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
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jeff Woodward · 11/08/2018
    I am building an old fashion (no nails) post and beam style 14 X 26 ft. cover out of rough cut cedar for our airstream. Any advice for staining the cedar ceiling?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 11/08/2018
      Nothing more than what is stated in the article. Rough sawn can be stained right away as long as it is clean and dry.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    dave Johnson · 11/07/2018
    Hi, We installed a new redood deck in august and seem to be running out of time to get it finished before winter. We're now considering letting the deck go unfinished over the winter and stain in the spring. It's my understanding that this will be fine, letting it weather a bit more. Will it be alright to let it go unfinished over the mild sacramento CA. winter? We have already bought 10 gallons of your stain, cleaner and brightener, but the days are getting short and the dew is pretty severe all morning.

    Looking forward to your response,

    thanks, Dave Johnson in california
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 11/07/2018
      Yes, no issues waiting until Spring.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jayson · 10/25/2018
    Im building a deck out of kiln dried (kdat) pine. How long should I wait before staining.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 10/25/2018
      About a month after install for KDAT. Clean and brighten the wood for prep and stain with 1 coat of the AC.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    al · 09/10/2018
    we are going to install new redwood smooth cedar shiplap siding. For convenience and cost we wanted to get it factory finished on all 6 sides which is what our lumber dealer thinks is best. Can Armstrong be used for that as a final coat or primer coat? Or does it have to be used only later after install? What would be the best techniques for that?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/10/2018
      Only after install. Wood needs to weather and be prepped.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Alison · 09/09/2018
    I am installing a new ipe deck on a dock in Florida. So many distributors of ipe recommend sealing immediately after installation with ipe oil or similar product to protect wood and prevent color change. Some sites recommend sealing both sides of wood before installation with oil and also sealing cut ends with wax. Could you please address these suggestions? As I mentioned, my dock is in Florida and currently it is raining almost daily. Also, I want to try to prevent my wood from cupping. Also, how should I clean it after it is installed. The area around the dock can get muddy. Thank you.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Ben Shryock · 09/02/2018
    We've installed a post and beam outdoor cedar structure with rough sawn wood. It's been there a month or two. The wood is clean and dry - will we need to use the Cleaner and Brightener in this situation?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    evie · 09/01/2018
    My 3 month old covered porch floor is made out of regular (not treated) tongue and groove pine. Should I let it set without stain for a harsh Pennsylvania winter?

    evie
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/02/2018
      You can do it now. Prep first and only one coat of the AC.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Alan · 08/28/2018
    Thanks for your quick response. I have one final question. As a retired cabinetmaker, my experience with stain has been, apply (oil base stain), let stand and wipe off excess. On a deck that would be quite a chore. Is deck stain excess wiped off, or allowed to stand?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Alan · 08/28/2018
    I have just installed a green redwood deck. The wood had stains and markings so I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper. I now know that was a mistake. How long should I wait before staining do I have to sand with a more coarse grit paper? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. If I wait until spring, will the rainy weather of winter raise the grain sufficiently for the stain to penetrate? I suspect I will choose a semitransparent stain.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      manny · 08/28/2018
      it depends. its its already dry from sitting around at the lumber yard you can paint it right away. my wood was dry already and i painted it like 3 weeks later, i did the water test - if you throw water on it and it doesnt bead but seeps in its ready for painting. Also look at your wood after a rain storm - if it shrinks and expands which mine did means its already super dry because its taking in water. As for grit i like my wood to have lots of texture and such so rough parts and smooth parts make it look purty like! I also dont like to sand pressure treated anything cause it super toxic - and the stain worked super well. Armstrong is bascially the best stain.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Armstrong · 08/28/2018
        Sorry but, no, you cannot stain right away. It has to weather and be prepped. This will remove the mill glaze and open the grain of the wood. It is not about moisture content but the porosity of the wood and new wood cannot be stained right away. Doing it too quickly and not following the directions can result in premature failure or improper curing.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/28/2018
      Wait the 3-6 months before final prep and staining as the article states. The sanding of the marks will be fine as the natural weathering will even it out.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Neil · 08/12/2018
    A few months ago I stained my new cedar deck with your Cedar Stain, it looked fantastic. We have several mature oak & hickory trees in our yard. Now I need to clean the deck, oak trees are very dirty. Last night I tried cleaning it using a garden hose and a push broom, no luck.
    What do you recommend using to clean my newly stained deck?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/13/2018
      Try some dish soap and warm water to see if that helps. Our cleaners would be too aggressive as they are used when prepping for reapplication.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Paul · 07/20/2018
    I installed a new 2nd story Doug Fur deck 60 days ago in Montana. Got your natural stain today. Do I have to sand the deck or is just cleaning enough? Also, should I stain the underside?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/21/2018
      Clean and brighten the wood for the prep is the proper way, not sanding. No need to stain undersides.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    David S · 07/09/2018
    Another question. The deck I'm about to stain is about 2 feet off the ground so no one will ever see the underside. Should the bottoms of my cedar deck boards be stained at all? Is there is a need for that. Also, my joints are pressure treated lumber. Should those be stained? I'm just not sure if staining them (or using another product) will protect them from rot and/or extend their life. Thanks, David
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/10/2018
      No need to stain the undersides or framing.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    David S · 07/09/2018
    Hello - I purchased new western red cedar boards from Home Depot (i.e. there were stored inside) over the weekend. I prepped them yesterday with a couple Woodrich products I had (1st the "wood cleaner & mild stripper" followed by the "wood brightener & neutralizer"). Today they are out in the sun drying and I was planning on staining the boards tonight. (I wanted to stain before I install them so I could get to the sides of the boards easier). Is my plan ok, or should I let the boards sit out / dry out in the climate for a few weeks/months first and then prep them again before staining?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/10/2018
      You will need to let them weather for 3+ months and the prep again.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        David S · 07/10/2018
        Thank you for your reply. Is it just a matter of moisture content? If so, what percentage does it need to be under? I think 20% right? What if the boards are already below that - do I still need to let them weather for 3 months?
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 07/10/2018
          No, it is not a matter of moisture content. The wood needs to season exposed for the 3 months. After the slight oxidation, you will prep to remove the mill glaze. This will allow the stain to soak incorrectly.

