Choosing a Wood Deck Finish: Sealer, Stain, or Paint
Stains & Sealers
All wood decks will require staining or painting to preserve the wood from weather damage. Stains absorb into the wood to prevent it from drying out and cracking. Oil based stains are recommended as Water based stains are not as durable and generally don’t have the same penetration. Many stains also have a sealer which adds an added level of protection; however, clear sealers alone do not protect the deck from UV damage. There are a variety of colors of solid and semi-transparent stain available, typically the darker the color the better the UV protection.
You will find a lot of mixed advice about when and how often to stain your deck. CFC Fences and Decks recommends that you stain your deck as soon as it is reasonably possible, with refinishing every 1-3 years after that depending on product durability and exposure to the elements. This maintenance will protect the wood help maintain the aesthetic value of your deck.
Wood decks can be painted instead of stained. However most people use semi-transparent or transparent stain because they prefer the natural look of wood. If you choose to paint your deck make sure you select a paint specifically manufactured for exterior wood decks. Most paints won’t hold up well to foot traffic and the weather damage wood decks need to endure. When selecting a color consider how difficult it will be to keep clean. Keep in mind that white painted decks and railing usually look dirty as they collect dust. CFC recommends Trex white trim and white Trex railing in these situations.