Your choice of deck finish will determine how often you need to refinish your deck. Clear or transparent stains will show off the wood texture and grain, whereas solid stains provide a paint-like covering. However, clear stains are much more susceptible to damage caused by UV rays and, therefore, will need to be reapplied more frequently. Here’s a general guideline to set realistic expectations.
CLEAR OR TRANSPARENT STAINS
Plan to refinish your deck on an annual basis. Though these stains need to be reapplied more often, they are easy to clean and easy to apply, keeping your deck at its most striking appearance.
Expect these to last two to three years. These will probably last longer than the clear or transparent stains, but are more difficult to clean and will take more effort to prep before reapplying.
Expect these to last two to four years. These will last longer than the more transparent stains, but have a strong tendency to peel and show noticeable wear as time goes on, which will detract from the overall appearance of your deck.
Expect these to last three to five years or longer. These last the longest and are preferable for people who want minimal deck upkeep. However, over time, you will notice peeling and a dulling of the finish. Solid stains are the most difficult to reapply — you may be stuck with using a similar or darker finish when re-staining to cover the existing stain.
Remember, these are just general guidelines. Keep in mind that different stains are formulated in different ways, such as adding additional UV protection, so be sure to consult with your deck stain pro to choose the right stain for your situation.