This post was updated on January 30, 2023
Darker Pigmented Deck Stain Means Better UV Protection
Deckstainhelp.com is your go-to source for deck staining tips and trends on the internet in 2023. Read below for insights about the science of deck stains and why more pigment in deck stain means better UV protection. Leave us a comment below if you have experienced this yourself.
Why 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.
It’s important to know that even though it would seem logical to apply a solid stain or even a deck paint to get maximum UV protection it isn’t always the best idea. The problem with solid stains and paints is that they don’t hold up well when exposed to the elements. Most of these exterior stains and paints form a film and sit on top of the wood’s surface. This causes them to be subject to peeling, cracking, and flaking. Simply put, they will not last.
A better option for protecting exterior wood is to apply a stain that penetrates into the wood pores but yet has enough pigment to give adequate UV protection. There are several excellent brands of exterior wood stains that are tinted in many different colors and will allow the wood grain to show through. These semi-transparent stains still have plenty of pigment for adequate UV protection. Many of them contain special light stabilizing and synthetic resins that have been tested and proven to protect against UV rays for many years.
Although more pigment means better UV protection you still want to apply a penetrating stain that will hold up to wear and peeling, while still protecting against UV rays giving your wood surface a long-lasting beautiful finish. When using a penetrating semi-transparent stain with a richer or darker color will give longer UV protection from graying then the lighter semi-transparent tints.
Semi-Solid Deck Colors
Semi-Transparent Deck Colors
Deck Stain Help & Questions
- How to Remove Stain From Wood Deck
- Deck Stain Over Paint
- Spray On Deck Sealer
- Staining Pressure Treated Pine
- Does Stain Go Bad
- Wood Deck Sander
- Deck Stain That Fills Cracks
- Best Wood Deck Stain
- Can You Use Thompson Water Seal Over Stained Wood
- Deck Sealer
- Wood Stain Remover Home Depot
- Waterproof Deck Stain
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.
Should a urethane top coat be applied over stain? What product is best to protect end cuts? Should stain be oil or water base?
No, you should never do this. It will peel, blister, and create a huge mess to fix.
What is the best penetrating semi-transparent stain with a richer or darker color that will give a longer UV protection on a clean wood fence never had anything on it before this will be the first time
Look at TWP 1500 Series or Armstrong Clark Stains. Both are excellent.
I have redwood horizontal fence. We stained and sealed using Sherwin Williams oil based semi-transparent stain and sealer. applied two coats stain and one coat sealer. Looked great for ~ 1st yr. then rapidly faded. The fence get lots of sun but was disappointed with such rapid fade. We live in California and it seems that’s also part of the problem. Fewer good fade resistant/ UV protection products. I’m hoping to find a stain and sealer in one (if possible) that can last 3-4 years and still be semi transparent. However if i must use semi-solid to get better protection I will.
Can someone recommend product for this project that I can buy in CA? Or must I travel to NV (Reno is only 4 hours away) to buy a durable stain/sealer?
No stain will last 3-4 years on a deck. The best ones will last 2-3 years and the cheap ones for about a year. Try Armstrong Clark stains in a semi-solid color: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/tag/armstrong-clark-deck-stains/
You said deck, My project is fence.
Does that make any difference regarding fading?
Sorry, vertical fences will last about twice as long then a horizontal deck so yes, you can get 3-5 years with a quality semi-transparent stain like one of these: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/best-semi-transparent-deck-stain-reviews-2020/
What about lighter colors reflecting sunlight, while darker colors absorb light & are therefore hotter. Does this heat cause paint deteriation?
Would applying a clear coat over a stain help to preserve the wood and let the stain weather longer?
No, and you can never apply a sealer over a deck stain. It will not work, dry, or adhere correctly.
Is there a recommended stain for vinyl fence “mocha walnut” which will provide UV protection?
You cannot stain a vinyl fence.
Is there a recommended stain for “mocha” vinyl fence to provide uv protection?
what is the best gray deck stain for new kiln dried wood deck? tried samples of grays from TWP and Anderson and Defy and all were too transparent and looked pinkish or bluish… maybe a semi solid? Can I use a semi solid for first application? Will this be prone to peeling or act more like a stain than a paint?
Semi-solid will not penetrate new wood very well and we do not know of any quality stains that offer a semi-solid gray. Maybe TWP 210 Series Slate Gray as another option.
If I use a good oil based transparent stain for the first time on my new kiln dried wood deck, can I use a semi solid gray in a few months? Do I have to strip it?
You would have to strip it.
