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What should the moisture Meter be reading before you stain a deck?  Right now it is 12.  Thanks

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That will depend on your location. :-) In Tucson, AZ, 12 would be high. In Alaska, 12 would be low. Have you already done the cleaning on the deck, or is it awaiting cleaning still? Power washing will increase that reading. Have you had any significant rains over the last few weeks? That could also shift the reading.

In general, you want to be at or below 15%, but if you're starting out lower before cleaning, you'll likely want to get back to that original percentage, or a bit lower, before staining.

In addition, the type of stain you're using will have some influence on that decision. A heavy, deep-penetrating oil-based stain that is designed to keep any moisture out will also keep moisture in. They aren't breathable, so lower will be better. If the stain is breathable, back to where you started is generally sufficient.

If your deck wood has been in place for a few years, it has likely found it's moisture equilibrium (what I also call it's "happy place"), so if you get  reading before you start doing any work, keeping the moisture content there or lower is a good practice.

--- Charis w/ Sashco - -

Thanks so much.  We are in Western Maine.  Not much rain this spring but Sunday, Monday & Tuesday it rained.  Dry & cloudy Wednesday and part of Thursday, sunny today (Friday).  The deck was already cleaned and sanded when we took the reading.  Deck is about 6 years old.  Might get a shower tonight but we thought later today we would put a part on it so it won't get wet or damp and would stain Saturday AM.  We are using an oil semi-transparent stain (one coat).

Depending on the humidity the last few days, you might wait a bit longer to see if that reading will go down. Most oil-based semi-transparents are breathable, but check to make sure it doesn't include any waxes or silicones. Those are the worst culprits for trapping moisture. Otherwise, I'd think you're good to go to stain tomorrow.

By the way, good on ya for using a moisture meter to begin with! Most people wouldn't do that. :-)

--- Charis

You told me to get one awhile ago!  :-)  No humidity at all - as a matter of fact the last 2 weeks or so have been in the 40s and 50s and warming up this week.  Will the lable say silicone or wax or is there a fancy word they might use?

I tell so many people that. :-) Are overnight temps above 40? You'll want to make sure of that, too. The lower the temp, the slower the moisture is to evaporate and the stain to cure.

No, labels rarely say anything about those specific ingredients, but few companies keep it a secret if you call and ask. Specifically ask if the stain is breathable. Most are happy to tell you that it is, and quick to tell you if it isn't. I wish there were keywords that would tell you, but the words "semi-transparent" and "penetrating" aren't consistent. One might call themselves penetrating while they're really only mildly so. Others will say semi-transparent when they're really transparent. 

--- Charis

Overnight are above 40 but only in the last 2 weeks or so.  I'll check to make sure


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