Updated February 2020
Deck Stain versus Clear Deck Sealer
Here at DeckStainHelp.com, we are proud of the fact that we are the Internet’s number one reference for your deck stain questions, opinions, and reviews. In this updated article for 2020, we outline the differences between deck stains and clear deck sealers. Clear deck sealers continue to be an option for protecting your wood deck from water damage, but unfortunately, do not provide any protection against UV rays and graying/wood darkening. We would like to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment below with pictures of your projects if you have them.
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.
Wood and Deck Stains
A wood deck stain locks out moisture, which can cause board warping, cracking, splintering, mold, mildew, and wood rot. In addition, deck stains protect against sun damage, which can lead to wood graying and board cracking. Deck stains are normally semi-transparent stains that have color or toner added to them. This tone enhances the wood while allowing the natural wood grain to show through.
The extra pigment in the toner is what gives the wood adequate sun protection. Most commonly, deck stains come in Natural, Cedar, Redwood, and Brownish tones. The final appearance will depend on the type and condition of the wood deck since the stain is usually semi-transparent.
Deck Stains come in different transparencies. Most common and best are the semi-transparent for great penetration and UV protection. They also come in transparent (light pigment), semi-solid (heavier pigment) and solid color stains.
Clear Wood and Deck Sealers
Deck sealers also give wood protection against moisture. Sealers are clear and do not have any pigment in them. This leaves the wood in its natural state while giving it the ability to repel water. The wood deck can look so natural that it is hard to tell if there is a sealer present at all until it rains and the water noticeable beads up and doesn’t penetrate the wood.
The lack of pigment, however, leaves the deck vulnerable to sun damage. Deck sealers will not block out the sun’s UV rays which may cause the wood to turn gray over time.
Being aware of the differences of a deck stain or deck sealer will make your buying decision a little easier when it comes to deck maintenance. Evaluate the differences to see which fits your needs.