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Deck Stain Help Articles
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

Exterior Wood and Deck Restoration Help Articles

Deck Staining Advice and Tips Deck Cleaning Advice and Tips Deck Brighting Advice and Tips Deck Stain Stripping Advice and Tips

Category: Deck Staining

armstrong clark deck stain
The Best Deck Stains

Armstrong Clark in Rustic Brown

Note: This is an updated version of our most popular article What is the Best Deck Stain?

We have had over 11,000 Q&A questions for the first article, helping consumers find the best wood and deck stain for their deck and specific environment.

The point of this article and DeckStainHelp.com is to offer guidance in choosing a quality deck stain that works well and will not create larger issues down the road when time to reapply. We have updated our original article by including answers to some of our most popular questions that we receive.

Here are some of our most popular answers to remember, before proceeding with any questions below:

  1. No deck stain will last 5+ years. A good quality stain will last 2 or maybe 3 years on a deck floor (horizontal) and typically twice as long on railings, siding, etc. (verticals).
  2. Penetrating stains will have less chance of peeling as they soak into the wood grain and do not film on top of the wood grain when fully cured.
  3. Penetrating deck stains are easier to maintain by cleaning and reapplying after 2-3 years.
  4. Filming Deck Stains that dry on top of the wood are harder to remove and/or reapply as they are more prone to peeling, wear, flaking, etc.
  5. Not all Deck Stains are penetrating. Even when they claim otherwise.
  6. Semi-transparent, Transparent, and Semi-Solids will show the grain of the wood to some extent. Solid stains, Deck Resurface Coatings, and Paints will not.
  7. Clear sealers without any pigment/color will not prevent UV graying. Lighter Pigmented stains that are Transparent, Semi-Transparent, or Semi-solid will have less UV protection than Darker Pigmented stains in the same transparency. More color/tint = better UV protection.
  8. Deck Stains are either Oil Based or Water Based. Filming or penetrating. Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, Solid (opaque) Stains or a Deck Resurface Coating. See here for more info on Deck Stain Types.
  9. Oil based stains can still be used in all States and Canada as long as they are compliant to local VOC regulations.
  10. When switching brands of deck stain it is always best to remove the old coating first. Do this by using a Deck Stain Stripper and/or sanding.
  11. Always apply a Wood Brightener after prepping with a Stain Stripper or Wood Deck Cleaner to neutralize the caustic.
  12. New Decks (less than a year) are treated differently than older decks (more than 1 year). New decks need to be prepped and usually cannot be stained right away. See this about Staining New Decks.
  13. Prep, Prep, Prep = increased longevity of a stain.

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What is Best Deck StainsNote: This is the first version of our most popular article on DeckStainHelp.com. We help by guiding consumers in finding a high quality and low maintenance deck stain based on a series of questions. This article alone had had over 11,000 Q&A questions to date. We have updated this article by including some answers to our most popular questions.

Please visit our updated article here: The Best Deck Stains?


What is the Best Deck Stain?

This is the most popular question that deck owners have. Unfortunately, there is not a “best” deck stain out there. There are products that are better than others, but there is not one that will outperform every other stain.

A better way to approach this common question is to ask, “what is the best stain for my deck and it’s environment”? Just because a deck stain performs well in the Northeast part of the country does not mean it will perform well in the high altitudes of Arizona. There are also VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) Laws the come into effect for different parts of the country. This may limit what is available in your state. For example, TWP 100 Series cannot be used in 17 states that have a low VOC content of 250.

To understand a deck stain and its potential longevity, we should first look at the main reasons deck stains fail:

  1. UV rays from the sun will damage the wood resulting in degradation of the wood cell structure. This will break down the stain while causing the wood to oxidize (turn gray).
  2. Water, snow, and ice will cause damage to the wood by breaking down the exposed cellular structure.
  3. Freeze/thaw will expand and contract the wood resulting in the stain “bond” with the wood cells to fail.
  4. Mold, mildew, and algae will leave the wood unsightly/dirty and can result in rotting.
  5. High traffic areas will leave “wearing” patterns.
  6. The previous stain used was of low quality or applied poorly.
  7. The Stain was not applied properly or the wood was not prepped properly prior to application. Bad prep is the number one reason stains prematurely fail!

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New Smooth Wood
Staining a New Deck

New Smooth Wood

Over the past year, we have numerous questions asked on the site, but none was asked more than “What stain or prep is needed for my new deck”? There seems to be an opinion among homeowners that is okay to stain new wood right away or even before the deck is installed. This is incorrect for most wood types and stain brands.

In this article, we will cover the required prep and the waiting period needed before applying a stain for the first time.

New Smooth Decking

New smooth decking boards are not porous enough for most stains to be able to penetrate properly. This is mainly due to:

  • Mill glaze when cut
  • High moisture content
  • Chemicals in Pressure Treated Wood

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Hardwood Deck Staining

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 based on their VOC laws.

Deck staining can be a “chore” for residential homeowners and unfortunately walking into your 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 outperform 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 stains 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: Linseed Oil, Paraffin Oil, Tung Oil, Rosewood Oil, Etc.

Pros: Excellent penetration into wood. The 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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Latest Consumer Magazine Reports on Decking Stains is out again this year and we have been getting some questions as to why our ratings differ so much compared to their highest rated products. We have compiled a list of reasons why we believe our reviews and ratings are more realistic and honest examples of how a deck stain actually performs.

