What’s the Difference Between Deck Sealing and Staining?

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After cleaning the deck for the first time this summer, you may find that it’s not looking as good as it did last year. You may want to spruce it up with a sealant or stain. Knowing the difference between the two is important before you do anything. So what is the difference between deck sealing and staining?


Deck sealing is used to prevent water from penetrating the surface of the wood. Most sealants on the market today contain UV protectant to help preserve the integrity of the wood from ultraviolet damage. With regular application, sealing can help the wood maintain its natural look for many years.

The downside to deck sealants is the fact that they’re waxed-based. This provides a protective barrier that prevents water from getting in, but it also causes the water to bead up and not drain away. Some decks can see standing water for days after a heavy rain because of the protectant. To keep the protection in place, it’s also necessary to reduce the protectant every year.


Deck staining, on the other hand, changes the color of the wood. A penetrating oil stain is best because it soaks in, providing the best protection. Oil-based stains are semi-transparent and will darken the deck’s color while allowing the wood grain to show through. A semi-transparent stain will last longer than sealants or other types of stain.

For weathered wood, opaque or solid stain is best. It will help hide imperfections in the wood, covering the wood grain and providing a semi-smooth finish. These kinds of stains tend to show weathering easily and will require a new coat each year to maintain the deck’s look.

For more information about the difference between deck sealing and staining, or for other handyman services, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

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