As a custom deck builder and home improvement contractor in Massachusetts, I’m often regularly asked these kind of questions once I’ve built their pressure-treated deck. So I will do my best to answer the most common question I can think of now. Understand this before I move on, staining your treated decking involves the same process as untreated-decking — the main thing is that the wood is clean and dry from any moisture or dirt.

Can I stain pressure treated lumber?

Yes, you can stain pressure-treated lumber with the one exception, that the decking has completely dried out and has been clean of any and all dirt.

How long should I wait to stain pressure-treated lumber and why do I have to wait?

The process begins at the lumber yard factories and treatment plants. The pressure-treated lumber goes through a process of using a water-based solution that carries the treatment of chemicals into the fibers of the wood while under pressure; this leaves the wood wet.

What if I decide to stain the pressure-treated decking or wood before it’s dry – are there any consequences?

If you were to go ahead and stain or paint the decking before it dries, you’ll end up with bubbles -or- blisters forming on your deck. Also keep in mind, you’ll end up locking in moisture inside of the wood creating fungus or rot to take hold and destroy the wood.

What are the time tables for staining the deck, how long should I wait?

It all depends on what region of the country you live in. If you live in a hot sunny state like Arizona, give it a few weeks and it will more than likely be dry. However, here in Massachusetts it all depends on what season your deck is being constructed in. In the spring and summer months here in MA. I would wait 30-60 days before I would treat your deck with stain.

What kind of stain should I use for pressure treated lumber?

There are stains on the market today. My favorite type of stain would be Cabot stain, it holds up to the rough seasons we see here in Massachusetts the best. Many people believe Thompsons is the best, I completely disagree –they only have the best marketing! Just read the backs of the can and follow their directions…

How should I stain pressure treated lumber? Or, how should I apply the stain?

Read the can because it varies with some stains but most stains can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or sponge. You will probably find a sprayer to be the easiest method.

Should I stain pressure treated lumber yearly?

Yes! If your looking to preserve the deck, porch, patio for years to come stain your deck annually.

My final thoughts:

Staining pressure treated lumber is not rocket science. In fact, there is nothing remotely complicated about it but it does take time and if you don’t do it properly, you’ll mess it all up. If I did not make this point obvious enough above then let me say it again here:

Treated wood must be dry before you stain or paint it.

Enjoy your project. Wear gloves. Wear goggles. Be careful with tools. Work in ventilated areas.

Feel free to comment on my page, I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability. And if you live in Massachusetts or Rhode Island and in the market for a new deck or porch, visit my home page – the link will be highlighted below.

deck and porch contractor ma


  1. Once Pressure Treated lumber is dry, should I use a Primer/Sealer before Staining, or just apply Stain directly?

  2. Let the pressure treated lumber completely dry out and give it the first coat of stain. Then apply your second coat of stain 24-72hrs latter, or as directed on the label.