How To Choose A Timber Stain For Your Deck

How To Choose A Timber Stain For Your Deck

A well-chosen timber deck stain will complement your home and add visual interest. Here’s how to choose a timber stain for your deck.

Choosing a deck stain colour to coordinate with your house

1. Decide On A Colour Wheel Palette

First, look at the colour palette of your home’s exterior. Your home’s existing or planned colour scheme likely consists of three colours: a dominant colour, a secondary colour, and an accent.

When planning the colour to stain your deck, consider using colour wheel rules by choosing a dominant tone as the main colour and two additional colours in supporting roles (for the balustrade and trimming). Consider choosing a colour that echoes or complements the rest of your home’s exterior with an analogous or complementary colour combination.

Ultimately, your selected deck colour should seamlessly blend with or complement your home’s exterior.

2. Take Inspiration From Your Landscape

The landscape surrounding your deck can influence your choice of deck colour. For example, a colourful garden with high contrast may prompt you to select a more subtle, neutral deck palette. If you have nearby mountains, you might mimic this tone in your choice of colour. If your deck connects directly to your home, you might extend the colour from your indoor timber flooring to your deck.

3. Choose An Opacity

The opacity you choose for your timber deck stain will greatly impact the final aesthetic effect. A coat of clear stain will allow the natural colour and grain of your timber to shine through. A semi-transparent stain will allow the grain to show through but alter the colour. A solid colour stain mimics the look of paint with an almost opaque finish. A solid stain will also prove more difficult to remove.

One thing to remember is the deeper the opacity, the sooner you will need to reapply the finish.

How long will deck stain last?

The longevity of your deck stain depends on many factors. Factors that can impact the durability and colour of your deck stain over time include:

  • Hours of sun exposure
  • The type of timber used to construct the deck
  • pH of the timber and rain
  • How often you use your deck
  • Foot traffic
  • The growth of microorganisms such as algae and fungus nearby
  • The temperature at which the stain was originally completed
  • Damage from chemical cleaning methods

Expect a deck that experiences heavy use to require a fresh coat of stain every year.

Is an oil or water based deck stain better?

Each type of deck stain comes with unique pros and cons when it comes to durability and sealing.

Oil-based stain (alkyd)


  • Superior sealing and penetration compared to a water-based stain
  • More durable than a water-based stain
  • A more even finish
  • Permeable with no blistering
  • No need to strip the stain before reapplication


  • Tend to lose colour and beauty sooner than a water-based stain
  • Requires a new application frequently, once every year or two years depending on exposure and opacity
  • Longer drying time

Water-based stain (latex or acrylic)


  • Superior colour retention and less fading compared to an oil-based stain
  • Permeable with no blistering
  • Easier to clean and maintain
  • Less odour on applicable
  • Dry more quickly
  • No need to strip the stain before reapplication


  • More difficult to perform maintenance coatings

Can you mix paint and stain?

You can safely mix paint and stain. However, it is strongly recommended that for best results, you only mix oil-based stains with oil-based paint, and water-based stains with water-based paint. You can also mix two colours of the same type of stain to achieve your desired tint.

Need expert help with applying a timber stain to your deck? We can help! Contact the experts at Brisbanes Finest Floors today on 0411 220 488.

Brisbanes Finest Floors, with over 20 years of experience in adding wow to any wooden floor, internal or decking.

Request a free quote

Talk to us today and discuss your floor restoration, repairing your deck and new flooring.

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