Stained Wood Deck Vs. Painted: What’s the Best Option?

Stained wood deck

Your deck is one of the most significant investments in your home. It’s a place for relaxation, entertaining friends, and extra living space for several months of the year.

Like the rest of your outdoor investments – your roof, fences, driveway, and garden – it must be maintained to keep it looking and functioning well for the needs of your family.

A wood deck that has been neglected will soon warp, buckle, split, or show a raised grain. Eventually, it will harbor mold and mildew and begin to rot, becoming unsafe. 

What’s the best way to protect your deck: paint or stain? 

The answer is that either one can do a great job protecting your deck. However, they both need different maintenance types regularly.

It’s up to you to decide which method brings the look you want and which kind of maintenance you want to do yourself or pay for.

Natural or Stained Wood Deck

If you like the look of wood grain and you want to preserve as much of its natural beauty as you can, you want either a clear sealer over the natural wood or a stain and then sealer.

The sealer protects the wood from damaging UV rays, and the stain can even out inconsistencies in color and make the deck complement the rest of your home’s exterior. 

If you want color on your deck, as well as weather-protecting properties, you want to paint. Paint can also be used to revitalize a wood deck that can’t be brought back to its original luster but is otherwise sound.

It’s complicated – and in most cases damaging – to go from paint back to stain, so make sure you want to keep the painted finish if it’s what you decide.

Stained Wood Deck Maintenance

All maintenance projects start with repairs and cleaning. Wood that is always outdoors will build up a lot of grime in a year. If your deck doesn’t need any repairs, you can go straight to power washing, followed by scrubbing difficult spots.

However, make your repairs first. Inspect the boards to see if you need to replace any that are splitting or warping. Use a wood deck cleaner and brightener and follow the manufacturers’ instructions. 

After you clean your deck, it’s time to sand and vacuum. Not all decks will need to be sanded or not in all areas. You may need to spot sand with a random orbital sander.

Don’t use too fine a grit, or the sawdust will remain in the wood pores and prevent the stain from sinking in. Sandpaper that is too coarse will damage soft woods like cedar.

Vacuum the dust but don’t powerwash again as it may raise the grain on surfaces you just sanded. 

Re-sealing your deck requires using the right product. Most outdoor products are stains and sealers in one. Some are semi-transparent with just enough pigment to even out the wood’s tone. They come water-based or oil-based, and the common consensus is that oil-based stains penetrate the wood more effectively and provide longer-lasting protection, one that will not need to be re-applied every year. 

Painted Wood Deck Maintenance

Many people like the color options and easy maintenance offered by painted decks. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean and repaint your wood deck.

Everything about cleaning and sanding above applies to painted decks as well. Paint does protect well against UV rays and other damaging weather, but it chips and wears away. 

Painted decks must be repaired, power-washed, and sanded before they can be repainted. Sometimes all you need is spot-sanding after the chipped places are washed away. In other cases, the paint is peeling so badly that the whole deck will need to be sanded for a smooth finish. 

On bare boards or previously stained wood, you will need to use a primer first. Painted decks need several new paint coats over the old paint, leaving two days between each coat. 

Bringing it Home

Whether you like the look of natural wood, stained or unstained, or the colors paint gives you, there are many attractive options to maintain or update your backyard deck.

The best thing you can do for your deck is to clean and repair it every year and regularly re-seal to keep that wood healthy and beautiful for many years to come. 

Do you live in Southeast Michigan? If you looking for professional deck installation or refinishing, please give us a call. We are here whenever you need us!

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