While natural wood or cedar tone is a common choice for deck stain colour, you might want to choose a different shade. Selecting a solid stain gives you unlimited choices, because most paint companies can tint solid stain to almost any colour under the sun. With transparent stains, the underlying colour of your wooden decking will affect the outcome, so always test the stain colour on some scrap wood or an out-of-the-way area first.
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Solid stains are opaque and will not reveal any of the underlying wood colour. Solid stain is applied like paint, although it has a thinner consistency and allows the texture of the wood to show. Solid stains are a good choice for heavily discoloured wooden decks, and most paint suppliers stock solid stain tint bases, which can be mixed in almost all of the available paint colours except for some of the very deep jewel tones, such as brilliant red and yellow. Solid stain can typically be matched to any of the paint colours on your house.
Transparent wood stains
The most common stain used on decks is transparent oil-based stain. It allows the grain and underlying colour of the wood to show through, and comes in colours that match traditional wood tones, like cedar, oak and chestnut. The more pigment you have in the deck stain, the better it will protect your wood from damaging ultraviolet sunlight.
Deck stains are also available in different shades of grey to give your deck a weathered look. While it may be tempting to simply leave your deck untreated and let it weather naturally, applying stains or water repellents significantly prolongs the life and beauty of a wood deck.
If you want a transparent stain instead of solid stain, but like the idea of more exotic colours like blue, green or pink, look beyond your local DIY shop. Independent retailers and paint shops that sell better quality brands of stain are more likely to carry non-traditional stain colours.
Consider using two (or even more) colours of stain for your deck. If your deck has several levels, accentuate a seating or patio area with one colour, and use another for the surrounding deck. Highlight steps and stairs for safety by staining them a different colour for added visibility. If your deck has railings, stain them a different colour -- perhaps white or light grey to match your house trim -- in contrast to the decking. Just remember that whatever colour stain you use now will affect the colour of future transparent stain jobs.
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