A deck is one of the most popular and sought-after additions to the exterior of a home. It increases the amount of living space on your property and gives you an area to entertain or relax during the warmer months of the year.
There are many materials on the market to build a deck, but wood is considered the best option by many for its beauty and longevity. But wood alone doesn’t typically hold up well to the elements. An exposed, untreated deck can begin to warp or rot over time, which is why it’s important to treat and stain your deck on a regular basis.
Heavy duty deck stain penetrates the wood of the deck, giving it a rich, beautiful finish that not only protects it from the elements but also enhances the look of your deck. Available in a wide range of shades and colors, deck stains can help you get the look you want to coordinate your deck with the rest of your property.
Take a look at the different types of deck stains available on the market and the different features they each offer.
Types of Deck Stains
Understanding the importance of a deck stain is just part of the job; you also need to understand the different options. The market is full of different deck stains that come in different styles: transparent, semitransparent and solid. The more pigmentation a stain has, the better protected the deck will be.
1. Transparent Stains
A transparent or clear stain, or water sealer, is exactly what one would assume: a clear stain that allows that natural colors and grain of the untreated wood to show. These stains have no pigment or oils in them but do contain wood preservatives meant to protect the wood from water and moisture. While they allow the beauty of the wood to show, they do not provide much protection and require yearly reapplication. For a transparent stain to provide UV protection, it needs to have pigments called trans-oxides.
2. Semi-Transparent Stains
Semi-transparent stains contain a minimal amount of pigment and will give your deck a light tint of color without hiding the wood grain. Because they are semi-transparent, the stain soaks into the wood better and lasts longer than clear stains. Due to the ingredients in these stains, they are also less likely to peel off over time. However, they will eventually lose some pigment and need reapplying.
3. Solid Stains
Solid stains are fully pigmented stains that sit on top of the deck, covering the grain as if it was painted. While these types of stains are good for hiding discoloration and providing a uniform appearance, they are prone to issues like chipping, cracking and peeling. However, they offer the most protection to the wood when properly maintained.
4. Water-Based Stains
Water-based stains are surprisingly durable, even though most don’t penetrate wood well. However, certain brands use additives to try and fix this issue and to help prevent cracking and peeling.
A water-based stain can last longer than oil-based stains, lasting around 2 to 3 years. Because they are solvent-free, water-based stains are also more environmentally friendly, but the refinishing process can be more difficult and the old stain must be removed completely beforehand.
5. Oil-Based Stains
Oil-based stains—those that use special oils like linseed, tung and soy in their formulation—are easier to maintain over time. However, not all oils are made equal, and some options like linseed act as a food source for mold to grow. Because of that, it is important to mix linseed oil with mold-resistant chemicals or choose a different oil entirely, such as tung.
Oils allow for the stain to penetrate the wood more deeply, allowing it to hold onto the wood much better. While these stains require reapplication after 1 to 2 years, you do not have to worry about removing the old stain. The wood just needs a thorough cleaning, and then you can apply touchups as needed.
6. Epoxy-Fortified Stains
A newer kind of deck finish is water-based, epoxy-fortified stain. With this kind of stain, a small amount of epoxy gets mixed in a synthetic resin to help improve the stain’s wear, durability and color retention. And they’re formulated to develop a deep sheen, similar to old-fashioned, oil-based finishes that were once popular.
Epoxy-fortified stains contain chemical additives that help break surface tension and allow it to better penetrate the wood. These stains still form a film, like water-based stains, meaning the old stain has to get removed entirely before a new one is applied. However, it is supposed to help create a more durable deck that doesn’t require frequent refinishing.
With all of the different kinds of deck stains available on the market, the choice can be overwhelming. Even within these categories, there are countless brands that all claim to be best.
Maintaining Your Deck
To both maintain the color of your deck and get the longest-lasting deck stain color, it’s best to do a little yearly maintenance. Every one or two years, wipe a maintenance coat onto your deck. Let it soak in, then wipe the excess off with a soft cloth. No additional scraping, cleaning or pressure washing is required.
Perform this maintenance regularly to keep your deck looking brand new with no other maintenance required for years.