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Question DetailsAsked on 9/10/2016

What is the best wood stain for my front steps?

Front steps are treated lumber with OLD stain on them (worn off in places). Need to re-stain and want to know the best product for long life (UV protection and water repellent)?

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Unless you remove the old stain, nothing will work well and you will get a splotchy result. Since you said the timber is treated, I would remove the existing surficial stain with sander or paint remover discs (like 3M Sandblaster Clean and Strip discs) or chemical stripper, then retreat the wood with Cupreanol or CopperCoat or Copper-Green or similar treatment touchup finish - the same type of copper-containing napthelate or napthenate or azeole or similar chemical used to treat the wood in the first place. Available in a fairly bright green, dark brown, and the orangish color of Wolmanized outdoor landscaping wood, in quart and larger containers - and within the same brand you can mix if you want to blend to different color shades. Oil-based soluble liquid tinters (NOT tinting powders for paints) can also be used to change the color, but hard to get consistent results if you do more than one batch.

After you have done one or two good penetrating coats (letting first one dry thoroughly before doing second or can stay sticky for years), then after it has thoroughly dried (commonly takes a month or so of summer weathering, or over-winter) if you really want to seal it (though if properly treated does not require that and does get slippery when sealed), you can use a penetrating oil-based (paint thinner / mineral spirits cleanup) sealer like Olympic Wood Protector.

For color and sealing in one (though this does NOT renew the wood chemical treatment itself) Olympic Maximum Wood Sealant and Toner works fairly well.

I do NOT recommend using a toning (colored) sealer if you used a copper treatment compound to retreat it - they work OK on aged treated wood but not on freshly treated wood - give a splotchy and uneven coverage. If going to use a toner sealer, go with that only or wait a year or two after retreating with the copper compound before toner sealing.

Rough numbers (no one really knows because the lower-grade current treatments havenot bee around long enough) - a color toned sealer/stain may last about 3-10 years at the extremes depending on climate (prolonged wet conditions and wet snow sitting on it are the worst for it); the copper retreatment (2 coat) typically 20+ years and can be much more - my CCA treated decks (better treatment than current products) are now needing retreatment of the deck boards (but not the framing) after about 30 years of fairly severe (true winters and both hot/dry and wet rainy season spring/summers) conditions.

Generally, coating products (one that put a heavy coating on the deck wood) last the shortest time, and can also cause decahy of the underlying wood because water WILL get in through scratches and cracks in the finish and through board ends, but cannot evaporate back out theough the small entry areas - so the wood rots within the finish. I have seen fully-painted boards, with veary hjigh quality deck paints, totally rotted away within the paint sheath because they were perenially wet inside. Your best bet is a penetrating stain which fills the pores in the wood but does not put a cover over it.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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