Decking stains are all-in-one decking treatments that both colour and protect wooden decking in one easy process. Using a stain on softwood and hardwood decking boards protects them from weathering, foot traffic and water ingress. Whilst they colour, enhance and improve the appearance of new and old decking, the protection they provide can also significantly extend the life of decked areas.
Although decking stains are normally products that coat the wood with a protective seal, many coloured or pigmented decking oils are also called ‘decking stains’. This can cause confusion as decking oils and stains work differently and require a different approach in terms of maintenance and care. Always check when buying decking treatments to ensure that it is the right one for your decking project.
Which is the best decking stain?
Choosing the right decking stain largely comes down to individual colour choice and opacity. Some decking stains simply provide a highly translucent tint to decking boards whilst others provide a more striking colour, or more opaque finish such as Charcoal, Stone Grey or White Wash.
Decking stain technology has moved on considerably over the years with modern formulas being tougher and more durable than those of the past. Our recommendation is to stick with the big name brands and avoid cheaper own brand products. These tend to be cheap for a reason and rarely perform as well brands such as Ronseal, Cuprinol and Barrettine.
3 of the Best Decking Stains
- Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Stain: A water-based, acrylic decking stain and protective treatment for garden decking which offers unrivalled protection against foot traffic and weathering to Provide a long lasting, slip resistant finish
- Cuprinol Anti-Slip Decking Stain: A water-based, anti-slip decking stain for all softwood and hardwood decking. Contains anti-slip microbeads to improve grip making decked areas safer whilst provides long lasting wear and weather protection
- Ronseal Decking Stain: A water-based decking stain for bare, pressure treated or preservative impregnated decking. Perfect for smooth and grooved, softwood and hardwood decking boards and provides a durable, hard-wearing, slip resistant finish
What are the benefits of decking stains?
- Decking stains can offer a stronger darker colour as the coats build on the surface of the decking boards
- Decking that is cleaned and maintained on a regular basis with a suitable decking cleaner is less prone to moss, mould and algae. This is because the biological spores cannot bond with the wood fibers of the decking boards.
- Most decking stains offer UV resistance to the woods natural colour. As a tip, the darker the deck stain the better the UV resistance offered to the timbers it protects.
In terms of life and duration, this can be dependent on many factors such as the decking location and usage. Care should be taken to protect decking stains from anything that is sharp and heavy. If the seal of the coating is compromised, water may start to work its way under the stain. This will eventually result in the stain starting to lift, crack or peel from the surface of the wood.
Some types of hardwood decking may require a period of weathering, usually a couple of months before applying a decking stain. Decking made from exotic hard woods such as Teak and Iroko, can contain a lot of natural oils. These can be problematic as they may affect the adhesion of the stain to the wood. In many cases, new hardwood decking is better treated with a suitable decking oil.
It is recommended that before applying a decking stain to exotic hardwood decking, check with the decking manufacturer or supplier to get advice on how long the decking should be left to weather prior to treating. It is also imperative that decking boards are completely dry and have been for approximately a week prior to applying a decking stain
If treating softwood decking with a wood preservative prior to staining, ensure that any preservative used is wax and silicon free. Many wood preservatives contain a small amount of wax to provide some weather protection. This can prevent coating type stains from bonding with the surface of the wood and may lead to delamination, peeling or flaking of the stain. Find out about suitable decking preservers here.
Looking for a modern, opaque finish, especially ideal for older, grey looking, or worn decked areas? Consider using a decking paint.