Benefits of Staining a Deck

3 Important Benefits of Staining a Deck

For many homeowners, an outdoor wood deck is more than just a place to stage an occasional barbecue or lay out in the sun to work on that tan. With the right level of attention and care, a deck can be a vibrant entertainment area and even serve as an outdoor extension of the home. It is also a way to showcase a beautiful outdoor living space that enhances a home’s value.

Staining a deck safeguards the wood from constant exposure to damaging elements like rain and ultraviolet rays. It also enhances the inherent beauty of the wood and can even transform it beyond its natural color. Lastly, staining can help maximize the useful life of your deck.

But in order for a deck to live up to its life-enhancing potential, its owner has to commit to proper upkeep and a big part of this responsibility is taking care of the wood. Staining a deck can be one of the most crucial steps in preserving its appearance and prolonging its use. These are the 3 most important benefits of staining a deck.

Is It Worth It To Stain a Deck?

Staining a deck can be handed over to the professionals or it can be a rewarding do-it-yourself project. 

Either way, it is a task that not only elevates the appearance of a deck but is also a vital step in maximizing its useful life. It is, therefore, an aspect of regular deck maintenance and upkeep that should not be ignored.

As far as whether it is worth the time and expense to stain a deck, the matter boils down to simple economics. The cost of staining a deck can vary on the size and construction of the structure but on average will likely come in at under a thousand dollars.

A typical stain job provides roughly 2 to 3 years of protection against the elements while enhancing a deck’s appearance, so considering that decks can cost thousands of dollars to repair and even more to build from scratch, the benefits clearly suggest that it is worth it to stain a deck.

What Happens if You Don’t Stain Your Deck?

If you opt not to stain your deck, the consequences can be categorized into two types: those that you can see and those you cannot. 

In either scenario, there are some very important things to consider, including:

  • As far as appearance, it is common for unstained wood to change in color from its natural earth tone to a grayish or silverish hue
  • Blemishes on the deck’s surface, such as cracks and scaling, will also become more evident
  • Unstained wood will not repel moisture so wood rot is a real possibility and this could lead to structural weakness
  • Mold and mildew can also become problems as an unstained deck cannot shed water effectively
  • Wood-boring pests like termites are more likely to prey on unstained wood

Some of the implications of not staining a deck are purely aesthetic and have more to do with one’s personal preferences or tolerances than anything else. But others relate to structural integrity and where personal safety is involved, the value of staining a deck should not be underestimated.

How Often Should a Wood Deck Be Stained?

Generally speaking, a wood deck should be stained every two to three years to maintain an optimal condition, both aesthetically and structurally speaking. But ultimately, the frequency of staining will depend on a variety of factors such as the type of wood used in your deck and the particular climate conditions of your location (e.g., rainy or snowy winters, direct overhead sunshine).

A simple test to perform that can indicate whether it is time to stain your deck is to pour a small amount of water onto the deck surface and observe whether the water beads up or gets absorbed into the wood. 

The former will indicate that the current stain job is still holding up while the latter is a clear sign that your deck could use a fresh coat of stain.

3 Important Benefits of Staining a Deck

There are a number of advantages to staining a deck, but some stand out above the others. Here are the 3 most important benefits to consider when deciding whether or not to stain a deck, starting with perhaps the most important one, weatherproofing.

1. Staining Protects a Deck Against the Elements

Since decks are outdoor structures, they are constantly exposed to the elements, some of which can be quite harsh depending on the location. The most damaging weather conditions for a wood deck are moisture in the form of rain or snow and ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. When it is applied to wood, stain essentially forms a protective barrier against various types of weather conditions.

Here is a closer look at how staining protects a deck against potentially damaging elements:

  • Sun protection – while sunlight can provide wonderful conditions for enjoying some time out on a deck, it can also damage the wood by causing it to become parched and warped, and staining can provide a good measure of protection against harmful sunlight
  • Moisture protection – staining a deck can protect it from excessive moisture which is a major contributing factor to wood rot, a serious, irreversible condition that can significantly compromise a deck’s structural strength
  • Wood integrity – year-round exposure to weather conditions that change from season to season can cause wood to crack and warp and staining your deck can go a long way toward limiting this type of damage

No matter where you live your deck will be exposed to natural elements like rain, wind, sun, and depending on the location, harsher conditions like sleet and snow. With periodic staining, your deck can withstand just about any climate and provide years of enjoyment.

2. Staining Can Keep Your Deck Looking Great

Aside from the measure of protection it affords, staining also enhances the appearance of a deck by allowing the natural beauty of the wood to take center stage. 

There are two primary types of deck stain to choose from:

  • Solid (dark-colored) deck stains allow homeowners to enhance their outdoor space by transforming the color of their wood deck into any number of eye-catching finishes with the added bonus of enhanced protection against harmful UV rays thanks to special pigments in the stain
  • Transparent (Iight-colored) deck stains highlight the natural beauty of your wood deck, accentuating its natural color and grain patterns

Regardless of color or tint, outdoor wood stain is the best way to enhance the appearance of your deck.

3. Staining a Deck Protects Your Investment

Depending on the size, features, and type of wood used in its construction, a deck can cost anywhere from several thousand to roughly $14,000 (approximately $25 per square foot) to build. Even in the case of repairs, these costs can amount to thousands of dollars to restore a damaged deck. 

In either scenario, the expense of staining a deck can be viewed as an effective way of protecting your investment. A well-built deck can be expected to provide 10 to 20 years of enjoyment, and with regular staining, you can expect to boost this figure by another 5 to 10 years.

Conclusion

A wood deck can enhance a home’s value while providing its occupants with a versatile outdoor living space. With proper care, a deck can provide decades of enjoyment and one of the most important aspects of maintaining a deck properly is periodic staining.