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Halifax, NS
B3K 5A8

Jul 07, 2021

Choosing a colour for your Deck Stain

Decks provide us with our outdoor living space and are an important part of our homes. The choice of colour and stain type are no less than the importance of the choices for product and colour for the inside of your home. This makes the selection of colours and finishes for a deck like the choices similar to our interior decorating and design. However, choosing a finish and colour is a little more complicated for deck stains than simply picking the right colour. Most decks are stained with a solid colour stain or semi-transparent stain and less commonly with clear coatings such as water seals which along with other factors need to be considered in the decision process.

New Decks vs Old Decks

Colour choices and finish (solid or semi-transparent) are somewhat dependent on the age and condition of your deck. If your deck has significant peeling areas or has worn-off areas this will limit your choice to the solid stain and solid colours. If you have a new deck or a deck that is in great shape with little wear or peeling, you will have a wider choice of colours and finish. However, you will not be able to change to a semi-transparent colour if you currently have a solid stain. To utilize a semi-transparent solid, peeling or worn deck you would need to incur the expense of stripping of the current coatings. Going from a semi-transparent to a solid is for the most part always an option with no stripping required.

Changing the Colour of Your Stained Deck

Changing the colour of your deck stain is not a problem for solid stains. It may require more than one coat to ensure adequate coverage, but it will work and is commonplace. Changing a semi-transparent colour, however, is generally not possible. You can take a chance applying a different colour semi-transparent over the current semi-transparent colour however the old colour will distort the new colour and will not necessarily provide the desired look. To ensure the new colour, look desired is achieved you will need to incur the expense of stripping off the old stain to make the colour change.

Solid Stain Vs Semi-Transparent Colours

Colour choices for decks that are solid colour essentially encompass the entire colour palette of most major brands of stain. This opens a wide range of colour choices for your deck. Keep in mind that the darker colours will attract more heat and that heat can not only make the deck uncomfortable but can shorten the already short life span of the stain.

Semi-transparent colours are limited to the colours specifically designed for the product of choice. Straying from these colours or changing these colours slightly is not commonplace and has inconsistent results at best.

Although it is possible for solid colours from competing brands to be matched it is not a simple process and should be avoided if possible. The matching of semi-transparent colours from competing brands is not recommended and other than picking a similar colour within the brand of choice, matching of semi colours is to be avoided.

Choosing Colours for Your Deck Stain

Once you have determined whether you are using solid colours or semi-transparent colours you can then begin to start the colour selection process. This will begin with taking the following factors into consideration

• The colour of the exterior of your home
• Outdoor furniture selected for the deck
• Sun Exposure and deck traffic

The first step in selecting your stain colour is considering your current colour choices for the exterior of your home. You can utilize the online tools provided by manufacturers such as Dulux to easily find colours that work with your current colour.

The other factor to consider is the furniture and décor you have selected for your outdoor living on your deck. Searching for complementary colours that work with outdoor furniture and décor can contribute to the overall look of your outdoor living space.

Considering sun exposure and traffic on the deck area is also part of the colour decision process. Sun exposure is a factor to consider simply because dark colours attract significant amounts of heat and can make the deck uncomfortable. Mid-tone colours are more common than lighter colours for deck stains due to the fact lighter colours will show dirt and stains more readily especially in high traffic areas.

The Use of Multi Colours

The use of multiple colours for your deck area is always an option. The question is what colours and how many colours you use. Most decks can handle two colours which is a common choice. The use of 3 colours can also have an appealing look less common however is more than 3 colours which risks being too busy for most deck areas.

deck and fences with multi colour paint

exterior painting for deck and fences - ufcp

Having railings one colour and the deck, steps, skirts, and lattice one colour is a classic combination, that provides a contrast between surfaces that accents the architecture of the deck itself. There are great options for two-colour rails, lattice, and steps. The use of third accent colour for the spindles, posts, caps and top rail on the railings, or in the frames of the lattice. Risers and stringers on steps with accent colours are other popular choices. The issue can be with these choices is how busy it will look and that these choices can add significantly to the costs of the staining of your deck as it will add significant amounts of time to the project.

