparent finish on your pressure-treated exterior wood surfaces. 

Not only for decking, but you can also use it to preserve your fences, sheds, sidings, and garden furniture made of wood materials like redwood, pine, cedar, etc.

Thompson’s WaterSeal is available in 5 different colors to choose from and is very affordably priced at stores like Amazon. Simply by applying this stain, you can easily prevent problems like mold, mildew, water damage, and UV damage.

3- Rain Guard SP-8002 Wood Sealer Concentrate

Rain Guard Water Sealers SP-8002 Wood Sealer...
  • PREMIUM WOOD SEALER: Protect, restore, and extend the life of your...
  • LONG LASTING PROTECTION: Engineered with Micro-Lok! This proprietary...
  • CONCENTRATED FORMULATION: Cost-effective, concentrated sealing...

*Last update on 2024-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Rain Guard concentrated sealer formula is easy to apply, dries quickly, and prevents efflorescence (salty crystalline deposits) for up to 4 to 5 years of protection.

The SP-8002 formula has advanced UV stabilizers that protect your wood from yellowing. Also, it does not allow any rainwater or snow to destroy the natural beauty of your wood’s surfaces. 

Besides the above, a few other heavy-duty stain formulas that work fabulously well on chemically treated exterior wood surfaces are:

  • Cabot Semi-Solid Deck & Siding Stain
  • Olympic Elite Woodland Oil Stain
  • Liquid Rubber Color Waterproof Sealant
  • Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer

Available in 1 and 5-gallon buckets and in different color options to choose from, these stains are well-suited to protect your pressure-treated wood from cracking, chipping, and thawing/freezing. 

Picking the Right Stain and In Enough Quantity is Important

Before you buy and start applying the stain using your preferred deck stain applicator, it’s good to know that your choice will more or less decide the finished look you will get after the staining project. 

So, here are a few factors you need to check when buying your preferred stain…

1- The Types

When picking the best-rated stain for ground contact pressure-treated wood, you can choose one from these three categories:

  • Oil-based Stain: Get absorbed into the wood grains and resist water.
  • Water-based Stain: Less toxic but may not absorb completely into the wood grains.
  • Natural Clear or Solid Colored: Depending on the natural grain you want to reveal (and in what color), these can be chosen.

If your deck has boards that have replaced damaged ones, using a semi-solid or solid stain will be best to even out the appearance. Choosing semi-transparent stains means seeing more of the wood than semi-solid, but both last longer than transparent stains.

2- Quantity You Need

When buying, it’s always a good idea to purchase a bit extra. Since pressure-treated wood will require more than 2-3 coats (or even more in certain areas), this will allow you to cover your entire project without worrying about getting short on the specific stain you have chosen. 

Just in case you are left with some stain after completing your project, you always have the option to sell or donate them to those in need.

3- Need of the Sealer After the Stain

Oil-based stains on old timber decks will generally take 12-24 hours to dry. But if you stained a brand-new decking or a fence made with pressure-treated wood, it’s good to allow hold off for a week for the stain to cure and get absorbed in the wood fully.

Once ready, you must use a sealer like Rust-Oleum’s Coppercoat Wood Preservative. Sealers and wood preservatives after staining the treated wood are essential for the exteriors, but if the wood is located somewhere inside your home, it’s optional to use.

Can you stain old pressure treated wood

What to Do with Old Worn-Off Treated Lumber That is Not Stainable?

While it’s easy to dry and stain the freshly pressure-treated wood, for completely weathered and old rotted wood, it is nearly impossible to get them stained for reuse. And it doesn’t make sense, either.

If you try to do it anyhow, it may not last long and is therefore not worth your time and investment. Investing in new lumber wood and rebuilding your decking is a much better option in this case.

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps to take with your leftover pressure-treated wood rather than just leaving the scraps wasted.

1- Recycle

Leftover scraps of pressure-treated wood are more or less reusable. One of the greatest ways is to use it for building other smaller structures inside or outside your home.

These include mini decks, birdhouses, and other small pieces of decor furniture. Make use of some good time on weekends with your family, and use the leftover wood to create decorations, furniture, etc.

2- Free Giveaway

If you find no use for your old leftover pressure-treated wood, you can always give them for free to someone who is in need or can use it better.

Simply pile them outside in your yard and have a signpost written “Free Treated Wood.” Within a few days, you will be surprised to see how many people are interested and willing to take them for free. 

3- Check for Available Land Fills

Since you cannot burn the pressure-treated wood (due to its very toxic compounds), dumping them inside a landfill can be another good way to dispose of them safely.

For this, you will need to contact your local authorities, who can help you know about the availability of any landfills nearby to dump the toxic treated wood responsibly.

4- Ask Your Trash Service to Clear

Contacting your local trash service can be another good way to dispose of your pressure-treated wood. Although this is not their job, they might help you clear off your area if you have loads of unwanted pressure treated.

5- Sell the Leftover Lumber Scrap at a Price

Selling the leftover at a lower price is also a great way to re-purposing that old treated lumber wood.

There are many people on Facegroup groups or Craigslist looking for such kinds of wood to use as burning fuel, craft projects, etc.

This option can be especially beneficial if you have a huge amount of timber wood scraps that you want to dispose of. But the amount you get in exchange for scrap would be enough to enjoy yourself a weekend.

The Bottom Line

While you can easily stain pressure-treated wooden surfaces in a DIY way, the stain may not last long if you apply the stain too soon without getting the chemicals absorbed, do not choose the right product, or do not follow the right procedure.

So, choose the best possible stain quality for pressure-treated wood and patiently complete the stain job. If, however, your old deck or fence is completely weathered, it’s good to dispose of the wood safely and rebuild rather than stain it.

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