Deck Painting vs. Deck Staining: What’s Better?

Paint and stain are coverings for wooden and other exterior surfaces in and around your home. If you’re looking at a deck or wooden porch that needs an update, you might be wondering what your options are. Any home improvement store will show you that there are paints and stains for decks but what’s the difference? Painting vs. staining the deck.

Using a paint or stain on the deck will provide a layer of protection for the wood against the elements. It will also enhance the wooden planks with a color, either opaque or translucent. The main difference is that paint sits on top of the wood, while stain soaks into the top layers of the wood. Here are some more differences to note.


While paint is more budget friendly up front ($20-$50 per gallon), you will find that paint shows signs of wear and weathering more quickly that a stain will. Stain costs more up front ($30-$60 per gallon) but will stay looking better, longer. Since the stains soak into the wood, you are less likely to experience chipping and peeling in the paint after a couple of seasons.

Natural Look

Painting a deck offers every color of the rainbow. The high amount of pigments and resins fill pores of the wood. This means it dries to an opaque surface that hides cracks and wood grain patterns. While working with stain you will find that the color is made to be more natural. Stains are clear and will enhance the colors of the wood, while letting natural wood textures show through.

Paint Variety

To create a colorful oasis, opt for paint. You can use paint in a more natural color like a chocolate brown or forest green color. You can also go with a candyland pink or ocean inspired blue. The color palettes to work with are endless when you’re working within the paint sector.

Stain Application for Ease

Painting can prove more challenging for a novice painter. No matter what you are applying to your deck or wooden porch, you’ll need to start with a cleaning to get rid of dirt and debris. Next, scrub any problem areas, then make any necessary repairs to damaged boards.

Now comes applying the paint or stain. Rolling the color is the easiest way to apply your paint or stain. Working with paint means any missed or less than completely covered surfaces will be very obvious. Using a natural colored stain allows you to be a little less meticulous with your rolling.

Paint for Maintenance

Using paint on your deck can mean more work to apply it but it dries in a slick sheen. This allows you to easily sweep away dirt and debris on a regular basis. Stains typically dry to a more matte finish, meaning more effort to clear away leaves and twigs.

You Can Paint Stain

Once you have committed to paint, there is no going back. However, if you stain a deck you can change it to paint at any time. This is because the stain is meant to sink into the wood. It cannot penetrate through the paint, so you must stick with paint if that’s what is on the wood now. Some professional painters can provide sanding services to remove the paint and stain over it. It’s not an easy or perfect science. Choose wisely when you pick between paint and stain.

Schedule an Estimate

Our teams are happy to help you with your deck or porch painting projects, either with stain or paint. Schedule a free, no-obligation estimate appointment to discuss your project today.