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What’s The Difference Between Deck Sealing And Deck Staining?

Deck sealing is something worth considering if your deck’s color is starting to fade. 

Wood exposed to a lot of sun will eventually start splitting and losing its natural color. And even if you stain your deck, the sun can cause that stain to peel off.

In this guide, you’ll discover how you should treat your deck properly. You’ll learn about deck sealing and deck staining, which method is better, and if you can seal and stain your deck at the same time.

Let’s begin!

Water droplets on a wood deck

What Is Deck Sealing

Deck sealing is a common treatment for wood decks used to prevent water from penetrating the surface of the wood.

Most sealants today contain UV protectant to help the wood stay healthy and away from ultraviolet damage. With regular application, say once every couple of years, sealing will help the wood maintain its natural look for many years.

There are two main types of sealant: water-based and oil-based.

How To Seal A Deck

Sealing a deck is a fairly simple process. You’ll need to clean the deck first with a power washer, repair deck boards, and then apply the sealant with a brush or roller. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

You’ll need to reapply the sealant every one to two years, depending on the type of sealant you use and the amount of sun and rain your deck gets.

Cost Of Deck Sealing

If you want a pro, the cost to seal a deck ranges from $1k to $2k, depending on the square footage of your surface. However, if you’re planning to refinish the deck surface, you’ll need more than sealing.

On average, the cost to refinish a deck is between $3 and $6.80 per square foot. This includes the deck sanding costs, the deck cleaning, waterproofing labor costs, the deck sealant materials, the cost to power wash the entire deck, and much more.

Cleaning a deck with a pressure washer

Best 3 Types Of Deck Sealants

If you want your decking to last for as long as possible, using a good sealant is crucial. Besides, why buy a cheap sealer every year when you can buy a good sealer once every 5 years? You’ll most likely save more money this way as well.

Let’s look at our top 3 picks for deck sealants.

This is one of the most expensive sealants, but it’s worth every penny. It’s a water-based sealant with high resistance against UV and moisture damage. 

It has a clear appearance, accentuating the wood grain. With this deck sealer you’ll need two coats, but you’re ensured your deck will have a prolonged life.

This one is an oil-based sealant, resistant to UV and water. It requires 2 to 3 coats if you want to get the job done right, but it lasts for as long as 5 years under normal weather conditions. It has a semi gloss finish and it’s scratch resistant, but it also has strong fumes.

This deck sealer is a very popular brand in the US. It’s water-based, so it doesn’t have such an unpleasant smell, and is resistant to both moisture and UV. This also colors the wood and is fairly resistant to fading as well. 

One coat is enough, but if you want a deeper color for your deck, you can apply two coats. The only drawback is this deck sealant’s thin consistency, causing a pretty messy application.

Wood decking with built-in bench

What Is Deck Staining

Deck stains work very similarly to deck sealants. They protect the wood from moisture, water, rot, mold, and mildew. Most stains also have a color pigment or tint added that will change the appearance of your deck, giving it a new color.

Deck stain offers more protection from the sun, minimizing the graying of the wood.

Like sealants, there are two main types of stain: water-based and oil-based.

How To Stain A Deck

Staining a deck is a fairly simple process but it takes a lot of time. Before you begin staining, we recommend doing all the repairs and replacements so you won’t waste stains on rotten wood boards.

Clean the deck first, then apply the stain with a brush or roller. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully if you want your deck staining project to turn out like it was done by pros.

You’ll need to reapply the stain every one to two years, depending on the type of stain you use and the amount of sun and rain your deck gets.

Deck staining a deck with a pole

Which Is Better: Deck Sealing Or Deck Staining?

There is no clear answer to this question, and it really depends on your personal preferences and the condition of your deck.

If your deck is in good condition and you want to protect it from sun damage and moisture, then sealing it is a good option. Sealing will also help to keep the wood looking new for longer. Besides this, most sealants are clear, helping you keep the natural wood grain visible.

If your deck is in bad condition and you want to give it a new look, then staining it is a good option. Staining will also help to protect the wood deck from sun damage and moisture. Depending on the stain, you can change the color of your deck entirely.

Deck Sealing And Staining At The Same Time?

At exactly the same time, no. 

However, you can seal and stain your deck if the previous coat dried. If you’re planning to do this, seal your deck first so the sealant will penetrate the wood, let it dry for a couple of days, and then stain it for added protection.

This is a good option if you want to protect your wood deck from sun damage and moisture and give the deck a new look.

There’s an even better alternative to this. Stain-and-sealant products offer great moisture and UV protection with little downside. This is a 2-in-1-type of product, so you won’t have to do different coats of both stain and sealant. You’ll be able to find these online or in home improvement stores.

Water on an old wooden decking


With all that being said, deck sealing and deck staining are both great methods if you want to protect your deck.

The process is straightforward and the benefits will be visible right from the start.

But although it’s a simple process, it can get quite messy. It’ll take a lot of time, dirty clothes, and mistakes that you’d rather want to avoid, like staining the side of your home or other things that you wanted to stay clean.

At Werner Decks, we’re experts in deck building and deck repairing, but we’re also offering decking maintenance, like staining and sealing. We’re operating in Annapolis, Severna Park, Arnold, Crofton, Edgewater, MD and neighboring counties.

Call us today at (443) 926-6996 if you’re looking to get your deck treated by professionals! Or request a free quote and get your offer today!

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