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
    Ann D · 10/14/2021
    We are in the process of starting to build a red mahogany deck with new boards. You recommend waiting 3-4 months (or longer) before staining so assume this means you don't think staining the underneath or sides of the boards is necessary for protecting the wood? This deck will be on joists about 6" from the ground and in dry climate of Southern California. Thanks.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 10/15/2021
      You only stain the exposed wood. No need to stain the undersides.
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        Ann D · 10/15/2021
        Thank you. The wood is kiln-dried, does that make any difference to the waiting time before staining?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 10/15/2021
          Weather 1-2 months then prep and stain.
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    SBT · 10/14/2021
    What temperature does it need be to use your oil based wood stains on a deck? Was hoping to get a coat applied this fall. Thanks. 
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    tko · 10/12/2021
    What does it mean "rough sawn cut wood"? I just had a cedar fence installed and one side is rough and thready, the other side is smooth. It has not received any treatment but has been in a warehouse for some time and is now exposed to the elements. When should I stain it, and do your products include sealant as well?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 10/12/2021
      It is how it is cut at the mill. Smooth or rough cut.  You will have to install, weather, and prep for the smooth side.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        tko · 10/12/2021
        Thanks. I am having the rough thready side sanded to a smoother finish. I do not want the cedar to grey or develop mold/mildew in our humid climate. Should I treat that side first and then wait for the smooth side? And how long does it need to "weather"? Isn't there a risk of it greying and cracking in the meantime?  Thanks!
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 10/12/2021
          No, do it all at once. Weather and prep as the above article explains. Graying is fine and that will be removed with the prep and cracking of wood will happen no matter if stained or not. It is normal.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            tko · 10/12/2021
            Thanks. Just one follow up. Cracking is also caused in part by water penetration, correct?So doesn't your stain provide water proofing? Thanks!
            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              Armstrong · 10/12/2021
              Cracking happens no matter what and is not from water solely. Cracking in your fence will happen and is not a big deal. The AC stains do offer water repellency.
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    Nancy Paynter · 10/10/2021
    I  have a deck next to concrete pavers and red brick patio. Will the Restore a Deck Cleaner and Brightener affect the colors of the pavers/brick? If so is tarp enough if I have to power wash?
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    Mark · 10/09/2021
    I have Armstrong Clark stain on my deck (put on last year).Can I just clean with soap and water and apply a second coat before winter?In years past I've used Restore a Deck cleaner. If I recall correctly, it ended up practically stripping old stain.I just want to add a second coat for extra protection without going through the full 3 step process.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 10/10/2021
      You should do the full prep process when ever reappliing.
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    Emily · 09/28/2021
    Hello, I am planning to stain our deck - pressure treated wood built in April. I was advised to pressure wash and then sand (which I now realize is wrong!). I used 80 and 120 grit. Is the rad cleaner and brightener needed before staining? Also is there a staining pad you’d recommend? Thanks!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/29/2021
      Use the RAD cleaner and brightener for prep. One coat of AC stain. Using any high-quality exterior stain pad.
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    ANCP · 09/26/2021
    I applied a single coat of semi transparent in August 2020 to kiln dried decking. Your website states “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. “. Do I need to use the RAD prep product before the “light coat” or a light cleaning me apply AC stain over last years stain? I’m using the exact same product. 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/27/2021
      Use the RAD for prep when reapplying.
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    ES · 09/26/2021
    Had a rough sawn redwood fence installed 2 months ago (in California) .  What prep should we do before staining?  Pressure wash?  There's sawdust still on some of the boards.  Will semi-transparent even out some of the lighter and darker colors in the wood or magnify these color changes? 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/26/2021
      Prep with this: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-kit
      Colors will be enhanced.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        ES · 09/29/2021
        So pressure-washing won't be enough to prep a new fence?  How would the cedar semi-transparent look on redwood boards?  Would the knots be accentuated/darkened?  Really trying to find a uniform but natural looking coating without too much redness in it.
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 09/29/2021
          You need the prep products while pressure washing. Knots and final color can either be darker or lighter as it varies on the wood age, type of wood, etc. 
