Like Pavlov’s dog we’ve been conditioned to believe that if your deck beads when its wet then it’s protected. Heck, I said this for years.

Beading occurs because manufacturers put paraffin wax in a seal or stain to make it bead. As you know, beading lasts for only a fleeting period of time.

There are two types of stains older Oil and newer Waterbased Stains- each has its pros and cons

To tell if a oil stain is still working you need to look to see if water is penetrated the stain and absorbed into the deck OR has the water pooled.

Oil and water don’t mix so the oil will repel water and protect your deck Pooling=Protection


The industry (to keep up with California Environmental Protection standards) went to a predominant water based formulations for deck stains.

What does this mean for you? 3 important things

Water based Stains don’t penetrate wood, they sit on the top surface like a paint or in the case of a semitransparent stain like a watered-down paint Tom Sawyer called it white washing. Water based stains will peel not fade, so if you see bare wood, your deck is not protected. With water based stains it’s tough to get a true semitransparent look, once you apply it several times your deck will look like solid stain. With Solid deck stains you  see the texture of the wood but no variance in color.

Oil based are still available but they are more expensive to buy and sold only at specialty dealers. I would recommend oil based stain for:

1.      New(er) decks 7 years or less

2.      If you want to enjoy the natural beauty of the wood and are not ready for a solid stain in 5 years

3.      If you have pets or small children who may drag toys or scratch at the deck floor, I would insist on a oil based stain

So, what does this mean for April? Before the showers arrive and soak into your wood leaving it vulnerable to mold and algae growth. Take a walk around your deck and look for bare wood, chances are by now your old oil based stain has burned off or soaked into your deck. In that case, you can either select another oil stain or a newer water based stain.

If you’re not sure which is best for you or would like an expert option and evaluation, please give me a call. I’m always happy to help.