Question:

What's the deal on opaque stains?

Opaque Sealers

So, you want to stain your deck with an opaque sealer. Before you go out and spend your money, here are a few tips on deck protection and repair:

• The more opaque a stain, the quicker it will show wearing and weathering. A solid stain might need to be re-applied every year, while a clear or wood-toned treatment will most likely last longer.
• Solid/opaque stains are better suited for vertical surfaces (railings, pillars, caps) than for horizontal (decking, stairs). The wearing from foot traffic is particularly noticeable with an opaque stain, and it's possible to track the residue inside the house.
• Solid/opaque stains do not show the grain of the wood. (That's why they're called opaque, duh.) All others do.
• Darker colors, particularly solid/opaque and semitransparent stains, absorb heat more easily. Walking barefoot on a bright, sunny day could be an ordeal. On a design note, choose a color that matches or contrasts nicely with the siding on your house. Use the color wheel to see which colors go best together. Also, if you want to get artsy, choose two or more colors that work together for decking and rails, post caps, stencil work, etc.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.