Stain is one of the best wood finishes to choose if you want to show off the natural beauty of your wood while still keeping it protected. Transparent and semi-transparent stains get absorbed into the wood and don’t form a film on the surface as paint does. You could use stain to refinish your exterior deck, siding or fence.

If the question ‘how long does exterior stain last?’ has crossed your mind, you’re either wondering if it’s time to refinish the exterior or are comparing it with other finishes, like sealer or paint. Generally, the exterior stain doesn’t last long due to exposure to damaging factors such as sunlight, snow, ice, rain, and temperature fluctuation. Nonetheless, how long the exterior stains will last depend on the following factors:

Type of Stain

There are three main types of stains: solid, transparent and semi-transparent stains. Solid stains tend to form a film on the surface, more like paint, and they obscure the natural beauty of the wood. Transparent and semi-transparent stains, on the other hand, get absorbed into the wood and may slightly alter the wood color without obscuring the knots and grains.

The three stains offer different levels of protection and durability. Solid color stains offer better surface protection but are more likely to peel within a year depending on where they’re used. If you use a solid color stain and it starts to peel, there are really only two ways to fix it: strip it and reseal it, or keep touching it up. On the flip side, transparent and semi-transparent age more gracefully and are a little forgiving in terms of the looks when their prime time is over.

Location/Surface

Stains will last longer on the part of vertical exterior siding that is constantly shaded than on a horizontal surface such as the exterior deck that is repeatedly and directly exposed to rain, sun, and ice. Wear is most commonly caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays deteriorating the stained surface. So, if your deck sits in nearly full sun, the horizontal surface is going to fade more quickly. Re-staining of horizontal surfaces is recommended every 2-3 years.

Surface Prep and Application

Like most refinishing jobs, the quality of surface preparation and methods used for the application of the paint have a great impact on the durability of the finish. Ideally, before paint is applied, the surface should be thoroughly cleaned using a pressure washer or scrubbed using a hard brush to remove all the surface dirt, grime and any mold/mildew that might be forming.

If you’re staining a surface that was previously painted or stained using solid stain, all the old, loose peeling stain/paint has to be stripped off and the surface sanded before a new stain is applied. Applying stain on a dirty, wet, or insufficiently prepped surface will only lead to stain failure and degradation after a few months.

Foot Traffic

The amount of foot traffic will highly determine the rate of wear and tear that your newly stained deck will undergo. A freshly stained deck will show signs of wear after only a few months after application if the traffic is heavy. This is because of the small pieces of dirt and sand that are on the bottom of people’s shoes. As friends and family walk on the deck, this dirt and grit act as sandpaper, slowly and gradually scraping away the stain.

The Bottom Line

While your deck stain will only last a few years with its full protection, you can always apply another coat to help prolong its durability. However, after about 3-4 years depending on how exposed your surface is, you will want to completely remove the old stain and reapply two fresh coats of stain over your siding or deck.

If you need any help with exterior or deck refinishing in Amador County, California, our experienced team at Hines Painting can help. Simply give us a call on 209-256-4587 for a FREE estimate or if you have any inquiries.

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