What Happens If You Stain Pressure Treated Wood Too Soon?

So, you’re off to a good start and you’ve gained pressure-treated wood for a home improvement project. You have treated it with chemicals so you know you don’t have to think about insects or other pests damaging it. But what happens if you stain it too soon? How about other dangers like water, heat, and other elements?

The solution is to stain it for an extra layer of protection. For a beginner, you might be confused about how to do this, and it will be worse if you stain the wood too soon.

Today, let’s talk about staining, when to do it, and the myths that surround it. 

To those who haven’t heard of it or are just preparing a deck or furniture project for the first time, let’s define what staining is first. 

Image by Think Wood

Staining is the process of applying wood stains to pressured or untreated wood. Wood stain is a type of paint. It differs from varnish. When you apply varnish, it only gives protection at a surface level, but wood stain seethes deep into the wood. 

Here are things to know before you stain

Few kinds of wood can absorb staining pretty well 

As a general rule, always remember that freshly got wood even when dried accepts staining poorly as compared to aged wood. Maple and Birchwood, even when pressure washed, have properties that make it difficult to absorb wood staining. Oak is an excellent choice because of its porous structure. 

While porous wood is great, some surfaces can also lead to uneven blotches or streaks when you stain. We recommend a good stain conditioner like the Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner for a better stain finish. 

The condition of the environment can affect the process of staining 

Always consider the humidity before you stain. If it’s too humid, the staining process may dry longer than you expect. It’s best to stain your wood on drier days. Extreme hot or cold weather conditions are also detrimental to the staining process. Freezing temperatures are a danger to the curing process as it stops the stain from being fully absorbed. Extreme heat will cause the stain to dry too quickly, thus causing uneven staining. 

Wood Stain Type dictates how long your stain will last 

If you’re staining your deck or any outdoor furniture, then harsh weather conditions will be your enemy. There are many kinds of stains depending on composition. Oil-based wood stains may dry for longer hours, but it has a trait that prevents the wood from cracking and warping. Also, as an oil product, it is highly hydrophobic and is difficult for mold and lichen to grow on.

There are, however, water-based stains that have been developed and are on par with oil-based stains like the ARBORCOAT Exterior Stain from Benjamin Moore. 

There are different wood stains according to pigment density, but if you want something that lasts long while disregarding the wood grain, solid or opaque stains are your best bet. Lesser pigmented stains help keep the original wood color and wood grain, but they have shorter life-spans than opaque types. 

Now that we’ve educated ourselves in the ways of experts, it’s time for the application process.

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When do we apply our wood stain?

Apply the wood stain once the pressure-treated wood is fully dried. 

Some will tell you to wait a month or three after drying before applying the wood stain. Your local home depot might even tell you it is better, but that simply isn’t true. As time goes on, it will also affect the ability of your stain to adhere to the wood. Waiting for more time serves nothing but to waste the treatment that it had when it was pressure washed. We will tell you right now that there’s no benefit to this at all. 

Image by Olympicstains

You can stain your wood immediately after it has fully dried.

What happens if you stain pressure-treated wood too soon instead? 

Let’s move on to the question in the title. Many things can happen to wood that has been stained too soon, and here’s what we can do to remedy them. 

Number 1: The stain will not stick onto the wood.

Staining in a wet condition will cause streaks and blotches. This is what we call a wood glaze. You can test for this by dripping drops of water on it. If the water drops bead on the surface, then it has a wood glaze. Wait a little more for it to dry if this happens. 

Solution: If it is already fully dried but still has a wood glaze, use sandpaper to lightly scratch away affected areas so that it can be more absorbent. 

Number 2: The stain will fail to be absorbed into the wood. 

Solution: It’s not too late. Simply wait for the wood to completely dry. With stains that have lighter pigments, it’s as easy as reapplication. But for opaque or darker stains, it might not end up how you expected it if you apply it again. You can strip away the first layer through sanding or chemical treatment, before applying the stain again. 

If you’re still unsatisfied with the way it ends up, you need to consider whether you need to refinish the wood. 


Staining wood might seem like a straightforward task to do, but in reality, there are a lot of things to consider. From the type of wood and wood stain to be used, and the patience needed when waiting for the wood to dry, it’s a grueling but rewarding task. Usage of proper tools is also important, so take your time to plan and execute your wood stain project. Impatience can lead to your stain being applied too early, and that can cause you more problems than when you’ve waited.