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
    Dawn · 07/19/2019
    Hello, We installed an Ipe deck a few weeks ago (finished at the end of June). We live in CT and the deck is fully exposed to the sun most of the day. None of the painters we can find are familiar with Ipe, so I was so happy to find your product and website. The deck is already fading slightly, so I want to be sure I understand exactly what needs to be done. (1) Were going to use your mahogany semi-transparent stain, so we wait until September or October, use the clean and prep, wait two days (making sure it doesn’t rain over those two days), and then apply a light coat of the stain. Is this all correct? I’m so afraid it will turn gray over those months, and I’ll never get the brown color back, even using the stain. (2) On the ends of some of the boards, there are dark stains from oil the builder said was put on at the saw mill when it was cut. Should those areas be sanded so it looks like the rest of the wood or will the clean and prep remove that discoloration? But sanding shouldn’t be done on the entire deck, and it doesn’t need to be power-washed before the clean and prep; it just needs to be swept prior to that step, correct? (3) What is best to use to apply the stain, a brush or a sponge and no wiping of the stain should be done? (4) Finally, this whole process will have to be repeated every 12 months? Thank you for your help.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/20/2019
      1. Yes, correct.
      2. Spot sand off now.
      3. Apply with stain pad, No back wiping.
      4. Yes.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Kelly · 07/12/2019
    I have two separate decks. The one deck is two and a half years old PTP. We stained with semi-transparent Cabot. The newer deck is just over a year old and has not been stained yet. We are planning on stripping the old deck of Cabot for the AC. Do I need to by separate cleaner for the new deck or can I just use the stripper/brightener on the new deck too to prep it to stain both decks?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/12/2019
      Use the Cleaner, not the Stripper for the unstained deck.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Christine · 07/12/2019
    We have just installed a large deck in NC. It is PT wood. It was started on June 14 and completed July 6. Painter is recommending staining in mid August. Sounds like too soon. Some concerns are about stamping on some of the wood. Can we sand that off? And, if we wait to stain, the leaves falling and leaving imprints on wood (my sister had this problem). House is a light tan color and I was thinking of mahogany?
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    Brian · 07/11/2019
    I have a 16'x25' deck which I recently added 4' to included in the deck size. I also replaced 7 16' boards in the older portion of the deck. I have planed and sanded each board with 50 grit grit sand paper using a belt sander. Can I use semi transparent stain now or do I have to wait? The deck gets full sun all day long.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/11/2019
      Wait for 1-2 months. Clean and brighten for final prepping of the wood. Stain with one coat of stain.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Brian · 07/12/2019
        Thanks. When restaining in a couple of years. What prep is needed?
        Would the process be different if I decided on a solid stain?

        Thanks again
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 07/12/2019
          AC does not come in a solid stain. Prep by cleaning and brightening for reapplications.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Doug · 07/05/2019
    I had a raised deck stained with Benjamin Moore oil based penetrating stain and I made a mistake of not removing the mill glaze everywhere. I did however sand some areas. A harsh winter latest the semi transparent stain is peeling especially in areas when my sand paper became dull. I want to use AC now and the Ben Moore guys are telling me to sand my entire deck again both horizontal and vertical surfaces.

    Im reading here that restore a deck cleaner and brightness remove the mill glaze? If I use the stain remover product from restore a deck before the cleaner and brighter would that bring my cedar deck back to a stage where I can apply AC without sanding?

    i also have a paver patio underneath my deck and want to avoid damaging the pavers with harsh chemicals, any advise how to do the proper prep for my situation ?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Nick · 07/02/2019
    You said that I should do a light coat in 12-24 months to just the floors or horizontals surfaces. Do I need to clean the deck before I do the light coat? If so, do I use the restore a deck?
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    steve · 06/29/2019
    I recently ordered and received a gallon of AC semi-transparent cedar stain and see in the instructions on the can it is suggested to call you if the deck to be stained has less than 18" ground clearance. Mine is a "floating" deck on 2"x6" cross members which sit on a sealed rubber membrane on an enclosed balcony . There is a sufficient drain outlet to rain gutters and no air circulation problem .
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/30/2019
      You will be fine after the wait and prep.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Kim · 06/25/2019
    Thanks for all the info on your site. So what do you recommend doing if I am refinishing my deck (for prep I’m using the diamabrush to sand and be rid of behr deck-over currently there, then using RAD brightener) and replacing a board or two that has warped? I can’t wait the 3-4 month to do the whole deck with semi transparent or 12 mos for semi solid on these two or three planks, as I’d like to get the deck done now. Thanks for your help.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/26/2019
      If you go ahead and stain without weathering or prepping the few new boards, you will have to apply another coat to those new boards next Spring.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Eric Hewko · 06/13/2019
    In late December 2018, built cumaru fence in South Florida. 390 linear feet. Going to stain both sides on most of fence. Total stain surface is 3750 sq ft. How much mahogany stain do I need. How much/many Restore a Deck Cleaner and Brightener kits needed? Instead of the Cleaner/Brightener, can we prep with 1 part bleach/3 parts water, with some soap? What is turn around time for shipping? Intend to spray stain and then brush, any suggestions Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/13/2019
      Do no use bleach for prep, use the RAD Kits. Bleach is bad for wood. You will need:

      4-5 of the RAD Cleaner/Brightener Kits.
      12-15 Gallons of the stain. This will vary based on the wood porosity.

      Shipping to FL takes about 3-5 business days.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Eric Hewko · 06/13/2019
        Is the Stain estimate for one or two coats.
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 06/13/2019
          One coat for cumaru. Coverage for exotic hardwoods is between 300-400 sq feet per gallon.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Armstrong · 06/13/2019
        AC cannot be pump sprayed, you can use an airless sprayer.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Dave F · 06/10/2019
    I am cleaning my 12 year old deck with a Diamabrush tool made for removing all old paint and stains. This tool leaves a like new wood surface when done. Would this surface then be ready for your semi solid AC deck stain?

    I have replaced several of the deck boards and I see that you recommend waiting 12 months before applying your semi solid deck stain to new treated lumber. I noticed that it is OK to apply to rough sawn wood right away. The surface that the Diamabrush leaves is not rough sawn, but it also is not smooth.

    Here's my question - If I were to "rough up" the surface finish of the new treated wood deck boards with the Diamabrush, would this reduce the time I would have to wait before staining the new deck boards?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/10/2019
      Yes, it would definitely help. Can you post a picture?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Andy · 06/03/2019
    I have new treated lumber railing with a Trex deck and top cap on the railing. The decking and railing were installed last August, And they have been through a northern Ohio winter. Will the cleaner and brightener harm the Trex decking? Is it too early to go ahead with the cleaner and Breitner and then stain, or must I wait until August (12 months from installation).
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/03/2019
      No, the prep products will not harm the Trex. You can prep and stain now unless using the semi-solid.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Andy · 06/03/2019
        I am sorry, I should have clarified that I did plan to use the semi solid stain. I take it from your response that I will need to wait until August (a full 12 months) to stain the railings, despite the somewhat harsh weather of Cleveland
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Allen · 05/29/2019
    We are using a #4 rough sawn pine for our board and batten siding. Most will be out of direct sun, however, one gable end will be exposed to full sunlight.

    #1. Should we let the siding age & weather before applying any stain?
    #2. What product is the best to use on the #4 rough sawn pine?
    #3. What maintenance can we expect if using your product?
    #4. Do you recommend using a sealer?

    Thanks in advance!!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/30/2019
      1. If rough sawn you can stain right away.
      2. Any color that you like will work.
      3. Clean and recoat as needed.
      4. No, you can not apply a sealer over a deck stain.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Loren · 05/28/2019
    I live in a historic home in Northern Virginiaon and have newly installed a tongue and groove mahogany floor on my covered porch. I love the color and wish to maintain as close to possible the original look. It’s covered, but the edges and steps are exposed to the sun and elements. I'm looking at your hardwood/ipe stain, but curious how long I should wait. I'm concerned the wood will age unevenly, with the exposed parts fading more severely than the coverd areas. If I hand sand the surface can I apply now, or would I still need to wait?