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            ES · 10/07/2021
            One more question.  Should we rush to stain the fence (installed end of July) now before the rains come or wait until Spring?  Rough-sawn con-common redwood
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jason · 09/25/2021
    I bought a sample of the semi-transparent cedar and it was far and away the best looking of the different options we tested (to both my wife/me and our neighbors)!  
    Preparing to order the stain I need (2 gallons for about 220-250 sq ft) and I was looking at the instructions about RAD cleaner and brightener, but saw the note for new decking that said "rough sawn cut wood can be stained right after as long as the wood is clean and dry".  Just finished my rough faced cedar fence was built a few weeks ago, moisture is down to 15%-16%:  I just want to confirm the note about not needing the RAD cleaner also applied to fences?  Also, is there benefit to letting the fence dry a little more and getting closer to 12% before staining, or is there no difference as long as I am under 20%?
    Thanks in advance!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/26/2021
      No need to prep this. You can stain now.
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    Rose · 09/24/2021
    I stripped off semi-solid, sanded, and brightened 10 year old treated pine posts and deck boards using your products. I applied 2 coats AC to verticals and 1 coat to floor. I used 4 parts natural transparent to 1 part oak semi-transparent. I did wet on dry for my 2nd coat on verticals. The verticals did absorb like the directions stated, so I proceeded with a 2nd coat. If, by chance and hoping not, it was over applied and wood gets dirty looking as the brochure states may occur down the road , how is that remedied? Lastly, come spring, should I clean and apply 2nd coat to floor? I chose 1 coat because it was much darker than the verticals. Very happy with your products and help. Thank you. 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/24/2021
      Looks great!  As needed when the stain fades just clean and brighten for prep and recoat. Normally every 2-3 years. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Deb · 09/20/2021
    We have new 5/4 Alaskan yellow cedar (kiln dried) that has been in our basement for a few months, milled to be tongue in groove.  We are building a deck and have not yet installed.  Any tips on staining this?   Our plan right now is 80 grit sanding, clean, brighten, dry 48 hours, stain on all sides, install, stain again if needed.  We are using AC semi-transparent stain.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/21/2021
      It has to be installed, weathered, prepped, and stained on the exposed side only.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Roy Kennedy · 09/19/2021
    So I have 2x6  pressure treated  decking . I installed it In June 21 . It appears to be shrinking .it’s starting to lighten up a little and looks to be drying out from the sun . Your saying wait 4 months or longer . I want to wait till this coming spring .April 22 that’s 10 months . Do I still need to sand the new wood at that point to remove mill glaze ? Before I stain it ? Or just the renew a deck product ?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/20/2021
      Clean and brighten should work for the prep.
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    Yoram · 09/11/2021
    I installed a new redwood deck in mid-January of 2020. I left it as is through the rain of the winter and very hot sunny summer, now I am ready to start the staining process. 
    I was going to sand it first with 80 grit then 120 grit, to get rid of big splinters and very dark spots. Then, use your Restore-A-Deck steps 1 and 2. Next, I would stain with your Redwood Tone Transparent wood stain.
    1. Is that the best order of steps? 2. I am not sure if you recommend sanding before or after the Restore-A-Deck.3. If you don't recommend sanding at all, can you please explain why?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/11/2021
      Do not sand finer than 60-80 grit. Clean and brighten after. 
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    Rich · 09/05/2021
    I have tiger wood installed 2 yr ago and I like to keep the texture of the wood . What should I do..I just power wash the deck.i need to know what's the next step and what the best to used..I appreciate your expertise and deeply appreciated your suggestions...thanks. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    San Luc · 08/31/2021
    I have a cedar trellis that has weathered for about one year.  I have carefully cleaned the entire structure with warm water and dish soap and rinsed with a garden hose.  Is this ready to stain with AC, or do I need to use the Restore a Deck Cleaner and Brighter kit? If so, what is the rationale if the trellis is already clean and dry?  
