Looking for the Best Deck Stain?

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Choose the Right Deck Stain

Decks take a beating in Michigan weather

With spring on its way, thoughts turn to time spent outside enjoying your deck. Unfortunately after your deck’s been sitting under a pile of snow all winter, it probably needs some work to look its best. This month’s question is one that we get frequently from do-it-yourselfers who want their deck ready for our all too short Michigan deck sitting season.

Q. I’m thinking about staining my wood deck this spring. What is the best deck stain would you recommend?

A. This is an important question to ask before you get started. There are several types of stain finishes you can use on your wood deck. To make the best choice for your deck, you need to understand the difference between the stain finishes that are available:

  • A clear stain or sealant’s main purpose is to repel water. It does not contain any UV light protection for your wood. If you use a clear stain on your deck, that’s a little bit like going to the beach for a day and not using any sunscreen.
  • Transparent and semi-transparent deck stains provide a little UV protection for the wood on your deck. Using either of these two finishes is like using an 8 SPF suntan lotion on your skin at the beach. Because transparent and semi-transparent stains offer minimal UV protection, your deck will need to be redone about every two years. Many people choose these finishes, despite the need for regular recoating, because you are still able to see and appreciate the natural grain and texture of the wood.
  • Semi-solid stains also allow you to see the natural grain and texture of the wood AND they also offer the wood in your deck more UV protection than do transparent and semi-transparent stains. Using our beach metaphor, applying a semi-solid stain is like applying sunscreen with a 15 SPF. With semi-solid stains, we recommend redoing the deck staining every two to four years.
  • Solid stain offers the greatest protection from UV rays for your wood deck. It’s like applying a 30 SPF sunscreen. We tell clients who use solid stains to expect to redo their home about every five years, which is great if you want to save money on recoating. Some people don’t like solid stains as well though because they do cover most of the wood’s natural grain and texture, giving your deck more of a painted look. If you do decide to use a waterborne solid deck stain, I highly recommend using an oil based deck primer as your first coat. If you don’t, your deck will peel after wet snow sits on it all winter.

What’s my favorite deck stain? A semi-solid oil deck stain is my first choice. It looks great and there is little chance it will peel even after a northern Michigan winter.

If you've got too much to do this spring let us know and we'll be happy to give you an estimate on redoing your deck.  Our experienced crew can get it done in no time and you'll have your restored deck ready for a summer of enjoyment.