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.
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.
A deck stain is similar to a sealer in the sense that it provides weather protection but it does alter the appearance of the wood. Deck stains are simply deck sealers that are tinted or toned. These stains are usually the semi-transparent and semi-solid deck stains. They come in a wide variety of tints but most commonly are available in natural tones, browns, and reds. A tinted deck stain allows the wood grain to show through and can really enhance the wood’s beauty. Because of the added pigment, deck stains do provide some UV protection, unlike clear deck sealers.
Deck paint usually refers to a heavily pigmented solid colored deck stain. These are also known as solid deck stains. Like paint, they completely mask or hide the surface. Solid stains or deck paints are film forming and do not penetrate the wood. They form a film on the surface and are a 100% representation of their color as no wood shows through at all. Deck paints provide the most UV protection but are also prone to cracking and peeling especially on horizontal surfaces.
Knowing the difference between deck sealers, deck stains, and deck paints can certainly clear up some confusion. It can also help you make the choice as to which product is best for your wood deck.
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