Outdoor Living

Painting vs Staining Your Deck: Pros and Cons

If you have a new deck or just wanting to refresh an old one, painting or staining is a great option. So which one is best? There are a lot of factors to consider and each has its own pros and cons. You’ll want to look at the cost, ease of application and maintenance, color choice, and longevity just to name a few.

Painting Your Deck: The Pros

So should you paint your deck? Here are the reasons why you should consider adding some paint to your deck.

There are almost unlimited color options. Paint comes in thousands of colors and you can choose any of them you want for your deck. You may want to match your home’s exterior paint color or add a complementary color that will look great alongside your house. 

Paint can be used to hide flaws. If you have an older deck that has quite a bit of weathering, you can hide some of the damage with paint. Paint is great at filling in spaces where weathering has taken a toll. 

It will be a while before you need to maintain your deck. A good paint job can last 10+ years so you won’t need to repaint your deck anytime soon. Staining needs to be reapplied much often.

Painting Your Deck: The Cons

Painting sounds like a great option for my deck! What are the disadvantages? 

The beauty of the wood will be covered up. Everything beautiful and unique about the wood you use will be completely covered up with paint, where stain can be used to enhance those features. 

Moisture can get trapped in the wood. When you paint your deck, the paint lies on top of it when can lead to water pooling, which can eventually lead to moisture getting trapped in the wood of the deck. This can lead to peel and chip when the wood adjusts to the elements.

You’re pretty much stuck with painting from now on. If you paint a deck once, you’ll always need to paint it. It’s possible but in no way a fun process to take the paint off a deck and switch to stain. 

Staining Your Deck: The Pros

So if painting doesn’t sound like the best option for your deck, you may want to consider staining. Here are some of the advantages of using a stain.

There are different stain options. There are clear wood sealers that show off the beautiful wood you may be using for your deck because the stain is clear. If you want a little color a semitransparent stain will still show off your wood but with a touch of color. If you want to go “paint-like” but still use a stain, there are solid stains that create a darker color that looks a lot like paint but acts like a stain.

You can highlight the wood used. If you’re building or refinishing a deck that has beautiful wood, such as cedar or redwood, a stain can really enhance the wood’s natural characteristics. Stain gives a natural look like you just can’t get with paint.

Stain is easier to apply. There are more steps to painting a deck than staining one. Stain is easier to apply and you’ll be able to get away with fewer coats in all. 

It’s easier to control the opacity. Paint is opaque where stain is not. You can control the opacity of the stain easier by adding as few or as many coats as you would like to get the look you want.

Staining Your Deck: The Cons

While staining is a great option, it’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone. Here are some reasons why you should reconsider staining your deck. 

You’ll need to reapply in a few years. Stains need to be reapplied every 2-3 years on your deck. The elements can be quite hard on stains so you’ll find you need to reapply more often than paint.

It won’t fill in cracks. You can’t use stain to fill in cracks as paint can. Since stain is thinner, it won’t be able to fill in the cracks well. 

It’s tough to hide flaws. If you have a deck that’s been weathered already, you may want to hide some flaws. Unfortunately, staining is so thin that it won’t hide flaws.

Can You Stain Over Paint?

Let’s say that you’ve already painted your deck. So is it safe to stain over? The great news is that you can! The bad news is that you’ll need to use a solid stain. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here are some great directions on how to stain over paint

So can you paint over stain? You sure can and it’s a much easier process than staining over paint. 

Once you’ve got your beautifully painted or stained deck, it’s time to add some final details to make the place one where you’ll want to spend time relaxing and having fun. 

Still not sure if painting or staining is for you? If you’re building a new deck, you may want to consider a different flooring option such as a composite deck

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