Semi-Transparent Stains vs. Solid Stains
There are a few different kinds of deck preservatives used by house painters and homeowners. The various types can be broken down into 2 different categories: sealers and stains. Both categories contain a variety of finishes ranging from transparent to solid.
Clear sealers have no colorant, but they soak deeply into the wood and work as a waterproofing agent. While clear sealers are useful in preventing cracking, they do not block UV rays or prevent deck fading. For effective protection, professional painters recommend re-applying this product once each year. This type of protection will also build up over time with multiple applications.
Tinted sealers (also called translucent or transparent stain) are like a clear sealer with some colorant added. This is the most common product used on most decks, since it provides good protection against graying and cracking while allowing the natural grain of the wood to show through. The darker the color of the tint, the more protection against graying the product provides. Tinted sealers usually last 2 years on decks, but on vertical surfaces such as railings and posts, they can last up to 4.
Stains are more similar to a paint than a sealer; while they do penetrate somewhat into the wood, they remain closer to the surface and create a film barrier. All stains have water-repelling properties built in, but they also provide more coloration to outdoor woodwork. Semi-transparent stains are the lightest in color, allowing much wood grain to be seen. They can come in nearly any color, and they typically last 3-4 years.
Semi-solid stains are much like semi-transparent stains, except that they have a deeper color and show less of the natural wood grain. They provide longer protection and can also be tinted in nearly any color.
Solid stains are nearly indistinguishable from paint. The primary visual difference is that solid stain has no sheen and does not reflect light. Solid stains provide a thick, colored film that can be made to match or coordinate with the colors of your home siding. Just like paint, they must be applied in two coats, and they typically retain their strength and color for 4-5 years.
With the exception of the most commonly used tinted sealers, these products are used equally by homeowners. Choosing between one or the other is a matter of preference, but if you are unsure which option is best for you, determine what strengths you would like your deck finish to have, and choose accordingly.
Kennedy Painting offers professional painting services to St. Louis. As an experienced painting contractor, we have the knowledge and skills to protect your deck and home exterior. Call us at 314-952-0156 for a free estimate.