How to Choose the Right Deck Stain to Revamp Any Outdoor Space

Extreme weather conditions like the harsh sun, pounding rain, snow, and hail can affect the quality of a wooden deck. It can batter down the finish of one’s wooden deck and leave it faded and dull. Fortunately, an efficient and practical solution to retain the quality is to use a good quality deck stain that will not only help with its upkeep but act as an extra measure of protection against the weather.

Deck Painting Vs. Deck Staining

There is a fine line between deck stain and deck paint which can often lead to confusion. The two products are comparable in terms of chemical composition since they use many of the same ingredients, however, they differ in terms of durability, appearance, cost, and application. A stain offers a more natural look since it is usually transparent to semi-solid in opacity and so forms a thin film over the wood retaining its original texture. It is also comparatively more affordable and easier to apply.

What to consider when choosing a deck stain

When it comes to choosing a deck stain, the process requires multiple factors to be considered. Besides, picking the right color to stain the deck, it is important to keep in mind whether the deck has been previously stained or painted. Depending on the age and type of the deck one can choose a stain that will not only revitalize the look but also provide long-lasting protection.

  • Base

Deck stains can be oil-based as well as acrylic-based. Oil-based stains are great at preventing mold growth because they naturally repel water. They penetrate the wooden grain and condition it to prevent cracking. Acrylic-based stains are water-based stains. They dry extremely quickly when compared to oil-based stains but are also more expensive. They do not penetrate the grain and instead form a coating on top of the wood.

The choice will depend on the quality and material of the wooden deck as well as the weather conditions. If the wooden deck is made of oilier materials like cedar or redwood, an oil-based stain is recommended. If the wooden deck is constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions, an acrylic deck is a better alternative since it is more durable.

  • Opacity

The opacity of the stain determines the finished look of the wooden deck. Deck stain is available in multiple degrees of transparency- the clearest being a toner or transparent coat, and the opaquest being the solid-deck stain that completely conceals the wooden grain.

For newer wood, usually a transparent or a semi-transparent stain is recommended to keep the grain intact. Semi-transparent stains help hide wear and tear and are better for older decks. Solid wood stains are ideal for those decks that have multiple cracks and imperfections and need a new look.

  • Wood Type

In today’s market, there are wooden decks made from multiple different materials. The wood type of the deck is an essential factor to consider when choosing a stain. Redwood naturally repels insects and prevents moisture damage and decay. So, to retain its original texture a toner stain is ideal. Cedar on the other hand, despite being naturally resistant may need a semi-solid or solid stain as its color wears off with age.

How to stain the deck

Choosing the right deck stain is an essential step. Once that has been completed, one can begin to stain the deck. One must get rid of all mildew, dust, and debris. Any splintered areas can be sanded using 80-grit paper using a belt or pole sander. The deck must be washed with a deck cleaner, scrubbed clean, and dried for up to two days before application. Before application, one can use painter’s tape to protect areas from the stain. It is essential to test the stain on a patch of the deck to ensure that the color and appearance are satisfactory. Finally, one can begin painting the deck. One should start by staining the deck’s highest wood features like posts and railings and then move downwards using long- even strokes. The stain usually takes 24 hours to dry.


The entire process from choosing the stain to its application can be tedious for the first time. However, the process becomes much more seamless with every cycle.

Wood is an excellent material to build a deck, but its appearance can deteriorate due to constant wear and tear. Weather conditions like heavy rain can saturate the wood and lead to swelling and rotting and the UV Rays of the sun can fade the wood’s finish. A quality deck stain will maintain its overall condition by sealing the deck with a highly durable film-like layer. It will keep the coverage and color of the deck intact and ensure that it is constantly protected from external damage.