Get Nrdly Free Trial Built with Nrdly

Staining Pressure Treated Wood

Staining wood can be a PAIN!

The only thing that’s worse is stripping it in 2-3 years!!!


I have a 10 year old retaining wall that’s made from pressure treated wood.

It’s in great shape and I’d like to keep it that way for years to come.

After a little research and some talking with store associates I decided to use Olympic Elite Woodland Oil.

I’m excited to show you the results. Before and after pictures are always FUN 😀

When we had this pressure treated retaining wall installed 10 years ago the contractor said it would last about 7 years.

He obviously underestimated his craftsmanship.

The wall’s still rock solid and I’d love to help it stay that way for several more years.

I chose the Woodland Oil by Olympic for several reasons.

Olympic elite woodland oil

Here they are

  • Retains wood tones
  • Provides mildew and algae resistance
  • UV resistance
  • Urethane fortified to protect wood
  • Doesn’t need to be stripped

Bottom line, it protects and beautifies pressure treated wood.


Plus it was easy to apply. But it’s always nice to get some helpful tips.

That’s what this tutorial is all about.

Here’s your supply list

Yes, the Olympic Elite Woodland Oil is pricey.

BUT, you get what you pay for, right.

This retaining wall was expensive to install. So $119 isn’t too bad compared to replacing it.

I’ll show you all the tips that helped me make this a big success.

Prepping the wood is the MOST important step.

Prepping pressure treated wood before staining, yep this is important!!

I’ll make this easy.

Your wood needs to be

  1. Clean
  2. Have previous coatings removed.
  3. Dry

I used a pressure washer to remove excessive dirt and mildew.

Pressure wash wood

Frankly I should have used the Olympic Deck Cleaner too. But for some reason my brain malfunctioned.

One of my buddies used the Olympic Deck Cleaner on his mildewed deck and he couldn’t thank me enough for the recommendation.

It apparently worked really well.

If you use this deck cleaner test a small section of your wood to make sure it responds okay.

If you’ve previously stained or added a protective coating to your wood you’ll have to remove it.

This ensures the woodland oil can penetrate the wood grains.


Make sure you do this or you’ll be in a world of hurt.

All negative stain reviews involve someone complaining the stain didn’t work, that it’s garbage.


I bet you my kids’ inheritance that they didn’t prep their surface the right way.

Frankly it might take you all day to prep the wood and half the time to stain it.

Wear a respirator while stripping any stains or paints as their particles are harmful.

Once you’re done with the cleaning and stripping confirm your pressure treated wood is dry.

Test the moisture of the wood by pressing a nail into it.

If you see water ooze out then it’s not dry enough.

I waited 5 days after it rained to apply the Woodland Oil. The temperature was in the 70s and 80s.

After the prep is done you can start staining your pressure treated wood.

I’ve got a few good tips to keep the stain from ruining other surfaces though 🙂

Staining pressure treated wood – it’s more cathartic than yoga

There’s nothing worse than having one project create another project.

Case in point: staining something and accidentally dropping said stain onto your sidewalk or driveway!!


I have an easy solution.

Add duck tape to whatever surface you want to protect. Then stick 3 mil plastic to the duck tape.

Protect Cement with plastic

It works beautifully. I did it for the steps in this tutorial and believe me I’m glad I did.

I dripped stain onto the plastic several times!!

You can also use a traditional drop cloth. I did this for the sidewalk.

Once you’re ready to stain do one more thing…

Shake the Woodland Oil vigorously for about 1 minute.

Shake woodland oil

Because I wanted a nice even coat I actually took the 3 gallon bucket back to Lowe’s and had them shake right before my project.

BUT I shook it again before pouring it into the 1 gallon metal pail.

Apply a small test coat and see if you like the color. I did this and decided it looked pretty sweet.

Apply test coat

My general strategy was to apply the Woodland Oil onto the top course of wood then move downward.

That way if there were any drips I could easily manage them.

Work top to bottom

Watch the video to see the complete before & after and the funny look on my face when shaking the Woodland Oil. Thank goodness I can edit out my goofy expressions!!


What’s Next

Many thanks to Lowe’s for their continued support and making me a Lowe’s Creative Ideas blogger.

They provided some dinero for this project but the staining tips, ugly work clothes and funny faces are from me.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.



Staining Pressure Treated Wood

  1. Good info. I have no experience with staining and have a wooden gate that’s in dire need of some TLC. I’m not sure stain will revive it, unless it’s able to straighten warped boards and plug knot-holes that have popped out. I’m going to look into this product when I make the repairs. Do they sell it in smaller sizes?

    I’m curious, what’s that trapezoidal looking hole there in the third course? a drain of some sort?

