Choosing a Deck Stain or Sealer

Lead Image for Choosing a Deck Stain or Sealer
  • 4-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 25-150

Choosing a deck stain or sealer is an important step when finishing your deck or when your deck is in need of being refinished. Decks are exposed to extreme conditions and eventually need refinishing. If your deck is new and made of Redwood, Cedar or pressure-treated wood you still want to stain or seal it to prolong its life. Discussed below are different options for finishing or refinishing your deck.

Using a Stain to Finish or Refinish Your Deck

Your best option for finishing your deck is to use a stain. When choosing a stain to make sure that you get one that is intended for exterior use. Keep in mind that you will be better off using a stain made from penetrating oils, as these will provide for a finish that lasts longer and enhances the look of the deck’s wood. There are many different colors available when it comes to deck stains, or you can choose a clear or semi-transparent stain if you want your deck to have the natural color of the wood exposed. A solid-color stain will give more of the look of paint and tends to cover up the natural grains of the wood.

Using Paint to Finish or Refinish Your Deck

You may also use paint to finish a deck. If you are refinishing an existing deck and the original finish was painted, you will have to refinish with paint after thoroughly scraping up the existing old paint finish. Similar to choosing a stain, when choosing a paint you will want to make sure you are using a paint intended for exterior surfaces. You can use either latex or alkyd-based floor paints for your deck.

What Not to Use When Finishing or Refinishing Your Deck

Do not use varnish or polyurethane for deck finishing as these break down easily when exposed to weather, especially if you live in an area with heavy rainfall or a lot of suns.

How to Choose the Right Stain or Paint

When looking at stains and paints you will find that there is a wide variety when it comes to price. The more you pay the better product you will receive and the better the products will last longer.

In addition to variations in price, you will also find that paints and stains vary as to the levels of toxicity and off-gassing. You may want to choose a less toxic stain or paint if your deck will be used by young children or pets. There are several products on the market that have lower toxicity and off-gassing levels and some that are free of toxins. These products are better for your children and pets, better for you when you are applying the stain or paint, and better for the environment. The products free of toxins are made from natural oils, tree resins and minerals and do not contain petrochemical solvents or formaldehyde-based mildewcides. While these stains and paints are free of toxins, they do not compromise on performance. You will likely pay more for these stains and paints, but again you need to weigh out what is important to you.