FAQ: Deck Paint vs Deck Stain

Wooden DeckingAs Spring has arrived and Summer is (hopefully) rapidly approaching, many people will be turning their attentions to their wood deck and asking themselves “should I use deck paint or deck stain?”. This is a common question that we are often asked. With that in mind, we thought we would list some of the most commonly asked questions along with the pros and cons of each system to help you decide which would be best suited to your needs.

What Is Better For Deck, Paint Or Stain?

When it comes to decking stains and oils, the ranges that are available come in a large selection, from natural wood colours to different tones such as clear and ‘natural’. Decking oils and stains aim to enhance the natural colours and characteristics of decking, whether it’s a clear finish that you require or something more bold. Clear decking oils and stains are great for enhancing the natural colours and characters of decking boards, they can also provide a clear finish. Wood stains and decking stains can be used as a colour pigment to help alter the natural colours of the wood. Coloured decking oils can leave a plastic/varnish type film over the wood surface.

Decking oils come in natural, clear and colour options, they will penetrate the surface of the wood or timber and then protect the wooden decking. Oil and wax can make wood surfaces resistant to water as well as dirt, they will also provide a highly durable and easy to maintain finish.

Is deck paint or stain better? Well to be fair there are pros and cons to both options. Therefore you will need to ask yourself a few questions to help you get started:

  • Why am I painting the deck? Is it for repair & protection or to change the colour?
  • Is the deck already covered with old deck paint or stain?
  • Do I need to seal my deck?
  • Is it a new untreated deck?
  • Is this an existing weather beaten deck?

With your answers to these questions in mind, read on to determine the best products for your needs.

What Is The Difference Between Deck Paint and Deck Stain?

Deck paint will cover the deck with a complete film and will allow you many more colour choices.  Deck stain on the other hand will give you a more natural look highlighting the grain of the wood to show through.

Pros and Cons of Deck Paint

Pro’s Con’s
  • Available in a vast range of colours
  • Lower maintenance than stain – around a 5 year life expectancy
  • Thicker finish, therefore hides flaws
  • Longer life span than stain
  • Easy to clean
  • Covers the grain and therefore the natural beauty of the wood
  • Over an extended time can flake and peel due to water pooling and trapped moisture
  • Existing coating needs to be removed prior to repainting

Pros and Cons of Deck Stain

Pro’s Con’s
  • Less slippery than paint
  • Easy to apply
  • Allows wood grain and texture to show
  • Natural looking
  • Using oils with pigment (stains) will help protect your deck from UV damage
  • Further coats can be easily be applied with minimal preparation
  • Will not cover flaws or cracks
  • Requires more maintenance than paint – every 12-24 months
  • Certain high-quality woods (such as tropical woods) will not hold the stain very well

Are Deck Oils and Deck Stains The Same Thing?

Essentially yes.  Oils tend to be clear whereas stains are simply pigmented oils (oils with colour).

Will Deck Stain Cover Paint?

The simple answer here is no. If you are looking to go from deck paint to stain, you will need to be completely remove the paint before you begin the stain. There are a number of different products suitable for removing existing paint or stain. We have listed our most popular products below:

Owatrol Dilunett

A solvent free paint remover that can remove up to 8 coats of paint in one application.

This can be used on a variety of different surfaces whether they be vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Dilunett works in a unique manner that can be used on any substrate and will not attack vulnerable surfaces like plastics, rubber, synthetic coatings or gel coats. This product is especially ideal for use on large surface areas and works well in a marine based environment where products can often prove difficult to remove.


Owatrol Prepdeck Stripper Cleaner

A professional, high grade paint stripper specially designed for the removing of old solid and semi transparent stains and varnish.

Owatrol Prepdeck Stripper/Cleaner is a diluted product that makes a powerful cleaner for removing of old solid and semi-transparent stains, grade stamps, dirt and other surface contaminants and is a fast easy way to reduce mill glaze so that new wood will accept a penetrating finish.


Owatrol Aquanett

A solvent free gel to remove previously applied wood oils that have been used on outdoor furniture, decking and other timber structures excluding oak and chestnut.

​Owatrol Aquanett is powerful ready to use wood oil cleaner formulated to remove all teak oils and other oils from all types of exterior wood, it is perfect to remove oils from both horizontal and vertical timber surfaces such as decking, garden furniture, cladding, timber structures plus many more.



Deck Paint vs Exterior Paint

Although exterior paint has been used on decks before, it is not something that we would recommend. Exterior paint will not last as long as a proper deck paint or stain. This is because it does not like sitting water. The majority of exterior paints are for vertical use and would not tend to have pools of water sitting on them for long periods.  A deck paint such as Owatrol Decking Paint has been tried and tested on horizontal surfaces and as the name suggests is specifically designed for use on decks.