    1. You can get it in 1 gallon portions John. I wasn’t sure how much I would need and figured I’d get more than necessary. Plus I can use it when the current coating fades.

      Trapezoidal looking hole, haha. It does look like that. That’s actually the pipe for the downspouts. The downspout goes under the porch and spills onto the sidewalk.

  2. Nancy Leszczynski says:

    Jeff, Wait a minute…clean the brush with water? Isn’t it an oil stain? That would be fantastic if I didn’t have to use chemical warfare to get that brush clean! And great video!

    1. I hear ya Nancy. That’s what the directions said to do. It wasn’t perfect but the brush is still in okay shape. I’m not totally convinced at the “water” advice by Olympic. Plus, Purdy brushes are kinda expensive (but worth it!!)

      1. nick says:

        I am using Olympic Elite Woodland oil stain (Mountain Cedar and Kona Brown) on my 12′ X 16′ shed that I am currently building. After reading the directions a few times, each time I noticed that it states, in the cleanup section, that mineral spirits should be used. It mentions nothing about water clean up because water cleanup will not work properly. It’s an oil based stain. Oil and water do not mix. From the stain container…
        “CLEANUP: Clean brushes and tools with mineral spirits. DANGER- rags, steel wool or waste soaked with Elite stain may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded… rages steel wool or waste in a sealed, water-filled metal container.”

  3. Laura says:

    I have a very large pine tool shed in my backyard. I purchased it several years ago and have never done anything to protect the raw wood. Problem is, it rains so much here in southern Maryland, that whenever I have a few days free it’s either raining or about to rain. I had never heard of the nail test….in fact I went to HD and looked for a moisture meter in the paint department but couldn’t find one. The simple nail test and your results have inspired me to get this long overdue project done!! Thanks, Jeff.

    1. Thanks Laura for bringing up the moisture meter. It’s weird that the home stores don’t carry them, right?

      I feel your pain with the rain!! Pittsburgh got a lot of rain earlier this summer and it caused me to delay this project. But eventually it got done.

      This wall took about 4 hours to stain. Which isn’t bad at all.

  4. AL.RAMOS says:

    You did an excellent job it looks awesome. I know about staining because I have to stain my cedar fence at least every five years.

    1. Every 5 years isn’t bad Al. What kind of product do you use?

  5. Kiki says:

    Looks relatively idiot-proof, and our front landing is in dire need of a facelift! Thanks Jeff! 🙂 Hope you guys have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks so much Kiki.

      I’m only slightly “idiot” so this isn’t full-proof, haha.

  6. Irene Foss says:

    Thank you for for sharing this video. I have an outdoor swing that is made of logs and it is so pretty. It is a light grayish color and I like the natural color. I would love to use the Olympic Elite Woodland Oil that you used but will have to check with lowes to see if it comes in a clear color. The best part is that the Olympic takes care of mold.
    8 or ten years ago I put Thomsons water seal wood protectant on the swing set.
    I wonder if water pressure cleaning would be enough to prepare the wood for the Olympic Elite Woodland Oil. You mentioned an
    Olympic deck cleaner. Is that used in the pressure cleaner? Does the wood need to be pressure cleaned with water and then with the Olympic deck cleaner?

    1. Thanks for the questions Irene.

      I was able to only pressure wash my retaining wall because it is 10 years old and has never been stained or sealed. If you have a sealant on it you’ll have to make sure it doesn’t bead when water is placed on it. If it beads the oil won’t penetrate into the wood.

      The best thing to do is call Thompson’s and get their recommendation. They’ll have good advice.

      You can spray the deck cleaner onto the wood using a garden sprayer or other spraying device. Follow the directions but typically you just need to spray it off with a hose. Make sure to get it completely off the wood so that the new stain can absorb into the wood.

      You can also pressure wash the wood after the deck cleaner is used if you need more cleaning power.

  7. Sally says:

    Hey, Jeff, another great tutorial on how to do the job right! I love to find old furniture, give it a new life and sell it for big bucks. Well, I keep some of the pieces, too, of course. My last project was an old mahogany 7 drawer desk that had been painted white. Whoever committed this sacrilege used oil based paint. Grrrr. I finally got it down to clear wood, used … guess what … Olympic Elite Wood oil for a fabulous finish.

    1. Painted mahogany!!!!

      My heart skipped a beat.

      I’d love to see the final product Sally. Send me some pics.