Contractor Restoration

Reviews and articles are posted from our experience as contractors who specialize in exterior wood restoration. We are experienced in the trade of prepping and applying a stain to an exterior deck.

Real World Testing vs. Individual Board Testing

The stains are tested on actual decks with normal exposure to weather and traffic. Consumers uses a test on an individual board that sees no traffic or use. This board is not exposed to normal everyday “real world” conditions.

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Deck Resurface Stains like Behr Deckover, Olympic Rescue-It, Rust-Oleum Restore – Do They Work?

Homeowners are always looking for an alternative to a deck replacement. When wood is neglected, it can be expensive to have it restored or replaced. A few companies like Behr, Rust-Oleum, and Olympic to name a few, are selling a deck resurface product. They claim it is the smart alternative to deck replacement. It can be applied to wood surfaces such as decks, stairs, docks, composite decking, and more. So is it a good alternative or is it just a waste of time and money?

Deck resurface products are basically similar to an extremely thick paint. They are designed to mask the wood and fill large cracks or voids. Deck resurfacer coatings will not show any wood grain. Please note that this product is far beyond conventional wood restoration.

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IPE Oil Finish ReviewWhy More Pigment Means Better UV Protection

Pigments are used for coloring and tinting wood stain. Most pigments used in stain manufacturing are dry powders that are ground up. The powder is added to a binder that suspends the pigment, which gives the stain its desired tint. Stain pigments can vary in color depending on the type of light they are reflecting. For exterior wood surfaces that light source is typically sunlight. But pigments also play an important role in protecting the wood from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

The pigment reflects the sun’s radiation, this is why more pigment means better UV protection. In general, the more pigment a stain has the more UV protection it provides. Stains can be specially formulated to not only give a beautiful appearance but also to help reflect UV rays even more. Synthetic pigments and nanoparticle technology combined with heavy resins, binders and other fillers can offer superb UV protection.

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blotchy deck stain

Blotchy stain application

There is no uncertainty that weather has a huge impact on applying a deck stain. A number of factors can help or hurt when it comes to staining a deck. Rain for one is a very big factor. Not only can rain delay and deck staining project, it can also ruin a freshly stained deck if it rains before the stain has time to dry. But there is another factor that may not be as common.

The temperature range for applying deck stain is just as crucial. Although the suggested temperature ranges for applying deck stain gives a lot more room for error, it can still come into play. Applying deck stain when temperatures are too cold can affect the curing process of the stain. Applying deck stain when temperatures are too hot can cause the stain to evaporate and dry too quickly. In both cases, the stain’s performance can be jeopardized.

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applying deck stain after reading moisture content

Moisture Meter DecksWhat Should Be the Moisture Content of Deck When Applying Stain?

A deck staining project is something any do it yourself enthusiast can accomplish. Most of what needs to be done can be found online in how to articles. Cleaning the deck with the proper chemicals and methods is crucial. However, after the deck is cleaned and ready to be stained there are a few things to consider that can make or break the success of the project.

Once a deck is cleaned it should be allowed to dry for several days before the stain is applied. Most stain manufacturers have recommended drying times that may vary slightly. In addition to varying recommendations, other factors like weather, sun exposure, wood type, wood age, and porosity can also determine the exact amount of dry time a deck needs when applying stain. All things taken into account, it would seem logical to wait a long enough period so there is nothing left to chance. So what should be the moisture content of deck when applying stain?

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Pressure Treated Pine
Staining a New Deck

Pressure Treated Pine

See here for a more in-depth article on Staining New Decking.

Staining a new deck in 2016 has never been easier. With today’s quality wood cleaners and stains, most anyone can get professional like results. We have come a long way in wood restoration products and in 2016 most of these products are available to do it yourself homeowners everywhere. With the Internet, most of these products can be shipped directly to your home within days, making a deck staining project easier than ever before.

In addition to excellence deck staining products, the Internet also allows homeowners access to countless how-to articles and tips to help them along the way. Doing a search for deck stain help can lead you to a mountain of information that will educate and prepare you for your deck staining project. From prepping the deck, suggested dry times, stain recommendations, and right down to how to apply the stain there has never been a more opportune time.

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armstrong clark deck stain
Armstrong Clark Stains

Armstrong Clark Stains

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.

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full sun damage to deck stain

Damage-Deck-Full-sunOne of the biggest elements in the lifespan of a deck is sun exposure. When a deck is exposed to full sun, it can have a damaging effect that can shorten the life of the wood. Harmful UV rays break down the wood fibers and cause discoloration, graying, and fading. When a deck becomes severely sun damaged the decking boards can warp, crack, and split causing dangerous splinters and a very unappealing look. In extreme cases, UV damage is irreversible and cannot be repaired.

The best stain for full sun decks is one that has a heavy pigmented formula that acts as a sunscreen and blocks damaging UV radiation. Most of the stains that are best for full sun decks will penetrate deeply into the wood pores. For example, Defy Extreme is an excellent waterborne product that uses nanoparticle technology and heavy resins to help reflect harmful sunrays.

