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How to Choose a Stain or Sealer for Your Deck

When the weather is warm, your deck is the perfect place to relax, eat, or host a small gathering with family and friends. You can read about caring for your home or throwing the perfect porch party by following the links. One important detail involved in your home’s upkeep is being able to choose the right stain or sealer for your deck.

When choosing a stain or sealer you want to make sure that the product does three things:

1. Repel water

2. Resist mildew

3. Maintain color

in high-traffic areas. These are crucial functions that will keep your porch looking great and structurally intact for years to come.

There are two major categories in deck stains and sealers: water-based and oil-based. Oil-based finishes tend to hold their color a bit longer, but water-based finishes tend to be more durable and last longer. There are also varying amounts of pigments. The more pigment a stain or sealer has, the less you will see the natural wood grain but the better protected the wood will be.

Another option for your deck is to use a clear water repellant. This is often referred to as a “wood water sealer” and can provide basic protection, including waterproofing, minimal UV protection, and mildew growth prevention. Because these are clear or natural-look finishes, there is a minimal amount of UV protection and the underlying wood will begin to gray within a few months. Wood water sealers aren’t long-term solutions as they typically last from six months to two years, but they do maintain the natural wood look while providing basic protection.

“Toner” or “tinted” water repellant is very similar to a clear sealant, except that pigment is added. This provides additional protection against sun damage and further delays the graying of the wood. The color in these sealers can help to restore the original look of the wood if a slight amount of fading has occurred.

Moving away from the natural look of wood, semi-transparent stains contain additional pigment and provide subtle color while still showing the grain and texture of wood. These provide additional protection against water and sun damage and usually last for three to four years.

The “heaviest” option is a solid stain. A solid stain has the most amount of pigment or color and is, therefore, the best protection for wood. However, it also hides the wood grain, only allowing some of the texture of wood to show through. A solid color stain is the best choice for heavily weather wood and can cover up and protect badly-damaged wood fibers. Solid stains typically have the most color options, making it convenient for you to choose an attractive color that goes well with your home’s exterior, not dependent solely on the wood. This stain typically lasts for up to five years, making it a durable option.

It is important to note that the finished product of a stain or a sealer does not depend solely on the chosen stain or sealer – it is just as important to take into consideration that the finished color will vary based on the wood itself. Redwood and cedar contain naturally occurring pigments called tannins that may bleed to the surface. On these woods, consider using either a dark-colored stain that hides the tannin or a wood cleaner that is specifically formulated to remove tannin stains. This should be re-applied every two years to properly maintain the look.

Taking proper care of your deck or porch is crucial to the general upkeep of your home. Summer is the perfect time to prepare your deck not just for entertainment, but also for year-long protection – it’s impossible to paint a deck in the winter. Take advantage of the perfect weather to stain or seal your porch by calling 360° Painting at 1-866-99-PAINT for your free consultation today!