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Old 09-17-2012, 02:59 PM   #1
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Please, has anyone found a semi-transparent outdoor wood stain that you are satisfied with?
Here in Ohio, I have a 14 month old pergola (concrete floor) that has never been stained. At first I thought a solid color stain would be best because it would last Years longer, but I hear it could peel & that is a terrible upkeep issue for me.
It looks like an oil base semi-transparent stain is going to be the answer and we will need to reapply every 3rd year. What are the BEST BRAND names? I realize Behr is terrible!
From what I've read, day temps need to be above 50 degrees and not have rained for 4 days. What if it rains the day after application?
Thanks so much for helping, we are desperate to do the right thing.


Last edited by lamm; 09-17-2012 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 09-18-2012, 06:43 AM   #2
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Sikkens and Cabots will be the easiest to find. They are two of the best on the market. I keep hearing good about TWP as well.

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Old 09-18-2012, 07:43 AM   #3
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


H & C concrete stains are excellent for concrete. I applied some as an experiment to my patio 3 years ago and it looks as good today as it did then. Of course it's SOLID color, but if you pressure wash your concrete & apply 2 coats of the stain you will get at least 3 years out of it. I am actually gonna let it go for another year since we are so close to fall/winter and hit it in the spring. The only wear I see is from shoveling snow off the patio in the winter. It has not chipped or peeled at all.
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Old 09-18-2012, 08:22 AM   #4
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Good thread, I'm interested in the same product as I need to stain my deck before winter. From some googling, it seems like Cabot's might have changed their formulation more recently, and some folks are reporting that it's not as good as the older formulation (they were recently (in the last few years) bought out by a diff company). Some folks were recommending Armstrong Clark and "Ready Seal." Anyone have any thoughts on these two products or perhaps something better? Thanks!
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Old 09-18-2012, 08:31 AM   #5
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Quote:
Originally Posted by lamm View Post
Please, has anyone found a semi-transparent outdoor wood stain that you are satisfied with?
Here in Ohio, I have a 14 month old pergola (concrete floor) that has never been stained. At first I thought a solid color stain would be best because it would last Years longer, but I hear it could peel & that is a terrible upkeep issue for me.
It looks like an oil base semi-transparent stain is going to be the answer and we will need to reapply every 3rd year. What are the BEST BRAND names? I realize Behr is terrible!
From what I've read, day temps need to be above 50 degrees and not have rained for 4 days. What if it rains the day after application?
Thanks so much for helping, we are desperate to do the right thing.
First, a pergola is an elaborate, decorative, shade producing structure - which means it generally is going to be in full sun much of the day...You didn't mention if this was Cedar, Redwood or Pressure Treated, so I'm gonna assume pressure treated. If so, you're going to need to stain it soon to protect the wood from splitting, warping, etc. due to the effect of the sun's damaging rays (the most harmful of all elements). The choices you're considering are semi-transparent (ST) stain vs. solid cover (SC) stain - each has their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Your concern about a SC stain is that it could peel and therefore create an on-going and terrible maintenance issue versus a ST stain that would need to be re-applied every 3 years.

While is true that a solid cover stain could peel, that doesn't mean it necessarily will...But even if it did peel, most likely it wouldn't result in wholesale peeling, but be limited to the horizontal, flat areas where ponding water might occur - and if that is the extent of whatever solid cover (SC) stain may peel, the repair (maintenance) is relatively minor.

Typically, a semi-transparent (ST) stain may not peel - but it also doesn't last very long and needs frequent re-staining to provide protection against the sun's rays. While there may be better quality grades of ST stains, the very nature of its transparency is what created its diminished lifespan versus that of a more opaque finish (which serves to block the sun's rays). In an exposure as described earlier, a ST stain probably has a lifespan of 2 - 3 years...An acrylic SC stain, about 6 - 8 years...an oil (alkyd) SC stain, maybe 4 - 6 years (factors that affect the estimated lifespan of a paint or stain film include Wood Type, Resin Type & Opacity of Finish, Exposure and Color Selection).

So, contrast a "possible" periodic & relatively minor repair against the overall re-staining of an ST stain every 2 - 3 years. Which then is now the least amount of maintenance?

If your preference is the appearance of a ST stain, then all the contrasts between the 2 finishes should be moot - you're already aware that it'll need re-application frequently. But if your preference is the longest lasting and least amount of overall maintenance, you may be happier with an acrylic SC stain.

I hope this info helps...good luck and let us know what you decide.

