Armstrong Clark is a penetrating oil based stain that will soak deep into the wood grain offering protection from UV graying and water. The advantages to a penetrating deck stain is that they will not peel but rather fade over the years. The key though is proper prep before applying your AC especially if your wood is new.

New "smooth" wood should not be stained right away with Armstrong Clark. A few things need to happen first:

  • The wood should dry out in the climate
  • Exposed layers of wood cells should oxidize slightly
  • Mill glaze needs to be removed
  • Prep after waiting will remove both oxidation and mill glaze

New Decks and Armstrong Clark Stain Tips

The best advice is to not stain your new smooth wood too soon after install but follow these steps:

  1. Install wood and let sit outside for 3-4 months or more if using a transparent or semi-transparent color. If using a semi-solid color, you should wait 12 months.
  2. Once the wood has been exposed, use the Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener Kit for prep.
  3. Let the wood dry for 2 or more days after prep.
  4. Apply 1 coat of the Armstrong Clark Stain. Do not over apply.

To maintain your new coat of AC you will most likely need to a light coat in 12-24 months to just the floors or horizontals surfaces. In the future, you will need to reapply AC every 2-3 years for most scenarios or as needed based on your particular traffic and weather.

Important Note: Rough Sawn cut wood can be stained right after install as long as the wood is clean and dry.

If you have a question on prepping your need wood or deck, feel free to ask below.

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Cynthia Point · 09/25/2022
    The contractor wants me to do stain and sealing this year, decks done last month.  There will be a lot of snow and ice this winter, but your recommendation is to wait, what should I do?
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    Cynthia Point · 09/25/2022
    How do I know if the redwood of my new deck is rough sawn, or is smooth?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/25/2022
      99% of decking is smooth.
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    Shel · 09/12/2022
    See my post 05/25/22. Please review 1st. This is Shel. I decided not to go forward with staining until next May'23. Then, I can stain the whole deck at once...This summer I light sanded the deck to remove some residual stain marks and wood imperfections.  Now, before staining next May, I presume I should redo the prep RAD cleaner/brightener over the entire deck before staining with my A/C semi-solid. Is this correct? Thank you.
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    Joanne · 09/11/2022
    We purchased our KDAT red cedar wood the first week of August and stored it in our garage. We finished building the deck floor three weeks. We just finished installing the railing and balusters. Everything has been sanded.  We’d like to stain with Armstrong-Clark semi-transparent stain before the Pacific Northwest rains arrive. We have purchased the RAD product. Questions:

    1. Can I apply the RAD this week or would it be better to wait a bit longer? We would prefer not to let the deck winter ‘as is’. There is a large oak tree near the deck that will soon be dropping leaves that will create tannin stains. And, with the rain comes mildew.
    2. Do I have to also use the cleaner and brightener on the balusters given that it is a vertical surface? Can I just lightly spray RAD on them since it is clean wood.
    3. I know that I need to wet down and cover the plants prior to using RAD. Do I also need to protect the house?
    4. The deck gets intense sun in the late afternoon. Will the AC semi-transparent natural oak hold its color or do you recommend opting for chestnut brown? (I read that another customer had issues with the natural oak and sun)
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/11/2022
      1. 1-2 months after installation for KDAT.
      2. Yes all wood needs to be prepped. You cannot skip this.
      3. No but rinse overspray.
      4. Natural Oak and Chestnut will last the stain. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Richard · 08/31/2022
    How do you clean up over spray on painted siding?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/31/2022
      Try Goof Off but test spot first to make sure it does not harm the paint.
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    Richard · 08/21/2022
    KD cedar sat stacked for several months prior to installing. Does that count toward the 12mo wait to stain or is it 12 months of UV and weather exposure?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/22/2022
      It has to be installed and then weathered fully exposed.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jeff · 08/21/2022
    in summer 2020 I installed a new red cedar pergola/deck, As far as I can tell I went thru the new deck prep very carefully and 12 months after install I used the clean/brightener and then applies 1 coat of AC semi transparent stain. less than 1 year after applying the stain, the entire area became very black and awful looking. I assumed this was some kind of oxidation and I recently (summer 2022) applied the step 1 cleaner and it 100% removed all the stain, it now looks like it did when it was new, no stain at all.  what did I do wrong?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/21/2022
      The prep products should only be used when recoating, not for general cleaning.
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    Gail · 08/20/2022
    We have a Brazilian Mahoney Greenhouse window that needs refinishing/staining. See attached photos.  What type of stain do you recommend for this type of wood?  Thank you.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/21/2022
      Sand off the current stain and then use the Mahogany color. 
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Gail · 08/21/2022
        Thank you.  Are you referring to the Mahogany color for Hardwoods?
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    Gail · 08/17/2022
    Can I use your stain or which stain would you recommend for a teak outdoor bench?  This bench (photo attached) was previously stained with Sikkens Cetol DEK FInish about 12 years ago.  Thank you, Gail   gmcd52@verizon.net
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Tony · 08/11/2022
    I finished my deck at the end of June. All KDAT lumber. How long should I wait before using the semi solid stains specifically?