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Rust-Oleum Deck Restore

Rust-Oleum Deck Restore

Rust-Oleum Deck Restore is a water based, low odor product that is designed to mask the wood not allowing the wood grain to show. It is marketed as a thick paint product for wood decks that is outside of conventional restoration.

Recently there have been investigating claims on behalf of customers who have used Rustoleum Deck Restore on their decks. Rustoleum Restore has been alleged of being prone to premature failure. When it is applied to exterior wood it may be susceptible to bubbling and/or peeling, which can lead to costly repairs and replacements.

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Olympic Rescue It Review

Olympic Rescue It Review

Olympic Rescue It may fit the term “it’s too good to be true.” This Olympic paint and stain hybrid product is marketed as a resurface DIY product. It claims to be the ultimate remedy for severely weathered or damaged wood surfaces. Olympic claims that Rescue It is a resurfacer and sealant all in one for wood decks that are damaged beyond conventional restoration services. They also market it to be used on concrete surfaces as well.

This hybrid sealant is supposed to fill cracks and hold down splinters to deliver a slip resistant textured finish that is supposedly barefoot friendly, shown by the picture of bare feet on the front label. It is a 100% acrylic waterproof protectant that Olympic calls a “high-performance coating” offering outstanding elasticity. But recent customer claims and lawsuits say differently.

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Composite material decks have become very popular among homeowners in the past few years. They come in many different designs and colors. Most people believe that a composite deck is maintenance free but that is not true. Like any surface exposed to Mother Nature, composite decking is prone to fading, graying, warping, and so on. To stop these negative effects a composite deck stain should be applied. Staining composite decks helps block out color fading UV rays and damaging moisture.

To stain a composite deck the surface must first be completely cleaned. With the use of a pressure washer or scrub brush and a composite deck cleaner, all the dirt, mold, mildew, and graying should be washed away. Mildew is a common occurrence on composite materials. Because most composite decking consists of wood and plastic it is prone to mold and mildew. It is important to remove any mildew before staining the deck so mildew is not sealed in and trapped below the surface.

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Failing Deck Stain
Deck Stain Failure

Old Deck Stain

Bringing an old deck back to life can be very rewarding. But like any rewarding venture, the task can be daunting. With the right knowledge however, it can be well worth the effort. A restored deck can give your home’s exterior a much needed facelift not to mention raise your home’s curb appeal and value.

Re-staining an old deck requires a few tools. A pressure washer is very helpful but a scrub brush can also be used. Pressure washers can be rented if you do not own one. Before re-staining an old deck, the surface needs to be clean. A good wood cleaner will go a long way in aiding the cleaning process. A quality deck cleaner will loosen dirt, grime, and graying making them easier to remove with the pressure washer or scrub brush. It will also rid the old deck of mold, mildew, and algae. The idea is to reveal clean bare wood so the new deck stain will perform properly.

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Covered wood porches add a lot of curb appeal to your home. They also provide a nice outdoor living space out of the sun and rain. The entrance of your home is the first thing guests see so keeping it maintained is important. Covered wood porches do not take as much abuse from the weather because the roof protects them. But they still need to be waterproofed for them to last many years.

To stain a covered wood porch you will first need to clean the wood. Using a wood cleaner and a pressure washer is a great way to prep the wood prior to staining. Follow the directions on the wood cleaner and be careful not to use excessive pressure so the wood is not damaged. If you do not have access to a pressure washer you can also use a soft scrub brush and garden hose. Let the wood cleaner loosen all the contaminants then wash it away. For covered wood porches that have an old stain on them use a wood stripper. This will loosen the existing stain and make it easier to remove.

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TWP 101 Cedartone Color

Exterior wood surfaces need to be protected from harsh elements like UV rays and moisture. Foot traffic from people and even pets can also do damage. A wood surface around a pool however is subjected to a lot more moisture and harsh chemicals like chlorine so it becomes even more crucial to provide protection. Doing so will help the areas like a pool deck last much longer.

When it comes to staining wood there are a few things to keep in mind. Prepping the wood correctly and choosing a quality deck stain are crucial. Follow the proper instructions for cleaning and prepping a wood deck prior to staining. Once the wood is prepared correctly the decision must be made as to which stain to apply.

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New Cedar Wood
New Cedar Wood

New Cedar Wood

When a deck is brand new usually the lumber is still very “green” and has a high moisture content. That is unless the lumber is KDAT lumber meaning, “kiln dried after treatment.” This type of wood is dried before it is sold. But for the average deck being built, regular cedar, redwood, or pine is used in the construction. You may have heard the term “season” and how it is important to let a new deck season prior to staining it.

To season a deck simply means to let it sit, for a season, before you attempt to stain it. This is because the wood still has too much moisture in it and staining it can trap that unwanted moisture. This can lead to many moisture problems like mold, fungi, rot, and decay. This term can be a bit misleading though. Normally a deck does not have to “season” a whole year. Many times, depending on weather and sun exposure, a deck can season much quicker. In most cases a new deck can be stained within 3-12 months of being built especially if the weather has been warm and the deck gets a lot of sun exposure.

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It is best to never stain any exterior wood when inclement weather is forecasted, especially rain. Most deck stain brands will warn against application of their product within 12-24 hours of rain being forecasted. But as we all know sometimes the weather is not so predictable. So what do you do if it does rain shortly after staining?

