This post was updated on January 30, 2023
Different Types of Deck Stains in 2023
We appreciate our community of deck stain enthusiasts here at Deckstainhelp.com as we continue to add content and serve as your go-to source for the latest in deck restoration news and trending topics through 2023. In this article, we talk about the different categories of deck stains and what sets them apart. As always, comments are encouraged below.
Many people ask what types of deck stains are available when curious about deck care and maintenance. Deck stains, in general, are for preserving and protecting exterior wood. They provide water repellency, UV protection, reduce fungal growth, and enhance the natural beauty of the wood. In 2023, deck stains come in several types of opacity levels all having pros and cons.
Solid Deck Stains 2023
A coat of a solid deck stain completely hides the wood grain by creating a heavily pigmented film on the surface similar to paint. These come in any color imaginable and are available in both water-based and oil-based formulas.
Pros: Superb UV protection due to so much pigment
Cons: Do not penetrate well and are prone to peeling. Little chance of ever going back to natural wood look. It looks like paint. Hard to apply and prone to peeling.
Semi-Solid Deck Stains 2023
A semi-solid deck stain also contains a high amount of pigment but not as much as a solid. You will see a small amount of wood grain through a semi-solid. For whatever reason semi-solids are limited by manufacturers.
Pros: Good UV protection
Cons: Water-based versions do not penetrate as well as oil-based. Similar to thin paint only a small amount of wood grain will show through. Hard to strip off.
Semi-Transparent Deck Stains 2023
This type of stain gives the most enhancing appearance. They contain just enough pigment to enhance the natural beauty of the wood grain. Although they will not last as long they are easier to maintain.
Pros: Easy to apply and maintain. It gives a natural appearance. Enhances wood grain. Available in different tones.
Cons: Less UV protection than more solid stains. More frequent maintenance. Typically only available in oil-based version.
Transparent Deck Stains 2023
The most natural-looking deck stains are the transparent stains as they contain very little pigment. They will allow wood graying quicker and typically only last a year.
Pros: Super easy to apply. Gives a natural appearance.
Cons: Very little UV protection. Only lasts about a year before needing a recoat.
Clear Deck Stains 2023
Clear deck stains offer almost no UV protection but look the most natural because they do not alter the appearance of the wood. They are typically used as a sealer as opposed to a stain.
Pro: Does not alter the appearance. User-friendly and very easy to apply.
Cons: Does not protect against wood graying. Wears off quickly and needs to be recoated more frequently.
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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.
In general, and I live in Raleigh, NC area, how often is it recommended to restain deck if using a semi transparent oil based stain? Deck gets morning shade and late afternoon sun. Thanks!! The above article was enlightening!
Every 2-3 years is normal if using a high-end deck stain.
Who makes a high quality semi solid wood stain for a deck?
Can u put a light solid color deck stain over a dark color deck stain
Yes, but you may need two coats.
Yes. Think of solids as paint
We currently have a deck base with Behr Transparent Waterproofing wood finish and the rails have Behr semi transparent waterproofing wood stain. If we didn’t want to keep doing the base every year, would you recommend going over the transparent with a semi transparent? If so what brand would you recommend?
You would have to remove the Behr if switching brands. Use a penetrating semi-transparent for best results and ease of reapplication: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/the-5-best-deck-stain-reviews-and-ratings/
We used a pressure washer but not quite everything is gone. Why would we have to remain with same brand?
Ai different brand will not work over the Behr. Strip and or sand to remove all if switching.
If I previously used Superdeck solid stain (latex based I believe) and I am now re-staining (6 years later after scraping, cleaning, but not totally removing), can I apply the Flood Solid Stain oil based? Or do I need to stick with the Latex/water based solid stain? If the latter, would you still recommend th Flood Water-based solid stain over others? Thank you!
Hi. Thank you for the quick reply, but I need clarification: I was asking which option? Can I put oil based solid stain over water based solid stain?
Sorry, use the water-based version of the Flood. That would be your best option.
Hello. I am staining a cedar playset. It was stained maybe 10 years ago from the previous owner. I powerwashed and sanded to get most of the stain off minus a few areas. What stain do you recommend? I feel like I have to use a solid stain bc of the areas that still have stain on them but I’m nervous that it will peel. And also what brand do you recommend? Thank you!
Is the old stain a solid stain? Feel free to post a picture.
If I don’t know what was applied to the deck previously and it has now been damaged by a hail storm, how do I determine what to apply now?
Post a picture please.
Here are three pictures:
Try a solid color stain for this deck.
I have big beautiful deck i built myself. After 2 years building pressure treated i cleaned and started with oil toner. Every year or every other big clean and restain. After about 8 years the sun exposed wood was cracking andfading compared to covered part that was almost like new. Went semi trans oil for more color and protection. Mixed results
Sun drenched areas peeled and pitted and started to rot in areas. We unscrewed and flipped all damaged boards. Huge job. Now have small area of covered semi trans and large area of new or flipped boards. Thinking solid now for protection and matching. Rails still only seen toner.
Thinking 2 tone. So many variables. Help.
See this for two-toned info: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/advantages-to-having-a-two-toned-deck/
See this for ideas on what stain for the horizontals: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/the-5-best-deck-stain-reviews-and-ratings/