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Advantages to Having a Two-Toned Deck

Two-toned decks are popular among many deck owners for multiple reasons. A two-toned deck normally has paint or solid deck stain on the railings and spindles and the deck floor is stained with a transparent or semi-transparent deck stain.

There are several advantages to having a two-toned deck. Being able to match or blend the deck in better with the house without having to give up the natural wood look is one benefit. Most houses have 2-3 different colors including the siding, trim, shutters, gutters, fascia, etc. When a wood deck is all natural with a translucent stain it sticks out more from the house. Some deck owners like the deck to blend with the house a little better so they coat the railings and supports with a solid deck stain color to match. The deck floor can then be stained with a semi-transparent stain so it still has that natural wood appearance.

The color options are almost limitless for the railings and spindles because you are using a solid deck stain or paint. These can be tinted to almost any color imaginable while most transparent stains are normally limited to tones of naturals, browns, and reds.

When deck paint or solid stains are applied properly on vertical surfaces they are extremely durable and can last a long time. On a vertical surface film forming, solid stains can last up to 10 years and may only need to be cleaned occasionally. However, solid stains and paints do not perform well on horizontal surfaces such as decking and are prone to cracking and peeling so only use them on the vertical surfaces.

A properly done two tone deck can really add appeal and value to your property. It may take a little more time and labor initially but as some deck owners know, the end result can be amazing.

For A Solid Stain for the verticals/railings we suggest:

  • Flood Solid Color Stains

For a semi-transparent stain for the flooring/horizontals look at:

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17 responses to “Advantages to Having a Two-Toned Deck”

  1. Terre says:

    I am wanting to do the two tone project on my deck. What oil based product do you recommend for the white on the rails, or do I need to use an oil base? I am assuming the oil base will handle the summer/winter elements in NW Missouri better than a latex base product.

    • For the solid white on the rails you could use either the Flood or Cabot Solid stains. You do not need an oil based stain.

      • Terre says:

        Are they latex based then? Do I prep the rails the same as deck floor for painting with solid stain?

        • Water based or oil based for the solid stain. Prep all wood the same.

          • Frank says:

            I am currently redoing an old pine deck in Baltimore, Maryland that is 800 square feet. I am stripping the deck floor and am trying to find out the best way to do the verticals. The railing has a solid stain on it that needs to be redone. My question is what preparation do I need to do to the verticals need before I stain them or paint them. I would like to strip all of them but it would take too long. Also, does it matter if I use stain or paint?

          • You will have to do another solid stain. Prep by removing dirt and and peeling stain before reapplying another solid.

  2. Dorrie says:

    Color opinion needed! Almost ready to order my stain. I am looking at the AC Oxford brown for the flooring and really don't want to commit to white railing so am thinking about the semi trans cedar. I need to keep the flooring semi solid for UV coverage and there is some newer replaced wood with the much older. Need some idea on the color for the railings to go with Oxford brown. I am just too afraid to commit to the white railings and a little scared to commit to a total Oxford brown deck. It's traditional style and square with a bump out on one end. Opinions!

    • I do not know if that will look good that way. I would do either all Oxford or do a true two toned deck by using a solid for the railings. Vertical will not peel with a solid or will take many many years to do so. They will peel though on horizontals. Do you just the verticals in the solid. ie. railing spindles, posts, etc. Do the horizontals in the Oxford/ ie. Floors, tops of rails, etc

      • Dorrie says:

        I have been trying to find a picture of a total Oxford brown deck and can't find one. I've googled images etc. and just can't find an image of one to get an idea of what it would look like. This is my summer project and I don't want to screw it up! I originally saw a dark brown composite deck that had all the lighting and it was really my inspiration image however my deck is PT so I don't know if it will produce the same effect. Does anyone out there have a picture of a total oxford brown deck?! AC is a little limited on the semi solid colors and the others are too red for me and the mountain cedar looks kind of muddy. Have a lot of nails on the flooring too along with intense sun so the semi-solid is what I need.

  3. Fred says:

    I have an old redwood deck that has not been maintained. We are getting it professionally restained. The contractor is pushing for using a dark colored, acrylic solid stain (SW Woodscapes) on the verticals and light colored semi-transparent on the floor. The verticals are simple rough cut 1x1s – not round smooth spindles. I am leaning towards doing Defy Extreme semi-transparent on the floor and rails. The advantage of solid stain would be better coverage and longer initial wear. The disadvantage is peeling down the road and more difficulty redoing it once it has peeled. Which would be the least future maintenance of the verticals: restaining with semi-transparent every 2-3 years or having to scrape, sand and redo the solid stain every 5?

    • Solid stain will work much better on verticals. It will last 3-4 years with minor touchups. You will not need to scraps and sand to reply the solid. Just clean and reapply.

  4. Mary says:

    I'm a novice when it comes to any sort of home repairs and maintenance. We bought a house 2 years ago and are just getting to the decks now. The decks are very old, gray, split, and weathered. We live in MA and one of the decks is in direct sunlight most of the day. The horizontal are free of obvious stains, but the railings have some remnants of red on them. I'm not sure if semi-solid or solid stain. My plan is to pressure wash and sand to get rid of it all. I have been told by some people that since it was a dark color to begin with, I need to stick with a dark color. I want to use a solid white stain on the railings and a red semi-solid or transparent on the horizontal. Will this work if I get rid of all previous stains?

    • If you remove all the stain then you can go any color and type of stain for the floors. You do not have to remove all for the railings that will be painted white, but you may need a few coats to cover the red. Use Flood solid stains for the rails and Armstrong Clark in Sierra Redwood or Sequoia for the flooring.

      • mary says:

        I don't want to paint the railings as paint chips, I want to stain them. I thought I needed to remove all prior stains before applying new stain so it adheres to the wood. I know Behr makes a solid white stain. Do you not recommend this?

  5. Haley Birkeland says:

    We are doing a two tone deck. It used to have a solid stain so we have done the stain stripper, sanded, and are getting ready to do our brightener on the deck itself. we will be doing an oil based more transparent stain on deck. For railing we want to do a solid stain or paint (different color). It is still in good shape but there is some peeling on railings. How should we prep the railings? I am planning to do a gentle sanding remove obvious peeling stain. Do we need to use the cleaner and brightener as well? Or is in necessary to remove every bit of stain as we did for the deck?

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.