What Deck Stain Should You Use?

Good question. There are several types of deck stains available, and each offers different benefits.

But before you stain a deck, you have to clean and finish the surface properly to ensure the stain will adhere properly.

Here's a quick run-down on some of the best deck stains and their differences.

Clear Finishes

Clear wood sealer product

These products go on clear and add minimally to no coloration to the wood. 

They typically contain only a water repellent and sometimes preservatives. They don't usually last as long as an alkyd stain that penetrates the wood.

However, some clear finishes are also penetrating as they contain oils and are absorbed into the wood, providing a longer-lasting finish.

Semi-Transparent (alkyd oil)

Semi transparent oil based product

These actually penetrate the wood. 

They are more opaque in colour, and the grain is still visible. They soak into the wood, so never peel off.

They eventually just fade, and then it's time to re-apply.

They tend to be among the most durable options available to you.

Solid Stain or Paint

Solid paint like stain

Solid stains or paints sit on top of the deck surface and have pigment for colour. 

But these do not withstand the wear and tear place on horizontal surfaces very well, so they are not recommended for decks unless you are prepared to re-apply them annually.

They tend to crack and peel and are best suited for siding or fences rather than deck finishes. These are all products from Sherwin-Williams, but similar products are available from a variety of manufacturers.

Picking Color Is Matter Of Taste

Now that you understand what makes up a deck stain and decide on the right type, it's time to choose the colour.

Choosing the right colour is a very personal matter. Just a couple of broad concepts on this before your rush off and buy the cheapest thing you can find.

Contrast or Compliment

This is when the stain colour is starkly different from the colouring of your home. Contrasting or complimenting colours is a beautiful thing if done correctly. It can draw attention to the opposing elements. But that can be a bad thing if you are exposing poorly built craftsmanship.


What the heck does this mean? It's colours that are close to each other. Sometimes, it is soft and appealing. But it can also be boring if done to an extreme.

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