What are the types of deck stain?

Whether you like hosting backyard parties, relaxing outside, or just having a place for your kids to play, a backyard deck adds both function and beauty to your home. 

Real wood makes durable, affordable, and great-looking decks. However, wood decks must receive proper care.

Specifically, a wood deck must be regularly stained to protect it from the elements. Ultraviolet light from the sun damages wood over time, causing it to fade or even warp. Moisture from rain and humidity causes wood to expand and contract, warping it over time. Without regular reapplication of a protective stain, your wood deck could be in danger from both the sun and moisture.

Check out the following options as you consider how best to protect your wood deck. We have plenty of experience restoring old wooden decks, so if needed, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Transparency and Color


Clear Stain

This is the ideal choice for newer decks, as it emphasizes the natural color of the wood. Clear stain doesn’t significantly alter the color of the wood. It does, however, provide great protection against water. Over time your wood deck will still begin to fade, and you’ll want to consider one of the other options below to restore it to a fresher color. One final factor to consider: many clear stains don’t permeate the wood. If you use one of these types of clear stains, then you need to plan to reapply the stain more frequently than other options.

Transparent Stain

This type of stain operates very similarly to clear stain. The key difference is that transparent stains have some color pigments added in. This allows the stain to hide smaller imperfections in the wood. Even with the added color, the natural color and texture of the wood will still be emphasized.

Semi-transparent Stain

Semi-transparent stains add significantly more color, while still revealing some texture from the wood. For decks that have aged or have experienced fading, semi-transparent is a great choice. It will hide some imperfections while restoring some of the original beauty to your deck. Over time, however, the color will begin to fade, and you will need to reapply stain.

Solid Stain

Solid stains cover the most imperfections and offer the most protection. The trade-off is that little wood grain or texture will shine through. Solid stains look closer to paint than the other types of stains. In some cases, the stain sits on top of the wood rather than permeating it, and can be chipped like paint. However, in the case of older wood decks, a solid stain can be a great choice. It covers severe fading and gives you a deck that looks brand new.

If your deck has begun to splinter, consider a solid stain. These stains offer a thick coating to go over the top and coat splinters. Some companies even create a restoration stain that fills in cracks and coats splinters on damaged decks.

Water-based or Oil-based?

Stains come in a few different formulations. Keep reading to see the pros and cons of each.

Water-based stains

Water-based stains provide great protection and easier application. Water-based stains can be cleaned up with just soap and water, making application significantly easier than oil-based stains. Additionally, these stains have a wider range of color options available. The downside to water-based stains is that they do not wear as well as oil-based stains and can be more expensive. Since they don’t permeate the wood like oil-based stains, they don’t emphasize the natural beauty of the wood as well.

Oil-based stains

Oil-based stains make a great choice for those wishing to have a more natural-looking deck. They wear better and make a better choice for decks that will receive frequent traffic. However, application and clean-up are significantly more difficult, as chemical solvents are required for clean-up. One more pro: oil-based stands are generally less expensive than water-based.

Hybrid stains

Companies offer stands that blend water- and oil-based stains. This allows the stain to combine the strengths of each: the easy application of a water-based stain with the natural wood appearance of an oil-based stain.

Getting a great looking deck


Remember: the best thing you can do for your deck is regularly restain it using one of the above options! Even though it may seem like a lot of work, your deck’s stain is its best defense against the elements. If you want to ensure you can use your deck for years to come, then regularly apply a great stain.

Our team of painting professionals has years of experience in getting the best painting products on your home. If you’re weighing whether or not to complete the task yourself, we would love to provide you with a free, zero-obligation estimate. 

Let our professionals give you the best-looking deck in your neighborhood so you can relax in your yard for years to come.

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