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Personally, I’m a big fan of wood. It’s a classic building material that’s still used in many houses, apartments, and other structures to this day. Aside from being a cheap and reliable material that’s sturdy for large projects, it also carries a certain aesthetic appeal to it with its natural feel and looks. There’s just something different about hanging out with friends on a wooden patio during a cool summer evening. For these reasons, many people still opt to use wood despite the presence of more modern alternatives, such as concrete and steel.
However, not all wood looks and feels the same. There are different kinds of brown and some people even decide to paint the wood a certain color. If you want to change the color of your wood without actually removing its natural look, then you’ll want a wood stain. In this article, you’ll find the best deck stains in 2024 for your wooden floors and platforms to really stand out and fit your ideal look.
Looking to give your deck a makeover? I know I enjoy a good home improvement project. To improve the overall look and feel of your outdoor patio, try using a deck stain. Here are some tips to make the process of picking the right deck stain for your home.
What Is a Deck Stain?
Deck stain refers to any sort of formula or solution that you apply on wooden decks to change or enhance their color and improve their resistance to the environment. The color change differs from using paint, as the stain retains the natural shape, color, and markings of the treated wood.
Things To Consider Before Buying Deck Stain
Here’s what you need to keep in mind when picking a deck stain.
Wood stain is useful, but you really won’t be using it more than once, as once you’ve applied the stain, your deck should be able to go for years without needing any treatment. You don’t want to end up like me with an unused gallon of deck stain sitting in your garage. So you’ll want to buy the exact amount of deck stain for your home. Not too much, not too little.
As a general rule of thumb, smaller decks should be fine with one gallon of wood stain, whereas larger decks or with multiple wooden surfaces may need 5 gallons or more. Be sure to figure out where in your house you want to apply the stain first, then pick an ideal amount. Remember, you can always purchase more stain in the future if you don’t have enough.
Another thing to keep in mind is the color of the wood stain itself. Exterior wood stain can come in various colors to change the look of the wood that’s being treated. This can make it seem like your deck is made with a certain type of wood when in reality, it isn’t (I love a good dupe!). Alternatively, you can also use transparent solutions, which retain most of the color of the wood, if you already prefer the original color of your deck.
How to Apply Wood Stain On a Deck
I’m always looking for ways to save money, and luckily, you can easily apply deck stain yourself (no need to hire an expert!). There’s only a few things you have to know to get started, and you can learn about that process from this video by Fix This Build That:
Deck Stain Price Range
Wood stains are somewhat affordable, with many 1-gallon formulas costing around $30-$50. There isn’t much variance when it comes to the price of wood stain, as it’s more or less the same product no matter where you buy your stain from. Just keep in mind that you’ll be spending considerably more for 5-gallon bottles or cans of wood stain.
How We Choose Our Deck Stain
Our wood stains are chosen based on their color, transparency, quality, and customer reviews.
While stains are usually bought for aesthetic purposes, other substances like oil treatments are used to protect the wood instead. These can help preserve the nature and overall quality of the wood for years to come. I could see myself using an oil treatment if the wood is exposed to the elements, such as outdoor weather, rain, dirt, and possible abrasion.
One key feature of this oil treatment is the fact that it helps block ultraviolet rays. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are powerful, and they can wear down any wooden plank or deck over time. Placing this treatment on the deck keeps the wood in good condition despite direct contact with the sun’s rays. If your deck isn’t in the shade, you may want treatment of this kind to keep your wood looking fresh and new.
Where I live, it rains at least once a week. Rain, and especially storms, can be difficult for wood to handle. Water is known to wear down anything over time, including wooden decks. To prevent this, people use treatments such as the STORM SYSTEM Storm Protector Penetrating Sealer & Stain Protector to keep their decks in prime condition.
The formula of the stain protector works with many types of wood. Whether it be mahogany, cedar, redwood, pine, cypress, spruce, or anything else, the stain will penetrate deep into the wood to keep both the interior and exterior in shape. It’s easily applied by using a brush, roller, or even a spray, so you’ll find it surprisingly simple to work with.
While indoor decks do actually exist, most decks are exposed to the elements outside. This deck stain is ideal for outdoor decks that are left to fend off rain and sunshine on a daily basis. The stain comes in five different shades, giving you options to choose the ideal color for your deck.
