Different deck stain options

In our last post, we talked about the process of staining your deck and how it can add value to your deck, and your home overall.

While staining is often recommended for new wood, it can be applied to weathered and older decks. The trick to a weathered deck is that it has to be cleaned first before it can be stained.

What is Stain?

Wood stain is pigment, carrier, and a binder. The pigment carries the color while the binder is what keeps the pigment on the wood. Binders can be resin, oil, or alkyd and enable the pigment to penetrate all of the small openings.


Water-based stains are more common now that Volatile Organic Compound laws have changed throughout the nation. While these stains are more environmentally friendly and really reduce the chance for mold or mildew, they don’t penetrate as well as an oil-based stain and don’t wear as well. They are also a little harder to apply.


Oil-based stains are comprised of natural and synthetical oils. These types of stains have been on the market for over 30 years. An oil-based stain is easy to apply and results in a very natural look. However, they take longer to dry and have a strong odor. They tend to get darker over time and don’t protect against mildew as well.


Solid stains are available in two options: water-based and oil-based. They resemble paints and can be hard to remove. These stains provide great protection from UV rays and can be a great option for older decks or decks that have been permanently stained.

There are a few downsides to a solid stain, including that it is harder to apply, is prone to peeling, and doesn’t always penetrate well.


These stains contain a minimal amount of pigment and are only available in oil-based. Transparent stains are easily applied and show the natural wood. However, these stains tend to only last a year before they need to be reapplied.


A clear stain has no pigment and can be used as a sealer. It is perhaps the easiest to apply and doesn’t have any effect on the look of the wood. Clear stains offer very little UV protection and turn gray quickly.

As you can see, there are so many different stain options and it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out which one to use. Call Color Expressions Painting today, so that we can make this process and decision as easy as possible!