The lifetime of a deck stain is determined by several different factors. Weather, climate, sun exposure, and foot traffic are some of the main factors that will determine the longevity of a deck stain. Out of these main key factors, sun exposure is probably one of the most damaging elements to a stain’s integrity. Harmful UV rays can break down the protecting elements of a wood stain in a season or two.
Most deck stains provide water protection but not all of them will provide UV protection. When exterior wood is exposed to the sun it becomes discolored and faded. The top layer of wood fibers turn gray as they are damaged by harmful UV radiation. One key element in the fight against sun damage can be the amount of pigment found in the stain. Color pigments will act like a sunscreen and provide a certain amount of sun protection.
Darker Color Stains Will Last Longer – The more pigment in the stain formula, the more it will protect against sun damage. For example, a completely clear wood stain will provide no UV protection at all. A heavily pigmented stain will provide a lot of UV protection. More pigment can be found in darker color stains, therefore they will last longer. A very light transparent natural color stain will fade and wear off much faster than a darker color stain.
At the same time, very heavy pigmented stains can be harder to maintain. Some stains, like very heavy pigmented solid stains that are almost like paint can have other issues like peeling and cracking. The trick is to find a penetrating decking stain that gives you the appearance you want, is user-friendly, easy to apply, and will provide an adequate amount of UV protection. Penetrating fully into the wood grain means you have little to no peeling or wearing.
Just remember that darker color stains will last longer than lighter color stains for transparents, semi-transparents, and semi-solids.
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