If you have a wood deck on your home, or have recently added one, you may be wondering about the best way to maintain it. There are a number of good staining options based on the type of wood used. Some woods will need to be stained every year and others can be done every three to four years.
In the past, almost everyone used oil-based stains on their decks. They
penetrated the wood better and lasted longer. This is slowly changing
as technology becomes more advanced and people become more concerned
about the environment. In fact, oil-based stains, because of their
toxic chemicals, have been outlawed in over 12 states with more on the
One of the reasons that oil-based stains have been banned is because of
the natural resins that are food for algae and mildew that need to be
counteracted with toxic pesticides. There is new technology that uses
synthetic resins combined with a water base that allow stain to
penetrate just like oil. Next you need to decide which type of stain to
use on your deck. A lot of this is based on preference, but the basic
pros and cons are detailed below.
Clear deck stains look really good when first applied, enhancing a
wood's natural look. The problem is that they are not usually able to
stand up to the sun's UV rays and do not last very long because of this.
Your wood will also darken quickly because of this lack of protection.
Solid Color Stains
While solid stain is great for deck posts or areas that don't get sun or
foot traffic, these stains tend to peel when used the flat surfaces of a
deck. In order to reapply solid color stains when they start to peel,
you must remove all the previous peeled stain in order to make it look
good. Stain stripper is not usually effective and sanding and paint
thinner is usually necessary. This is way more effort than is necessary
and can easily be avoided by choosing a different stain type.
This type of stain is by far the easiest to maintain, reapply, and it
lasts longer than other types of stain. Because of the tint, which can
be had in a wide variety of different shades, your wood is protected
from the suns harsh UV rays. This allows the stain to keep working
longer than either solid or clear stains. Maintenance is as easy as
using a low-pressure pressure washer once or twice a year.
Reapplication is usually only needed every two or three years depending
on the climate where you live and there is no need to strip the stain at
While the choice is up to you, if your aim is convenience and long life
for your stain and deck, semi-transparent stain is the best choice for
your wood. This option can save you a lot of time and money over the
life of your wood deck.