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Old 09-27-2012, 01:19 PM   #1
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Varnish, deck stain - differences


Greetings everyone, I am researching on the topic of wood restaining and I have some questions that I would like answered. I would appreciate any input, especially from the pros and in a plain English :-)

So, I have a wood deck and I would like to restain it. What is the different between varnish and deck stain? When I look at images on images.google.com (nope, not spamming ..... lol), Google returns me the same result. It looks like there is no different between varnish and deck stain, or is there? And what it is?

Also, in the case of restaining wood, what are the cons and pros of using one over the other? Thank you so much in advance and look forward to getting some answers.

P.S. Excuse me my lack of knowledge of the subject.

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Old 09-27-2012, 02:35 PM   #2
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Varnish, deck stain - differences


Actually, there is a difference.

Varnishes are generally used for interior applications; there are waterborne formulations, in addition to alkyd (oil-based/polyurethane) formulations. These products do not have UV resistance or mildewcides in them, so they would not work outside. Spar varnishes can be used on exterior applications in some cases, but depending on the exposure, they may require frequent reapplication. Many stains out there are "hybrids" (oil/acrylic blends)- this combines the penetration of oil with the color retention of the acrylic content. Semi-transparent stains are best for decks, as opposed to solid stains.

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Old 09-27-2012, 02:42 PM   #3
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Varnish, deck stain - differences


Thank you so much Will! Stain deck, here I go!
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #4
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Varnish, deck stain - differences


Varnishes are surface finishes and are applied over something like a clear sealer or most often a tinted pentrating stain. Varnishes are not meant to adhere directly to unfinished woods like used in decks.

Depending on the type of exterior stain you chose---semi-transparent to solid---stains generally have some penetration in to the wood. Solid stains, however, are more like paints but even they show more wood grain texture. They are, in my opinion, not great choices for horizontal surfaces.

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