Pine Deck in Benjamin Moore Solid Exterior Stain, Richmond Bisque HC-177

Should you paint or stain your wooden deck? Make sure you understand the key differences between these products so you can choose the best finish for your outdoor living space. Deck paint is known for its high coverage resulting in a uniform look, but a solid deck stain offers homeowners the same color options with less work and higher quality results.

What’s the difference between deck stain and deck paint?

Deck stain and deck paint both provide a solid color finish for your deck. The differences between these products concern their properties and how they interact with the wood.

comparison of deck paint vs. solid deck stain

Deck Paint

Deck paint is a specialty exterior paint formulation intended for use on horizontal wood surfaces. This pigmented coating forms a protective film on the surface of the wood, covering the natural grain and texture of the wood for a uniform appearance. While “restorative” deck paint is advertised as a way to refresh your weathered deck, this thick layer of paint merely covers up cracks and blemishes without restoring the wood itself. Most deck paint products also add a rough texture for slip-resistance.

A successful paint job will require layers of primer and sealer along with the deck paint product. Because deck paint sits on the surface of the wood, it is particularly prone to peeling and flaking as the wood expands and contracts under varying weather conditions, sun damage from UV rays, and high moisture levels. If your deck paint starts to come off, you will need to clean, sand, and maybe even strip the existing layer and start the process over.

Deck Stain

Deck stain is a wood preservative that sinks into the wood. Modified acrylic resins in deck stains penetrate deeply into the wood's cellular structure to form strong bonds. When most people think of deck stain, they likely imagine a transparent finish that enhances the natural beauty of the wood. But transparent and semi-transparent stains are only one end of the spectrum of deck stain opacities.

A solid coat deck stain is an opaque, pigmented stain that creates a uniform appearance — similar to deck paint – while also penetrating the wood for a preserving effect. Staining your deck does not require primer, and the stain acts as its own sealant.

Stains soak into the wood, meaning there is less need for a sealant, because moisture is not trapped under the surface as with deck paint. A solid deck stain can still peel, but it generally only requires a simple sanding down before applying touch-up coats. You can also apply a solid stain over more translucent stains without needing to strip the stain first.

Why choose a solid finish?

If transparent stains showcase the natural beauty of wood decks, why choose a solid finish? Solid color decks are lower maintenance than translucent stains, but with the customizable color range of deck paint.

Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior Low Lustre Exterior Paint

More Color Options to Choose From

Since solid stains contain pigment, homeowners are not limited to natural wood colors. Paint manufacturer Benjamin Moore offers all of their 3,500+ colors in their Woodluxe solid deck stain. Pinpoint the exact color that will enhance the look of your deck with Benjamin Moore’s extensive selection available through Ring’s End. You can sample any color of Woodluxe Solid Stain by choosing the ½ pint size after selecting your color.

Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior Low Lustre Exterior Paint

Lower Maintenance

All deck finishes will require homeowners to first clean and prep their deck. However, if natural wood grain is going to be revealed under a transparent stain, old decks need to be restored to a like-new condition. A solid coat, on the other hand, conceals imperfections on wood surfaces — such as blemishes, knots, and discoloration from mold and mildew stains. Solid finishes are also less susceptible to fading in the sun, so they require fewer touch-ups than transparent options.

Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior Low Lustre Exterior Paint

Extends the Life of Your Deck

If you have an old deck, solid color finishes allow you to replace deck boards and cover lighter colors from previous applications. This seamless look helps to extend the life of your deck.

Get the Best of Both Worlds with a Solid Deck Stain

Solid deck stain gives homeowners the uniform look of deck paint without the drawbacks—no need for primer, sealer, or the prep work and maintenance of peeling paint! Solid stains require less frequent reapplication than transparent stains, and have a lower risk of peeling than deck paint products.

A wood stain’s preservative qualities also help maintain the beauty and durability of your deck over time. And if you have a specific look in mind for your deck, solid stains come in a wide variety of colors just like paint products.

Shop Benjamin Moore’s Woodluxe Solid Stain at Ring’s End

Our team of experts highly recommends Benjamin Moore’s Woodluxe Solid Stain for homeowners who want a lasting, beautiful deck in a solid color. This top-of-the-line deck finish is available in over 3,500 colors. Remember you can order samples from Ring’s End to be sure to choose the color you love, and our Woodluxe Product Guide is a great resource for homeowners like you who are searching for the best finish for their deck!

Find the perfect deck stain in our Woodluxe Product Guide

Deck Stain vs. Deck Paint FAQs

Can you stain over paint on a deck?

Is it worth staining an old deck?

How long does a new deck stain last?

Can you use exterior paint on a deck?