You cannot do much until it stops raining once it starts. After the rain has passed and the deck has dried take a closer look. It really depends on how hard it rained and for how long. A light drizzle most likely won’t hurt anything but a good downpour can be a different story. The type and brand of stain can make a difference as well. Some stains can handle rain shortly after being applied better than others.

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New Cedar Wood

The first step in deck restoration and/or maintenance is to clean and prep the wood. This is the key to a longer lasting finish. Properly prepped wood will allow the deck stain to penetrate and perform to its full potential. So how dry does the deck need to be after cleaning it to apply the stain? Well that can be measured in several ways.

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Looking for a New Cedar, Redwood, or Pine Fence Stain?

A new fence can add many benefits to your property. It can add curb appeal, increase your home’s value, provide privacy, help keep small children and pets safe, and so on. A new fence can be quite the investment so protecting it is a good idea. Applying a weatherproof stain to your new fence will ensure it looks good and lasts for many years.

A new fence will need to dry for several months before it can be sealed. New wood is pretty green, meaning it has a lot of moisture in it. After several months of being in the wind and warm sun, it will be ready for staining. Be sure to wash and prep the wood correctly prior to stain application.

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Pressure Treated Pine

Need Help Finding the Best Stain for New Pine Deck?

The best time to stain a deck is after it is built while the wood is still new and has not been compromised by weather damage. However, it is important to allow a new pine deck to dry out for several months before staining it. A new pine deck contains too much moisture at first and you do not want to trap that moisture in the wood by staining it too soon. Wait for the wood to reach 12% moisture level or less. This can be checked with a moisture meter. As mentioned this usually takes a few months in warm weather depending on the sun exposure the deck receives. Do not wait too long though like a year or more because that is when most of the damage occurs to unprotected pine.

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When staining a deck there are many brands and types of stains to choose from. If you are looking for a certain color or wanting to mask the wood grain completely then a solid color deck stain is the best choice. There is however some things to consider when searching for the best solid color deck stains.

If the deck has been cleaned properly and does not have any existing coatings or finish on it then an oil based solid color stain is the way to go. These types of solid stains will always perform better than a water based solid stain. However, you may find that the oil based solid stains are harder to find due to strict VOC laws so any brand you can find should work.

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Wood fences are an excellent way to increase curb appeal and add privacy to any yard. They come in many sizes and designs but one thing remains constant, wood fences need to be protected from the elements if you expect it to last. Staining a wood fence will help enhance its natural beauty along with providing adequate protection from water and sun damage.

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Deck Stain GazeboGazebos have become a popular choice in recent years for many homeowners. They can be built from scratch or purchased already built and delivered to your home. Gazebos come in many sizes and designs but most will provide a shaded place to sit and even a bug free zone if they are screened. Like most exterior wood surfaces, a wood gazebo will deteriorate if it is neglected. Harsh UV rays and moisture can cause cracking, splitting, splintering, and graying in a short time.

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Moldy Deck
Moldy Deck

Black  Deck Stain

Why Did Your Deck Stain Turn Black?

Many things can happen to a deck stain when it is not applied or maintained properly. The biggest reason for a deck stain turning black is mildew. All wood surfaces need to be cleaned correctly prior to staining. The use of a quality wood cleaner and pressure washer or scrub brush is necessary to remove all the contaminants like dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and graying.

When contaminants are left in the wood pores and stain is applied a whole host of problems can occur. Mildew can begin to grow underneath the deck stain, which causes discoloring. This can also lead to rot and decay because if there is mildew there is also moisture present.

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Deck Stain PergolaA wood pergola can be a great way to reduce the amount of sunlight heating up your wood deck surface. It can offer shelter from the smoldering sun on extremely hot days without fully enclosing your deck. A pergola can also stand alone in a garden, over landscape features, over a hot tub and more. Like any exterior wood surface, a pergola should be protected with a wood stain to increase its appearance and lifespan. Knowing how to stain a wood pergola is key.

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You may not think a composite deck needs to be sealed or protected. It may not be as susceptible to the elements as a wood deck, but the truth is that a composite deck is prone to many of the same problems. Composite decks are normally part wood and part plastic so they are prone to mold, mildew, fading, and graying due to both sun and water damage. To help increase the longevity of a composite deck it should be protected with a composite deck sealer.

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Moldy_Deck_StainMost any exterior surface subjected to the elements is prone to natural occurrences like mold growth. Oil based stains are no different. Although they can provide years of protection to exterior wood surfaces, they can be prone to mold in some circumstances. There are however some reasons that can increase mold attraction to oil based stain.

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Peeling Deck Varnish
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.

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Peeling Solid Deck Stain

Have you had a bad experience with a decking stain?

Our most popular article, “What is the Best Deck Stain” has become the #1 article for consumers on the Internet for deck stain questions and answers. We have decided to create an article based on negative consumer feedback and experiences with decking stains.

We are looking for bad experiences with a particular brand of decking stain.

Please include:

1. Brand of Deck Stain

2. Type of Deck Stain (i.e. Solid, Semi-Transparent, Transparent, Semi-Solid)

3. Location and date applied

4. How long did it take for the stain to fail and how did it fail? (Peeling, Turned Black, Mold, Etc)

5. A brief description of your overall negative experience.

Note: This is mostly for fun and to allow you to vent your frustration!