What Penetrating Finishes (oil or water based) have the best ultraviolet light absorbers (UVAs) and hindered amine light stabilizers (HALS)? I am OK with re-applying every year or even every 6 months in order to keep the color of the natural wood.
I tried the semi-transparent samples from TWP and Restore-a-Deck, and the colors were not what we want at all.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Not sure what you mean. Clear has no UV protection. If you ant UV protection than it must be tinted like the TWP or RAD.
Some clear finishes have UV protection nowadays. They add UVAs and HALS to the finish protecting the wood and the finish from solar radiation damage. It obviously does not last as long as a semi-transparent finish, but can last up to a year or two. I am just trying to figure out which one is the best.
Teak Oil, General Finish Outdoor Oil, and Flood CWF-UV Oil Based Exterior Wood Finish are three that I was looking at.
Those are all lightly tinted and not a true clear without any pigment. That is why they will have some UV protection, but not much.
Actually some of them do not have pigment added in the normal sense (no color change other than the normal color change you get with Teak Oil for example).
From the research I have done, unlike pigments and transoxides, UVAs and HALs do not affect the transparency of the finish. The wood grain and texture are not masked at all. These pigments are included but are finely ground to create a coating that is transparent to visible light.
I got a lot of good info from an article was prepared by the Joint Coatings/Forest Products Committee – Clear Finishes Task Group, chaired by Tom Daniels of Cabot (Newburyport, Mass.,  465 -1900). Members include Marc Hirsch of Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, Mich.), Ken McClelland of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (Vancouver, B.C.), Dr. Alan Ross of KopCoat Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Sam Williams of the USDA Forest Products Lab (Madison, Wis.).
I will ask elsewhere to see if anyone has knowledge of these and can advise. Thanks.
Our deck was built in 1992. We live in mid Michigan. Deck gets mostly shade, 35% sun. We used Restore a deck stripper and whitener. Worked remarkably! Thank you for the reviews! Helped us immensely! Now, we want to keep it as natural looking as possible. We tried, in an inconspicuous spot, Wolmans Durastain, cedar. Looks awful! The deck is not completely stripped down to bare wood with spots of previous cedar stain adhering to it. This does not bother us and looks like weathered wood. We believe keeping it with a natural look will preserve this look. Putting the cedar Wolmans over it made it look terrible! We realize that the more pigment we have the more protection but we really want to retain this fresh weathered wood look. My husband is leaning towards Wolmans F&P Finish and preservative, Natural. The last stain we used on the deck was Cabot oil base cedar color. Left us with a terrible color and mildew/mold. We were not happy at all. Please advise. I have the week of August 5th off and we want to stain the deck
Stay away from Wolmans. Try TWP 100 Series.
We have a 2006, 1750 sq ft Redwood deck that I have used clear Penofin on each year. We want to take back to natural look. I would need to sand down to wood as it has at least 10 coats of the Penofin and power wash lightly. What should I put on afterwards that will not burn in our SW exposure, Colorado sun? Our sun is all day, every day and the deck is very dark, burned looking?
After the sanding, use a cleaner and a wood brightener with the pressure washing. It will help the stain soak in better. BTW, Penofin always turns dark or black.
As for the new stain, try Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain or TWP 100 Series. Neither will darken in color from the sun.
Deck Location State: Northern Virginia
Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: FULL Sun all day
Wood Type: Cedar (4 years old, last staining was in the spring of 2013.
Mold or Mildew Issues: Some mold
Reason for Previous Stain Failure: 3 of my big dogs loves to be on the deck so the stain wore out fast and lots of sun.
Previous Coating? Wolman F&P Stain and Preservative – Natural color, Semi-Transparent.
I'd like to keep a semi transparent natural color. I plan to clean it with Olympic deck cleaner and do a light pressure washing. Would this suffice? Also, what deck stain/sealer do you recommend with the info I provided above? Thank you a million, your site has lots of great info.
You need to use a stain stripper and then a wood brightener. Not just a deck cleaner. The Wolmans needs to come off. Try TWP 1500 Series or Armstrong Clark.
My Ipe deck has TWP 116 semi transparent oil stain on it but it is too orange for my taste. Can I put Armstrong Clark chestnut semi transparent oil based stain over it? I would think so since both are oil based semi transparent but wanted to ask.
No, you cannot. You will need to remove the TWP. Use the Restore A Deck Stripper/Brightener Kits. BTW, AC Chestnut is not one of their hardwood colors.
Can you please explain why when both are oil based semi transparent stains?
Having the same doesn’t matter. When switching brands you must remove the previous stain so that the new stain can fully soak into the wood and adhere correctly.