There are a lot of variables to take into consideration before choosing which deck stain is right for you. From opacity and color to wood type and age, the right stain for your neighbor may not be the right stain for you. Let’s discuss the five biggest factors that come into play with stain selection.


A stain’s level of opacity is the extent that you will see the natural grain of the wood. There are 5 potential stain opacity options, which include:

  • Clear – No added color and the original wood is clearly displayed
  • Translucent – While this includes a slight tone, it does not obscure the grain or texture of the wood
  • Semi-transparent – This shows more of the grain and texture of the wood as well as a bolder stain color
  • Semi-solid – This is a deeper colored stain and is effective in covering up wood imperfections, such as stains. A small amount of grain and texture in the wood is still visible.
  • Solid – This is the deepest stain color available and covers scratches and stains very well. The texture of the wood is still apparent, though only slightly.

stain_blog_image_2Wood Type

If you have a deck, it’s most likely made out of wood or wood composite. Harwood materials such as mahogany have a noticeable grain and texture that will shine through transparent stains.

Other types of wood like cedar benefit more from semi-solid or solid stains because they offer weather protection. Composite wood often requires color protection to prevent fading.

Wood Color

Examine your wood’s natural appearance and examine its undertones. Keep in mind that your wood’s undertones will still peek through the stain you cover it with, so make sure that it will be complementary to its natural hues.

Another consideration to make is the grain pattern. Depending on the grain pattern and the stain you choose, this pattern might stand out even more.

Age of Wood and Deck

Newer decks are better candidates for lighter, more transparent stains. If you decide you want to go darker further down the road, you can always increase the opacity and darkness later.

Along with age comes damage, so the longer you have one, the more damage it will endure.

 A 15 year old deck is likely to be a lot more worn down compared to a brand new one, depending on how often you use it. If you have an older and more damaged deck, it’s better to opt for a darker, more opaque stain. These stains mask imperfections.

Is Your Deck Already Stained?

Remember that the effectiveness of your newly applied stain will be influenced by the already existing deck stain. For example, a deck stain with solid opacity completely masks the wood.

Choosing a tinted stain after the fact would not achieve the desired results, because the deck’s stain is already very dark. If you’re looking to make a switch of this nature, you may need to sand your deck or remodel.

How to Choose a Color

Stains protect the integrity of your wood but you also want to select a complementary color. While certain colors may look good in pictures or on a can, you won’t know how it will look on your deck unless you test it out.

Ideally, you should pick a color and apply it to a spare piece of wood or on an obscured spot on your deck. Allow it time to dry before judging, because the color can vary significantly depending on if it’s wet or dry.


At Norcross Supply Company, your one stop shop for builders supply in Atlanta, we recommend the TWP 1500 series, because it preserves the natural color of wood while protecting it from the elements. It’s easy to apply, clean, and recoat.

Available in 9 different colors, they provide the perfect amount of pigment to protect your wood from the sun while enhancing your wood’s appearance.

Which particular stain color and opacity you choose is up to you, but with this guide as your tool, the process shouldn’t be too difficult. If you need help deciding which stain is best for your deck, contact us today and our experienced professionals can offer some guidance.

About the Author: EVANCED-EDITOR

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