A long debated topic is that of water based vs. oil based deck stains. Which one is better to use and will provide the best protection for a wood deck? Actually, there are advantages to both water and oil based deck stains even though they do have some major differences. Both types of stains can provide a beautiful long lasting finish on all types of wood. Both water based and oil based deck stains help reduce water intrusion and UV damage to increase the longevity of the wood.
Oil based deck stains have been around the longest. Oil deck stains can preserve and enhance the wood’s natural color. They help to inhibit mold and mildew growth, which can lead to wood decay. Oil based deck stains naturally shed water to help prevent warping, cracking, and splitting. Most oil stains are low VOC formulas that are compliant in most states.
In general, oil based deck stains are easy to maintain meaning once the stain begins to fail after several years it will simply fade and wear off. This makes it easy to do a light wash and a recoat so the wood is protected once again. After several years of maintenance coats, it may be best to strip the stain completely off to get back down to bare wood again. Stripping an oil based deck stain is easily accomplished using a deck stripping product.
Water based deck stains are extremely environmentally friendly and clean up easily with soap and water. They too do a superb job of locking out unwanted moisture and harsh UV rays to preserve all types of wood surfaces. Even though they have not been around for as long as oil stains, new technology has taken water based stains to a new level making them a great choice for long-lasting deck protection. With additives like zinc, water based deck stains naturally resist fungal growth and wood rot. They are easy to work with for do-it-yourselfers looking for a professional finish that is going to last for several years.