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Average Article Ratings Score

4.6/5 (26)


Deck_Ink_StampPressure treated decking when new has a tendency to have very annoying ink stamps on the wood when processed at the mill. Lumber is stamped at the mill according to its grade. An American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) grade mark and an American Wood-Preservers’ Association (AWPA) tag certify the lumber’s quality. These stamps are very troublesome for owners to remove prior to applying a decking stain that is either transparent or semi-transparent as the ink will show through the stain.

We have found this to be the most effective way of Decking Ink Stamp Removal:

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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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Deck Stain Application Instructions for 2 coats “Wet on Wet”.

The term “wet on wet” refers to a two-coat application process specific to semi-transparent penetrating stains. In the wet on wet method, the first application of stain is applied to an area. Then before the first coat dries or cures, a second coat is applied over the top. This method ensures that the first coat, being still wet, has not sealed the boards from accepting more stain.

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Do You Need to Stain the Undersides of a Deck?

Bringing up some debate is whether or not you should stain the undersides of a deck. It is common and advisable to stain the weather-exposed surfaces of a deck to protect them from water and sun damage. But do the undersides of a deck also need protected?

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When to Stain a New KDAT Deck? Right away or wait?

Although pressure-treated lumber is protected against fungi and insects, regular maintenance is required to achieve optimal weather protection. Staining and occasionally refinishing the wood will ensure your wood project will be enjoyed for years to come.

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Do You Need to Stain All 4 Sides of Deck Boards?

Many people have asked whether or not it is necessary to stain all 4 sides of deck boards. To answer this question lets first take a look at why deck boards need to be stained at all.

When wood is exposed to the elements it can go through all sorts of changes. Wood is very absorbent by nature so whenever it gets wet it soaks up the moisture. This creates the wood to swell. As the wood dries it shrinks back to normal size. This repetitive swelling and shrinking begins to damage the wood causing cracks, splinters, and warping.

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Hardwood Deck Staining

IPE is a gorgeous Brazilian wood that is coming on strong for use on many exterior wood surfaces. The extremely dense wood is naturally resistant to decay and rot and can last for many years.

To get the full life expectancy and keep the enhanced natural beauty of IPE wood, it is imperative that the wood surface be maintained year after year. IPE wood needs to be cleaned and recoated with a deck stain that is specifically designed for the density of IPE wood.

Measure the wood surface to be stained to calculate the approximate square footage. Check the coverage rates of the IPE Deck Stain product to ensure you buy the proper amount necessary.

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Best Deck Stain for Canada’s harsh climate.

Choosing a deck stain these days takes more things into consideration such as the environment. Many deck stain companies are being forced to comply with these tighter regulations or be forced out of business. Areas like Canada have stricter guidelines than other areas for shipping deck stain.

Obviously, Canada also has some pretty harsh weather that can wreak havoc on a deck stain. Long hard winters and large amounts of snowfall can deteriorate an unprotected deck in little time. So finding a VOC compliant deck stain that will hold up to Canadian winters can be a little tricky. To answer the common question “what is the best deck stain for Canada” we will take a look at a couple different brands.

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Wood Filler and Caulk for Decks.

When taking on an exterior wood maintenance project, it is always best to follow proven methods to get the best results. For the do-it-yourself enthusiast, restoring a wood deck or other wood surface is something you can accomplish in a few days. Being educated on wood restoration will ensure your wood surface will look good and last for many years.

Many homeowners have asked about using wood filler and/or caulk prior to staining. As wood ages, it can crack and split leaving large voids on the surface. It can be tempting to fill these voids with a wood filler or caulk. Experts say that this can actually be a mistake you may want to avoid at all costs.

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Rough Sawn Deck Trim

Easy Application Tips for Staining Rough Sawn Wood

Rough Sawn Deck Trim

Rough Sawn Deck Trim

Rough textured wood also known as “rough sawn” is wood that is used as originally cut. It has not been smoothed out or sanded in most cases. Wood like this is a bit more difficult to stain than smooth textured wood but it does not have to be an overwhelming task. Rough sawn wood is commonly used for exterior wood fences, decking trim, and house trim. Typical wood types are cedar and pine.

Using the right stain and tools can make the job much easier when it comes to rough sawn.

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How to Match Two Different Wood Types when staining exterior wood and decking.

There are many different types of wood that can be used on exterior applications. Pressure treated pine, cedar, and hardwoods are some of the most common types for decks and other outdoor wood structures. To protect any type of wood from Mother Nature it needs to be coated with a wood preservative or sealant. A quality wood and deck stain can provide years of protection to all wood types.

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How Much Deck Stain and Prepping Products Should I Buy?

Before staining a deck you need to figure out the deck’s total square footage. Once this calculation is considered, you can figure out how many gallons of deck stain you need by reading the coverage rate of the stain you are buying. On average most deck stains cover 150-300 sq. ft. per gallon depending on the age, condition, and porosity of the wood.

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Should you Pre-stain New Wood Before Install? Simple answer is No.

Wood decks are a great way to add extra outdoor living space to any home. Not only do they provide a place for family get togethers, they can add value to your home. Building a new wood deck or replacing some boards on an existing deck obviously requires using new wood. As you probably know the new wood will need to be treated with a wood stain to protect it from the elements. One might tend to think that pre-staining the new wood prior to the install will save some time. Although it would seem that way it is really not a good idea to do so.

