Staining is one of the best ways to not only improve the curb appeal of your deck, but also ensure it has a long and useful life. However, for many homeowners, choosing a stain isn’t as simple as they might expect beforehand. There are a number of factors that can go into choosing a particular stain for your deck, but understanding the way stains can be categorized will go a long way toward helping you make that choice.
Deck stains can be set on a spectrum, from clear to solid. Generally they are grouped into three major categories, clear, semi-transparent, or solid. The clearer a stain is, the more the natural features of the wood comes through, but the more UV damage it’s exposed to. Stains then move on a spectrum to solid stains, which provide the most protection for your deck from UV damage, but prevent almost all of the natural features of the wood from coming through.
There’s another factor to consider when looking at stains is how those stains apply to the wood of your deck. Again, this moves along the spectrum of clear to solid, with clearer stains soaking into the wood of the deck, while solid stains sit on the surface. This means solid stains can chip away, flaking off and exposing the deck over time. Clearer stains instead won’t do so as they aren’t external to the wood. Because of this, solid stains will need more long term maintenance, typically needing reapplied seasonally, while a clear stains will last longer before needing reapplication.
Because of how the stain applies to the wood, it also affects how it protects against various conditions. All stains will protect against water soaking into the wood of your deck and damaging it. What sets stains apart though is how they protect against other types of wear and tear. Clear stains, because they soak into the wood, provide no real protection from wear and tear, as they can provide no barrier between the wood and things like scuffing from yard furniture of foot traffic. Harsher weather, like hail, will also provide a risk that clear stains simply can’t protect against. Solid stains, because they’re focus on the surface of the wood, provide more protection against this kind of wear and tear. However, because they don’t soak as deeply into the wood as clearer stains, when solid stains begin to flake or chip away over time, they don’t protect as much from soaking water into the wood over time.
It’s worth noting in summation, clearer stains will offer some benefits by allowing for the natural beauty of the wood to come through and offering long term low maintenance when it comes to reapplication needs. Solid stains will offer a trade off, covering off those natural features of the wood, but providing more protection from a wider variety of conditions. Semi-transparent or semi-solid stains, on the other hand will fall somewhere between these two and offer some balances.Working with a hardware store expert will go a long way in helping you make the decisions that work best for you. No matter what type of stain you decide on, we offer the expertise to keep your deck properly cleaned while protecting the stain that’s applied. Or if you’re going to apply new stain to your deck, our deep cleaning is a great way to prepare your deck for that process and provide the best application possible.