This stain turns your deck into a water-repellant surface. Wood typically absorbs water and, as a result, loses its quality over time. If you apply a stain, however, this quality doesn’t go away as the water can’t penetrate deep into the wood. And finally, while the stain does come in a few shades, the stain is translucent, meaning that you’ll still see the natural look and color of the wood before the stain.
Let’s start off this list with the most popular deck stain you can find on the internet. With over five thousand reviews on Amazon and a 4+ star rating, I think it’s safe to say that thousands of people are satisfied with their purchase. The stain comes in both 1-gallon and 5-gallon options. So, if you’re only applying the stain on a small area, you can go for the 1-gallon option, or you can choose 5 gallons if that’s not enough.
The deck stain comes in a variety of colors. In total, there are 9 different options to choose from, ranging from Light Oak to Dark Walnut and even Burnt Hickory. There’s a shade and color for just about everybody, so if you’re indecisive like me, you may even find it difficult to choose the ideal stain. Additionaly, the stain does not require any sort of primer to be applied to the wood. So, you can simply apply the stain directly as soon as you get the deck cleaned up, which makes the entire process much simpler and faster.
Hardwood is a common material used in building decks. It’s sturdy, affordable, and reliable. If I had a hardwood deck, then I would want a specific stain that works best with the nature of hardwood. Enter DeckWise Ipe Oil Hardwood Deck Semi-Transparent 250 VOC Natural Finish, a natural-looking solution to keep any hardwood floor or deck in tip-top shape.
The formula minimizes odors by penetrating deep into the surface of the hardwood. It’s also useful for any type of hardwood structure or component, whether it be a deck, railing, or stairs. You only need to apply the coat once for it to work, and the stain doesn’t crack or peel at all, making it incredibly easy to work with.
There’s a good chance that you’re still a little skeptical about the effectiveness of deck stains. After all, what can a thin layer of stain do against years and years of weathering and environmental changes? Well, this deck stain hopes to prove you wrong, as it boasts a very powerful formula that keeps any outdoor deck in perfect form.
The formula uses waterproofing technology that prevents the wood from cracking due to the presence of water. It’s also made with a Weather-Ready Application, which means that no matter the weather condition, you’ll be able to apply the stain whenever you feel like it. You don’t need to wait for the perfect weather to start working, as the formula was designed to work regardless.
Deck stains can come in transparent or semi-transparent formulas. Many people prefer the transparent formulas as it retains the natural color of the wood. But if you want to give your deck a little makeover while also revamping its color, then a semi-transparent solution would be better. You still retain some of the original nature of the wood while introducing new colors to shake things up.
If you’re like me, you try to be eco-conscious with your purchases. Lucky for you, this formula is better for the environment, as it has less than 50 g/L VOC content. A simple application of soap and water also gets rid of the formula from your hands or clothing, so you don’t have to worry about cleanup, either. Finally, the formula actually works on damp wood, so you don’t even need to wait for your deck to dry before starting your work.
People Also Asked
Q: How does staining help a deck?
Using a wood stain helps keep the wood in prime condition. It prevents the wood from losing its quality and color while also preventing any cracks from appearing.
Q: Can wood stain protect my deck from mold and mildew?
Yes, wood stain prevents any mold or mildew from building up on the surface of the treated wood.
Q: How do I choose between transparent, semi-transparent, and solid?
What coverage you choose partly depends on how worn out your deck is. If it has a lot of imperfections you'd like to hide, solid may be the best option. But if your deck has minimal wear and tear, transparent would work great. For decks in between, go for semi-transparent.
Q: How many coats of stain should I use?
While every deck is different, two coats is a good general rule of thumb to make sure you cover all imperfections and areas of the deck.
Q: Should I use a brush or roller?
While a roller is more time efficient and convenient, a brush ensures a more even and thorough coat of stain.
The Woodsmith Review Team’s product reviews and in-depth guides are here to help you choose the best tools and gear to build great-looking projects confidently. The content is created by The Woodsmith Review Team. Woodsmith’s editorial staff is not involved. Woodsmith is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. The Woodsmith Review Team is composed of authors, editors, and woodsmiths. Large language models (like Artificial Intelligence) may have been used in the research and creation of the content.
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