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What type of stain should I use for my home in Lake Tahoe?

There are generally 3 options when it comes to staining your deck: opaque stains, semi-transparent stains, and clear sealers.

Opaque stains look similar to paint except that they won’t peel like a paint and instead fade away over time.  They are great for providing UV protection, and for decks that don’t receive a large amount of foot traffic.  So if your deck gets a lot of sun, but not a lot of use, then you might want to consider an opaque stain.  You can expect 2-4 years of protection from an opaque, also called a ‘Solid Color’ stain.

Semi-transparent stains are the most popular deck stain in Truckee and Lake Tahoe.  They provide good protection, while showing the natural beauty of the wood.  They are great for high-traffic areas- the pigments are embedded deep in the wood grain so they won’t disappear with heavy use.  These pigments also protect the wood from UV rays.   The downside to semi-transparent stains is that they do not provide very thick ‘barrier’ like a paint or opaque stain, so water and UV rays will more quickly degrade the resins and pigments.   The upside is that they tend to fade fairly evenly over time, and provide 2-3 years of protection
In Lake Tahoe, clear sealers are not very common because they provide the least amount of water and UV protection.   Nonetheless there are many good uses for clear sealers.  They provide some protection from moisture in a similar fashion to semi-transparent stains, while allowing the wood to naturally ‘gray’ or wash out over time.  This can be an architectural feature of siding and decking.  Another benefit is that clear sealers fade evenly over time, so re-coating is a very simple procedure since there is no need to remove a colored-coating.  One should only expect one year of protection from a clear sealer.

So when it comes to choosing a stain, you should first decide what is the most important factor for your deck- easy maintenance or natural wood beauty?  Do you use the deck frequently?  Consider using a semi-transparent stain for durability.  Does your deck get a lot of sun, and rarely get used?  In this case you might consider an opaque stain for easy maintenance.

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The products we choose will be certain to retain their color, resist moisture, easily touch-up, prevent mildew growth, be easy to clean, and minimize odor and VOCs.   Call us today so we can offer our recommendation on your project, or email us at
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