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Will Deck Stain Cover Paint?

Deck stain is not designed to cover paint under most circumstances. However, there can be situations and specific deck stains that will cover paint. In this article, we will cover why deck stain should not normally be put on top of paint, situations where it may be acceptable to cover paint with deck stain, and specific deck stain products that can cover paint. 


Why deck stain should not be used to cover paint

Paint and stain are very different. Put simply, paint is a film coating that will sit on top of a variety of surfaces to protect the surface from the outside elements (water, dirt, UV rays, etc.). Deck stain is a product that is specifically formulated for use on wood and will penetrate into the pores of the wood to waterproof the wood and prevent UV ray damage from delaminating the lignin on the surface of the wood.


Staining is almost always the better option for a deck due to the stain’s ability to withstand foot traffic, furniture movement, and pet scratches far better than paint. Paint often will peel with a similar amount of scratching/scraping on the surface. Also, many homeowners dramatically prefer the look of a stain.


If there is existing paint on a deck, stain will not be able to soak into the wood due to the pores of the surface being blocked. This may look decent for a while but it will easily peel. Deck stain should only be applied to bare, dry wood or as a second coat on top of itself. For further reading, check out the differences between stain and paint.


Solid Stain Deck
Solid stain on a deck in Shorewood, WI

Situations where it may be acceptable to apply deck stain atop paint

There are few situations where this would be a good idea. If your deck has a coating on it that you are unsure if it is a solid stain or a paint (they can look identical), it would be acceptable to attempt to remove the old coating through various stripping methods and then apply a deck stain on top of the primarily bare wood with some of the remaining coating still on there. Worst case you may have some premature peeling in small areas and best case you will have a great-looking, freshly stained deck. 


It may also be acceptable to apply deck stain atop paint if the deck stain is specifically formulated to be able to be applied atop paint. If this is the case, cover your painted deck in stain.


Staining products that can cover paint

If you have decided that staining over your painted deck is right for you, keep in mind that not all deck stains can be used atop paint. Very few can. At EcoWash, we recommend the use of Sherwin-Williams Deck & Dock product line for staining over a painted deck. This product is incredibly thick, long-lasting, and durable. However, this product does not look like a typical stain and very closely resembles the appearance of paint when applied. 


Staining decks is a process that requires effort, knowledge, and time. If you are unsure if tackling your deck staining project alone is right for you, reach out to one of EcoWash’s talented representatives today.

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