Posts Tagged ‘Clear deck finishes’

We have been getting great feedback here at www.deckstainhelp.com from all of the consumers who have been looking for better stain alternatives for their deck restoration. Our most popular article, “What is the Best Deck Stain” has quickly become the number one article on the web for asking questions and getting answers on restoring your exterior wood and deck.

In this article we are going to cover what actually is a “Deck Stain”. We will compare the many different types of decking stain options available and what are the positives and negatives of each.

Deck Stains

Deck stains are used to protect and preserve your exterior wood. They offer UV protection, water repellency, mold and mildew resistance, etc. Deck coatings come in many different types of opacity and bases. Many deck stain brands can be restricted in certain states, cities and counties due the VOC laws.

Deck staining can be a “chore” for residential homeowners and unfortunately walking into you local store may produce some of the worst options available. Not all deck stains are created equal and there is not a perfect stain type or brand that will out perform all the others.

Water-Based Deck Stains

Water based deck stain have come on rapidly in the last 4 years. The main reason for the vast amount of water based stains on the market today is related to changes in VOC laws across the country. Many states have adopted or soon will adopt lower VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) regulations. This has prompted stain manufacturers to increase production of water soluble decking stains. In our opinion, water-based deck stain are “thin” paints with varying amount of acrylic and pigment.

Pros: Water cleanup, less chance of mold or mildew growth. Environmentally friendly.

Cons: Do not penetrate like an oil-base can. Slightly harder to apply as they dry quicker. Can be prone to peeling and wearing. *Defy Stains are the only exception that we have tested. They penetrate the best of all water based stains, nearly as well as an oil.

Oil based Deck Stains

Oil based decking stains have been around for 20-30 years and have been traditionally what all stain manufacturers produce. Oil based stains are typically made up of natural and synthetic oils. Many contain oils such as: Linseed Oil, Paraffin Oil, Tung Oil, Rosewood Oil, Etc.

Pros: Excellent penetration into wood. An oil molecule is smaller in size then a water molecule. Better a deck stain can penetrate, the better the performance. Easier to apply. More natural looking

Cons: Stronger odors, longer drying and curing time. Some oils can promote the growth of mildew. Some oil-based stains will darken in color over time.

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Deck Stain Color Ideas for Exterior Wood

Choosing a deck stain color can be a bit confusing with so many different choices on the market today. There is a wide range of colors, tones, and opacity choices to take into consideration. Also taking into account the type of wood you are staining can really leave you more confused than anything. Educating yourself on the different choices of deck stain color ideas will assist you in making the right choice.

Deck Stain Tones

A deck stain tone is basically the primary shade of color that the wood will appear. While the term color, in speaking about deck stains, is mostly associated with solid deck stains, the term tone is more associated with semi-transparent or semi-solid stains. These types of stains do not completely hide the wood grain but rather enhance the appearance of it with a tone. The most common deck stain toners are natural, cedar, redwood, and darker browns.

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Is It Okay To Let The Wood Gray Naturally

Most homeowners know that untreated wood left to the elements will gray over time. This graying is due to the sun’s UV rays. When the wood is not treated with the proper wood stain, it turns a rustic looking gray.

Another enemy of exterior wood is moisture. This can cause the wood to warp, crack, splinter and eventually rot. To protect wood from water damage, a stain or sealer can be applied. When a stain with added color or toner is used it will not only protect the wood from water damage but also from sun graying. The added pigment of the toner helps block out the UV rays. When a sealer (clear stain) is used it will only provide water protection and no sun protection.

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Clear Deck Sealers and Stains for Exterior Wood

It is no secret that protecting a wood deck with a water repellant sealer is vital to its integrity and lifespan. Clear deck sealers leave the wood looking natural which may appeal to the deck owner. Without a doubt, a natural looking wood deck is a thing of beauty.

Deck sealers do give adequate water protection by locking out moisture. This is important to the wood’s lifespan. When water is absorbed into the wood it swells and when it dries up it shrinks. This continuous swelling and shrinking eventually begins to crack, split, and warp the wood. A clear wood sealer will stop this water damage from happening.

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Deck Stains vs. Deck Sealers vs. Deck Paints

It is a common concern of deck owners whether to use a deck stain, deck sealer, or deck paint. There really is not an exact definition for any deck stain, sealer, or paint and many professionals use the terms loosely when speaking about deck coatings in general. But some clarification can definitely help. We will describe which each one is most commonly described as.

Deck Sealers

A sealer usually does not alter the appearance of the surface. It is applied to protect the surface from such things like foot traffic, water damage, mold, and mildew. Therefore, deck sealers are most commonly any clear, transparent, or translucent coating that protects the wood without altering the appearance.

Deck sealers are popular for those wanting the most natural wood look you can get while still providing water protection. Most deck sealers have excellent water repellency properties but lack in shielding against harmful UV rays causing the wood to turn gray over time.

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Should you use a Deck Stain or Clear Deck Sealer?

To enhance the appearance of a wood deck and protect it from the elements the wood need to be treated with a deck stain or sealer. Both deck stains and deck sealers protect against moisture and water damage but there are some differences between the two.

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