Before we start…

  • Clear stain: Basically just wood protector. When it dries most people don’t even know it’s there. Do not use this kind of stain except in special circumstances, you’re wasting your money.
  • Semi-transparent stain: True stain that soaks into the wood and tones the wood to whatever color(s) you wish. After drying, this stain will still show the grains in the wood.
  • Solid stain: This stuff is basically just paint with a few alterations. Once dry, you will not be able to see the grains of the wood, or anything else laying underneath.

Ok now then…
If you’re planning to sell your house and you want to make the deck look good for potential buyers, we always advise against using a solid stain, unless you’re trying to hide a lot of really ugly marks that cannot be extracted with a pressure washer. The main reason is that potential buyers know that because there is now solid stain on the deck, it means that they will always be stuck using solid until they build a new deck. A lot of our customers (especially the younger crowd), prefer to see the natural grains in the wood of the deck. If you’re not planning on selling, then you may still want to hold off on using a solid stain because it rarely lasts as long as semi-transparent stain, and when it starts to peel it’s a thousand times more visible than semi-transparent when it peels.

Of course if you’ve got a lot of ugly marks from a grill or potted plants that simply will not come off with a pressure washer, then go ahead and use a solid stain. Please note: solid stain will not adequately cover rotted wood, and if visitors see it, they will think there are other things you’re trying to hide from them. My recommendation is that if you have 1 or 2 pieces of rotted wood on your deck and it currently has semi-transparent stain on it, then simply replace those boards (or have people like us do it), and use semi-transparent stain again.