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Disadvantages of Solid Color Stain for a Deck

Stevie Donald

You may choose a solid color stain for your deck because you have an almost limitless range of colors to choose from. Compared to paint, solid color stain is quite thin and still allows the texture and character of the wood to show through. Before you make your final decision on what coating to use on your new deck, understand both the advantages and disadvantages of solid color stain.


Solid color stain beautifies a deck, but has disadvantages, too.

If you're staining a brand new deck, keep in mind that either solid color stain or paint is a permanent choice. You cannot change your mind in a couple of years and switch to a semi-transparent stain; it's extremely time-consuming to strip solid stain from a deck, and even more work to strip railings. Once you choose a solid stain, you're stuck with it--and the maintenance required to keep it looking good.


Unlike semi-transparent stain, which penetrates the wood and slowly fades or wears away, solid stain can chip and peel on a deck. This is even more likely if the deck gets a lot of foot traffic. This means that each time you apply another coat--every 3 to 5 years--you'll have to scrape loose stain first. The peeling will become more pronounced over time as you apply successive layers of solid stain.

Hides Wood Character

Solid color stain is like thin paint; it's opaque. While it allows more of the texture of the wood to show through, it will cover all the subtlety of the natural wood color and grain. If you value a natural or rustic look, solid color stain may not be your best choice.

Tannin Staining

Most solid color stains require no primer. However, if you stain redwood or cedar with a light-colored solid stain, you risk tannin staining. Tannin is a natural substance in some woods, and it bleeds through water-based paint or stain, creating light brown streaks on the surface. To avoid this, you'll either need to prime the deck first with oil-based primer or use oil-based solid color stain.