There are three main types of stains:
Popular for those wanting the most natural wood look while still providing water protection. A transparent stain contains no pigments or oils and therefore doesn’t alter the appearance of the deck. For those with a newer deck in good condition, this option allows you to show off the grain of the wood while protecting the deck from foot traffic, water damage, mold and mildew. Although this type of stain has good water repellency, it lacks in shielding against harmful ultraviolet rays causing graying of the wood over time. These stains are not very durable and need to be reapplied every year. Very easy to apply and reapply as needed.
The best of both worlds. Semi-transparent stains contain pigments that highlight the natural grain of the wood while also sealing and protecting the surface from moisture and UV rays. These stains can really enhance the wood’s beauty by adding color tinting to the deck while also keeping the grain patterns visible. With time, the color will slowly start to fade and will have to be reapplied, although maintenance is not as frequent as with transparent stains. Fortunately, this type of stain can be removed and re-coated easily. Most commonly available in natural tones, browns, and reds.
Usually recommended for older decks, semi-solid stains are good at hiding discoloration and can provide a uniform appearance even on worn-down decks. Due to the high amount of pigment, these stains have very good UV protection and therefore maintenance is less extensive than with the other stain types. Semi-solid stains are often used in dual-tone decks to contrast another lighter color.