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/01/2021
      Dawn soap and rinsing with a garden hose will not remove mill glaze and oxidation properly from new wood. It will need to be redone with the Restore A Deck Kit.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Ross Rutledge · 08/26/2021
    I have a bridge that I just replaced the planks with rough sawn ponderosa pine.  The planks were cut at a local sawmill about 4 weeks ago.  I  cleaned them with a little bleach solution before I put them on because they got a little mold/mildew on them from how I had them stacked.  The support structure underneath is the same wood but was still in good shape.  It was treated with AC semi-transparent stain a couple of years ago (Driftwood).  I want to clean/brighten and stain the entire bridge with the same stain as soon as I can.  Do I need to let the planks dry out before I do that?  I live at about 6200 ft. in dry Colorado air.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/26/2021
      If rough sawn then you can stain now.
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    DG · 08/23/2021
    Same advice for cedar fence as decking- wait several months to stain smooth surface?Thanks.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Paula · 08/12/2021
    We have a new cedar deck. We sanded the deck with 120 grit to get the mill glaze off Now the deck is showing grey spots around the screws. What should we do? Sand more with 60-80 grit? Just use the prep kit then stain? The deck was installed 3 months ago.hoping to start staining next week
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/12/2021
      That is rust around the screws as you remove the protective coating. You will need to replace all the screws where you sanded off the top. After, wait a month or two, clean and brighten for prep. Do not sand.
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    Terry Manahan · 07/19/2021
    We have a deck that is about 25 years old and it hasn't been stained for quite some time. We also installed some new steps and need to replace some other wood. I am wanting the old and new woods to match as good as they can. I was leaning towards the semi solid stain but read that it takes 12 months for the new wood to be prepped. Is there another stain that would blend the old and new woods colorwise that I wouldn't have to wait for an entire year? Thank you!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/19/2021
      No, new wood will always stain lighter as it is less absorbent than older wood. The semi-solid colors would blend better but you would have to wait 12 months for the new wood to season and then prep.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Phil · 06/19/2021
    We are staining on Monday there is rain for Tuesday night and Wednesday is it still ok to stain on Monday
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Leslie · 06/18/2021
    If you recommend that the mahogany breathe for 3 months before staining, do you have any advice on what we can do to prevent carpenter bees from enjoying the raw wood until we stain it?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/18/2021
      Stain will not prevent bees so if you have that issue, you will need to spray the deck now and after the stain is applied.
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    Richard · 06/17/2021
    Will leftover stain tolerate freezing temperatures or should it be stored in a heated place? (Does it matter if the container has been opened.)
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/18/2021
      Cannot freeze.
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        Richard · 06/18/2021
        Does that mean the stain cant freeze or you can’t allow it to freeze?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 06/18/2021
          It is the same thing. The stain cannot freeze.
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            Richard · 06/18/2021
            Not the same thing. Either the stain will not freeze regardless of how cold it gets or it should be kept above freezing temps so that it doesn’t freeze (as in you must not allow it to freeze). I gather it’s the former. 
            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              Armstrong · 06/18/2021
              Yes, it can freeze if too cold and it will go bad if it freezes.
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    Michael Wilson · 06/13/2021
    We have 5/4 pressure treated deck that is 22 yrs. old. We had replaced about 25% of the boards a few yrs. back. The deck was covered with solid stain which we have completely sanded off from the horizontal surfaces.  What is the next step we need to take to apply AC semi transparent stain? Also we have tried to remove any solid stain ( by sanding) from the vertical sides of the 5/4 boards but are having difficulty getting it all off any suggestions before we proceed?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/13/2021
      You will have to sand it off the verticals as a stripper will not remove solid stains. If you cannot get it off, go for a two toned deck. AC on the floors and solid stain on verticals. It will look nice and be easy to maintain. For the floors that you sanded, do a final prep before staining with the Restore A Deck Kit. Just one coat of the AC stain.https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/restore-a-deck-kit
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Stephenie · 06/12/2021
    We applied a water base stain last year. Needless to say it did not hold up to our winter. Flaked and looked very dull. We have sanded off all of the old stain to nice new cedar. The deck is tarped so as not to have any rain on it. My question is, can we now go ahead and stain or does it have to be exposed to the elements again? Thanks
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Sydney · 06/10/2021
    We just had a mahogany deck installed and they didn’t put any stain/oil on it.  We don’t want it to turn grey, what is the best process/stain to use.  
