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Film Forming vs. Penetrating Deck Stains

Penetrating Decking Stain

Penetrating Decking Stain

A wood deck can be subjected to tough weather conditions. Deck floors are subjected to the excessive friction caused by heavy foot traffic. Because the flooring and tops of the hand rails are horizontal surfaces, they are more exposed to harmful UV rays and moisture than the vertical surfaces of the deck. This constant moisture followed by drying out, along with fluctuating temperatures causes the wood to expand and contract almost daily. This constant swelling and shrinking can result in cracking, splitting, and splintering.

To prevent damage to the wood, it’s necessary to block out the sun’s damaging UV rays and to prevent moisture from penetrating the wood. Applying a quality deck stain to the wood is the best level of protection. Deck stains do require maintenance every couple of years but you’ll get many more years of life out of your deck.

Deck stains are generally listed under one of two categories. Film forming stains like primers, deck paints, and heavily pigmented stains are in one group. These stains protect the wood by leaving a coat or film on top the surface. They are normally time intensive and expensive to maintain due to their nature. Some common problems with film forming deck stains are cracking, flaking, and peeling.

Film Forming Deck Stain

Film Forming Deck Stain

Penetrating deck stains are commonly semi-transparent to semi-solid in opacity. They penetrate into the wood rather than forming a film on top. A penetrating deck stain is not susceptible to the cracking, flaking, and peeling that a film forming stain is.

Oil based penetrating deck sealers do an incredible job of shielding the wood against harsh conditions. These particular types of deck stain will simple fade over time making them much easier and affordable to maintain. They are offered in different colors and tones to suit your needs but still allow the beauty of the wood grain to show through.

No mater your choice of deck stain, it’s more important that you are protecting the wood as it will increase the longevity of your deck.

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10 responses to “Film Forming vs. Penetrating Deck Stains”

  1. Deck questions says:

    Freshly sanded 25-year-old cedar deck in northern Illinois (full sun). Have seen your recommendations for TWP, but nothing regarding Sikkens products. An acquaintnace in Wisconsin has otained beautiful results with Sikkens, which has lasted five years before requiring a redo. Please advise.

    • We have tested Sikkens and have never been fans of it. Over priced, turns black, hard to remove when it fails in a couple of years. That\’s our experience with it.

      • escot says:

        Plus, they don't seem to offer any warranty of any kind. Went to their web site, and see they're the product of the same company that has owned Flood brand of late…. (or at least did…)

    • Acer says:

      I agree with DeckStain Help.

      Very hard to re-coat, because it fails in some places, and remains stubborn in other places*.
      Sikkens creates a slick surface that is very slippery when wet.

      *That 'hard,slick surface' makes it difficult for any new product to stick to it when trying to re-coat. Will cause next product to fail.

    • jjmaass says:

      sikkens did not hold up over our harsh wisconsin winter. very expensive and very disappoining. followed directions to a t when we applied it. dont waste you money

  2. Aaron says:

    How do you feel about Cabot's semi-solid oil-based stains?

    I have found the slightly higher pigmentation makes older (untreated) wood look nicer by unifying the overall appearance. I add a shot of mildewcide into the stain to prevent mildew growth. I have found that it works well in colder climates because it is a penetrating stain.

    • Aaron, you are correct that more pigment will help unify the over all appearance. Cabot has change their formulas some many times in the past 10 years that we just stop using it completely. Too many potential issues with drying, mold, appearance, etc.

  3. mattsffrd says:

    Anybody know what the stain is in that top picture?

  4. Dave says:

    Gorilla glue,color tinted, thinned with turpentine is waterproof, and the bond to wood is exceptional. Not its intended use. Any one ever try it? I have on vertical surfaces, doors in particular where by dog likes to scratch and it does not scratch.

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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.