A male hand, using a large paintbrush, is applying stain to weathered and cleaned, treated deck boards.
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How To Chose Between Oil And Water-Based Stains For Your Deck
Whether you have a new deck or want to refurbish your old one, you’ll have the choice of using an oil- or water-based stain.
Neither is technically superior to the other, but each has strengths and weaknesses you should consider before staining the deck.
Oil-based stains actually penetrate the wood, protecting it and enhancing the current color of the wood while being better at resisting peeling than its water-based counterpart.
The oil-based stain dries with a scratch-resistant smooth, glossy finish. It’s easy to apply as the oil sinks into the wood, and the brush strokes don’t show after the stain dries.
Oil-based stains, however, demand lengthy drying times, require reapplication more frequently, require mineral spirits for cleanup, and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Water-based stains dry on top of the wood, reducing drying time, and cleanup requires only a brush and soapy water. Additionally, it emits no VOCs and has a milder smell than oil.
These stains typically last longer than oil-based ones and are lower maintenance. When you apply a new coat, you won’t have to scrub or sand your desk.
The drawbacks of water-based stains are the longer time needed to apply it to the wood and the risk of it peeling if you use too much stain.
One other thing to note is
if you plan on switching between the two, you'll have to apply a stain stripper to remove the old coating before applying the new one.