What Stain Type to Use for Exterior Pressure Treated Lumber?

best stain for exterior pressure treated wood

As the summer is coming up, more late-night chill sessions happen on patios and decks worldwide.

For most of us, building a deck can be a large endeavor on the surface.

But in reality, if you follow some simple steps, you can get the patio of your dreams relatively cheaply and easily.

In this article, we will be investigating everything to deal with, mostly staining and sealing pressure-treated wood that you use on your deck, patio, or fence.

Also, I will list down some of the best stains you can use for pressure-treated wood.

Before reviewing these products in detail, let us first know – why you actually need to stain your pressure-treated pine deck boards in the first place.

Why Stain Pressure Treated Wood?

Most pressure-treated lumber woods come with unique markings (stamped) and an end tag that can help you know whether the wood is treated or not.

Many of these stamped markings on the lumber would also indicate whether the wood is rated for “ground contact” or “above ground use” only.

Smelling the wood for a unique oily smell (due to chemicals present) can also help you know if the wood is already treated.

No matter whether it’s treated or not, wood is susceptible to rotting, especially when it is constantly bombarded by solar rays, moisture from rain and snow, or even wind.

The treated wood is not very prone to getting rot, but it can develop cracks with time.

However, lucky for us, staining and sealing treated wood can increase its lifespan by many-fold by reducing the chances of getting cracked.

Not only does stain add extra protection against the previously mentioned hazards by added preservatives and chemicals, but also it will give the wood a fresh new look.

Best Stains for Outdoor Pressure Treated Lumber

When buying the stains for exterior pressure-treated wood, you may check out some of these 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 Wood Stain 1-Gallon (Cedar Tone)
  • EXTREMELY DURABLE, QUALITY THAT LASTS – DEFY Extreme wood stains are...

*Last update on 2023-01-27 / 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. 

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 wood staining formula is available on Amazon, and you can purchase it in 1 or 5-gallon containers.

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 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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

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

Simply by applying this stain, you can easily prevent problems like mold, mildew, water damage, and UV damage. 

Thompson’s WaterSeal is available in 5 different colors to choose from and is very affordably priced at stores like Amazon. 

3- Rain Guard Water Sealers SP-8002 Wood Sealer Concentrate

Rain Guard Water Sealers - Wood Sealer - Penetrating...
  • 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 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rain Guard Water Sealers SP-8002 Wood Sealer Concentrate is an ideal solution for pressure-treated wood that can easily offer up to 4 to 5 years of protection.

The SP-8002 formula comes with 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. 

Above all, the Rain Guard concentrated sealer formula is easy to apply, dries quickly, and prevents efflorescence (salty crystalline deposits).

4- Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain And Sealer

Ready Seal 520 Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood, 5...
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It...
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.
  • Requires no back brushing and will never leave runs, laps, or streaks.

*Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ready Seal is another heavy-duty stain that works fabulously well on exterior wood surfaces. 

This USA-made weather-proofing solution is available in 8 different colors and can be bought in 1 and 5-gallon containers. 

You can apply it very conveniently with a paintbrush, roller, or paint sprayer without applying any primer. 

The only drawback of this Ready Seal Exterior Stain And Sealer is its high cost.

Plus, it can take around 2-3 days to dry completely and up to 14 days for the color to cure.

5- Liquid Rubber Color Waterproof Sealant

Liquid Rubber Color Waterproof Sealant - Multi-Surface...
  • PROTECTIVE FINISH FOR - Flat roofs, metal roofs, sloped roofs, planter...
  • PROTECTIVE FINISH FOR - Flat roofs, metal roofs, sloped roofs, planter...
  • HIGHLY FLEXIBLE & DURABLE - Final membrane has over 1000% elongation...

*Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Liquid Rubber sealant is a water-based solution that can offer excellent protection to all your pressure-treated wood.

Along with waterproofing, and UV protection, Liquid Rubber also offers chemical resistance. 

Plus, it also protects the wood from cracking, chipping, and thawing/freezing, which is usually a problem with pressure-treated wood surfaces. 

The good thing about Liquid Rubber sealant is it’s completely free of VOCs and can be applied very easily using a paintbrush or a sprayer machine. 

The formula is available in 1 and 5-gallon buckets and in 7 different color options to choose from. 

6- Cabot Semi-Solid Deck & Siding Stain

Cabot 140.0017437.007 Semi-Solid Deck & Siding Low VOC...
  • Uniquely formulated for superior durability
  • Deep penetrating semi-solid finish for superior UV protection
  • Scuff and fade resistant

*Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Cabot Semi-Solid Stain is a water and weather-resistant oil-based formula that can provide superior UV protection to your exterior wood surfaces.

Just one coat of this stain (on your weathered siding, deck, or fences) is good enough to offer you a wood surface that is fade and scuff-resistant. 

The stain is available in 8 different colors but only in 1-gallon quantities. This makes it a bit inconvenient if you want to purchase large quantities. 

Also, the product is more expensive compared to others in the market.

