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I have just finished building a deck from pressure treated lumber. We've put the deck to use immediately and having all our meals on it. I'm worried about greasy food morsels staining the deck.

My plan is to let the wood dry/age for 2-3 years before staining it. I've read that it is recommended to wait a bit for the wood to dry and change color before staining. I've also seen that there are detergents that can remove oil stains before the actual staining. But, is there anything I can do in the meantime to protect the wood from food stains? If I seal with a water/oil repellent seal, won't that prevent the actual stain from penetrating the wood properly?

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We recently got a new deck in our backyard and the builder said to stain the deck a month after it's completed not 2-3 years. –  shady Dec 1 '10 at 14:22

2 Answers 2

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I disagree with @Mike - I don't think sealing it will have much effect on the stain. Two reasons:

  1. Deck stains are typically (I'm tempted to say always) pigment stains rather than dye stains. Those deposit pigment on the surface of the wood and penetration is minimal. A sealant shouldn't interfere with that.
  2. A sealant will typically be a penetrating sealant not a film sealant, so it shouldn't interfere at all with the adherence of the later stain.

That said, I'm not sure you'll see much benefit from the sealant. Penetrating sealants will certainly give you a bit more time to clean up a spill but they won't prevent a stain: that's why tabletops are usually finished with a film finish, and if they're not, you use coasters and place mats. You wouldn't want to use a film finish to a deck because it will certainly peel in short order as the wood expands and contracts under rain and sunshine.

I wouldn't bother. If food gets spilled and you're worried, scrub right away with soap and water. I'll wager you won't notice any minor food marks after the stain has been applied.

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I would be concerned that sealing the deck now might create a major problem when it comes time to stain it -- I'm thinking big blotches of different shades caused by differing amounts of stain absorption as a result of the sealing. Whereas greasy food morsels will at worst be a minor problem that will likely be completely solved by the good cleaning you're going to give the deck before staining anyway.

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