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Which is Best: a Pool Deck Sealer or Stain

Pool decks present a different strategy than a regular deck when considering finishing options. Wood can be left to age to a natural gray without any stain or sealer applied. The deck may be pressure washed to remove mold or mildew and followed with sanding to remove any splintered areas created while washing. When choosing to stain or seal a pool deck, it is best to learn about each and decide which is more suitable for your lifestyle.


Deck stains can add color to simulate any type of wood or accent the colors and style of your home. Stains can be purchased that are water based and clean up with soap and water or oil based which require paint thinner for clean-up. Stained decks that have not been sealed require refinishing more often than a sealed deck. When wet, such as around a pool, the deck stain can transfer to feet and clothing and cause staining of floors when walking into the house. This can be prevented by sealing the deck after staining. Stains do not add a glossy surface to the deck which can be slippery when wet.


Deck sealers are available that add UV protection to retain the color of the wood. Water-based and oil-based sealers are available. A sealed deck usually requires less maintenance and the finish lasts longer than a stained deck. Unlike stains, sealers do not transfer color that can leave stains on clothing, feet and indoor floors. However, sealers can make the deck slippery when wet.

Combination Stain and Sealer

There are combination products available that contain both a stain and a sealer in one product that is applied in one coat. Combination products are also available in a water-based or oil-based product. The stain that is in these blends is sealed in after the coating has dried so no color can transfer to feet or clothing. Combination products add the color options available with stains with the long-lasting protection of sealers. However, any surfaces that get wet can become slippery from the coating. Non-slip deck tape is available for stairways and areas close to the pool to reduce slip and fall accidents when using a sealer for a pool deck.

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