Wood Decks: Stain or Paint?

Stain or Paint Wood Decks

The deck finishing method defines the material’s performance, its longevity, its overall durability. Depending on whether you stain or paint wood decks, the appearance will be completely different and so will be this home improvement’s level of difficulty and the cost.

Both methods are good, if what you choose agrees with what you want. So, start from there. What is that you want? What is it that you expect? What’s your dream deck?

Stain if you love your wood deck

pressure-treated-deckNot all stain opacities are the same. You can choose anything from a transparent to a tinted product to stain your outdoor decking. Most people, who opt for deck staining, choose transparent films that protect the material while allow the beauty of the natural grain and the vintage wabi-sabi elegance of the imperfections show. Now, if you don’t want to conceal the wood look feeling, but only the flaws, you can select a wood stain color.

Paint if you like the deck colored

Painting the old cedar deck is a good choice if you like to hide imperfections and change the color, although many people opt for brownish hues to still have the wood appearance. But it’s not the same. Even if you choose the exact color of the wood deck, the surface will be painted. Now, when it comes to paint choices, the sky is the limit – color-wise. If what you want right now is a modern, minimalistic look or a lighter than the wood appearance, then painting is for you.

Stain if you want to preserve wood

What does stain do? Stains fill the wood’s pores and create a thin layer on the top which acts as a film that protects from the elements. It’s good to remember that not all stain products are the same. Stains penetrate wood to protect it, while some products contain elements for resistance to UV, water and mold.

Paint if you prefer to conceal wood imperfections

composite-deckingOne of the advantages of painting is that it will hide all flaws. If your deck is weathered, old, the color faded, and its beautiful natural grain lost its edge, a beautiful color will make a world of difference. The extra advantage is that weathered decks have already become susceptible to the elements. Its scratches and dents show, diminishing its perfect looks. Paints hide all imperfections and breathe life into old decks, creating a thick layer of protection.

Stain if you want an easy home improvement

Whether you decide to assign the job to a deck contractor or do it yourself, staining is a much easier job. It’s cheaper too. Overall, it depends on whether you will need extra preservatives and primes for the paint but generally speaking, staining decks is cheaper and easier. Yes, both finishing methods include prepping the deck, but staining is done faster, especially if you choose a product that contains a sealer too.

Paint if you like long-lasting results

Since paints are thicker layers, they last longer whereas stained decks must be re-stained a few years later. The long-lasting results of such finishing jobs depend on several factors. The experience of the deck company, the quality of the products, the way the whole prep work is done. And then, staining is not the best option for some hardwood species – that’s if they are too dense to absorb the stain.

A quick overview of painting & staining decks?

The advantage of painting decks is that you can protect it better from the elements and for a longer time, but it will not be easy to scrape paint off in the future. And while you have a myriad of color options, you will lose the elegance of the wood appearance. With paint, you maintain the deck easier and hide all flaws, but there’s also the risk of entrapping moisture.

The advantage of staining decks is that it’s done quickly, costs less, and the natural charm of wood is revealed once again. Also, you have choices among clear, semi-transparent, and solid stains. Since the stains are absorbed by wood, the material is well-protected but only for a little while and don’t forget that the flaws are not concealed.