Nothing enhances the beauty of a deck like a fresh finish coat. However, many people have a tough time choosing between deck paint and stain. Once you begin to apply one type of finish, it's almost impossible to change your mind. So, before you begin applying either paint or stain to your deck, you'd better know the pros and cons of each.

Benefits of Stain

Stain is the logical choice for those who want to keep things simple both in style and substance. Stain can really enhance the beauty of a deck, bringing out the natural beauty of the wood. It's available in different tints and it's relatively easy to apply. Also, since most deck stains are oil-based, they're very resistant to the effects of weather.

Negatives of Stain

Stain is ideal for bringing out the beauty of brand new wood; however, it won't do too much for wood that's old and weathered. Also, in certain climates, stain won't protect wood quite as well as coats of primer and paint will. Areas that have high humidity and those that get a lot of snow aren't always ideal for stain.

Benefits of Paint

Properly applied primer followed by a coat of paint can also enhance the beauty of a deck. Deck paint can make older decks look brand new and is ideal for decks that have either been repaired or assembled with different types of wood. Also, painted decks are generally easier to maintain. A properly applied coat of paint can last for many years, while stains must generally be re-applied several times throughout the life of the deck.

Negatives of Paint

Painted decks really do tend to last, but only if the paint is applied correctly. When it's not, it tends to chip and peal. Two coats of primer must be applied before any painting can begin. This makes the application process a bit time-consuming. Also, some prefer the natural beauty of stained decks and feel that painted decks look artificial and plastic-like.

The Bottom Line

There are several benefits to both deck paint and deck stain. Although there are certain situations where one seems a superior choice over the other, more often than not the decision comes down to taste. Those who want the color of paint but also want to maintain the natural look of the deck's wood surface might consider choosing a tinted deck stain. These stains come in a variety of colors but can be applied without primer, generally in one coat.