    Thank you!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/28/2019
      3-4 months and then prep with the Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener kits. This will even out the aging if any. You cannot apply now.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Chad · 05/27/2019
    Hello, I replaced and expanded my pressure treated deck last summer. Planning to stain with one of your semi-transparent products this summer, but we’re debating on the right color. I ordered 4 samples so far, and comments are open for Facebook friends. My question is: how much of a commitment is the color selection? When I stain it again in 3 years, can I change the color easily or would it involve a lot of sanding? Thanks
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Curly · 05/22/2019
    Can I use a percarbonate based cleaner rather than the oxalic acid based RAD product on a 10 month old pressure treated pine deck?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/22/2019
      Restore A Deck Cleaner is a sodium percarbonate based cleaner, not oxalic. It is much more effective than other brands.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    sue · 05/19/2019
    We just installed one month ago, a pine pressure treated deck and want to use your gray semi-transparent stain to finish. I understand we need to wait 3-4 months to apply. The railing on the deck is 4x4 pt posts which we intend to run horizontal ss wire in between. Could we stain the posts now? prior to installing the stainless cable and tensioners? do you know of any effect that the stain will have if in contact with the stainless hardware? Thank you
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/19/2019
      No, you have to wait. If you get any stain on the cables, wipe them clean right away. It will come off.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Shannon · 05/02/2019
    I am making new exterior shutters and have decided on tongue in groove kiln dried pine deck flooring for the wood. Do I need to wait to stain? I was hopingto stain before assembling the batten and board syle for best protection for the wood. I also need to clean the wood to get the mill glaze off? Thank you!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/03/2019
      Yes, 1-2 months of exposed weathering for kiln dried wood. Prep as well first to remove the mill glaze.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Kit · 04/28/2019
    hello! I have a new deck being installed in Georgia, using PT Pine Yella Wood, full sun until about 1:00pm, we get a fair amount of rain also. Yella woods website says you should stain within 6 weeks--your thoughts?
    I was thinking of using Armstrong semi transparent. Any recommendations you have would be great, thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/29/2019
      No on the 6 weeks. It has to weather for the 3 months and be prepped like the article states.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Paul O'Donnell · 04/27/2019
    I am installing several mahogany decks. Why do you recommend waiting 3-4 mo before staining? Won't the intense UV start to bleach the wood in that time period. Why not stain after installation?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/27/2019
      If you stain after install the stain will not soak in. When you weather the wood, it will be much more absorbent when time to stain. The prep will remove any oxidation and mill glaze after the weathering.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
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    Kendra McCourt · 04/22/2019
    Our homes previous owner used either a paint or solid stain - we have cleaned the flaky parts off but have not cleaned it back to wood - what product would you suggest to use?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Theresa · 04/22/2019
    I can't seem to find the directions for measuring the deck for buying the correct amount of product.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/22/2019
      Right hand side if you are on a desktop.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    deanne english · 04/15/2019
    Just had tight knot red cedar deck installed in February, plan on staining in late may. I have help for 2 days.
    1) does using an oil based stain stop any cracking in the wood where the screws are? I would rather use a water base and the information online varies widely.
    2) The Restore-a-deck products have good reviews (just under you) and you can clean, brighten and stain in 2 days with their water based stain. Is this a good idea for a new deck?
    3) Why do you think I should use an oil base? What are the befits to the wood and longevity?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/16/2019
      1. No. No deck stain can stop cracking of the wood. Does not matter the base. This is normal for exterior wood and is not an issue.
      2. You can use the RAD for new wood as well.
      3. Oil-based stains can be easier to apply and penetrating deeper. The AC can be cleaned and reapplied as needed. No need to strip.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    carlb · 04/12/2019
    I installed a new PT pine deck last July, and now it's time to stain. You state the mill glaze needs to be removed prior to cleaning and staining. Additionally, there are mill markings on several pieces of decking. Should the entire deck and railings be sanded? If so, is a belt sander and what grit? Are other types of sander OK ?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Mike H. · 04/09/2019
    Hi -
    I've done a lot of research and can't wait to use your product(s) on my pressure-treated pine deck and fence; however, I'm wondering if I need to put an abrupt pause on the projects. My fencing is definitely rough sawn cut but I'm not sure about my deck; however, I think my decking is "smooth" sawn because of its appearance. Anyway, just yesterday in fact, I started going over the fencing planks with an orbital sander to remove the "fuzzy" areas and imperfections BUT it seems after reading on this site that I didn't need to/ shouldn't have. Did I just delay my semi-solid staining out further? I was planning to paint the fence by month's end. I live in Syracuse, NY. The fence was installed last June/July and thought I was close enough to the 12 month wait period.

    Regarding the deck, that staining project was going to be a family endeavor planned next month. I believe it's okay to stain any time now, right? Unless, of course, we use a semi-solid stain. I was going to go with the semi-solid stain - same as the fence "Oxford Brown" but now I'm wondering if we should instead go with a semi-transparent stain. We have a pool attached to the deck, not sure that matters but... If semi-transparent is the way to go do you have "Oxford Brown" or something similar in semi-transparent?

    Thank you,
    Mike
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/09/2019
      Decks are always smooth. Wait until June/July and clean and prep. The fence should be fine by then. You can stain the deck now unless using the semi-solid. Either semi-trans or semi-solid will be fine for the deck.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Mike · 04/10/2019
        Thank you for the advice. Should I also use the Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener Kit for prep for the fence?

