Deck Staining: Semi-Transparent vs Solid

In Exterior Painting, Homeowner Tips by MatthewLeave a Comment

A deck is a wonderful addition to any home, providing a perfect outdoor space for relaxation and entertainment. However, to maintain its beauty and longevity, regular maintenance is important. One of the essential aspects of deck maintenance is choosing the right type of stain. Two popular options are semi-transparent and solid stains. In this blog post, we’ll explain the key differences between these two types of stains to help you make an informed decision for your deck staining project.

Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-transparent stains are thin in opacity and offer a more subtle and natural look as they allow the grain and texture of the wood to show through. These stains are perfect for showcasing the deck’s natural beauty and come in various tints, adding a touch of color while preserving the wood’s natural hues. This type of stain comes in either a water or oil based pigment. Water based stains tend to peel over time, while oil based fades. You will notice the product start to fail anywhere from the 1-3 year mark of when it was applied. Different factors contribute to the longevity such as sun exposure and foot traffic. It is important to know the difference between the two pigments when re-applying the product on your deck because each product has to go over the same type of product. That means oil can not go over water, and vice versa. If that happens, it will not absorb into the wood.

It is important to consider the condition of the deck surface when deciding what stain to apply. If you have a new or well-maintained deck with limited grey or worn areas, a semi-transparent stain is a great choice. By allowing the natural features of the wood to shine through, this type of stain highlights the deck’s beauty while providing a touch of color and protection. This stain can really revitalize the natural wood look of a deck surface. Check out the pictures below of a semi-transparent deck staining project we completed.

Solid Stains

Compared to a semi-transparent stain, a solid stain is thicker in opacity and is more paint-like. This product covers the entire surface of the wood, masking the natural grain and texture. Solid stains come in a variety of colors making it ideal for providing consistent coverage of a deck. It is important to pressure wash and sand the deck boards prior to applying the stain. When doing solid stain deck jobs, we traditionally use this product called SuperDeck from Sherwin Williams. There are 73 color options ranging in a variety of tones. This product is ideal for older decks that are greyed and have not been treated in a long time. The solid stain does an effective job at covering imperfection such as cracks and blemishes to provide a better look and protective coating to the wood. The solid stain product will typically last 2-4 years before it starts to peel again and needs to be re-applied. Check out the photos below of a solid deck staining project we did.


There are a few factors to consider when deciding which product to apply on your deck. Ultimately the right choice depends on your the condition of the deck surface, preference in look, and desired level of maintenance. It’s important to consistently maintain your deck with some protective coating to enhance the look and increase longevity. If you need some advice on what product to apply on your deck and assistance in the application process, please reach out for a free quote! Thanks for reading.

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