New deck: stain/seal right away or wait?
September 14, 2018 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I have a beautiful new deck. The moisture level of the boards is below 15 percent, but water beads up on the surface. Should I stain and seal right away or wait?

My deck is built of CedarTone lumber. When I seal/stain the deck, I''m going to use Penofin oil-based finish on the recommendation of my builder.

I have a moisture meter and have tested in several spots, and the moisture of the lumber level ranges between 8% and 14%, which I understand is usually dry enough for stain. The thing is, CedarTone has some kind of water repellent added to it, and water is currently beading right up, so I don't even know if the wood would absorb the stain yet. On the other hand, I've heard that UV exposure is what wreaks havoc with beautiful new wood, and I'm deathly afraid of doing damage by not staining it when new. It's not easy to find the time for projects like these, so if I don't do it right away I may not get around to it for a couple months, or until spring. What should I do?
posted by ndg to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
May I suggest getting in touch with Penofin to recommend a prep product and stain line for your specific application? They're invested in having you be successful. There is also this page: Wood Stain Prep on their site.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:17 AM on September 14, 2018

Perhaps you need to allow any mill gloss from the pressure rollers at the sawmill to relax and season a bit to open the surface up then apply the finish? This was true with the Douglas Fir I used for a deck this last 2 seasons.
posted by Freedomboy at 8:40 AM on September 14, 2018

Having read the linked description, I would be a little surprised if any finish will penetrate the deck at the moment, it is a pre-finished product. I would talk to CedarTone about this or do a bit more digging on the product.

I'll also note that 8% MC is very low for outdoor timber. I don't know what equilibrium would be where you are (here it's about 15%), but unless you live in a desert I'd expect the boards to expand a little.
posted by deadwax at 3:49 PM on September 14, 2018

Sorry, I'm assuming some knowledge with the last. All timber will come to a moisture content at equilibrium with its surroundings, no applied finish stops this happening, so the parts of your deck at 8% will come up in MC over time. It will also move about some seasonally. Depending on species of timber there'll be greater or lesser physical movement associated with this.
posted by deadwax at 4:01 PM on September 14, 2018

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