Is It Better to Apply Latex Stains for a Wooden Deck?


If you have been thinking about using latex stains for a wooden deck, these aren’t a good choice when you are after a more natural look. There are, however, distinct advantages of using a latex-based stain.

Some of its benefits include easier application and a shorter curing and drying time.

It takes around two hours for latex stains to dry, while oil-based stains need at least four hours to soak into the material thoroughly. You should consider a  waterproof deck surfacing to prolong the appearance and prevent moisture-related problems.

Comparing Latex and Oil

Homeowners who consider an oil-based stain should expect their decks to be more moisture-resistant. A deck may require waterproofing when water seeps inside the wooden planks, which is more likely to happen when you use a latex-based stain.

You should, however, be aware that oil-based stains emit a strong odor and contain higher volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that affect air quality. Your community may also have specific laws on the use of products with high VOC content, so it’s best to check in with local officials before planning to use an oil-based deck stain.

On the other hand, some experts say that  using latex-based stains aren’t a good choice for horizontal surfaces such as decks. Latex normally doesn’t wear well on a wooden material, so you need to find an experienced contractor who can work around this issue if you really want an alternative to oil-based stains.

Frequency of Maintenance

You should refinish an oil-stained deck ideally after two years from the previous application, particularly when it’s constantly exposed to sunlight. The harmful UV rays can damage the wooden surface and make it vulnerable to moisture. Mildew can also appear when you don’t have preventive maintenance work like waterproof deck surfacing.

By contrast, latex stains may not require refinishing after four to eight years, but this varies based on how frequent you use the deck. For instance, homeowners may need to refinish it once per year when they spend time on their decks every week. 

Cost of Staining

A 300-square-foot deck may cost at least $540 for staining it, including the cost of labor. If you plan to do it by yourself, then expect to pay up to $250 for the cost of materials. This will also require a lot of your time and effort, particularly for stripping the deck. The process could take a few days, depending on the size of your deck and the existing stain.

You shouldn’t decide to stain a deck when the outdoor temperature reaches more than 80 degrees. The material can dry too quickly, or it may become cracked or peeled. DIY staining can be problematic if you haven’t done it before, so consider hiring a professional instead.

Whether you choose latex- or oil-based stains for your wooden deck, it may still need waterproofing, especially when you live in a seasonal climate. Remember that waterproofing is different from staining and sealing. Ask an expert on protective coatings to learn more about each one’s distinct differences.

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