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Stainining Redwood Decks
Stainining Redwood Decks

Staining Redwood Decks

Staining a Redwood Deck Help and Advice

Keeping a redwood deck maintained will slow the weathering process of the wood and increase the life expectancy of the deck. Regularly cleaning and refinishing helps the redwood keep its natural beauty while providing a barrier of protection.

To stain an old redwood deck its important that the surface be clean of any dirt or debris. Using a pressure washer or scrub brush, apply a wood cleaner to the surface and work loose any dirt, grime, and gray wood fibers. Do not use excessive pressure or get too close to the surface if you are using a pressure washer. You will notice how the wood lightens up as you wash it. Clean the wood methodically until the wood will not lighten up anymore then move to the next section.

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Peeling Deck Varnish

Should I Apply Polyurethane to a Deck?

Selecting a deck stain or sealer is a vital step when finishing your deck or when your deck is in need of being recoated. Wood decks are exposed to severe weather conditions and need to be protected with the correct type of wood sealant.

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Peeling Solid Deck Stain

Why Acrylic Water Based Deck Stains Do Not Work Very Well

A major factor in maintaining a deck is keeping the wood protected. A good weather resistant deck stain should be applied to the wood every couple of years to protect it from weather damage. A quality deck stain will not only protect your deck from weather, it will enhance its beauty and keep it looking good for years to come.

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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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The Correct Temperatures for Staining Decks

It is important to know the tolerances a new deck stain will allow without hindering its performance. One of the most crucial areas of concern is with air temperature. Temperatures need to be in the safe zone while the deck stain is being applied and for 8-12 hours after.

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New Redwood Deck Stain
New Redwood Deck Stain

New Redwood Deck

New Redwood Deck Staining Help and Tips

The natural beauty of redwood can make for a gorgeous deck that any homeowner would be proud of. Redwood is not as readily available as other types of wood, which makes it more expensive. But the cost can be justified by the beauty and longevity of the wood. A redwood deck can last for many years.

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Log Cabin Stain
Log Cabin Stain

Log Cabin Stain

Best Exterior Wood Stains for a Log Cabin and Wood Framed Homes

There is no doubt that a log cabin is a thing of beauty in most any type of landscape. To keep a log cabin looking good and lasting for many years, maintenance is key. Log cabins can be very high maintenance and homeowners know all to well the tedious task of keeping it in good condition.

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Best Applicators for Staining your Deck

As with any wood staining project using the right tools is essential to achieving good results. There are many different types of stain applicators. Several tools can even be combined to get the desired result. Lets look at some of the more common stain applicator tools.

Stain Brushes

A basic white china bristle brush is always a good bet. A big 4 or 6 inch brush can hold a lot of stain for large areas. A brush is also good for getting into hard to reach places and for edging. Use a brush on the whole staining project or use it to cut in before tackling the larger areas.

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New Redwood Deck Stain

Clear Deck Sealers and Stains for Exterior Wood

It is no secret that protecting a wood deck with a water repellent 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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Deck Staining and Sealing Instructions and How To Tips for Best Results

The instructions for staining and sealing a deck will vary from product to product. It’s always best to follow the manufacturers suggested application instructions for the best results. There are however some basic tips and techniques that will aid in staining and sealing with any deck protection product.

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Should I Stain All Sides of Boards or Just Exposed Sides?

A common question when it comes to staining a wood deck is whether or not you have to stain all the sides of the deck boards including underneath.

Normally a deck floor is only stained on the exposed side facing up. This helps protect the boards from UV fading and water damage. The underside of a deck obviously is not going to be subjected to any harsh UV rays but what about moisture?

Moisture and water damage can be a problem especially on the exposed side of a deck where rain constantly hits the boards and may even puddle up allowing it to be absorbed. On the underside of a deck, the boards are not being pelted with rain but they can get slightly wet during a good downpour. The problem with staining deck boards underneath is that it is almost more trouble than it is worth.

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Deck stains have come a long way in appearance over the years. There is a wide array of colors, tints, and tones that can be added to deck stain. But what if you like the natural look of wood, do you really need a color or tinted deck stain or can you use a clear sealer? There are several reasons a deck owner may choose a colored deck stain over a clear sealer.

Color enhances beauty. Even if you like the natural look of wood, a slight color or tone can be added to enhance that “natural look.” A natural colored stain will also last longer in appearance than clear stain. A tinted deck stain is great for worn or older wood decks that need the boost in appearance.

The sun’s UV rays fade unprotected wood rapidly. While most deck stains repel water not all of them shield against sun fading. The more pigment that is present in a deck stain the more UV protection it provides. On a scale of 1-10 a clear stain would be a 1 in sun protection where a solid colored stain would be a 10. So when choosing a deck stain, sun blocking color stains and tints should certainly be part of the equation.

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Today’s deck stain products cover a wide range of different colors and tints. Depending on the type or brand of deck stain, you can normally find natural tones, cedar tones, walnuts, and redwoods as the most common choices. Some more unique color choices are grays, rustics, and olive tones just to name a few.