Classic Rail and Accent Colour Choices

Choices of rail colours can be darker or lighter versions of the main deck colour or complementary colours to the main colour. However, the number one choice for many deck railing other than the main colour is white and off whites. A classic look that often blends with the overall look of the home itself as many homes have white or off-white trim. Newer decks can have metal spindles as part of their design these are predominantly factory finished black and will factor into your colour choices for those areas although all the classic colour choices still work.

Popular Colours for Deck Stains


Browns are the classic stain colours for decks. They provide warmth for any area and compliment the surroundings of most decks, blending perfectly with the greens of shrubs, trees and grass.

beautiful brown deck

brown fences for exterior stairs

brown deck and fences of front of house

Solid Brown Colours
dulux solid butternut example

Dulux Solid Butternut

PPG Chestnut Brown example

PPG Chestnut Brown

PPG Fawn example

PPG Fawn

Semi-Transparent Brown
PPG Russet example

PPG Russet

PPG Cedar example

PPG Cedar

PPG Oxford Brown example

PPG Oxford Brown


With the current popularity of grey as a colour choice for the exterior of homes, it is not surprising it is one of the most popular stain colours. Whether is a dark grey, a beige grey (Griege) or simply a light grey these colours provide a classic look for a home and deck area.

front of house exterior stairs with a grey colour stain

patio with a beautiful grey deck stain

grey stain for fences and decks

white and grey exterior painting for deck and staircase

Solid Grey Colours

PPG Mountain Grey - deck stain example

PPG Mountain Grey

PPG Mountain Ash - deck stain sample

PPG Mountain Ash

PPG Hazelnut - deck stain sample

PPG Hazelnut

Semi-Transparent Greys
PPG Fog Gray deck stain example

PPG Fog Gray

PPG Driftwood deck stain example

PPG Driftwood

PPG Harbour Grey deck stain sample

PPG Harbour Grey


The desire to retain the wood look and apply a coating that keeps the original appearance is often desired. However, that look is difficult to preserve from a practical point. There are very few products that do not change the wood colour when applied. Most semi-transparent wood finishes will have some tint in the product which will change the appearance. That tint provides the necessary UV protection that provides protection for the wood. Clear Water seals are one of the few that do keep the original wood looking the same but it is important to remember that the protection provided by these products is limited. Most products in this category generally have to be reapplied every year or two to maintain any protection value. This should factor into the decision process as recoating every year is not an option for most.

exterior of house example of a natural deck stain

patio example with a natural colour deck stain

For natural deck stains the options can be:
PPG Natural - deck stain colour sample

PPG Natural

PPG Cedar - Natural deck stain colour sample

PPG Cedar – Natural


The red stain is another classic look that provides a lively atmosphere of energy and welcome. Red-toned semi-transparent s and solid reds have been used for years as deck areas used as places for social gatherings, cooking and dining.

front of house red deck stain exterior painting job

front of house red deck with white fences

exterior patio with a red colour finish

red coloured deck image

Solid Reds
PPG Terra Cotta - deck stain example

PPG Terra Cotta

PPG Navajo Red - deck stain colour sample of solid red stains

PPG Navajo Red

PPG Mahogany - red deck stain colour sample

PPG Mahogany

Semi-transparent Reds
PPG Natural Redwood - deck stain color sample of semi transparent reds

PPG Natural Redwood

PPG Natural Redwood - semi transparent red deck stain

PPG Natural Redwood

PPG Honey Brown - colour sample of deck stains semi transparent

PPG Honey Brown

It is important to remember that all stain products applied to deck surfaces are maintenance products. This means recoating every 2-4 years to preserve the great look of the deck.

For any other questions, or if you need an expert’s advice on what colour to pick for your deck or fences, don’t hesitate to contact our student painters . University First Class Painters are here to help you, and to paint your decks and fences to your satisfaction!