Comparing old, cleaned, and stained wood

Paint vs. Stainer: Proper Deck Protection

When you think of being out on your deck, what comes to mind? Relaxing with a book in

When you think of being out on your deck, what comes to mind? Relaxing with a book in the shade? Sharing a meal with your family? You’d think decks are supposed to be relaxing, and they can be. But if the deck isn’t properly protected, you’ll find it can actually require a lot more maintenance than your interior. Generally speaking, decks need more maintenance than fences or sheds because they are more exposed to direct sunlight, water absorption, and wear from shoes and furniture. If you want to reduce the amount of stress your deck takes, it’s important to keep it safe.

I cannot stress this enough: paint does not protect your deck!

Sure, you can find paints with special protective coatings, but those are usually designed to maintain the colour and consistency of the paint rather than the actual surface the paint is covering.

When my family renovated out deck years ago, we trusted the painter to stain the deck while we were out of town. When we returned, we discovered he had used paint instead of a finish. Being the naïve child I was back then, the solution seemed simple to me – just stain over it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t so simple as the stain is meant to protect the wood itself, not the paint. If the paint were to start peeling off, it would take the stain with it.

Every summer or two the paint would chip away leaving us with two options:

  1. Repaint the deck. This became pointless, as the remaining paint would eventually weaken underneath the new coat, forcing both layers off, as it would have with the stain.
  2. Leave the deck alone. Not only did our deck look run down, but it also became unsafe to walk on without shoes.

When we finally had enough of not being able to use or enjoy our deck, we spend several weekends working on a DIY project:

  • We scrapped off all the paint
  • Re-sanded the wood
  • Replaced any rotten boards (including buying new material, sizing it properly, and reinforcing it)
  • Properly applied a new stain and coat of paint.

before and after deck

To avoid going through the same ordeal, be sure to have your deck stained first. There are two types of stains you can use. “Semi-Transparent” stains need to be replaced every 18 month or so, and allow both the woods’ grain and texture to show through. Alternatively, a “Solid Colour” stain will last you roughly 3-5 years. Though it only shows the texture, it will help make your coat of paint pop. Be sure to also keep an eye out for water-based stains that are 100% acrylic. These not only last longer, but also better protect against sun and mildew. If you just want a general stainer, you can’t go wrong with either option; of course, depending on the added benefits you want (i.e waterproof, sun resistant, mildew- resistant, etc.) the price can rise dramatically. If you’re unsure of what you want, check out the line of Solid Colour stainers, which come in more options at more affordable prices. Keep in mind that even if you purchase a more expensive Solid Colour stainer, they last a lot longer than the Semi-Transparent variety, which could end up saving you more in the long run.

Need more advice? Hear from real customers to help determine which line and brand of stainer or paint are best suited for your project!


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