Blog Solid Color Stain Deck with Railing

Published on December 7th, 2012 | by Grant Barnard

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Solid Color Stain or Paint

Solid Color Stain Deck with FenceSo what is the difference between solid color stain and paint. When to  use what and why. Many people and even many painters have no idea what the difference is. I am never surprised to see a fellow painter asking these questions at the paint store.

What Makes Stain Different?

  • Solid Color Stain will cover bare wood in two thin coats
  • Solid Color Stain will self adhere to the wood by slightly soaking in and grabbing hold
  • Solid Color Stain is designed to NOT cover the texture where (good) paint is designed to fill cracks totally in and “cover”
  • Solid Color Stain is not flat but is not very shiny either. It almost has its own sheen somewhere close to a matte finish

When NOT To Use Solid Color Stain

Solid Color Stain cannot be used over a previously PAINTED surface. You can always add a fresh coat of solid stain on top of another. If stain is added on top of paint it will not bond well because it has nothing to soak into. Now I know what you’re thinking… Then how can you add a fresh coat of solid color stain. Well you can because the acrylic resins will meld together if they are the same resins. So when adding a fresh coat or changing colors always use the exact same product that was used before. If you are not sure, go with the best. We recommend PPG Acri-Shield Stain.

Read all of our articles on Staining.

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About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.



  • Andrea Moore

    Do you have any thoughts on the new Olympic Rescue-It Deck resurfacing product? We have an 800 Sq. Ft. deck that we’ve stained several times over the past 8 years. We’re trying to avoid repeating this process for at least 4-5 years. The decking isn’t in terrible shape, but of course, the kiddos get their fair share of splinters. Thanks!

  • Grant Barnard

    Olympic is a PPG product. We love ALL PPG products. However this one is new to use. If it were a job that I was quoting, I would suggest sanding down the deck with a floor sander and staining with a semi transparent. That would be a very difficult job for a homeowner! You might have already seen the video on the product at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3i48McAG7I. In the video they suggest to NOT power washing because that can push dirt into the wood. Although this is true… I suggest cleaning with a high concentration of bleach and very lightly cleaning off the oxidized substance that this process will leave. Please also find our article on “how to power wash without causing damage”. The rest of the video will show you the exact process that you need to take but I’m not sure why they talk about two other products or why they are not working the complete length of the boards when they brush in the cracks. Every other point on the video is spot on.

    Thanks for using our blog and please respond with ANY other question that you may have.

    • Andrea Moore

      I have started the process of cleaning with bleach/water. As I do this, we are discovering rotted boards that need to be replaced. If we replace them, will an Olympic stain adhere to the new boards as well as the worn boards. Or, am I going to have to wait a whole season before staining any of it? (all the boards are pressure treated)

      • Grant Barnard

        With pressure treated wood you need to wait at least one hot summer. If you don’t wait, the extra chemical treatment will collect under the coating and cause a real mess. If it were my deck… Id do it anyway and strip and refinish when it failed, but thats a bit of work.

  • Laura F

    Can Olympic Rescue It be used on a previously painted deck?

    • Grant Barnard

      Olympic Rescue It can be used on a previously stained surface with solid color stain. If it is actually paint it will need to be sripped first. This is because paint holds water out while stain lets water pass through it. So with the stain on top and paint on bottom, moisture can sit in between the coating and cause failure very soon.
      I home this is good news for you Laura. Thanks for using our free blog!

  • Michelle

    We have a deck and stairs that have solid color stain on them, a dark brown color. We added onto the deck, and would like to change the color. My question is can we change the color of the spindles and part of the deck floor if we go back with another solid color stain of the same type ( think it is some type of porter solid stain, not sure but I can find out)?? At this time, we have half of the deck in a natural color, and half of it with a dark brown solid stain. I want to change the dark brown to more of a cedar -type color and also match the rest of the deck to this. I am wondering if this dark brown needs to be removed, or if we can stain over it with the same type of stain, just a different color. Will we be able to get the natural color to match the portion that has the dark brown color? It seems like sanding it all off will be a HUGE job, as we have a very large deck that is very high off the ground, lots of tall posts and stairs too. I very much dislike the dark brown color, and want to change it.

    • Grant Barnard

      Michelle.
      It was probably Acri Shield Solid Color Stain. If not use it.
      Yes, you can stain over with another solid color. Generally you should only need two light coats to change a color. First, you must prep the stain correctly. Use 1/4 bleach and 3/4 water with TSP from the local paint section at menards or PPG Porter and a good shot of dish soap. Spray it on with a garden sprayer or dump it on with a bucket. Power wash or scrub with a broom and RINSE WELL. If you don’t rinse well or let the cleaner dry on the surface you will get a film of oxidation on the surface that will prevent proper adhesion.