The opacity of the deck stain color will also greatly influence the final look. Very thin semi-transparent stains for example have less color pigment and will allow the wood to show through more. This type of colored deck stain may appear slightly different from one deck to another and on different types of wood. Darker more solid colors will show little to no wood grain so the actual deck stain color is more pronounced.

The best way to find out how certain deck stain colors are going to look on your deck is to order some wood stain color samples. Ordering a few of your favorite colors to test on your deck will help you to determine the final look making your decision a lot easier.

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Why Deck Stains are Poor at the Big Box Stores?

As a homeowner, you know that regular maintenance can not only prolong the life of your property, it can also increase its curb appeal and value. Nothing is truer when it comes to the exterior surfaces of your home like a deck. Deck maintenance includes regularly cleaning and sealing the wood to protect it from the harsh elements. Doing so ensures a lasting surface that will provide years of use and value.

To perform proper deck maintenance it is crucial to use quality products including wood cleaners, brighteners, and especially deck stains. Deck restoration or maintenance can go wrong in a hurry if you use the wrong products. The biggest culprit to deck maintenance gone wrong is applying a cheap or inferior deck stain.

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Hardwood Deck Stain Advice and Tips

Exotic Hardwood Deck Staining

Exotic Hardwood Deck Staining

There are many different types of wood used for decking material. While the most common is pressure treated pine, some of the most beautiful are any of the exotic hardwoods. Woods such as Ipe, Redwood, Brazilian, Mahogany, Teak, and Pau Lupe are very sought after for deck owners looking for a gorgeous yet durable deck.

Hardwood decks, like other wood decks, are subjected to the elements and need to be protected with a deck stain or sealer. Hardwoods have different characteristics from more common wood types used in decking. Like the name suggests, they are very hard or dense in nature. This means searching for the right deck stain when it comes to protection.

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Hiring Tips for a Deck Restoration Contractor

When you have come to the conclusion that deck maintenance is not for you or that bringing a deck back to life is too much work, you can always hire a contractor. Hiring a deck restoration contractor does not have to be difficult but you certainly want to do some research prior to making a decision.

Painters vs. Deck Restoration Professionals

Do not hire a painter to restore your deck unless he has extensive knowledge on the subject. We have found that many painters do not have the experience or know how of the proper preparation and application of a wood stain. Best to hire a professional who specializes in exterior wood deck restoration.

Deck Restoration Costs

The most common key factor for deck owners hiring a contractor for restoration is price. Deck restoration pricing can vary widely. The best thing to remember is most of the time you get what you pay for. This means the cheapest contractor, especially if they are way cheaper than anyone else, may not give you the results you expect.

The price a contractor charges for deck restoration work is closely related to his expenses. If a deck cleaning contractor is very low on price he may not be properly insured, use inferior products, or might plan to take shortcuts to turn a profit. Always be weary of a ridiculously low estimate for deck restoration.

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New Cedar Wood
New Cedar Wood Decking stains

New Cedar Wood

What Stains Work Well a New Cedar Deck

There are many different types of cedar used for exterior surfaces with Red Cedar being the most common. Unlike some types of wood that need to dry out, new cedar should be cleaned and stained as quickly as possible to avoid water damage and sun fading (Always follow the stain brand’s directions though).

Many wood stains have difficulty penetrating new dense woods like cedar. If a stain does not penetrate the wood it will remain on the surface and become susceptible to peeling and flaking. The best wood stains for new cedar are deep penetrating paraffinic oil based stains that are thinner in viscosity. Stains for new cedar wood should dive deep into the wood to condition the wood cells and provide protection from UV fading and moisture damage.

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Best Stain for an Older Wood Decking

Best Stain for an Old DeckWood decks can be a beautiful addition to any property but when neglected they can also become an eyesore. When a deck goes too long without being maintained sun and water damage occur. The wood loses its natural oils and becomes very dry and porous. Cracking, splitting, warping, and graying are all signs of an old deck that has not been protected against weathering.

Here are the steps needed to make your old tired deck look new again:

Repair First

Do a thorough look over for any rotten boards and replace them. Check for loose boards and railings and tighten these up as well with decking screws. Check foundation for any structural damage.

Clean and Brighten Deck

It is not impossible to bring an old wood back to life. A little care and maintenance can revive most neglected decks. If the deck is still in good structural condition the grayed wood can be cleaned using a wood deck cleaner.

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Paraffin Oil Based Stains

Most deck stain manufacturers today use both synthetic and natural oils in their products. There are several types of oils that are used in oil based deck stains. Paraffin Oil is one of the more common types of oil used today.

Pros of Paraffin Oil Based Stains

Paraffin is an excellent penetrating oil. Deck stains containing paraffin oil penetrate deep into all wood types. It conditions the wood while preventing UV fading and water damage.

Paraffin oil penetrates so well that it is recommended for newer wood decks. The newer the wood the more dense it is. Some deck stains will not penetrate the newer dense wood and will remain on top of the surface. Paraffin deck stains are able to penetrate newer more dense wood for optimal absorption and outstanding protection.

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Dirty Deck
Stain Turned Black

Stain Turned Black

Why Did My Deck Stain Darken or Turn Black?

There has always been some concern for deck owners as to why a deck stain can darken or turn black in color after a couple of years. There typically are a few reasons why this may occur for any brand of deck stain.

