How dry does the doug fir have to be before I can stain it?

Questions & AnswersCategory: Wood Deck QuestionsHow dry does the doug fir have to be before I can stain it?
Anonymous asked 10 years ago

It’s October in Oregon and I am about to have my old patio structure torn down and rebuilt. We chose to use inexpensive fir for the horizontal boards and treated wood for the vertical ones. It will be covered by Suntuff.

I wanted to stain it before starting the project because of how messy and drippy stain can be and didn’t want to work with it overhead. So, the day the contractor brought it over placing it under my old, leaky cover, it rained and soaked some of the wood. The next day I brought all the wood into my garage and have stacked it with pegs between each piece and have been attempting to dry it out using fans and heaters. It’s been cool and raining all week so I couldn’t leave it outside.

I’m eager to get started on staining, but wonder how dry does it have to be? Some boards feel heavier than others as they are wet inside. To the touch, they feel pretty dry, but not through and through. Will it be a mistake to go ahead and stain these boards? Will it lock in the moisture forever and make them rot from the inside out? Or does the stain allow them to breath and dry out eventually? Once they are in the structure, they won’t be directly exposed. Advice?

1 Answers
Crowder Painting answered.

Generally, the drier the better. But you can apply exterior stains to wood with as much as 15% moisture. Allowing the wood to dry for a week should take care of it. The good news is the stain will allow the wood to breath and excessive moisture will be able to evaporate.

Staining the structural wood prior to assembly is a great idea that will allow you to evenly cover all surfaces. As long as the wood isn't physically wet you shouldn't have any problems.