Update 2018 Please read this article and post any questions you have in the comment are below. Our newly enhanced website now offers the ability to upload and post pictures of your exterior wood or deck.
Deck stains have not changed much in the past few years. Many brands have gone away from oil based stains to water based, but you are still able to use oil based stains in all US States and Canada. We currently restore about 300-400 decks annually, and our favorites are the penetrating semi-transparent and semi-solids.
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 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 stains 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.