How to stain pressure treated lumber

Updated February 21, 2017

The pressure treating process of wood involves using a water-based solution to carry the treatment chemicals into the fibres of the wood while under pressure. Most decks and fences are made with pressure treated wood. Homeowners like their deck or fence to match their house or complement surrounding landscaping, using stain. Stain also helps to preserve the wood and seals it from water damage. Pressure treated wood can be stained to the colour of your choice.

If the pressure treated wood is not new, pressure washing it first will give you the best results. Using a pressure washer, clean the pressure treated wood (1000 to 1200 PSI for cedar and redwood and between 1500 and 1800 for all other types of wood). Pressure washers can be rented from local hardware stores.

After cleaning the wood with a pressure washer, let the surface dry very well, which takes 24 to 48 hours. Most stains require that the wood be dry before application. If the wood is new, it will need to dry for at least six weeks, as pressure treated wood is always damp when purchased.

Choose a weekend or a couple of days in a row when the weather forecast is for dry conditions above 50 degrees, to allow maximum stain penetration into the wood. The more humid the air, the longer the stain will take to dry.

Using a top-quality semi-transparent stain for pressure treated decks and solid-colour stains for fences, stir the stain for about 60 seconds, then pour the stain into the paint bin.

Using a staining paintbrush, begin lightly coating the wood. Always apply the stain lightly and evenly, making sure to overlap the strokes and keep the wood wet with stain. Force the brush bristles into the wood so it sucks up the excess stain. If you are staining a deck, be sure to do the railings and small areas first, using a dust sheet to protect the deck's surface.


Do not allow the stain to dry too quickly while overlapping the application; this will cause an uneven finished appearance. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • Pressure washer
  • Staining paintbrush
  • Semi-transparent or solid-colour stain
  • Paint bin
  • Dust sheets
  • Goggles and plastic gloves
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About the Author

Johnathan Cronk is a freelance writer and began writing at the age of 18. Throughout his career he has specialized in sports, how-to and advice articles. He has also written sales pitches in the corporate setting since 2001. He studied business at Hudson Valley Community College before transferring to the State University of New York, Albany.