    Not sure if the 1-3 month rule on KDAT is only for semi-transparent stains as for non-kdat lumber semi solid has a much longer weathering time listed.

    Will my wood deteriorate terribly faster if I did let it weather a winter here in Minnesota before staining either way? I plan to keep it clear of snow.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Yves Semerjian · 07/31/2022
    Hi there,

    New cedar fence, 3 weeks old. Can I stain in in a couple of months with semi trans cedar ? Do I need to prep it before ?

    thanks
    yves
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/31/2022
      No, you cannot stain it yet. 3 or more months. Please read the article above that explains the wait and prep.
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    Keith · 07/20/2022
    New Kiln Dried PT Pine pool deck been outside for 60 days and in full sun all day installed for 30 days. Seems like it’s absorbing the water well on most places and getting a lot of cracking starting. Can I stain yet ?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Dick McWay · 06/29/2022
    I have KDAT deck boards still to be installed.  About half of deck is covered.  Should I wait a bit and do a prep after install or can I stain soon after install?  I’m planning on using the black walnut semi transparent.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/30/2022
      With KDAT wood, wait 1-2 months, prep with the Restore A Deck Kit, then apply one coat of the black walnut.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Reza Jacob · 06/28/2022
    I have a hardwood (walnut I think) garage door I need to stain, door is 10 years old. Prior owner used a water based stain that's peeling off. I will strip off the old stain and lightly sand to remove the stain. How do I prep before applying hardwood-type black walnut stain?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Sue Powell · 06/16/2022
    Hi, guys.....I installed new cedar decking (floor, stairs, and railings) in fall of 2020 on an existing deck and waited until summer of 2021, then cleaned with Restore A Deck and used your stain exactly per your directions.  Beautiful!  This summer of 2022, tho, I'm not sure how to proceed.  The deck boards are now very dark in color (after our Minnesota winter) even after pressure washing.  I plan to clean and stain again this summer.  Should I use Restore-A-Deck stripper first this time and then brightener, to get all of this dark coloring off?  Could some of this still be glazing that I need to work harder to get removed this time?  Thanks, and BTW I'm telling others about how happy I am with your products and advice!  With gratitude, Sue Powell
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/16/2022
      That looks like dirt on your deck. Use the Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener kit for prep while pressure washing.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Doug · 06/15/2022
    Getting a new redwood deck installed, we get snow likely in October.  How long should we wait to stain the deck?  Thanks in advance.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/15/2022
      Hi,

      The above article explains all this. Thanks!
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Shel · 05/25/2022
    Our deck is 30 + yrs... Three years ago I used the AC semi solid after Restore A Deck/Brightener. I just finished replacing some boards which needed to go. This deck is all cedar.  I have now about 10 % new cedar and 90% old...
    I will be using AC semi solid again. I realize that I have to wait a year on the new 10%.  I would like the old 90% to be recoated now and next Spring overcoat the whole surface.  In using the cleaner/brightener, is there any harm in using it over the new sections and leaving them unstained?  Or, should I protect the new wood from getting cleaner/brightener on it at this time?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/25/2022
      No issues getting the prep on the new wood.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Shel · 05/25/2022
        That's good. Thank you
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    David · 05/23/2022
    My new deck is being installed using Selkirk Brand Western Red Cedar.  Can the Armstrong Clark Hardwood Colors Amber or Mahoghany (made for use on IPE) be used on softwood such as cedar?

    If so, what success have users had with the product? Or, are the semi-transparent regular stains more preferrable on cedar?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/24/2022
      The AC Amber and Mahogany can be used on any wood type. 
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    Jesse Welton · 05/23/2022
    I purchased a 5 gallon pail of mahogany for my new ipe deck last August (9 months ago) I kept it indoors over the winter so it wouldn’t get too cold. Should it still be good? What should I look for if it isn’t good anymore?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/24/2022
      It should be fine to use but make sure to mix well as the pigment can settle.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Jesse Welton · 05/25/2022
        What should I look for to know if it might be bad? It is still factory sealed 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Phil · 05/21/2022
    How long is the wait to stain after it rains 
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    Greg · 05/18/2022
    Do you recommend filling any of the major cracks in my 18 year old redwood deck boards?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/18/2022
      No, and the filler would not blend with the AC stains, looking very blotchy.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    DEBORAH KORRAY · 04/23/2022
    We just installed a pine kdat deck in South Florida. The manufacturer (yellawood) indicates that we do not have to wait to stain and protect. We are planning to lightly sand the deck before treating the wood. We really like the natural color of the wood-so 2 questions:
     1) Should we wait to finish the wood and 2) which one of your products would you recommend for a more transparant finish but good protection - this is S. Florida. 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/23/2022
      They are incorrect. For KDAT, wait 1-2 months to weather and then prep with this kit: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-kit