      Thanks for visiting our blog. Please come back with any questions that you have.

  • Sue

    I used Cabot solid color deck stain on my deck 3 years ago. The color still looks very nice (just a few very small spots where the stain has come off and the bare wood is showing), but the waterproofing has worn off so the rain no longer beads up. What is the best way to touch up the bare spots and get a new waterproof surface? Here is what I am considering – your advice would be greatly appreciated!!
    1. Can I just touch up the bare spots with colored stain and do like a Thompson’s Clear waterproofer (or similar product) over the whole thing (or will the clear waterproofer not adhere properly to the stain underneath)?

    2. Should I do a new coat (or 2?) of the Cabot’s solid color stain (if so, can I put this over top of the old stain – will it adhere properly to the color stain that is on there if they are the same brand)?

    3. I was considering either the Olympic “Rescue It” or the Behr “Deck Over.” Are these more than what I need since my current deck actually still looks nice and all I want is waterproofing?
    If I use either of these do I need to strip all the old stain off? This sounds like a pain – do the strippers work as well as they say and easily dissolve the old stain or is it a pain in the butt to get the old stain off??
    Do you have any recommendation on which product is better – the Rescue It or the Deck Over?

    Thank you!!! Sue

    • Grant Barnard

      Wash with a little bleach and TSP and from Menards or the paint store. Then touch up the spots and put a fresh thin coat on the entire thing. Try not to make the coating too thick to prevent build up and having to strip in the future. Good Luck!

      I would recommend anything except Behr or Cabot products.

  • Melinda

    Hi, my boys made me an outdoor picnic table from pine. I stained it with a dark semi-transparent oil for deck and siding. The stain does not look great as there are still many spots where the wood putty patches are showing. Could I stain again with a solid color stain? Would I have to sand or prep first? Would the patches still show? Or is paint the only way to go now and can I use water based paint on top of oil based stain? Lots of questions, but I’m kind of a newbie DIYer. I’ve gotten conflicting advice in stores. I’d appreciate your help!

    • Grant Barnard

      Melinda.
      I would suggest a semi opaque (semi solid) stain to better cover. The solid color will not bond too well to the new stain. If you would like you can email a pic for better advise.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great site. If you were local, I’d hire you for the job. Thanks for all the info.

  • Terry

    I put Olympic Rescue It down on my deck last summer and the first time the temp dropped below 32 degrees the steps formed a thin sheet of invisible ice……liked to have broke my neck. The steps never formed ice before the paint. We live in south Alabama near the Gulf Coast and don’t see much ice. Any ideas on how to counter this problem?

  • Claire

    I stained a fence a year ago, my community want the fence back to it’s original. How can I remove stain from a fence?

    • Sorry Claire but thats really a job for a pro. The chemicals needed are too dangerous and could cause major issuers.

  • Lisa

    Grant, We just replaced a rotting deck with pressure treated wood. I plan to stain with semi-transparrent Acrie shield water based. Do I need to wait a season to stain it or can i do it now?

    • Lisa, Yes it needs to weather a bit. Before it grays but after the chemical dries totally.

  • Sue

    Can I paint a new pine picnic table with it?

    • Sue. I would use a porch and floor enamel instead.

  • Dee

    My deck previous has a dark brown cabot oil based solid stain on it on top of several coats of other solid stains. I have sanded the entire deck down except the spindles. Those I have partially sanded so they are smoother. Can I apply the PPG Acri-Shield stain you spoke of, to the spindles in a little littler shade than the dark brown. I plan on using a semi transparent stain on the deck floor and railings.
    Great site, lots of useful info!
    Thank you

    • Dee. You don’t want to use a semi transparent over any type of solid. I would suggest doing the spindles/railing in a solid stain and everything else with the semi transparent stain. OR – you could use a porch and floor enamel for the spindles and railings.

  • Dan

    Grant,

    I have a 15 year old deck that has been restained a number of times with a red semi transparent stain. Last time was maybe 5 years ago. Now I’m considering either Rescue-It from Olympic or a solid color stain also from Olympic. I considered using Deck Restore but saw all the horror stories about the product not holding up.

    The rescue-It looks like it would fill in small cracks and be easier to work with than the Deck Restore. Or, just use a solid stain in a similiar color and be done with it.

    Thoughts?

    Dan

    • Dan. I would do three coats of Olympics Solid Stain. Brush it to the cracks real good each time. The more you work the stain around on the deck, the better your results will be.

  • Nick

    It sounds like you don’t like Behr stain? What do you recommend?

    • Lately we have been using Olympic Elite and absolutely LOVE IT.

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