Now that we are experiencing good weather, it is the perfect time to stain your deck! We know what you’re thinking, what color should you stain it? And should you use paint or stain? If you’re looking for deck painting ideas, here’s some helpful information and answers to the most frequently asked questions about staining a wood deck.

Is it better to paint or stain your deck?

The biggest confusion with deck finishes occurs when a solid stain has been applied to it. Most people assume it’s paint, when in fact it’s an opaque stain (which has the same appearance as paint).

Regardless of the final look you prefer, deck stain products offer the best adhesion and wear. If your deck is bare wood, here are a few questions you might ask yourself in determining if you should do a solid color stain, semi-transparent stain, or transparent stain.

  1. What are the weather conditions where you live?

If your deck is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight, then it is exposed to more harmful UV rays than normal. Solid stains provide more protection from the damaging rays of the sun, while more transparent stains are better in wet, wooded surroundings because they allow excess moisture to escape.

  1.  What type of wood is your deck made of?

If your deck is made of an expensive, beautiful wood, why not accentuate the natural grain and texture with a light transparent stain, rather than cover it up with solid stain? On the other hand, if your deck is old and faded, and some of the boards have been replaced, a solid stain will provide a more consistent look blending the old with the new.

  1. What look do you want?

If you like the rustic look of natural wood, a light-colored transparent stain will add some color while allowing the wood grain to show through. A solid stain, like Sherwin William’s SuperDeck Waterbourne Solid Deck Stain, provides full coverage and a more modern look, and with so many color options you can go vibrant and bold by creating fun patterns and designs.



What is the difference between solid stain and transparent stain?

Solid stain has more pigment to protect your deck from harmful UV rays and inclement weather. It’s thick enough to fill in minor gaps and cracks and can cover damages and discoloration. Transparent (and semi-transparent) stain allows you to control the amount of natural wood grain that shows through based on the amount of pigment in the stain. There are many colors to choose from, and stain is water permeable, so unwanted moisture can escape, thus reducing the risk of wood rot.

The importance of prep time before staining your deck

At ONiT Painting, we don’t take any shortcuts. We know how imperative it is to take the time and thoroughly prep your deck prior to staining. Depending on the condition and age of your deck, you may need to clean, strip, sand, repair or replace boards, and prime. With all this to consider, hiring a professional painter will not only save you time, but can also give the best results in the appearance and longevity of your deck.

What color should you stain your deck?

Wood stain comes in many colors, from natural hues to more unique options. Stains containing more pigment produce a more saturated color; the resulting aesthetic depends on the shade you select.

Gray: Gray is perfect for a sea-inspired, coastal look.

Blue: Blue can look traditional or modern.

Red: Go bold or rustic with red.

Taupe: This neutral tone complements any color.

Green: Harmonize with the surrounding green foliage.

How to test a new deck color?

Because the natural color of the wood can affect the color of the stain applied on top, it is ideal to do tests on scrap wood, or test new colors on a small, hidden section of your deck. This way you can also see how much of the wood grain remains visible. Remember, you don’t have to match your deck color to the color of your house, you can simply choose a shade that complements it.

What are the different types of deck stain?

Stain comes in varying degrees of opacity from clear (most natural) to solid (most coverage).


For wood with a gorgeous grain pattern you don’t want to cover up, clear stain provides the most natural look.


Add a hint of subtle color while letting the wood grain and texture show through with a tinted stain.


A good option for older decks with replacement boards, a semitransparent stain helps even out the tone. Even with the extra pigment, you’ll still be able to see some of the wood grain.


If your deck is stained or damaged, solid stain covers up imperfections and provides the best UV protection of all these options. No wood grain will show through, however.

How to Protect Your Deck from Rain,snow and ice:

Whether you have a small or large deck, it needs to be protected; especially if it’s uncovered and vulnerable to the weather. While lighter transparent stains will preserve the natural appearance of the wood, solid colors will protect your deck better.

The key to success lies not only in the prep work, but also in the selection and application of the deck stain. ONiT Painting has the experience, the people, and the tools ready and available, and we can help you choose the best product and color for your wood deck. Contact us today to schedule a free estimate.