What to Consider when choosing the Best Deck Stain For Cedar?

Do you have a cedar deck? If so, you have certainly noticed the adverse effects of harsh weather and UV rays on its appearance. 

Winters tend to be harsh on wood, causing it to crack, face, and warp, particularly if the boards are bare. Wooden fibers are held together by lignin, which is broken down by ultraviolet light. When the fibers start falling apart, your deck is likely to acquire a gray look. 

The best way to protect your wooden boards is with a deck stain. 

If you’re looking for the best deck stain for cedar, follow the tips below.


The first factor to consider when shopping for the best cedar deck stain is the type of paint. It’s available in two categories, film-forming and penetrating. Film-forming stains, as the name explains, create a film on the surface of wood, which serves as a barrier between the material and the environment. It’s great for offering UV protection and covering blemishes. It’ll take a couple of years before your boards require a refreshment. 

Film-forming stains are a suitable option for homeowners with old and new cedar boards. Upon replacing boards, such paint covers the uneven appearance that results from the replacement. In contrast, penetrating stains penetrate below the surface and move through the cedar grain, getting wrapped around each fiber. 

By wrapping around each fiber, these paints make cedar much stronger and resistant to rot, insects, and water damage. The wood will be allowed to breathe while being protected from harsh weather elements. They’re an excellent option for softwoods, such as cedar, by keeping them protected on the inside and outside. 


Another important factor to take into account when choosing the best deck stain for cedar is transparency. This quality refers to the cedar amount that’s visible through the stain. Less transparent paints make grain and blemishes visible, whereas opaque paints don’t allow much of the cedar surface to be seen. Read this article to see a comparison of wood deck options.

There are four types of staining, solid, semi-solid, semi-transparent, and transparent. Solid staining is the ideal solution for homeowners who wish to hide the natural finish of cedar completely. Solid stains are perfect for covering the imperfections of cedar decks, which are extremely worn out by the weather. 

In contrast, semi-solid staining provides better transparency, but it still changes the appearance of wood. The best use of these stains is for reviving the look of old cedar decks, which require refreshment and color. Nevertheless, new decks might not benefit so much from semi-solid staining, as cedar’s appeal is mainly caused by its uniqueness and weathering characteristics. 

Semi-transparent stains add a hint of color, but they’re sufficiently transparent to make the grain visible. The role of these products is to provide surface protection while emphasizing the grain and character of cedar. Anyhow, they aren’t a good option for covering blemishes, such as those of decks in deteriorated condition. 

Transparent stains, otherwise named clear toners, have no pigment, and their only role is to act as a barrier that protects the wood from UV rays and unfavorable weather conditions. The following link, https://www.livescience.com/50326-what-is-ultraviolet-light.html, explains what ultraviolet light is. Homeowners who wish to emphasize the beauty of natural wood should opt for a clear sealer. 

Oil vs. water-based stains

After choosing the best level of transparency, you should consider the base of these wood paints. The largest part of deck stains is either oil-based or water-based. Nevertheless, there are certain products with a hybrid base as well. The base is an indicator of their performance and ease of application. 

For instance, water-based products can be applied and cleaned up easily. You’ll only need soap and water to clean them up. The VOC (volatile organic compound) levels of these paints are fairly low, meaning they are less harmful to the environment. On the negative side, wooden decks have to be prepped prior to applying a stain that’s water-based in order to increase its lifespan. 

Nevertheless, by prepping the surface with a brightener and a cleaner, water-based products have better chances of outlasting oil-based variants. Conversely, oil-based wood paints are capable of penetrating deeper as they get soaked by the material. These products aren’t the best of friends with the environment due to the high VOC levels. 

On the positive side, they get applied more easily compared to the water-based variants and don’t make lap marks too visible. There are certain downsides to take into consideration. For instance, oil-based products aren’t as long-lasting; they are more challenging to clean and more attractive to mildew and mold. The time necessary for drying is usually longer, which is why you need to be careful not to leave footprints. Make sure the weather isn’t raining when deciding to apply such products. 

Hybrid stains, as the name points out, are based on a combination of oil and water. These products have been invented recently because of the introduction of stricter VOC restrictions. These restrictions have forced manufacturers to invent more environmentally friendly versions of their paints. The hybrid version is actually a compromise between the convenience of water-based stains and the functionality of oil-based products, providing the benefits of both bases. 

The bottom line

Choose the right product to provide the best protection for your cedar deck. 

It deserves a fresh look after the winter months!

Humna Chaudhary
Humna Chaudhary
Humna is a freelance writer, more than 2 years of experience , I writes and publishes articles on lots of high-quality Tech, General, Health, Fashion sites. . For more information contact me on humnachaudhary852@gmail.com