Weatherizing and Stain Options for Hardwood Decking

By Bill Christou, 04/16/17

Today there are a variety of different species of domestic and imported wood used for outdoor decking.

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While the most common decking materials traditionally found here in North America are still domestic species such as Cedar, Redwood and pressure treated Southern Yellow Pine, we are now seeing more exotic hardwoods begin to become mainstream.

Woods such as Ipe, Cumaru, Batu, Brazilian Redwood and Angelim Pedra are very sought after by savvy homeowners who are constantly looking for the most beautiful, high performance deck that will give them the best value for years to come. To learn more about these premium hardwood decking species please visit

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All forms of wood decks are subject to wear and tear from the elements and need to be weatherized / protected with a deck stain or sealer. The imported exotic hardwoods now popular for exterior decking have different characteristics from more common domestic softwood species used and hence require a tailor made solution.

Today we will look at the two main "Weatherizing" and "Stain" options for Imported Hardwood Decking

Oil-Based vs Water-Based Weatherizing/Stain Options

Because of the extreme density of an exotic hardwood, the cellular structure of the boards is less permeable and therefore requires special formulations which have been specifically designed with unique penetrating abilities. Regular types of deck stain lack the ability to penetrate the dense wood and will not sink-in deeply enough --- meaning they will under perform and not last very long.

When selecting a hardwood deck stain look for oil-based formulations with special penetrating capabilities and some pigmentation or tinting. Special oils are used in hardwood stains that are able to dive deeply into the dense hardwood and help condition the wood fibers. With more VOC compliant formulas designed to penetrate better and last longer, the newest generation of oil based deck stains are the best choice for do-it-yourselfers and professional contractors alike. Pressure washing may be necessary prior to reapplying an oil treatments in order to remove surface particles, dirt and any discoloration.

Most water-based stains lack the deep penetrating ability and instead will merely form a thin film or remain on top of the wood's surface and do not provide any deep protection. These water-based formulations are not recommended as they are prone to peeling and are more challenging when it comes time to re-apply your stain, usually requiring re-sanding.

It is recommended to avoid the use of varnishes, lacquers or other clear finishes, because they magnify UV degradation and over time will yellow, crack, peel and generally fail. These types of finishes are usually difficult to remove and cannot be easily re-applied without re-sanding.

***NOTE: Finishing on the underside of your deck will reduce potential cupping by inhibiting moisture from absorbing into the wood.


Besides making the effort to apply an oil-based weatherizing treatment at the time of initial install please keep in mind that regular wood cleaning, maintenance and stain re-applications will enhance the performance of your boards and prolong the life of your hardwood deck.

For best results, apply the weatherizing treatment according to the manufacturer's directions.

By Bill Christou, 04/16/17

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