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    Nate · 06/08/2021
    I just spent 4 days stripping my deck rails, not a fun job, but at least it's done now.I have composite decking and I was thinking of cleaning it now before staining, but now I'm wondering if that is a bad idea, as maybe the soaps in the cleaner could be absorbed by the newly stripped cedar and cause issues with the stain?  Would it be better to wait to clean the decking after the new stain is on the wood?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/08/2021
      You can clean it, just rinse well when done.
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        Nate · 06/08/2021
        If I decide to stain the wood first (because I do have a good stretch of non-rainy weather coming up and want to get the staining done), how many days after staining should I wait before cleaning the composite decking? Also how many hours should the stain dry before it is hut by rain? I am using Armstrong Clark Semi-Transparent Sierra Red on cedar. Thanks!
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 06/08/2021
          Wait 48  hours. Rain is about 12-24 hours.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Emilio · 06/05/2021
    two months since cedar deck installed. Family doesn't want to wait any longer so I gave in and plan to start any day now. 1. Will the RAD suffice to remove mill glaze or should I sand (60-80G) then clean and brighten? thanks.2. I've decided to use natural paint brush to apply stain, I know stain must be applied in the direction of the grain but is it okay to apply brush back and forth or must strictly apply in one direction only?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/06/2021
      You need 3+ months and then clean and brighten. No sanding is needed. Apply in grain direction as much as possible.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Ken Hebden · 05/30/2021
    I am building a Gazebo out of Cedar with Trex decking for the Deck and handrails to reduce wear and maintenance.I am looking to use AC stain on all the rest of the surfaces.  (baulisters, roof, etc)  2 questions... New cedar - so wait minimum 3 months.  By time I am done, 3 months will be rainy season, so will be about 9 months until apply.  1:  My gut tells me I should be 'protecting' the support beams that the deck is built on... should I just leave it 'natural' (no stain or protection), or what is consequence of applying stain on new wood (just to protect as will never be seen).  2:  With Trex composite decking, will the Restore-a-deck that I apply on all the cedar before applying my then-aged surface damage the Trex, or is the Restore-a-deck inert toward composite plastics?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/31/2021
      1. No need to stain the frame or posts.2. The RAD prep will not harm the trex.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Nate · 05/24/2021
    I have noticed that my AC Sierra Redwood semi-transparent stain changes color slightly over the first 3 weeks.  It becomes slightly less red over time (at least when used on cedar).  I actually like the color a little better that it becomes over time, but it caught me be surprise, as initially I thought my sample stain was not the same color as the 5 gallon bucket I ordered, but then I put the sample stain on the wood along with stain from my 5 gallon bucket at the same time instead of comparing the color from my sample I had done a couple weeks earlier and they matched.  Is there a technical reason with the type of oils  or the red pigment used in the stain that this would happen? I just wanted to bring this up so that if others are trying to color match they may want to see what the stain looks like on their sample 2-3 weeks after they applied it.  For example, I was having my fiberglass front door stained the same color as my front posts. I had the stainer wait 4 weeks before he tried to match the post color, as they use a different gel stain for a fiberglass door.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/24/2021
      It is just the way the stain cures and settles into the wood.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Nate · 05/24/2021
    I used the AC Sierra Redwood semi-transparent stain to stain my cedar on my gable brackets, flower boxes, and shutters and they have turned out amazing!  However, I have noticed that when handling the boards, even several days after the staining was complete, that the stain tends to rub off on my hands. I was trying to be careful not to overapply it (I used a brush and tried to back brush it to take up any excess, and I rubbed the wood down with a cotton cloth 24 hours after staining the wood to again collect any access.)  But still it tends to show some signs of rubbing off.  I was planning to use this stain on my deck railing, and I'm concerned that if people lean on the railing that the stain might get on their clothes.  
    Is there something I need to do differently when staining deck rails (The rails are not new and will be stripped and brightened for prep).
    Thanks!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/24/2021
      Just apply one coat and you can wipe off excess stain that does not soak in after 60 minutes. Make sure to saturate any oily rags in water and lay flat to dry outside when done.