5 On Your Side

Semi-transparent deck stains balance durability, beauty

Posted May 21, 2014

WRAL 5 On Your Side
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— It takes work to keep decks looking great, and this is the time of year many people take on the challenge of re-staining.

The project can drastically improve both appearance and lifespan, but homeowners should take steps to ensure their hard work doesn’t have to be re-done in a few weeks.

Consumer Reports tested 29 stains, including one that claims you can apply it right after washing your deck. The group found the type of stain makes a big difference.

Clear finishes show off the natural wood grain, but Consumer Reports found they tend to only last a year and won’t keep the wood from turning gray. A solid stain covers up the natural grain but lasts longer.

“It’s more durable,” Rico De Paz, of Consumer Reports, said. “So three years later, it’s almost exactly the same.”

A semi-transparent finish will still look good after two years.

One semi-transparent stain from Cabot Express claims there’s no need to allow drying time between cleaning the deck and applying the stain. Consumer Reports put it to the test against another semi-transparent stain from Behr.

“After two years the Behr still looked really good, while the Cabot had started to break down,” De Paz said.

Behr’s Premium Weather Proofing Stain earned top ratings with Consumer Reports and costs $37 at Home Depot.

Two other products, a clear stain and a solid color stain, also received top ratings:
• Thompson’s Water Seal Advanced Waterproofer clear stain, which retails for $23. 
• Behr’s Solid Color Waterproofing wood stain, which retails for $29.

Three of the biggest staining goofs:
Rushing the prep. Homeowners should power-wash off all dirt and mildew for the stain to stick.
Laying it on too thick. Too much stain will sit on the surface instead of soaking in, which causes a film to form that can peel prematurely.
Wet wood. If the deck isn’t dry, it can blister and blotch.

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