Best Deck Stain to Pick Based on Your Climate

Shopping for deck stain? We can help. Here's how to choose the best deck stain for your climate

Pick the best deck stain for your local climate

Whether you live in the humid south or the dry desert, enjoying your deck and your outdoor space is always appealing. But what's not so appealing? A splintery, discolored wooden surface that can't withstand the weather it's in. That's right, this article is all about deck stain — specifically, which kind of stain you should use depending on what the weather's like where you live.

When it comes to staining your deck, you'll typically have to choose from either an oil-based finish or a water-based finish. While either will suit a deck just fine no matter the weather, each kind of finish has its pros and cons depending on the climate. It's up to you to decide which one would be the best choice for your home.

Water-based finishes

Rain every once in a while shouldn't affect the wood on your deck that much. However, if you live in a region where there's an ample amount of rainfall, you'll want to opt for a water-based, paintable solution. Many deck stains of this kind can create a mildew-resistant finish and can oftentimes prove to be non-slip. This type of finish can also fill in holes really well, which is something many decks suffer from in persistently wet, rainy weather. While the water-based finish is great at preventing mildew that can develop in moist conditions, it's also defensive against UV rays (which still are present, even in damper, colder climates).

Additionally, a water-based finish is not as odorous and can even be fire-resistant, making it a not-so-great option for hot, dry climates. Also, water-based stains are more breathable, preventing moisture from getting trapped in the wood (hence its mildew resistance).

Another reason water-based deck finishes can last longer in wet weather? It's actually easier to clean. With wind and rain comes debris, dust, dander, and whatever else that flies into your backyard. And one of the awesome things about water-based finishes is the fact that you can paint your deck with it even if it's damp out. That's because wet wood can actually absorb water-based finish. This means you don't have to wait until it's dry out to paint your deck.

But even if you live in a humid, wet region, know that water-based stains are a tad more high-maintenance than oil-based ones. Since water-based finishes don't absorb into the wood as deeply as oil-based stains, they tend to peel over time. That means you'll have to deal with chipped, peeling wood over time — so watch out for cuts and splinters! But if you know this ahead of time, you can be prepared to touch up the finish every year or two.

Oil-based finishes

If you live in warmer, dryer weather, going with an oil-based finish for your deck may be in your best interest. This type of finish is incredibly long-lasting, even under a blazing sun. That's because the oil-based finish can actually penetrate deep into the wood upon application, providing a strong, long-lasting effect.

Another reason oil-based finishes are better for warmer weather is the application process. Generally speaking, this type of finish takes a lot longer to dry, which means the weather's got to be somewhat warm and moisture-free. Plus, you get the added bonus of taking your time blending brush strokes, creating a more even finish. With this stuff, time is truly on your side.

Oil-based finishes can also encourage mildew, especially if it's used in a moist climate. That's because mildew, algae and mold often feed off the materials present in the finish, which can be a real problem in wet, humid environments. However, if it's used in a region where it's pretty dry most of the time, you'll have nothing to worry about.

While there are plenty of great benefits to using oil-based finishes, you should know about some of the drawbacks before using any. First off, oil-based stains contain volatile organic compounds which aren't too good for the environment. And while oil-based finishes won't peel as much, they will fade over time from the strength of the sun. For this reason, you may want to opt for a transparent finish so that your desired color doesn't fade under the sun's rays.

While painting your deck may seem like an arduous task, it really can make or break your backyard vibes and is a fairly low-cost way to improve your outdoor space! Whether you live in sunny a sunny climate or a humid region, enjoying a safe, beautifully stained deck is truly universal — especially during the summer months.

Resources — Richmond Hardware, This Old HouseDeck Stain Pro