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
    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
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    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?
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          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
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    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
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    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.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        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!
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          Armstrong · 06/08/2021
          Wait 48  hours. Rain is about 12-24 hours.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Gail · 05/21/2021
    I have applied coat of semitransparent stain on cedar fence sawn after applying and dried your recommended cleaning.  Should I have sanded too before applying as you can see the blochy spots or is this just the natural pattern of the wood?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/21/2021
      Nature of the wood grain most likely.
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    Philip · 05/21/2021
    How long do you recommend after cleaning and brighten the deck to stain. Can it be longer then 48hrs
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Tyler · 05/20/2021
    I put in a new cedar deck last summer and now want to stain it with a semi-transparent. I have sanded all the grey off and plan on sanding one more time as the stain won't be here for 5 days or so. Just wondering if I still have to use the Restore a deck cleaner and brightener? 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/20/2021
      Yes, you still need to do this for final prep.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Nacho · 05/19/2021
    We're putting up a fence with horizontal planks made from red cedar fencing. It's kiln dried, one side smooth (facing our side), the other rough (facing neighbor side). I plan on using AC semi-transparent. 
    Is this the correct procedure: 1-2 months drying, prep w/cleaner and brightener, 1 coat of AC?
    Also - do I need to prep and stain the back (rough) side of the fence? If I don't stain it, will it affect the performance and color of the side we can see?
    Lastly - do you recommend any particular type of fasteners, like stainless steel?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/20/2021
      Yes, about 2 months for weathering when use the semi-transparent and kiln dried wood. Prep and stain with one coat. Best to prep and stain all sides. Fasteners do not matter. Just make sure they are treated or stainless.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Nate · 05/18/2021
    Advice for cedar flowerboxes.  Background:  15 year old ceder wood flowerboxes that had been stained inside and out, but I now stripped and brightened the wood.  I have always used plastic flower pots that fit inside the flowerboxes that hold the soil. There are drainage holes in the pots and drainage holes in the bottom of the cedar flowerboxes to allow water to drain. But over the course of the summer, there does get to be some dirt that settles on the bottom of the cedar flowerbox and likely stays moist with the automatic watering of the flowers every third day. 
    Question: What is the best way to treat the wood. I am staining the outside of the flowerboxes with armstrong clark stain, but what's the best thing to do for the inside?  Should I just stain the inside too, or is it better to prime it with an oil primer and then paint it. Does the paint work better to protect the wood under the typically wet conditions, or is stain better because the paint might peel? I was considering using a rubberized paint, but thought that might just peel off the wood and actually make it worse with the cracks between the rubberized layer and wood constantly wet.  Any insights would be appreciated.
    Thanks!Nate
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/18/2021
      You cannot prime and paint outdoor wood, it will peel. Just use the AC for all.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Phil · 05/13/2021
    Just putting on pressure treated rails on and posts. Do we have to wait 12 months to stain
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/13/2021
      3 months for all colors except the semi-solid colors. That is 12 months.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Mike · 05/11/2021
    I read in your post that I may have to wait as much as 12 months to stain if I use the semi-solid stain.  I live in East Tennessee and built my deck in September, but I used kiln dried lumber.  I have semi-solid stain.  Is it too soon to stain?  How much longer do I need to wait?  
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/11/2021
      12 months. No way to make it any faster when using our semi solid colors. 
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    SCOTT · 05/07/2021
    I ordered and received some samples & have made my decision of which stain i want to purchase.  I don’t recall any instructions being in the sample package on how to request a credit toward my 5-gallon purchase of stain.  Can you provide me with the process to request the $15 credit when i make my purchase?  Thanks!
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    Steve Jacobs · 05/07/2021
    Regarding samples, you charge $8 each for shipping, but if to Canada, its much more.  Two samples are $50.39 but how much of that will go against the 5 gallon pail cost? Thanks.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/07/2021
      Max $15. We cannot waive the shipping costs to Canada.
