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Deck Out Your Pergola: Tips for Staining Wooden Structures

Deck Out Your Pergola: Tips for Staining Wooden Structures

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You want to build a perfect garden pergola, but you don’t know: Can you use decking stain on a pergola?

A pergola is a kind of woody deck, after all; so, yes, you can use a decking stain on it. Not only will decking stain give it a vivid color, but it’ll also protect it from being worn out quickly by climate factors.

These include moisture and temperature changes. In addition, the coloring will conserve the pergola from the damaging effect of UV rays and preserve the color of its materials.

When to Stain a Pergola

The time you can start staining your pergola after installing it depends mainly on the material it’s made of.

Pressure-Treated Wood Pergola

If you have a pressure-treated wood pergola, you’ll need to wait until it dries completely before starting to stain it.

This can take any time from two to six months after assembling the pergola. The actual period depends on the weather.

Monitor the wood over time to determine whether or not the pergola is ready for staining. Right after assembly, it’ll appear in green.

After around two months, it’ll turn brown. Once it becomes golden brown, it’s now ready to be stained.

Red Cedar Pergola

If your pergola is made of red cedar, you don’t have to wait for a while to stain it. You can paint it right after assembling it.

It’s recommended to re-stain the pergola each two to three years—according to the impact of the weather on its color.

How Much Stain Do I Need for Your Pergola?

The quantity of stain you need for your pergola depends totally on its size. If your pergola is small, 175 square ft or less, you’ll only need one gallon of stain.

If your trellis is between 175 and 550 square ft, you’ll need to use two gallons. For larger sizes, from 550 to 700 square ft, you’ll need three to four gallons to stain it completely.

Do I Need to Stain a Cedar Pergola?

Cedar is a type of softwood. So, you need to finish it to become more durable, increase its decay resistance and protect it from turning to pale gray.

In addition, although cedar has an exquisite look compared to other woods, staining gives it a more appealing look.

You can stain it using any of these alternatives:

  • Clear
  • Natural
  • Opaque
  • Semi-opaque
  • Semi-transparent

How Much Does Staining a Pergola Cost?

Multiple factors contribute to the final cost of staining a pergola. These factors are:

Measurements of the Trellis

The bigger the size of a pergola, the more coloring it needs. Additionally, the larger size requires more work. All this ends up costing more bucks.

Condition of the Deck

The worse the condition of a trellis, the more preparation work it needs. Thus, more costs will incur.

Complexity of the Construction

If you have a simple pergola with 2-inch spaces between the boards, it’ll take a reasonable amount of time to stain. It’ll also consume a relatively decent quantity of material.

On the other hand, if you have a complex construction with a complicated formation. The coloring process will be time-consuming and results in much material waste. That’s why it costs more.

Staining by Yourself vs. Hiring Someone

If you hire someone to stain your pergola, you’ll pay him per square foot. So, you may end up paying a considerable amount of bucks.

However, some people do this work themselves and save their dollars.

Based on all the above factors, the total cost of staining a pergola usually ranges from $300 to $600 for a 12×12 pergola. It gets higher as the size gets larger.

Final Thoughts

Can you use decking stain on a pergola? Yes, you definitely can. The decking stain will provide it with a significant protection layer as well as a more appealing look.

In addition, the time you should wait before coloring a trellis varies depending on its construction material.

For a pressure-treated wood pergola, you should wait between two and six months after set up, while for a cedar one, you can start coloring once you install it.

Further, the cost of staining a trellis can go up or down based on a few factors. For example, the size of the pergola, its condition, complexity, and if you’ll hire someone or do it yourself.


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