        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 04/10/2019
          Yes, that is correct.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            Mike · 04/10/2019
            Hopefully my last questions. Thanks again for all of your help and patience. My fencing is 256 linear feet and the height is 6 feet. Multiplying both gives me my square footage, right? That comes to 1,536 sq. ft. For both sides of the fence I'm looking at 3,072 sq. ft. How many gallons of semi-solid (Oxford Brown) do I need? My deck is 16x16 and we plan on using the same Oxford Brown (railing will be done in a different color). We plan on staining the beams and underside of deck floor. Is 2 gallons plenty?

            Thanks again for everything.
            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              Armstrong · 04/10/2019
              About 15 gallons for the 1 coat on the fence. 2-3 gallons for the deck.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    David · 04/06/2019
    Hello, we stained last spring and it’s just about time to apply the light second coat as suggested in the directions above. What kind of prep is required before this second coat? Do I need to use the cleaner and brightener? Thanks
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    John Fagg · 03/28/2019
    I have a new deck surface of treated yellow pine. It was installed last September. I am looking at the semi-transparent in the gray? Any problems with this? What steps to take?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 03/28/2019
      Follow the steps in the above article when it comes to prep and application of one coat. Nothing else is needed.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jason · 01/15/2019
    I am having new cedar deck boards installed this week. It seems like from the answers I've read here, we should wait to stain. I have read A LOT of conflicting things online about cedar specifically. Some saying wait like you suggest and some saying cedar is fine to stain soon after as long as it is dry. We live in Oregon and I really can't guarantee really warm and dry weather until about June-ish. Even when it is dry here, it's moist in the air until the summer. It seems like waiting to stain until then would be the best idea. If I do, can my hot tub sit on the unstained deck until this summer? We will empty the tub and move it to stain half and then dry, then move it back and stain the other half. Any further guidance would be awesome. Thanks.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 01/16/2019
      You have t let new wood weather. It does not matter the wood type. Just stain around the hot tub when time to do it. No reason to move it or stain underneath it as it will always be in the same place.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jennifer Long · 12/29/2018
    We plan to install a cedar ceiling on our front porch. The contractor is stating that there is no need to clean/prep this wood or let it weather prior to staining because it is new wood. In reading your directions I note that both is needed. He wants to stain prior to install. What are your thoughts??
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 12/30/2018
      He is incorrect. If you do not follow the directions for new wood, the stain will not perform properly and or cure correctly.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Jennifer · 01/10/2019
        He is wanting to stain prior to install since it will be on the ceiling. Will it be OK for the wood to stay in his garage of should it be installed to weather? Also, we ordered cedar but after staining them to try and pick a stain I am having a hard time getting the look I was actually going for. Wondering if redwood was actually what we should have ordered. The picture on your site of the modern cedar home with modern glass/metal garage door is the look I would like. What stain do you recommend.....semi transparent cedar or the chestnut color? Thank you so much.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    jrutenbar · 12/04/2018
    Two questions, 1) Can I use the chestnut semi transparent stain on IPE? 2) I am building a new deck and temperatures are and I want to prestain the boards before installing them. Can I prep them by sanding versus leaving them outdoors to weather?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 12/05/2018
      1. No, it is not one of the colors designed for IPE. Use the Mahogany.
      2. No. The wood has to naturally weather and cleaned/brightened for the prep. Do not sand for the prep as the will create issues with stain absorption into the wood.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        jrutenbar · 12/07/2018
        I really want to pre-stain the decking before installing as the ends will stick under the siding on both sides for most of the deck as it is between the house and a freestanding garage. So if I install unstained I will not be able to stain the ends and it will be messy staining up close to the siding. When you say sanding will create issues with stain absorption into the wood, what are the issues?, as I tested this approach on a number of boards and did not see any problem yet? I'm interested in getting the decking installed now versus waiting, so allowing it to weather is not really an option I want to do. If I end up having to re-stain in the summer, I am ok with that. What do you think?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 12/09/2018
          You cannot pre-stain or speed up the natural weathering process. Staining without following the correct directions will most likely result in premature product failure and curing of the stain. This could lead to wearing of the stain and or rubbing off on clothes and shoes. There is not a way to speed up this natural weathering process. The ends cuts are very absorbent though. You can go ahead and stain those end cuts that will be near the house/garage. Then install the deck, let it naturally weather for the 3-4 months, and then stain the exposed deck wood.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            jrutenbar · 12/12/2018
            OK, I will let it weather, but two more questions. 1) Should I stain the underside of the decking? 2) Is it ok to sand out imperfections like machining marks or gouges on the surface of the deck boards? FYI, thanks for the help/advice.

            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              Armstrong · 12/12/2018
              No need to stain the undersides of a deck. If you need to sand any spots, do this now prior to the natural weathering.