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    Steve Jacobs · 05/07/2021
    Are the prices in USD only?  Or when I provide a Canadian address, is it showing CDN$?
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    ln · 05/06/2021
    hi!  is this stain too fancy for pressure treated lumber?  I know nothing of these things so apologies for my ignorance.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/07/2021
      Fancy? Most people have pressure treated wood and the AC works great on it.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Paul Zychowicz · 05/04/2021
    If my white cedar is kiln dried should I still let the wood weather?  If so, how long?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Paul Zychowicz · 05/04/2021
    I was going to stain my cedar wood (both sides) before installing, is this not recommend? 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/04/2021
      No, you cannot pre-stain. Install, weather, prep, and stain only the exposed wood.
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    Ron n · 04/30/2021
    Why is your recommendation contrary to what the hardwood decking suppliers seem to always recommend, in sone cases even require? I'm a new home builder for 30+ years. Have built many hardwood decks for customers during that time and the hardwood suppliers have always urged me to oil decks as soon as they are installed, even if customer plans on letting decking eventually weather to silver/grey patina. They say oiling it one time, right away (in addition to applying end grain sealer during install) is critical for the decking to properly acclimate the first year. My painting sub has always done this within a month of install with zero problems (immediate or long term). The three products he told me he has used in past is Deck wise, penofin and messmers. I am looking for a darker tint for my personal deck (Batu) and was interested in the fact that you have 3 color options for hardwood. Why does it seem you are the only manufacturer to so strongly suggest that I wait 1 year to apply? 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/30/2021
      When to stain a new deck has nothing to do with the wood suppliers suggestions but the stain manufacturer known recommendation on what will work or not. The wood suppliers have no idea as to what stain brand and type you are using. All stain brand manufactures will require a waiting period and prep for new wood. If you stain it prematurely, it will potentially have issues with drying, curing, and premature failure leading consumers to blame the stain product.
      Just an FYI, IPE Oil, Penofin, and Messmers all suggest to weather and prep. FYI, IPE Oil is Messmers relabeled.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Christine · 04/29/2021
    I had my new deck stained last June with your semi-transparent Natural Oak. I feel that it needs another coat in some areas. Do I need to clean & brighten the whole deck? I believe it just wasn't done properly the first time. Not sure whether to just do boards or do everything. Posts look ok and the part of the deck that is covered looks ok. Just the two sides that are not covered.  
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/29/2021
      Clean and brighten all is correct and then stain.
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        Christine · 04/29/2021
        So stain everything even though some looks ok? Also, will this be an every year thing? I thought it would be every 2-3 years.
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 04/29/2021
          Yes all is best. Not with new wood as the above article explains.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            Christine · 04/29/2021
            OK but it says the floors and horizontal boards?
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              Armstrong · 04/29/2021
              Yes, you can do all the floors only if you want. You cannot spot do the floors.
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    Marianna · 04/29/2021
    How much a gallon . what are the color selections 
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    Marianna · 04/28/2021
    I have a 25yr old deck..no matter what we use it does not hold up .Used solid stain.Hve to do every year in area near back door ...will this work and colors ??
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/28/2021
      To be able to use the AC you will have to sand off all of the old coatings 100%. Have you done this?
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    Scott · 04/28/2021
    What is the shelf life for AC deck stains?  I ask only since i want to purchase a 5-gallon bucket & estimate that i will have possibly 2 gallons left for future use after initial staining.
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    Jesse j · 04/27/2021
    I am installing a new ipe deck and have heard mixed reviews on the topic of pre-oiling your ipe. Especially the underside. At first it sounded like a no-brainer. More sealing the better. But after further thought it seems as if you seal the underside it could hold moisture in the wood, especially if you skip a year or two on oiling the topside. I live in the northwest and we have issues with decay from too much moisture. Just curious as to your thought on this subject. Thank you,Jesse
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/27/2021
      No need to seal all sides and yes, it can create issues.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Jesse j · 04/27/2021
        Thank you for the timely response. 👍