What makes a deck stain a deck stain?

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Judging strictly from initial appearance, it’s hard to distinguish one wood stain from another. Basic wood stain chemistry is fairly consistent from one product to the next, but ingredient quality, quantity, mix ratios, and manufacturing processes can make a big difference in product performance. For instance, a general-purpose wood stain suitable for a fence or other vertical surface, will not necessarily have what it takes to do the job of a deck stain. Not surprisingly, the price for the general-purpose stain will likely be substantially less than the price of a good deck stain. A stain formulated and manufactured specifically for wood decks has several distinguishing features that drive a difference in cost.

The number one goal of deck stain is to make the deck surface look good. The color should be pleasing as well as fairly uniform and harmonious with the color of other deck components such as visible framing, posts, and railings. Having rich, attractive colors that will last depends on using quality pigments. Of the host of pigment choices and other colorant alternatives, high-quality iron oxides provide the best performance and can produce a variety of popular attractive wood tones.

The second most important feature of a deck stain is durability. A good deck stain needs to be resistant to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, since it is facing the sun all day, every day. Eco Chemical wood stains, manufactured with iron oxide pigments, will never fade as long as stain is on the wood. Besides standing up to the sun, deck stains must endure the ravages of wet weather and standing water, abrasion from furniture, foot traffic, surface dirt, spills and grease stains, as well as resistance to mold and mildew. Other ingredients, including the type, quality, and quantity of more costly resins and other additives determine how well a deck stain performs against these challenges.

Lasting quality color and a range of color choices make pre-stained wood decking a strong competitor for composite decking materials. The better the wood quality, the better the appearance, and the broader the choice of stains. Better grades of wood can be stained with a low film forming transparent stain to produce a durable and attractive deck surface to protect the wood without obscuring the beauty of the grain and texture, which makes wood decking a more attractive alternative to composites. Inferior grades of wood require a heavier, less transparent grade of stain that builds a film on the boards, looking more like paint than stain and makes the wood more difficult to refinish when the need arises.

Deck stain can be oil-based or water-based, with oil-based products typically being more costly. Besides the difference in dollar cost, there’s an environmental cost involving volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the disposal of waste. VOCs have high vapor pressure at a low boiling point, turning from liquid to gas at room temperature and releasing molecules into the surrounding air. While some VOCs are harmless, others are known to pose serious health risks. Oil-based stains produce significantly more VOCs than water-based stains, making the latter healthier to work with and easier on the environment. Waterborne products are also easier to clean up than oil-based products, with no harmful stain residue, solvents or special cleaning chemicals to dispose of.

A wood stain has to be machine coating-friendly and easy to work with in factory applications to consistently provide an even coating and uniform color and appearance from one board to the next. This requires the proper pigment preparation and blending with other stain ingredients. Eco Chemical has been producing industry leading wood stains for over 20 years, taking extra measures to ensure the stain delivers an exception finish, but is also able to stand up to the demands of a large-scale manufacturing processes.

A high-quality stain is essential for the lasting color and surface protection consumers are looking for in a deck. Proper application at the manufacturing level offers greater color consistency, coverage, and ultimate value to the homeowner, meaning better profit margins for you and your dealers. The experts at Eco Chemical are always happy to assist you. Contact us to find out how we can help you today.