Should I Stain or Paint My Deck? 

April 7, 2022

Like many New Englanders, you are probably looking forward to the warmer days yet to come to enjoy your outdoor areas once again, after a long snowy winter. In recent blogs we have talked about refreshing your three season porch or giving your patio a facelift. 

Today, we are taking a closer look at another aspect of your outdoor space – your wooden deck and whether you should paint or stain the surface. Before you begin your deck project this spring, you may want to compare the affordability, application, aesthetics, and durability of painting versus staining your deck. 

front porch deck


It’s always a good idea to consider your budget before you begin any project. In terms of the difference in cost between staining and painting your deck, there are some distinct differences. 

According to a recent article on Lawn and Gardening in Bob Villa online, “Stain is more budget-friendly. Stain runs between $20 and $35 per gallon, while exterior paint suitable for decking ranges from $30 to as much as $60 per gallon.”

Additionally, they state that homeowners will need to factor in an extra $15 to $40 per gallon of wood preservative and $15 to $30 per gallon of primer. Most commercial wood stains already contain a preservative and therefore don’t require a primer to adhere.

Application Process

Both staining and painting a deck requires thorough cleaning before the application process can begin. Scrubbing, repairing, and replacing damaged and dirty boards is of paramount importance so that the decking remains healthy and safe. 

In terms of ease of application, stain seems to be the winner as usually one coat of two-in-one stain-and-sealer. Paint, on the other hand, takes at least two coats of paint and a wood sealer. 



There are a few things to consider when discussing the overall look of paint versus stain on a deck. First, what is the current condition of the deck? Are there flaws that need to be concealed? If your deck is a little worn and weathered, you may want to hide some of those blemishes. In that case, paint may be your best chance at hiding those marks or flaws. A good coat of paint might buy you a few more years extending the life of your deck and can stave off rot and wear and tear from the elements. 

Another question to consider in terms of aesthetic are the color choices you will or won’t have with paint or stain. Paint obviously allows for more color choices while stain is limited in its color choices. Paint also allows for an excellent opportunity to unify your exterior space by choosing a matching color to the exterior of your home.

On the other hand, painting conceals the beauty of the wood. If your deck is fairly young and still has years of life left, covering up the natural grain of the wood may take away from the beauty of the deck. 


Both paint and stain have their own unique issues. Paint is prone to peeling and bubbling in high heat, while stains can become discolored given the climate of our area and the high temperatures reached each summer. 

However, in a side-by-side competition stains generally last longer. Many manufacturers place stains at 10 years or longer before a reapplication is necessary. 

Are you painting or staining your deck this spring or summer? What is your choice going to be? Talk to our specialists about scheduling your project. 


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