This post was updated on April 5, 2022
Will Darker Color Deck Stains Will Last Longer?
DeckStainHelp.com remains the Internet’s go-to site for all things exterior wood surface restoration related. Below we explain why darker color deck stains will last longer, so if you are looking for a long-lasting stain, choose a darker color. We encourage customer interaction on our site, so feel free to leave us a comment below.
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 turns 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 sunscreen and provide a certain amount of sun protection.
Darker Color Stains Will Last Longer
The more pigment in the stain formula, the more it will protect against sun damage. For example, a completely clear wood stain will provide no UV protection at all. A heavily pigmented stain will provide a lot of UV protection. More pigment can be found in darker color stains, therefore they will last longer. A very light transparent natural color stain will fade and wear off much faster than a darker color stain.
At the same time, very heavy pigmented stains can be harder to maintain. Some stains, like very heavy pigmented solid stains that are almost like paint, can have other issues like peeling and cracking. The trick is to find a penetrating decking stain that gives you the appearance you want, is user-friendly, easy to apply, and will provide an adequate amount of UV protection. Penetrating fully into the wood grain means you have little to no peeling or wearing.
Just remember that darker color stains will last longer than lighter color stains for transparent, semi-transparent, and semi-solids.
Deck Stain Color Ideas
Deck Stain Help & Questions
Stain Reviews & Comparisons
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites.
All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.
I stripped my mother’s peeling deck and applied TWP 1503 Dark Walnut based on your site’s review and now I am curious about what happens to the UV protective pigments over time. In terms of fading, is this essentially the individual flecks of pigment getting brushed/blown/washed/worn off? If so, my thought was that a clear waterproofer like Thompson’s multi-surface that (from my understanding) puts down a layer of wax might be an ideal way to help hold those pigments in place since it would also be gradually worn away. I have not found anything that recommends this, however. Can you help me understand the concept of pigment degradation and why it seems my concept of adding a wearable top-layer appears to be misinformed? Thank you!
Color fades over time, it does not wear off. You cannot apply a clear sealer or wax over a deck stain, it will peel. You cannot do anything to make it last longer.
I have a front raised deck and vertical boards from the ground up to the deck. I do not know what type of solid stain is on there. On the vertical boards some of the stain is peeling so I plan on sanding down the peeling area. 1. Do I need to sand off all of the stain or just the areas that are peeling? 2. If I only need to sand the peeling areas will flood solid stain adhere to the old stain that is not peeling? 3. Do I need to use a cleaner and brightner before staining? Thank You for your help!
1. Remove what is peeling and make sure it is clean. Pressure wash first and then sand after.
2. You can cover intact solid stain that is not peeling with a new coat of solid stain.
3. Stripper and brightener while pressure washing will help to remove any peeling solid stain during prep.
Hi there! My deck is going on 2 years old and has never been stained. It is in the woods. Condition looks good…do I need to clean deck?
Yes, you have to prep prior to staining. Look at this: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/restore-a-deck-cleaner-system-review/
Is valspar a bad brand? I purchased simply cedar semi transparent. I did a small section of and I really dislike the color. I really want to exchange the color and use a dark brown almost black on top. Would that work or would I have to strip the cedar stain off first? This has been such a frustrating process.
You will have to strip. Try TWP 1504 Black Walnut
Valspar is a very poor stain: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/valspar-one-coat-stain-sealer-review/
Hi! I live in NJ (cold/snow weather) when I bought the house three years ago the deck was painted (no stained) on white (the rails), and light brown (the floor). The deck is in good shape but is old. Can I power wash it and then stain it with a darker color? What is the best brand to stain it? Thanks
Can you post a picture or two in the comment area?
Let us know when you have the pictures.
Here they are. Thanks
You have a solid stain on both rails and floors. You will need to pressure wash for prep and then reapply another solid stain. You can do all one color or the two toned color that you have. For a darker brown, try Espresso in the Restore A Deck Solid Stain.
Thank you very much
Can I apply a darker stain over a lighter color without stripping?
Depends on the brand, type of stain, and when the first coat was applied? Pictures would help as well.
It was TWP 100 series, wet on wet, redwood applied last year Sept and this year May. It’s not mildew resistant and this summer’s wet weather with almost daily dew points in the mid-70’s has forced me to treat the deck with wet & forget 3 times to attempt to control the mildew. I’m considering cleaning with RAD and when the drier (I hope) fall weather comes I want to stain with Defy Extreme Brown (which is mildew resistant)……….I want to avoid having to strip everything especially deck rails which take a lot of time re-staining, therefore my original question.
When switching brands you have no choice but to strip. You cannot apply the Defy or any other brand over the TWP.
What shade is used on the picture above?
That is Armstrong Clark Stain in Rustic Brown on IPE wood.
Can I use the Rustic Brown by Armstrong Clark, on my new cedar deck? I want a dark tone to the wood like the picture above, but i don’t want it to look like paint. I want the color to absorb (stain) in the wood with no peeling or chipping. Our old deck had red paint like which looked hideous with all the chipping and peeling. Will the Rustic Brown by Armstrong Clark, give me the look I am looking for?
See here about new wood: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/staining-a-new-deck/
As for colors, try a sample of two as the final appearance can vary based on the wood type and age of the wood.
