What Deck Stain Should You Use?

Good question. There are several types of deck stains available and each offer 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 minimal 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.

Some clear finishes however 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 into the wood.

They are more opaque in color 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 color.

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 then 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

So now that you understand what makes up a deck stain, and you have decided on the right type it's time to choose color.

Choosing the right color 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 color is starkly different the the coloring of your home. Contrasting or complimenting colors is a wonderful thing if done properly. 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 colors that are close to each other. Sometimes is soft and appealing. But it can also be boring if done to an extreme.

That is pretty much it for deck stain!

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