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
    Sue Powell · 06/16/2022
    Hi, guys.....I installed new cedar decking (floor, stairs, and railings) in fall of 2020 on an existing deck and waited until summer of 2021, then cleaned with Restore A Deck and used your stain exactly per your directions.  Beautiful!  This summer of 2022, tho, I'm not sure how to proceed.  The deck boards are now very dark in color (after our Minnesota winter) even after pressure washing.  I plan to clean and stain again this summer.  Should I use Restore-A-Deck stripper first this time and then brightener, to get all of this dark coloring off?  Could some of this still be glazing that I need to work harder to get removed this time?  Thanks, and BTW I'm telling others about how happy I am with your products and advice!  With gratitude, Sue Powell
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/16/2022
      That looks like dirt on your deck. Use the Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener kit for prep while pressure washing.
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    Doug · 06/15/2022
    Getting a new redwood deck installed, we get snow likely in October.  How long should we wait to stain the deck?  Thanks in advance.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/15/2022
      Hi,

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

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

      Do not sand. Lighter colors will fade faster than richer colors. Natural is the lightest and will last about 18-24 months. Go to semi-transparent colors for a little longer life.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Catherine · 04/17/2022
    Hello! We had a cedar deck built last summer (2021). We stained it right away with water based stain--wrong move on our part! We are redoing the deck this year. We have pressure washed it and sanding the entire deck. Do we need to wait 3 to 4 months for the new sanding wood to be exposed? Or can we clean, use brightener and stain right away? Thank you SO much for your guidance!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/18/2022
      Sand with grit no finer than 80. We would then clean and brighten and apply one coat of the AC
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    Jackie · 04/15/2022
    Thank you-Will the semi solid be enough coverage for all the other imperfections in the wood or do I have to do solid which I know Armstrong doesn’t have
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/15/2022
      Hard to say as you cannot cover the wood 100% with a semi-solid. The grain still shows through somewhat.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Jackie · 04/15/2022
    Old porch with semi transparent stain (10 yrs) one new step (recent repair) another step (5 yrs old) Pros want to use a solid stain. Can I use your semi solid stain and do I have to wait because of the one new step? House & porch over 15yrs old 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/15/2022
      You have to wait for new wood to weather.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Lisa · 04/14/2022
    Hello. we have a cedar deck that was installed in October 2022. If it ever stops raining we plan to apply its first coat of stain, Armstrong semi-transparent cedar. Other than making sure the deck is clean and dry, is there anything we need to do to prepare it? Is it necessary to apply the restore-a deck, or is it ok to just go ahead and apply the stain directly on the 6-month-old deck?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 04/14/2022
      Yes, you need to follow the directions in the above article.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Lisa · 05/10/2022
        Hello. It's finally spring and we see a few days in a row that it will NOT rain. Yesterday afternoon we applied the Restore a Deck cleaner and then the brightener. We think we followed the instructions carefully (scrubbing, rinsing). This morning, about 15 hours after finishing, the wood on some boards looks a little whitish and we wonder if perhaps we did not rinse enough, or if it is simply the wood fibers raised up in some spots. Attached is a photo. If it appears to you that some process was not done properly, what is our solution? If it is raised wood fibers, are we safe to go ahead and stain? Thank you!
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 05/10/2022
          That is fuzzies that can happen from graying/oxidation removal during the cleaning. They typically do not show when stained but if you want, they are easily buffed off with a floor buffer and buffing pad.
          • We will reply to your comment shortly
            Lisa · 05/10/2022
            Thank you. You might be surprised to know I do not have a floor buffer...would a very fine sandpaper applied by hand do the trick? Or should we just go for the staining and see what happens?
            • We will reply to your comment shortly
              Armstrong · 05/10/2022
              You can rent a buffer if you want from Home Depot. The pads look like the attached. Much easier and better for the wood than sandpaper. You can also just stain.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        Lisa · 04/14/2022
        OK, thanks. I do not see detailed instructions for applying the RAD products, but will I be able to do all of the prep WITHOUT a power washer? 
        • We will reply to your comment shortly
          Armstrong · 04/14/2022
          Yes but much easier and more effective to use a pressure washer.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Zane · 03/23/2022
    We just had our cedar trees milled (rough sawn) a week ago. Are we ok to start staining immediately?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 03/24/2022
      If rough sawn you can do it as long as the wood is clean and dry.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Chad M Olmsted · 03/18/2022
    I have a new pressure treated deck that was installed 1 year ago. The deck boards have a whitish grey color from the sun but are otherwise clean. Will the step 1 and brushing remove the mill glaze everywhere or is there some step I am supposed to do before doing step 1 and 2 with the restore a deck products?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 03/19/2022
      Use the Step 1 Cleaner while pressure washing and then the Step 2 Brightener after. You cannot remove the white oxidation by just brushing on the Cleaner
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Beth · 02/08/2022
    I have fire treated western cedar deck boards, purchased a few months ago from WescoCedar and shipped to us here in Prescott, AZ, altitude ~ 5800 feet with a daily freeze-thaw cycle most of the winter.  The fire treated boards will be used as the deck surface for a covered deck.  Do we need to stain all sides of the boards or just the top?  And would all of the stains, including the "hardwoods and softwoods" stains, be suitable?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 02/08/2022
      Just the exposed wood after weathering and prep. Any color that you like will work.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Philip · 02/07/2022
    I have a new deck, 3 months old that gets a lot of sun in Southern California. The deck is made out of brown pressure treated hem fir. After trying semi transparent and semi solid stain samples, I have decided to use the semi solid sequoia stain, my question is how long do I have to wait until I stain. AC website says 12 months for new wood, but this is that brown pressure treated stuff, and I will use the restore a deck cleaner and brightner. Thanks!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 02/07/2022
      You will need to wait 12 months if using the semi-solid colors and then the RAD Cleaner and Brightener.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Erin · 12/17/2021
    i have heat-treated generic stud wood i need to stain, but before it is installed. Can i go ahead and prep+brighten immediately or do I have to let all the wood sit out for several months? It is brand new wood just purchased from Home Depot. Thank you!
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 12/18/2021
      Best to weather, prep, and stain.
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    Gail · 12/08/2021
    Can this stain be applied with a sprayer?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 12/09/2021
      An airless sprayer. Not a pump sprayer. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Erlinda · 11/28/2021
    I recently finished staining my new redwood fence and followed your prep instructions on the new wood. Now I am installing gates using genuine mahogany is the prep and staining the same as it is for the redwood?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Julie · 11/10/2021
    I'd like to seal my new front mahogany doors with the IPE stain. Would I need to wait the 3-4 months as suggested for the door?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    SCOTT · 10/29/2021
    Finished our deck late last Fall 2020 and never stained this spring/summer 2021.  Lots of rain lately.  Should i attempt to clean & prep with the cleaning agents i purchased from you and stain it next week since it’s gonna already be November…or, should i just wait until next Spring 2022?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Heather Davis · 10/29/2021
    We live in Alabama, and built a new pressure treated pine deck in July.  We have had an unusual amount of rain and we’re wondering if  we should wait till spring to stain with semi permanent, or go ahead now. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Philip · 10/19/2021
    Can we stain in fall.  new pressure treated wood 
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 10/20/2021
      You have to follow the directions in the article above to weather and prep before you can stain. If you have then you can stain in the Fall.
  • 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.
      • We will reply to your comment shortly
        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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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. 
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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?
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    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.