Staining a new deck can be a little intimidating, especially since you’re probably not sure how long to wait before doing so.

A new wood deck will likely need anywhere from two to six months to weather naturally before it can be stained for the first time.

Let’s answer why you should wait and when is the right time to finally seal your new deck so it’s ready for use.

Why You Should Wait?

It takes a while for the wood to dry before it’s completely safe to stain. If you put too much stain on, the stain won’t soak inadequately and you might get those weird streaks that ruin your deck.

If you wait too long, your deck could start developing cracks which will make it even harder to get rid of those streaks.

When is the Right Time to Seal Your New Deck?

A lack of rainfall and high temperatures combined with intense sunlight is what takes much of the moisture out of a deck’s wood, allowing it to accept stain.

As a general rule of thumb, the minimum amount of time you’ll want to wait is about three months, and that’s for areas that are mostly shady with moderate humidity.

Your new deck may need up to six months to weather (dry out and be ready for staining. It depends on your location, exposure to sunlight, and weather conditions).

How Do I Know If My Deck is Dry Enough to Stain?

Sprinkle water on the wood surface and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. If the water beads or pools on the wood, it needs more time to dry.

If the water is absorbed by the wood in 10 minutes, plan to stain as soon as possible.

What Happens If You Stain a New Deck Too Soon?

Staining a new deck too early can lead to the wood not absorbing the stain evenly. After you stain and the wood dries, some of it might still be wet beneath the surface.

The end result is the finish not being absorbed evenly by the wood, leaving you with an uneven and patchy finish.

The best time for staining is when there are gaps in weather that result in less humidity, such as winter. Even if you must stain during the summer, keep that moisture absorber handy.

There is no harm in using it first and then if you still have problems with your finish, wait another day or two.

What Happens If You Stain a Deck And it Rains?

When you stain a deck, allow the wood to thoroughly dry before applying the second coat of stain.

Whether the wood is being sealed or you are applying a new color to your deck, allow the wood to dry for at least 48 hours.

If the wood is not properly saturated with the stain or sealer, and rain falls immediately after application, the water will make the stain run, wiping it off and creating a splotchy appearance.