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Why Deck Stain Cannot be Shiny

Peeling Deck Varnish

Peeling Deck Varnish

Unlike some wood stain finishes on hardwood floors that have a reflective or shiny finish, most exterior deck stains are not meant to be shiny. A deck stain works best when it is applied to a clean wood surface. This allows the deck stain to penetrate deep into the wood pores to ensure a solid wall of protection against sun and water damage. The amount of deck stain that is applied depends on different factors like wood age, condition, and porosity. Not all wood surfaces will absorb the same amount of deck stain when they are being refinished.

It is important to follow the manufacturers recommendations for applying a deck stain. Some deck stains will be sufficient with one coat while others may be applied in several coats for maximum protection. A deck stain that has cured or dried to a shiny finish most likely indicates an over application problem. When deck stain is applied correctly it penetrates the wood giving it a natural finish. Most deck stains can enhance the natural beauty of the wood even without a shiny finish.

When deck stain is over applied, the excess stain that was not absorbed by the wood remains atop the surface and dries to a crusty shiny finish. This problem results in peeling, flaking, cracking and an overall decrease in appearance. You might think more is better when it comes to applying deck stain but that is not the case. A shiny finish can lead to premature failure of the deck stain product.

To avoid over applying deck stain so it does not turn out shiny and end up failing prematurely work in small areas at a time. It is best to coat one whole board from end to end and wait several minutes for the deck stain to penetrate the wood. Try not to apply stain on a hot day or in direct sunlight as this can alter the absorption rate and dry time. Once the stain has had time to absorb, wipe away or back brush any excess stain puddles or runs before coating the next board. Applying only as much deck stain as the wood can absorb will result in a better finish ensuring the deck stain is not shiny when it cures. This will give you a longer lasting fishish.

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2 responses to “Why Deck Stain Cannot be Shiny”

  1. Dan says:

    My deck needs to be re-stained. I'm planning on using the same color, so am not really concerned with stripping the old finish. However, I have one small section that has a very slight shine to the old finish. I'm afraid that this would be an area where the new stain would not fully penetrate. It's a very slight shine, so what would the best way to eliminate that shine before re-staining. Can I do a light application of stripper only one that area?

    • Spot stripping will not work. What stain are you using. Best to follow the advice that the stain brand suggest for reapplying.

      By same color I assume you mean same brand as well? If switching brands you will need to strip, unless you are applying a solid color stain.

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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.