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How Long Should You Wait Before Staining Your New Pressure Treated Fence


You may have been thinking about building a nice fence made from pressure-treated wood. However, the pressure-treated fence has a lot of water and that makes staining a very tricky ordeal. You can either search for a “fencing company near me” and let professionals handle the job or take the challenge yourself. The wait time for staining your new pressure-treated fence can vary drastically due to several factors. Let’s check them out:

The Details

  1. Different types of pressure wood – There are various types of pressure-treated wood available in the market and depending on the type of wood you use in your fence decides the wait time for staining them. Mainly there are two types of pressure-treated wood – Wet Pressure Treated Wood and ADAT(Air-Dried After Treatment) or KDAT(Kiln-Dried After-Treatment).
  1. Wet Pressure Treated Wood – With wet pressure treated wood preservatives and chemicals are blasted into the wood at high pressure with the help of water. This is done to protect the wood from the inside out. After the wood is wet and pressure treated it gets to the store and stays wet. It’s the greenwood you see at lumbar stores. When you touch them they will feel wet.

If you live in a relatively dry or low humidity area, wet pressure treated wood would completely dry within a couple of weeks. After that, it is ready to be stained. However, if you live in a humid region you may have to wait months for the lumber to dry. In worst cases, you may have to wait for half a year before the wood is ready to be stained.

  1. KDAT/ADAT – Kiln dried pressure-treated wood is pressure treated the same way as wet pressure-treated wood. A lot of chemicals blasted into the wood with the help of high-pressure water. However, they are also kiln-dried or air-dried in the factory after they are pressure treated. This doesn’t just get rid of most of the moisture but also helps to preserve the wood in better condition. KDAT wood doesn’t suffer from warping, unlike wet pressure-treated wood.

If the wood is air-dried or kiln-dried after pressure treatment, they will have a stamp or tag that helps you to identify them. They are completely dry, and you can stain them right away. No wait time here.

  1. How to check if pressure-treated wood is ready to stain – As mentioned above if your lumber has the ADAT or KDAT tag, you can stain it right after constructing your fence. They are completely dry and unless you have kept them in an extremely humid environment, they can be stained with ease.

On the other hand, if you have wet pressure-treated wood, depending on the local climate you have to wait weeks or months for it to dry. After the designated period, you can check the dryness of the wood by sprinkling it with water. If the water forms tiny beads the wood is yet to dry. However, if the water is readily soaked into the wood, it is completely dry. Depending on the size of the lumbar, the drying times would vary. For instance, while a smaller wood dries quickly, a big piece of lumbar like a 4×4 would take longer.

However, sometimes, a water-based stain isn’t a good choice for staining pressure-treated wood. If the lumber is treated with water repellent chemicals, water-based pigments wouldn’t bond effectively with the wood surface. Instead, you’ll need to stain it with an oil-based stain.

  1. Staining too early – If you try to stain the lumbar before it dries, the stain won’t take to the wood surface. The paint and your effort would be wasted. You’ll have to stain it again. Stain needs to penetrate the wood surface to have a long-lasting effect. If the wood is still filled with moisture, the stain won’t penetrate the surface.

A good stain isn’t cheap by any means. So, you should use it carefully. You can test the stain on a small part of the wood. If it penetrates and stains the wood effectively, you can continue.

  1. Stain protection – Stain isn’t wood sealer. Most people have this misconception and confuse both those compounds. Stain is simply color. It is used to make your wood fence look pretty. Apart from aesthetics, it has no other purpose. On the other hand, sealers and topcoat finishes are used to protect the wood. They protect wood against the elements of nature, mold, and mildew, and even UV damage.

However, most new products that have come out in recent years work both as a stain and sealer. Hence the steep price. If you want a cheaper stain, you can buy it. However, it won’t provide any protection. On the other hand, sealants are quite expensive. That’s why it’s best to get the combo.

  1. Staining preparation – You already know how to seal wood furniture. Sand the surface, cover it with a single thin coat, let it dry, and repeat a couple of times. However, stain prepping for pressure-treated wood is a bit different. Stain takes a lot of time to absorb into the wood. However, it dries quickly.

That’s why you can’t stain the fence directly under the sun. if the fence is close to a landscape feature or your property, you’ll need to protect those areas with a trap or painter’s tape. Before you start staining, you’ll need to dry brush the fence thoroughly to get rid of any dust and debris. Otherwise, the stain won’t adhere to the wood properly. You’ll also need to note down the cracks and nooks and other hard-to-reach problematic areas. Use a small paintbrush to reach those areas.


Now that you know all about pressure-treated fences and their types, you should be able to figure out how long you should wait before staining them. However, if the process seems a bit too complicated, you can search for “fencing company near me” and let a pro handle the task.

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