Improper Curing of Deck Stain
When a deck stain does not cure or dry properly it can remain tacky for longer than it should. This can result in embedded dirt, grime, and/or tree pollen. These trapped contaminants can have an increased effect on mold and mildew growth darkening the deck stain. Improper curing usually happens from over applying the stain.

Mold/Mildew Prone Climates
In very hot and humid climate types, mold and mildew can actually begin to form on the surface of a deck stain causing it to appear darker. In extreme cases, mold and mildew can grow below or in the stain further darkening the appearance.

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Pressure Treated Pine
Pressure Treated Pine

Pressure Treated Pine

Whether you have had an old deck replaced or simply had a new deck added on, there are certainly a lot of benefits. Wood decks increase a home’s curb appeal and value. They add extra outdoor living space and are the witness of many to come family gatherings and get-togethers. A new deck’s strength and sheer durability makes you feel like it will last forever. But as some homeowners soon find out, that newness can wear off and that once beautiful deck becomes a neglected eyesore.

But there is hope and to keep your new deck looking new and lasting for many years to come, you merely have to take care of it. Weather and elements like moisture and fading UV rays are a new deck’s biggest enemy. So the goal in keeping a deck looking good is to provide it with some protection.

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Defy Epoxy in Cedartone

Finding the right stain for your wooden deck is the key to getting lasting results. But with so many deck stain choices it can be a daunting task to say the least. To narrow down the search for the best deck stain you first need to understand what the different types of protection are.

Without getting into oil vs. water based debate or colors, tones, and opacity levels there are basically two different types or characteristics of a deck stain – film forming and penetrating. Both of these deck stain characteristics will provide adequate protection from the sun and lock out unwanted moisture. They both can also enhance the beauty of the wood and provide general overall protection from mold and mildew, freeze/thaw damage, and heavy foot traffic.

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How to Apply a Deck Stain Evenly

There are many factors to consider when applying a stain to a wooden deck. The methods can vary slightly but there are some critical steps and tips that can help in getting professional like results.

Choose Your Deck Stain Wisely
The type and brand of deck stain you use will obviously affect the outcome. Some deck stains are harder to apply while others are more user friendly and geared towards the do-it-yourselfer. By doing some research you can choose a deck stain that is easy to apply and leaves little to no overlap marks. Water based stains typically dry more quickly and leave more overlap and brush marks than a slower drying oil based deck stain that would apply more evenly.

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We have our favorite stains and offer reviews based on this but not everyone has had the same results. We cannot expect our top rated stains to perform flawlessly in all scenarios nor would Behr Supreme fail in all scenarios. We do suspect it does in most cases though Smile

Please vote for your favorite wood and deck stain.

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Exterior wood and decks stains are all designed to protect and preserve your exterior wood from the elements. Decks stain brands differ though drastically in the ingredients, solids, etc. Deck stains also come in variety of types: Transparent, Semi-Transparent, and Semi-Solids that will determine the opacity of the stain when applying to the wood

In this article we will compare the deck stain brands that we have reviewed to give a better understanding of physical properties, application info, and any other useful data that can help you determine which stain to use.

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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.

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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 handrails 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.

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Penetrating Decking Stain

Maintaining an exotic hardwood such as Ipe requires a little more patience and the proper deck stain. The vital key to consider when choosing a lasting finish is the density of the wood. This determines how deep the stain will be able to penetrate.

Deck Staining Tips Hardwood Ipe

Messmers Hardwood Stain

Ipe decking is extremely dense and tough for a deck stain to penetrate. On newer Ipe wood a deck stain may only penetrate as little as a few millimeters. For this reason, any type of deck stain will only last about a year, so regular maintenance definitely comes into play.

Most decks stains are too low in resins and pigment solids to penetrate Ipe wood and wouldn’t last long or be very appealing. Special deck stains specifically designed for Ipe are necessary to get as much protection as possible. Ipe deck stains are designed to give a more lasting and maintainable finish. They are rich in oil alkyd resins that are more effective when dealing with limited penetration from dense wood.

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TWP 1500 Series

TWP 1500 Series

After a wood deck has been cleaned properly and allowed to dry, it’s time to apply a quality deck stain. Protecting the wood from damaging sun rays and moisture is vitally important to the life of the deck. Staining a wood deck can be a DIY job but there are some guidelines to follow.

A common mistake is to over apply a stain. In terms of deck stain, more is not always better. Be sure to read the directions on the stain can before starting. In most cases, one or two coats of deck stain should be applied. Deck stain is different than paint – it shouldn’t be applied thick. Also different than paint, deck stain penetrates the wood as opposed to sitting on top of the surface. The wood will only absorb so much deck stain. Applying too much leaves stain on the surface that results in an inconsistent appearance. The extra stain will also harden and begin to crack and flake off in only a few short months.

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New Redwood Deck Stain

Wood is the most accepted choice for decks. It’s gorgeous, strong, durable, and easy to work with. A downside to wood is it’s vulnerability to moisture damage. Deck boards should be checked frequently for splits, cracks, splinters, or raised nails which may point to a potential moisture problem.

The best way to prevent problems with your wooden deck is to have it stained, sealed and maintained. The following are some different types of woods that are commonly used for decks.

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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 in consideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.

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