Should I use stain or paint on my deck?


If you have a wood deck, you can protect it from the weather and add visual appeal to the space with proper maintenance. Part of that maintenance might include painting or staining the deck. Which is better for the deck, painting or staining or leaving it as it is?

Pros and cons of staining.

Deck builders in Edmonton will tell you that the main pro to staining your deck, especially if it’s made of cedar, is that you can enrich the wood’s natural colour and grain pattern. A well-maintained, stained cedar deck can be a stunning addition to your home. The con of staining? It doesn’t last as long as paint and you will be sanding it down and preparing your deck to stain again every two to three years.

Stain will soak deep into the wood and fill in all those tiny gaps that would otherwise absorb unwanted moisture and that will help protect the wood, but it’s still not as protective as paint. Stain will help prevent rot and mold, but most stains are not as effective against the sun’s UV rays. South facing decks might see deterioration of stain sooner than shady decks. Check the label on the stain before you buy it. Some stains offer more UV protection than others. Purchasing a high-quality solid-colour stain might give your deck another 8 years or so before it needs to be stained again.

Pros and cons of painting.

The biggest con of painting is that it will hide the wood’s natural and beautiful texture, but it will give a more long-term protection to your deck and it won’t have to be done as frequently as staining. New, quality water-based paints are flexible and can handle the wood’s movement and fluctuations better than older, oil-based paint. Painting your deck will protect it from moisture and UV rays while hiding imperfections. If you take care of your deck, a good paint job can last 10 years or more. Plus, there are more colour varieties with paint, so you can choose a colour that will make your home’s exterior really pop.

Painting a deck can be a messy job and it’s important that the wood is properly prepared before you begin. Take your time. A rushed and sloppy paint job will have bad results. Learn how to paint a deck. 

When can I leave it as is?

If you build a deck using pressure treated lumber, you don’t have to worry as much about painting or staining the deck. The wood has been treated preservatives that help it withstand the weather and makes it resistant to insects, rot and fungus. When you first build your pressure treated deck, it will have a greenish tint, but if you don’t paint or stain it your deck will gradually fade to a silvery grey and can last up to 15 years before needing to be replaced.

Some people choose to not paint or stain their cedar decks. Cedar has a natural resistance to pests and doesn’t rot as quickly as other wood. If you choose not to stain or paint your cedar wood, it will start to look dull and grey over time. Your deck will still last for years to come and will be fine, if you don’t mind that dull grey colour.

Read more articles about decks.


David Demian
David Demian
Associate