oil vs. water-based stains...the great debate...


Old 03-29-12, 08:37 AM
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oil vs. water-based stains...the great debate...

So I'm working on getting my deck ready to restain, but I'm having difficulty deciding what type stain to use. The info below is what I came up with after reviewing several articles about oil and water-based stains. It's enough to make your head hurt

I'm leaning towards the oil-based stain mainly because it appears to be easier to re-apply the stain from year-to-year, has better durability, and apparently with a darker oil-based stain, the grains can still come through. So, can anyone comment on what your experience has been with either (or both)? From other reivews, it sounded like Cabots would be the way to go. Thanks for you input.

I'm pretty sure the deck is made out of some type of pine.


Water Ė Pros
  • quick dry time
  • lasts 2-3 years
  • less odor
  • non-flammable
  • retains color better
  • easy cleanup
  • more environmentally friendly
  • Uses a pigment that is more opaque, to some extent masking the beauty of the natural grain (but this tends to block the destructive action of the sunís rays)
  • Refinishing process can be more work. Itís often necessary to remove the old water-based stain entirely before a fresh coat is applied, which usually requires a combination of sanding, stripping, and scraping.

  • Requires less upkeep and less frequent re-coating
  • Penetrates deeper and excellent durability in tough*conditions
  • Allows the appearance of the wood grain to come through, even if you have chosen a dark stain
  • Restaining is much less involved. The wood simply needs to be cleaned of dirt, grime, and mildew, then recoated. Thereís no need to recoat the entire deck if you donít have to; just touch up the areas that need it. Might need moderate sanding
  • Harder finish when dry
  • Recommended for surfaces exposed to harsh weather (e.g. decks and fences)

  • longer drying time (but this provides a more even finish)
  • need to re-stain every 1-2 years
  • strong odor due to additives. Oil-based stains are a a breeding ground for mildew and fungus, so toxic chemicals have to be included in the stain to keep wood from rotting.
  • flammable
  • must use mineral spirits or paint thinner for cleanup
  • harsher on the environment
  • requires more frequent maintenance
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Old 03-29-12, 10:28 AM
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There are actually 3 choices
Sometimes waterborne stains get confused with water based. Waterborne stains have a lot of the characteristics of oil base stain but clean up with water. Most have a short recoat window and must have the majority of the stain removed before restaining. Often the weather will remove the majority so a full all out strip isn't necessary. If water still beads - it needs stripping, otherwise it's ok to restain after cleaning. Waterborne stains dry quick BUT it takes them a day or two to cure enough where a heavy rain won't wash it off or dilute it. You can get clear, translucent and semi-transparent stains in waterborne. Generally the heavier the body and the more pigment a stain has - the longer it will hold up.

Latex stains dries and cures fast. There usually isn't any restrictions on recoating. Latex stains tend to have the best color retention. Solid latex is the most popular but some make a semi-transparent latex stain. Oil base does penetrate the best and gives the best protection but the sun can cause it to loose it's color.

Waterborne stains are usually my first choice with oil base being my second.
Old 04-07-12, 06:41 PM
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Deck stain

My Cabots smi-transparent (oil base) stain is not drying. I did everything I was
suppose to do, but it's been a week and it's still sticky. Help? Will it eventually dry?

2nd question. Can you use ( after power washing) water base stain after having
used oil stain before?

Old 04-08-12, 05:12 AM
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Welcome to the forums Ramrod!

What prep did you do? what are the air temperatures? Have you contacted Cabot's customer service?

Waterbased stains can be applied over oil base stains AFTER the oil base has weathered a few yrs. The stain needs to loose most of it's waterproofing qualities before a waterbased stain can be applied and expected to adhere. I doubt PWing would remove enough of the stain.

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