7- Olympic Elite Woodland Oil Stain

Olympic Stain 80115 Elite Woodland Oil Stain, 1 Gallon,...
  • One Coat Protection Wood Stain - Complete one coat protection allows...
  • Included components: Gallon, Stir Stick
  • 1 Gallon

*Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Olympic Elite Woodland Oil Stain is known for offering long-lasting protection to exterior woods with only one coat.

Since it’s an oil stain fortified with urethane, it also works very hard to prevent damage (like peeling, scratches, and cracks) from external elements. 

Plus, you need not worry about molds, mildew, and algae if you apply a thick Olympic Elite Woodland Oil Stain coat. 

The Olympic Elite stain is available in a 1-gallon can and can be purchased online at stores like Amazon at the best price.

what is the best stain to use for treated pine

Buying the Stain for Treated Wood

Before you buy and start applying the stain using your preferred deck stain applicator, it’s good to know the factors you need to check when buying your preferred stain.

Your choice will more or less depend on the finished look you like to get after the staining project. 

1- The Types

When picking the best-rated stain for ground contact pressure-treated wood, you can choose any wood stain that is designed for exterior use. 

In general, these stains can be divided into 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 look or Solid Colored: Depending on the natural grain you want to reveal (and in what color), these can be chosen 

2- Quantity You Need

When buying colored stains for your exterior wood, it’s always a good idea to purchase a bit extra.

Since pressure-treated wood will require more than one coat (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 them (you find some local Facebook marketplace) or donate to the ones who are in need.

3- Environmentally Friendly

Stains with low Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are always the best option to choose when you do not want to release toxic fumes and odor into the surrounding.

When buying the stain, check the VOC number and also whether you need to use a respirator when staining to avoid breathing problems. 

Should Pressure Treated Wood Be Painted or Stained?

Although pressure-treating wood affects exterior paint’s ability to adhere, by taking some extra precautions, painting can still be successful.

Some professionals, however, recommend staining or sealing rather than painting. But in my opinion, with the right steps taken beforehand, this doesn’t have to be the case.

So, if you do want to paint the treated wood, you can do it – just be prepared to do a bit of extra work for preparation.

For those who want to make it quick, take the staining or sealing route, as this can be a good option and will help protect the wood to make it last even longer.

You should go with staining, especially if the treated wood is for an outdoor project in contact with the soil – like a fence, planter, furniture, or swing set.

But painting is probably your best option if you want the project to be a beautiful color like white.

Just remember to take the necessary steps for preparation, use a quality paint or stain, and you’ll be happy with the result – no matter which route you go.

When Should You Stain Pressure Treated Wood?

This entire article talks about the best stains for pressure-treated wood.

However, there is a little secret we haven’t told you – 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 stain will not get enough time to penetrate deeply into the wood, which means you will not get all the protective benefits of the stain you need to get.

To get the best results, it’s recommended that you stain your pressure-treated decking area when the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees.

Avoid staining in direct sunlight, and also, before staining, make sure that your wooden fence or deck is fully clean and dry.

As you may know, pressure-treated wood is simply wood that has chemicals to repel water and, in general, make it stronger.

However, in this process, the piece of wood gets incredibly wet, and to be frank, you can’t use a stain on a wet piece of wood as it won’t stay on.

To fix this small little issue, we have a few options.

Picking a different type of wood is the easiest way. There are a few different types of pressure-treated wood that have already been dried.

At the hardware store, look for “kiln-dried” wood; as the name implies, it has been dried out already for you in a kiln.

If you have freshly pressure-treated wood, you must dry it yourself. Simply put, it should be in an open space, preferably with a lot of airflows.

The time you will have to wait will vary from project to project but expect it to take a few days to a couple of weeks.

We can use the sprinkle test to determine if the pressure-treated wood is dry enough.

As the name implies, all you do is sprinkle water on the wood.

If the water is absorbed in the wood within ten minutes, it is ready to stain.

However, if the water sits on top of a pool, you will have to wait more time for it to dry.

Whenever it is completely dry, you should be able to stain it effectively.

What to Do with the Lumber That is Not Stainable?

For completely weathered and old wood, it is nearly impossible to get them stained for reuse.

If you 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 good option in this case.

Fortunately, you can also do a few things with your leftover pressure-treated wood rather than just leaving the scraps leftover as 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.

2- Free Giveaway

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

You can 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 get in contact with your local authorities.

They can help you know about the availability of any landfills near you where you can dump the toxic treated wood.

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 at a Price

Besides all these, selling the leftover at a lower price is also a great way to re-purposing that old treated lumber wood.

You can find someone in need and pay you some price for the wood.

This option can be especially beneficial if you have a huge amount of timber wood scraps that you want to dispose of.  

The Bottom Line

Staining is super important in most wood projects, especially ones where the end result will be outside.

While you can easily stain the pressure-treated wooden surfaces in a DIY way, the stain may not last long if you do not choose the right product or do not follow the right procedure.

Make sure you choose the best stain quality for pressure-treated wood and patiently complete the task.  

If, however, your old deck or fence is completely weathered, it’s good to dispose of the wood safely and rebuild rather than staining.

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