Deck Sealing vs Staining – Which is the Better Option?

Wood decks are an excellent addition to any outdoor living space in the form of a patio, porch, or sunroom. Decking is a popular material to use for these projects because of its low cost and ease of installation.

However, when cared for improperly, decks can lose their aesthetic appeal and become susceptible to damage.

If you’re in the middle of a project right now and trying to decide which method is right for you – deck sealing vs staining, this is the post for you.

Deck Sealing vs Staining
The main difference between deck sealing and staining is that staining provides protection from the sun’s rays while sealing does not.

Difference Between Staining and Sealing a Deck

If you suspect your deck is rot-free and you’d like to ensure it stays that way, you might be considering your options for sealing or staining your deck.

With so many different brands and types of sealers and stains, it’s not always easy to know which option is best for your deck.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that the purpose of staining and sealing a deck is the same: to protect the wood from the elements to prevent rot and decay. However, there are some key differences in deck stain vs sealer using.

The difference between the two is simple. When you seal a deck, you are applying a finish that will protect wood from weathering. On the other hand, when you stain a deck, you are adding a new color to the wood.


  • deck sealing
  • deck sealing

Sealing a deck is the process of applying a finish to protect wood from the elements. The most common type of deck sealer is a penetrating sealer. This is a water-based option that soaks into the wood and protects it from the elements. Even though you will not see the sealer once it is applied it will protect wood for years.

Sealing does not change the color of the wood. It simply protects it.

Why seal a deck?

There are many reasons to seal your deck. The first reason is to give it a clean and uniform look. The second – is to protect the wood from the weather.

Sealing the wood will protect it from the sun, water, and even mold. Sealing the wood will also make it last a lot longer.

How to seal a deck

sealing deck

When you are sealing a deck, there are a few things that you need to do in order to get good results.

1. Clean the deck first

The first thing that you need to do when you are sealing a deck is to clean it. Make sure that you remove all of the dirt and grime from the surface.

The best way to clean a deck is to use a pressure washer. But if you don’t have one, you can use a garden hose and a stiff brush. The goal is to get the deck clean and to remove any dirt.

Once the deck is clean, you need to let it dry completely. If you try to seal it before it is completely dry, you risk sealing in the dirt. Once it is completely dry, you are ready to seal the deck.

2. Use a new paint roller

When you are applying a sealer, you need to make sure that you use a new brush or roller. The reason for this is that the sealer will harden the brush or roller, and they will no longer be usable. If you use an old brush or roller, you risk applying too much sealer.

3. Use a penetrating sealer

In most cases, when you are sealing a deck, you should be using a penetrating option. This is because it will soak into the wood and provide better protection.

4. Always wait for the sealer to dry

When you are sealing a deck, you need to make sure that you wait for it to dry. If you don’t wait for the sealer to dry, it will appear streaky and uneven.

The trick to getting good results is to wait for the sealer to dry before you apply a second coat. This is the key to avoiding streaks and brush strokes.

  • Sealing your deck will make it last longer;
  • Lesser amount of required material;
  • Seals out mildew and other moisture;
  • Can also be used to protect wood against mold, mildew, and insects.
  • It is a more expensive process;
  • Sealing can discolor the wood if done improperly.


  • staining
  • staining

Staining a deck is the process of applying a finish that will change the color of the wood. This is done by adding pigments to a water-based solution to change the color. The reason that it is safe to stain a deck is that the pigments are water-based. This means that they will not be absorbed into the wood as an oil-based finish would.

Staining can be done with both oil-based or water-based stains. Water-based options tend to be easier to apply and clean up easier. Oil-based stains tend to last longer.

One drawback to oil-based options is that they can cause wood to expand and contract more. This is why you would not want to stain the deck boards immediately after installing them.

Why stain a deck?

When staining a deck, you are trying to make wood darker to protect it better from the elements. Wood stain is generally not a long-term protectant but can add a great deal of color to your deck.

How to stain a deck

stainig deck

1. Scrape the wood

If you are staining your deck, you will need to remove the loose paint, dirt, and grime first. Use a scraper to remove all the unnecessary elements. If your deck has been sealed, you may need to use a pneumatic wood chisel to remove the old sealer.

2. Wash the deck

Use a pressure washer, a garden hose, brush, and mild detergent to wash off the deck. Make sure that you do not use any harsh chemicals that can damage the wood.

3. Allow the wood to dry

You will need to allow the wood to dry before you apply any sealer or stain.

4. Apply the sealer

If you are sealing your deck with a water-based sealer, you will need to apply two coats of the sealer. You will need to apply the first coat of sealer using a paint roller. Follow the instructions on the sealer to determine how long you need to wait before applying the second coat.

5. Allow it to dry

You will need to allow the sealer to dry. The manufacturer’s instructions will provide details on how long you need to allow the sealer to dry.

6. Apply stain

Apply the first coat of stain to the deck using a paint roller. Make sure that you apply it evenly. The first coat of stain will serve to seal the wood. You will need to allow the stain to dry. Apply the second coat of stain to the deck using a paint roller and let it dry.

  • It’ll quickly hide the wood grain and any imperfections in the surface of the wood;
  • Wood stains are an affordable way to give the deck the look of more expensive material, like cedar or redwood;
  • It will protect the wood from the sun, rain, snow, and ice.
  • Requires frequent maintenance;
  • It is less expensive than sealing.

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Sealing is a great option for a deck that’s already in good shape and needs protection from the elements, while staining will give your deck a much deeper, richer color.

Hope you have found the answer to your should I stain or seal my deck question. Let us know in the comments if this helped you decide or if you have any other questions.

Sean Chapman
Sean Chapman

“A good tool stays with you for many years and choosing carefully ensures the job is done right, your work is neat, and the tool is always a pleasure to use”

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