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How Often Should You Stain or Paint a Treated Wood or Cedar Deck?

How often should I stain or paint my wood deck

A well maintained wooden deck is an amazing, functional addition to any home.

One of the downsides of a wood deck is the maintenance that comes with keeping the wood looking great.

Luckily, it's not a yearly process and if done properly isn't a huge hassle. With the pressure treated lumber options available these days, there are some great pre-stained options available. Chances are your deck won't require staining for a few years while is new. If your deck is cedar on the other hand, it will require staining shortly after it's built.

We'll go over when to stain or paint your deck and how to tell when it needs to be done.

Why You Should Stain or Paint Your Deck

You just installed your deck, it looks great and you can't wait to start enjoying it. However, if you don't keep up with the maintenance of your deck, your deck will deteriorate quickly and the look of it will fade significantly. So why should you stain or paint your wood deck?

Extends it's life

Wood that's not maintained with stain or paint will deteriorate quickly, often fading occurs significantly over a single season. The wood loses its water repellency and the water soaks into the wood leaving your wood prone to rot. Consistent staining or painting will reduce the effects of the sun and rain on your deck, ensuring your deck lasts decades instead of a few years.

Preserve the look and wood texture

Untreated wood will quickly lose it's new deck look and result in a faded unsightly deck. The wood texture also changes from smooth to a more patchy look with more imperfections.

Saves you money

Failure to maintain your deck will result in your deck needing constant repairs or replacing the deck entirely way before expected. A well maintained deck will last decades longer and save you money in the end.

Improved function and safety

Water damage and rotting will result in loose boards that shift, resulting in a dangerous deck.

How Often Should I Re-Stain or Re-Paint a Deck?

Staining and painting requirements vary based on the type of wood. There are a lot of wood types and pre-treated woods out there so we'll focus on the two main decking types, pressure treated wood and cedar wood.

Pressure Treated

Pressure treated wood has come a long way with advancements in technology and treatments available. These days a high quality pressure treated wood should be left for a few months to dry out before it's first staining. Some pressure treated woods come pre-stained, these decks shouldn't need to be stained for it's first 2-3 years.

Once it's given its first stain, you'll want to repeat the staining process every 2-3 years afterwards. Painting a pressure treated wood deck isn't as time consistent due to the different paints available. Generally a painted deck may require maintenance less frequently than a stained deck.

Cedar Wood

A new cedar deck will quickly fade requiring staining shorty after installation, similarly to treated wood decks, you'll want to give the deck 2-3 months to dry out before it's first application. After it's first stain, you'll want to re-stain your cedar deck every 2-3 years afterwards. Although Cedar does have natural resistance to rotting, it's always best to stain it as the wood will discolor and it's life expectancy will be cut short.

Some suggest waiting an entire year before its first stain, by staining within its first couple months, you'll provide UV and water protection for the wood. Immediate staining or painting your deck once it's built is not suggested however because the wood will still be damp, resulting in peeling and chipping due to loss of adhesion.

Pressure Treated Wood Deck Pre-Stained
We Use Treated Wood That Comes Ready to Use, Leaving You With a Finished Deck That Doesn't Require Staining or Painting for Years.

How to Tell When You Should Stain or Paint Your Deck

Again this will vary slightly based on wood types and stain products, the best way to tell is signs of wear, cracking or damage. Another great way to tell if your deck needs to be stained or painted again is by putting some water on your deck, if it beads, it's still protected. If the water immediately soaks into the wood, your deck requires maintenance.

If you've stained your deck, after a few years your deck will show signs of fading and wear, the water will absorb into the wood quickly.

If you've painted your deck, after a few years you'll want to repaint your deck once signs of wear, pealing, chipping and cracking.

How To Make Deck Stain or Paint Last Longer

Added maintenance before staining or painting will help increase the life of the paint and stain. You'll want to complete the following maintenance before you stain or paint your deck.

Wash your deck

Use a pressure washer to clean your deck prior to staining or painting, this will help clear debris and dust on your deck. This will help with adhesion of the paint or stain.

Ensure wood is dry before staining or painting

For proper adhesion, the wood needs to be dry. After you wash your deck, let your deck dry for at least 3 days before staining or painting your deck. If it rains, restart the clock.

Choose a high quality stain or paint

Not all paints and stains are created equal, spend the money on a high quality product that is designed for outdoors with added UV and water protection.

Use filler to fill holes, grooves and cracks in the wood

These imperfections are a great place for water to sit and let your deck soak up the water. Fill them in prior to staining or painting your deck to limit the areas where water sits.

Add some shade to your deck

If the suns rays can't hit your deck, they won't be as effective in wearing out your deck stain or paint. Adding a tree, privacy screen or pergola is a great way to shade your deck from the harmful sun rays.

If you follow these guidelines, your wood deck should last decades, possibly beyond the expected lifespan. A well maintained treated wood deck should last 20 - 25 years while cedar should last 18 - 22 years.


Q: How Often Do You Maintain Your Deck? What Stain or Paint Do You Use? | Comment Below

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