      Do not sand. Lighter colors will fade faster than richer colors. Natural is the lightest and will last about 18-24 months. Go to semi-transparent colors for a little longer life.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Catherine · 04/17/2022
    Hello! We had a cedar deck built last summer (2021). We stained it right away with water based stain--wrong move on our part! We are redoing the deck this year. We have pressure washed it and sanding the entire deck. Do we need to wait 3 to 4 months for the new sanding wood to be exposed? Or can we clean, use brightener and stain right away? Thank you SO much for your guidance!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/18/2022
      Sand with grit no finer than 80. We would then clean and brighten and apply one coat of the AC
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jackie · 04/15/2022
    Thank you-Will the semi solid be enough coverage for all the other imperfections in the wood or do I have to do solid which I know Armstrong doesn’t have
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/15/2022
      Hard to say as you cannot cover the wood 100% with a semi-solid. The grain still shows through somewhat.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jackie · 04/15/2022
    Old porch with semi transparent stain (10 yrs) one new step (recent repair) another step (5 yrs old) Pros want to use a solid stain. Can I use your semi solid stain and do I have to wait because of the one new step? House & porch over 15yrs old 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/15/2022
      You have to wait for new wood to weather.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Lisa · 04/14/2022
    Hello. we have a cedar deck that was installed in October 2022. If it ever stops raining we plan to apply its first coat of stain, Armstrong semi-transparent cedar. Other than making sure the deck is clean and dry, is there anything we need to do to prepare it? Is it necessary to apply the restore-a deck, or is it ok to just go ahead and apply the stain directly on the 6-month-old deck?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/14/2022
      Yes, you need to follow the directions in the above article.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Lisa · 05/10/2022
        Hello. It's finally spring and we see a few days in a row that it will NOT rain. Yesterday afternoon we applied the Restore a Deck cleaner and then the brightener. We think we followed the instructions carefully (scrubbing, rinsing). This morning, about 15 hours after finishing, the wood on some boards looks a little whitish and we wonder if perhaps we did not rinse enough, or if it is simply the wood fibers raised up in some spots. Attached is a photo. If it appears to you that some process was not done properly, what is our solution? If it is raised wood fibers, are we safe to go ahead and stain? Thank you!
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 05/10/2022
          That is fuzzies that can happen from graying/oxidation removal during the cleaning. They typically do not show when stained but if you want, they are easily buffed off with a floor buffer and buffing pad.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            Lisa · 05/10/2022
            Thank you. You might be surprised to know I do not have a floor buffer...would a very fine sandpaper applied by hand do the trick? Or should we just go for the staining and see what happens?
            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              Armstrong · 05/10/2022
              You can rent a buffer if you want from Home Depot. The pads look like the attached. Much easier and better for the wood than sandpaper. You can also just stain.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Lisa · 04/14/2022
        OK, thanks. I do not see detailed instructions for applying the RAD products, but will I be able to do all of the prep WITHOUT a power washer? 
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 04/14/2022
          Yes but much easier and more effective to use a pressure washer.
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    Zane · 03/23/2022
    We just had our cedar trees milled (rough sawn) a week ago. Are we ok to start staining immediately?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 03/24/2022
      If rough sawn you can do it as long as the wood is clean and dry.
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    Chad M Olmsted · 03/18/2022
    I have a new pressure treated deck that was installed 1 year ago. The deck boards have a whitish grey color from the sun but are otherwise clean. Will the step 1 and brushing remove the mill glaze everywhere or is there some step I am supposed to do before doing step 1 and 2 with the restore a deck products?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 03/19/2022
      Use the Step 1 Cleaner while pressure washing and then the Step 2 Brightener after. You cannot remove the white oxidation by just brushing on the Cleaner
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Beth · 02/08/2022
    I have fire treated western cedar deck boards, purchased a few months ago from WescoCedar and shipped to us here in Prescott, AZ, altitude ~ 5800 feet with a daily freeze-thaw cycle most of the winter.  The fire treated boards will be used as the deck surface for a covered deck.  Do we need to stain all sides of the boards or just the top?  And would all of the stains, including the "hardwoods and softwoods" stains, be suitable?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 02/08/2022
      Just the exposed wood after weathering and prep. Any color that you like will work.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Philip · 02/07/2022
    I have a new deck, 3 months old that gets a lot of sun in Southern California. The deck is made out of brown pressure treated hem fir. After trying semi transparent and semi solid stain samples, I have decided to use the semi solid sequoia stain, my question is how long do I have to wait until I stain. AC website says 12 months for new wood, but this is that brown pressure treated stuff, and I will use the restore a deck cleaner and brightner. Thanks!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 02/07/2022
      You will need to wait 12 months if using the semi-solid colors and then the RAD Cleaner and Brightener.