Last edited by ric knows paint; 09-18-2012 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 09-18-2012, 08:39 AM   #6
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Ric,

Thanks for the info. I'm building a ~16'x19' PT deck + stairs, and am looking to stain the deck. Originally I wanted a clear stain, but after some quick research it seems like they're the least durable and offer the least protection for the wood, so I'm now looking at semi-transparent. In your experience, you say semi-transparent stains don't last as long, but if they last a couple years, I'd be content with that. Is there a certain period of time you'd recommend waiting before staining? Maybe a month? Some folks say to wait a season, but the decking after being in the sun for about a month looks to be drying out, and perhaps it'll be ready to stain soon. Any expertise/opinions you share are very much appreciated. This is my first deck, and I want it to last. Perhaps I'll consider going with a solid stain down the road, but I'd much prefer a semi-transparent for cosmetic reasons. Thanks!
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Old 09-18-2012, 09:08 AM   #7
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHomeDIYGuy View Post
Ric,

Thanks for the info. I'm building a ~16'x19' PT deck + stairs, and am looking to stain the deck. Originally I wanted a clear stain, but after some quick research it seems like they're the least durable and offer the least protection for the wood, so I'm now looking at semi-transparent. In your experience, you say semi-transparent stains don't last as long, but if they last a couple years, I'd be content with that. Is there a certain period of time you'd recommend waiting before staining? Maybe a month? Some folks say to wait a season, but the decking after being in the sun for about a month looks to be drying out, and perhaps it'll be ready to stain soon. Any expertise/opinions you share are very much appreciated. This is my first deck, and I want it to last. Perhaps I'll consider going with a solid stain down the road, but I'd much prefer a semi-transparent for cosmetic reasons. Thanks!
Hiya NH DIY Guy...

Ok, everything I said about the advantages of a SC stain, unfortunately doesn't really apply to decks (floor surface)...so, your choice of ST is really the best choice. Even though there are many SC deck stains on the market, Solid Covers generally won't withstand foot traffic or ponding water as well as a ST stain will. Clear stains may provide a very short lived degree of water repellency, but you really need a pigmented coating to help in blocking the sun's rays.

There has been several discussions regarding the amount of time pressure treated wood should weather before staining - and, again with any choice or decision, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option being considered.

Personally, unless the wood is so wet that solution squirts from the board when pounding a nail into it, I'm of the school that says to stain the board as soon as it's exposed to the elements. I really don't expect everybody is gonna agree with me, but here are my reasons why...Pressure treated lumber is usually not kiln dried, but injected with rot, mildew and insect resisting chemicals, borne in a salt solution, under extreme pressure that displaces most of the natural fluids that are present in the board. By staining the board before the chemicals (borne in a salt solution) have had a chance to "dry out" may cause a few issues - but as they relate to a ST film, most issues will be aesthetic. For example, if you're working with a very dark stain (not advisable), you may see some discoloration of the finish due to the leaching of these caustic fluids. You may even see crystallized salt deposits (primarily near saw cuts and nail/screw head penetrations) that can be swept away (usually) or neutralized with a vinegar and water solution for more difficult deposits.

The advantages of staining before these boards completely dry out is you will be somewhat replenishing the boards with oils/emullients, that'll help to minimize the deck board's propensity to cup, warp, split, splinter etc. when exposed to the sun's rays....and once a board is split, they ain't no un-splitting a board.

I hope that kinda answered your q, good luck.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:34 AM   #8
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Look up results for top three by pros who do it for a living. Ready Seal, Armstrong Clark or Wood Tux. Check out The Grime Scene for results. Whatever sealer you end up using be sure to tarp off all the exposed concrete as it is extremely hard to remove sealer from the porous surface of concrete. We over tarp all areas just to be sure. It would be best to use brush to apply.

Last edited by CaptRandy; 09-18-2012 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:35 AM   #9
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Thanks CaptRandy. I came across the Grime Scene (forum), and seems like Ready Seal and Armstrong Clark are highly recommended. It looks like the Cedar Semi Transparent AC stain is the front runner for my deck.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:48 AM   #10
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I usually use the RS Med Brown(Pecan) on ptw, the cedar usually imparts a redish tint that some of my customers do not like on ptw.
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:07 AM   #11
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Need a list of best semi-transparent deck stains


Thanks Capt Randy. You prefer RS over AC? Is that due to the fact that the AC color isn't to your liking or the fact that you think the RS is superior to AC semi-transparent?

It seems like the AC uses drying and non-drying oils, whereas the RS uses just drying oils. Supposedly the AC stain seems to last longer, has that been your experience?

Finally, I'm looking for a lighter stain if at all possible, and the RS pecan looks a little on the dark side (finding pictures online isn't easy). Is there another color you would recommend on PT lumber? I'd prefer a lighter wood as the deck will get plenty of direct sunlight, and don't want it to be as hot/harder on the wood. Maybe I'll have to order a couple samples and test it out myself.. Thanks again!

-Mike
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:59 PM   #12
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I prefer RS. It is what I recommend to my customers. I have used the A.C. and I didn't have a good experience with it. I did a deck in the RS pecan this year and it turned out great. Their cedar is nice also.
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Old 09-18-2012, 06:08 PM   #13
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If you don't want to order the RS online or you don't have a local supplier, Olympic Maximum from Lowe's is a pretty good alternative.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:27 PM   #14
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ff782, What problems did you have with AC? Just curious what your experience with it was and why you prefer RS. Thanks!
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:35 PM   #15
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Hey DIY guy, I put it on a pt deck. About 4 or 5 months later it had some black spots on it that looked like mold. The customer asked me to pw their house and try to clean the spots off the deck. So when I sprayed the house I hit the deck with my house wash mix which is bleach and soap. Let it sit a couple minutes then lightly rinsed it off. Well it took the stain right off like it never dried completely. It looked terrible so I had to fix it. Anyway I know some guys on other pw forums have had similar problems. Never had any issues with the RS. Hope this helps.

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