Deck Paint vs House Paint

House paint is not recommend for use on decks. It tends to be emulsion and therefore is not made for use outside as it will not hold up to the elements very well.

Which Manufacturers Sell Deck Paint and Stain?

Promain are distributors for many industry leading manufacturers, including Owatrol, Teamac , Blackfriar and Osmo. We are able to despatch to anywhere in the UK with many products available for next working day delivery.

So Which Deck Paint or Stain is Best?

Hopefully by reading through some of the pro’s and con’s and looking at the earlier questions, you will now have more of an idea as to whether you prefer the paint or stain. In either case painting your deck will help to increase the lifespan of the wood and allow you a greater longevity of the area.

Can you use Decking Stain on Fences?

Yes you can, decking oils are great for preserving and protecting garden fences and wooden panels, they aim to penetrate the timber or wood and will provide water resistance. So depending on the type you use, if it’s a clear decking oil or a coloured type, maybe one that includes UV protection, this will all contribute to maintaining your fence or decking and wood surface. You can keep fences and decking looking natural by using a clear wood decking oil or preservative, these products aim to improve the natural grain of the wood and can give it a damp appearance, while helping to maintain the natural look of the wood. When it comes to staining new or old fences, there’s a number of coloured wood oils to choose from, this includes translucent and opaque.

How to Apply Deck Stain?

Before you set out to apply your deck stain, you should check the weather and choose the stain. Next, we recommend that you prepare the deck or area that you are going to stain. Next wash the area, make sure it’s cleaned down and is clear, when you start the staining process, we advise that you stain the railings and any other raised features first, then you should start to stain the deck boards themselves.

To help get you started we have listed some of our most popular deck paints and stains below:

Owatrol Decking Paint

Owatrol Decking Paint

A water based decking paint offering a 5 year warranty, 15 Years on vertical cladding. For new, weathered and previously treated wood.

The paint is available in 10 stock colours designed to enhance the wood of the decking and also handrails in two simple to apply coats.

Features Technical Details
  • 5 year warranty
  • For new, weathered and previously treated wood
  • Adheres to both horizontal & vertical surfaces
  • Hard wearing and long lasting
  • Requires less preparation
  • Will not flake peel or blister
  • Water based
  • Suitable for cedar wood and pressure treated timber
  • Guaranteed for up to 15 years on vertical surfaces
  • Application by brush, roller or airless spray
  • Theoretical coverage 8-10m2 per litre
  • Available in2.5, 10 and 20 litres

Owatrol Aquadecks

"<yoastmarkFor all Interior and Exterior Wood such as decking, garden furniture and cladding.

An innovative product that can be applied directly onto wood substrates to offer an easy way of maintaining and enhancing the surface without sanding or stripping. Provides weather resistance and excellent UV light resistance to stop the wood from yellowing or greying.


Features Technical Details
  • Suitable for interior and exterior wood
  • Quick drying
  • Minimises cracking and warping
  • Easy maintenance – no need for sanding or stripping
  • UV Light resistance
  • Apply direct to new or weathered wood
  • Water based
  • No flaking
  • Low odour
  • Quick drying
  • Theoretical coveragfe 5m2 per litre
  • Available in 1, 5 and 20 litre tins

Owatrol Antislip (Antigliss)

Owatrol Antislip (Antigliss)
Owatrol Antislip (Antigliss)

An easy to apply solvent based premixed coating that offers a slip-resistant finish for wooden steps, decking etc.

Owatrol Antislip also know as Antigliss has been specially formulated to provide a slip resistant finish to timber decking and other wooded structures such as steps. Owatrol Antislip is a satin finish solvent based coating that offers excellent UV and weather resistance and is suitable for application to properly prepared timber to help prevent the timber from greying.

Features Technical Details
  • Slip resistant finishBridges gaps up to 2mm
  • Water vapour permeable
  • Suitable for exterior horizontal hardwood surfaces such as decking or steps
  • Easy maintenance
  • No sanding or stripping
  • Protects and decorates
  • Solvent based
  • Satin finish
  • Suitable for exterior use only
  • Softwoods, untreated and pressure treated
  • Theoretical coverage 13m2 per litre
  • Available in 5 litres

How Do I Paint The Railings On My Deck?

Railings can be painted in exactly the same way as the deck.


For full details on how to re-paint and re-store your decking, take a look at our ‘How to guide’ in the knowledge hub: Restoring your weather beaten decking.

You may also want to take a look at Owatrol’s decking guide for inspiration and ideas here. Alternatively you can check out our decking guide.

Share Your Pictures With Promain!

We would love to see your before and after pictures and maybe feature them on our web site (with your permission of course). If you would be interested in sharing your project pictures with us, please contact us at either: [email protected] or call us on 01462 421333.

For further information on deck paints and deck stains and the products that Promain can offer, please contact our technical team on 01462 421333 Monday to Friday, who will be happy to help.

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