      Sounds like you had a good experience with the wood oil and would recommend it 🙂

    2. Char says:

      Sally and Jeff:
      I have a dresser in the shed that I was working on ‘in my days’ of refinishing furniture.
      Stripped down those many years ago, was instructed to use bleach on it to remove the spotty redish [mahogany?] stain which left a spotty ugly finish. Just let it go and moved on to other pieces back then, but now wondering if you think one of the Olympic stains like the one you used would work and cover all the color variations?
      Thank you both!

  8. Jeff, another great tutorial! I love how you always include a video too! Thanks as always 🙂

    1. Thanks so much. I love making the videos. A lot of work but fun 🙂

  9. Steve Surry says:

    Very helpful video. I am getting ready to stain my deck, last did it five years ago using Olympic Maximum semi transparent stain. It only last for 3 years and the next two years I just let the deck go. Can the Woodland Elite Wood Oil be used on a deck where it gets lots of foot traffic, snow, and leaves? If so, how long will it last before I would need to stain again. If I can’t get five years, I am thinking of staining with Olympic Solid Color Stain, which should last longer. Your thoughts?

  10. Malissa says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I looked through a few of the comments, if I am asking a duplicate question, I apologize. Similar to your project, I have the exact same pressure treated wood that I am going to make a flower box with in the front of the house. I was told to wait 4-6 weeks until it dried before staining. This put my project on hold. More than 2 months later it is still not dry, now that I saw your video, should I make the flower box with the wood as is and stain it after it dries? I was getting mixed answers on whether or not to use the wood before it dries. Any help would be great! Thanks!

    1. Thanks Malissa for your question, I don’t think it could hurt to make the flower box now then wait for the wood to dry. Certainly follow the directions of the stain to make sure it adheres. Please let me know how your project goes, we’d love to see pictures over on the HRT Facebook Group 😀

      Here’s the link to join

  11. Barb Fiddler says:

    We used this stain on a cabin, glider and rocker which are all about 8 years old. Looked great but now we have squirrels chewing on the wood, especially the glider which is pine (cabin is pine also). They have gnawed the ‘he–‘ out of it. They had never bothered it before in the 8 years we’ve had it. Any ideas of what we can do or use to stop them from gnawing?? Really frustrating.

    1. That’s odd Barb. Wonder why all the sudden they like the wood. Wondering if you can trap the squirrels and relocate them? Have a Heart traps are awesome.

  12. What a lot of people are doing now, is using a pump sprayer to apply the stain, then rub in with a brush or towel or something.

    Then just let it dry for a few days before using.

    As for stain type, I cannot recommend and specific brand, but you have the choice between water based and oil based. So maybe research that before choosing.
    Good Luck.

  13. Chris says:

    Great tutorial Jeff. I am wanting to use this Olympic Elite to refinish a rather large dock. I had used a product from Flood 3 years ago that contained emulsified oil. It worked pretty well, and supposedly could be re-coated without removing old coat. Unfortunately it is no longer available. The old stain is just fading, and is not peeling.
    This dock is over a saltwater canal with extensive aquatic inhabitants, so removing the old stain presents a big problem as we cannot use any of the usual agents for removal. The dock is way to large for sanding.
    I plan on buying a gallon and testing after just power washing and cleaning, but do you have any recommendations for this situation?

    Thanks for all your great articles!

  14. bill says:

    oil? latex solid stain is better

  15. Kate says:

    I’m looking at using this same stain for a project and trying to decide on color. I really like how yours turned out…did I miss what color option you chose? Would love to know! Thanks 🙂

    1. Kate says:

      After I read through twice and the comments and couldn’t find color name, I asked… but now I found it in the photo. 🙈 Thanks!

  16. Suzanne MacLaren says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I recently had a section of fence replaced, and the contractor told me he would match this section to the existing fence colour. The replacement section is pressure treated- not sure what the original fence boards were. The final product is extremely unattractive as the two fence colours are no- where close. I have read that a solid stain is the only way to correct this situation. I don’t want to look leave this fence as is- it’s embarrassing!

  17. Julie E says:

    I have a treated wood outside farm house table that I stain a year ago and put spar urathane on top. It is falling off. It does stay in direct sun. What can a I use to refinish it? The man at Sherwin Williams told me you cannot stain treated wood. Help please!

  18. Karl Fine says:

    Very nice article. The tips are clear. Those tips can really help unstain woods.

  19. John Holt says:

    Hi Jeff, I too am an avid fan of Olympic Elite Woodland oil stain. We did our large deck (18 x 18) about 7 years ago with Mountain Cedar. Loved the results. Redid it about 4 years later and it turned out great. We just re-stained it after a thorough power washing and got bad results. Shiny finish on some boards and matte on others, and a milky film over most of it ??? Should we have used deck cleaner first, or some other prep. We love this stain and are depressed at these results. Can you help ? Please ! Thanks, John

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.