          There is not a way to speed this natural process up or avoid the weathering.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            David S · 07/10/2018
            Thank you again for the replies - they are very helpful. Two final questions on this topic. Since I have already prepped once with a cleaner/mild stripper followed by a brightener/neutralizer, what steps should I take in 3 months. Both products again?

            When I'm ready to stain, I will be using the Rustic Brown semi-transparent. In 3 months, I'll be concerned about maintaining a 50+ degree temperature (especially overnight). Since you say 3+ months, is it fine to let the wood weather over the winter and then stain in the spring - that could be 9 months from now. Thank you!
            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              Armstrong · 07/10/2018
              Yes, both products again. Waiting until Spring is okay as well.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Chris · 07/05/2018
    I am putting down new cedar boards. The decay on the old boards was at the joists. So I would like to coat the bottoms of the boards, at least at each joist and board ends.

    Can I cut the boards and leave them in place without attaching them until seasoned?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jimbo · 06/23/2018
    I have figured out how much stain I need based on your calculator, but my deck sits on a slope, 10 ft off the ground at highest and about 5 feet at lowest. I have about 550 square feet of lattice beneath the deck. How much more stain do I need and should I stain both sides of the lattice? The deck and lattice is all new wood - deck is ecolife, kiln dried pine. I live in Charlotte, NC. thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/23/2018
      Only the exposed side of the lattice. About 3 gallons for the lattice. Just one coat.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    PRH · 06/09/2018
    What is used to clean the brushes and sprayer after staining?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Matt · 06/02/2018
    I’m replacing my deck since I just moved in and notice the decking wasn’t protected underneath and that’s where dry rot was found and the reason to replace, can I sand the cedar to speed up the process to stain sooner using AC
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/03/2018
      Hi Matt,

      No, sanding will not speed up the needed weathering for new wood.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Matty · 05/19/2018
    I am staining pressure treated wood. I have many delicate trees and flowers around the deck. Aside from using chemical brighteners can I sue anything else to clean the deck? Will baking soda work? Or or just a good scrub Andy wash. Please tell me how I can do it without using any chemical brightener or 'enviro' brighterner. Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/19/2018
      The Restore A Deck Cleaning Kits are Eco-Safe and would be your best option. Baking soda would be no good.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    shawn · 05/08/2018
    Not sure if this changes anything, but I just had my cedar lumber milled from old telephone poles 50-60 years old, so it’s goid and dry!! Do all the same prep tips apply? It’s rough-cut and went one path through the router. But still not smooth! It’s completely built, but I just had it cut about 3 weeks ago. And different suggestions? Or just follow the basic directions? Thanks
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/08/2018
      If not smooth you should be okay to stain now.
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    Lezlie Brannan · 04/30/2018
    What kind of brush do you recommend for application?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/30/2018
      Try a deck stain pad for best results.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Manny · 04/30/2018
        The pad is the best but dont put it too thickly that it drips off and have a brush there to push it into tight corners. Also put plastic on the ground i totally stained my concrete driveway too.....
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Robin · 04/25/2018
    Can I stir the Armstrong stain with a paint stick to mix it before use or do I need something else?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/25/2018
      Paint stick will work but we like paint drill mixers. Attaches to your drill.