I bought a home and the deck is 9 years old and never treated. I bought “TECHNISEAL” WOOD PROTECTOR WATER BASE (CHOCOLATE COLOR).is it a good choice.and I live in Quebec.
Sorry but never used it.
The house we bought has a painted covered deck.ithas been painted green. We cleaned it and power washed some come off. We want
to paint it Black. What should I use or do
Black means a custom mix. Look at the Flood Pro Series Solid Stains.
Looking at staining my deck with Sikkens, butternut color. We have no shade except for evening. Would this color be dark enough to help protect from UV?
It should be.
Which stain reflects heat from sun more? Solid or transparent? We put solid color on wood steps and on a hot day cannot walk on it.!
Lighter colors will retain less heat in most scenarios.
We have just pressure washed our transparent brown deck and have chosen benj.moore celtic blue for fence. Trying to decide on using same color (which looks light w/blue tint) on deck itself or a darker shade of same family called Normandy (benj.moore) for deck & railings? Other choice is either color for deck and add darker brown on posts & rails. Def. Keeping Celtic blue on fence. Need advise on floor, post and rail. Dont think we want brown on floor again. So basically match floor w/ fence or darker blue? Any advise?
Any color you want will work but you are using a poor brand that has numerous issues on decks: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/benjamin-moore-arborcoat-stain-review-2016/
I am considering a decking oil instead of the usual stain that forms a membrane that will certainly wear in the traffic areas and leave the unworn areas unable to accept stain. Even the products described as “penetrating” form this membrane. Refinishing then requires complete removal of the old finish. Is this a good idea? I believe that an oil can be reapplied over a previously oiled unevenly worn surface and will absorb where needed and can be wiped off where it does not absorb, resulting in an even new finish, without requiring sanding. Correct? Or, is there an alternative My research has turned up only a couple choices: one is Ipe oil for hardwoods ( I am using cypress, a soft wood ). The other is a product sold by Cutek America. Most products I found were sold only in Europe, Canada and Australia.
Tim, what you want is a penetrating semi-transparent oil based stain. Try the Armstrong Clark, TWP 100 Series or TWP 1500 Series. They can be cleaned and reapplied as needed. What you are trying to accomplish with the easy apply, wipe excess, and perfect even absorption does not exist in the deck world. You always have to properly prep when redoing and the requires cleaning.
IPE Oil and the others all are curing stains that require prep when reapplying.
Hi, is the picture above Rustic Brown by Armstrong in semi transparent or semi solid?
Hi, Do darker stains cause the wood to heat more in the sun and therefore cause more weathering and damage of the wood from heating and cooling than a lighter stain? Therefore would our choice of a dark stain over a light shorten the life of the wood? We are currently choosing from Resene Woodsman decking stain a waterborne acrylic based stain?. Thanks 🙂
No difference in durability between darker or lighter colors.
your website is very nice and gives very good info related to staining, learned a lot after reading all different topics explained in the website, planning to get my deck stained (7 years old), after lot of research decided to go with TWP semi transparent stain 1500 series (oil based), but one question is in this brand a darker color like say 1503 Dark Oak color is much better than cedar / redwood / rustic color for it to last longer like explained in this article, want to make sure I understand it right and take right decision wrt color. Thank You
Darker colors will hold color longer from UV fading. They will not wear any differently though.
Thanks. We're considering using Penofin Verde Mission Brown on an Clear A grade redwood fence (new wood). Can we expect than with "99%" UV protection, that the boards would remain about the same color over a year or two? Or would they darken considerably? I've read that some also recommend applying a Marine spar finish over the Verde for extra protection. Do you concur? Thank you!
It will most likely darken or turn black in color since it is Penofin. You cannot add a Spar varnish over a deck stain. It will blister and peel.
Thanks! Could you then recommend something available in Calif that comes in transparent brown tones and would not darken/blacken the fence?
TWP 1500 Series or Armstrong Clark.
What color stain was used on the deck picture above?
Rustic Brown by Armstrong Clark.
Hi, your site is great with wonderful info. I have a couple of questions. We had Behr deck stain (which of course failed and they returned money IF you still had receipts.) This deck surrounds an above ground pool. We have finally removed the stain completely and have use the deck wash to get it ready to accept a stain. (We did not remove the stain on the spindles surrounding deck bc we they are not in as bad of shape since they are verticle….is too exhausting to do so right now)
1. We would like to used a medium brown semitransparent oil based stain. We live in Va. And our deck has full sun most of the day. Which would you recommend for around the pool?
2. Also, we have some rather large chunks taken out of the wood and have epoxied them. Will this affect the color too much where these areas were epoxied?
3. Should we retain every year or other year to continue to protect?
4. At our last home we had a covered deck and used CWF and just applied a coat every year and it worked great .
5. What Is the highest temperature with whatever you recommend for us to stain can be applied under and how long does it need before rain/gets wet
6. Thank you Sooo very muh. This has been a nightmare that I never want to go through again..we still have another deck attached to our house to contend with. : (
1. Armstrong Clark in Rustic Brown.
2. This was not a good idea. You cannot blend a semi-transparent stain with filler. It will stand out.
3. Every 2 years is normal.
5. 85 degrees