A wooden staircase with white railings and brown steps.

Semi-Transparent Stain VS. Solid Stain


The competition is on! You have a wooden deck, fence, or pergola that needs maintenance and you are not sure what to seal it with. There are so many options available to Chicago Western Suburb residents that at times it can be overwhelming. What stain should you use to make sure your deck and other wooden areas are properly sealed, protected, but also cosmetically appealing? Let us discuss 2 of the most common types.

Semi-Transparent Stain

TWP Semi-transparent stain is the preferred stain of choice for the experts of Pinpoint Maintenance and most of their customers in the Naperville and Western Suburb areas. There are some very good reasons why a semi-transparent stain is usually a better choice for your deck, fence, or pergola needs.

  1. Wood Bonding : Most semi-transparent stains, and the Pinpoint preferred semi-transparent stain TWP, are oil based stains. After sanding the wood, the oil based stain penetrates into the pores wood creating a bond that helps protect the wood and to help the stain last longer.
  2. Wood Protection : Because of the excellent bonding with the wood, a semi-transparent stain will provide the best protection since it is penetrating into the wood instead of sitting on the surface. It has special U.V. absorbing pigments that prevent unsightly wood graying, darkening, and fading and it’s resistance to water helps in the prevention of warping, cracking, and splitting. It also has selected mildewcides which inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
  3. Wood Grain Exposure: A semi-transparent stain will show off the beautiful grain of the natural wood including the different variances creating a naturally enhanced look.
  4. Easier Maintenance: A semi-transparent stain does not peel or chip, but fades away with time. When it comes time for a fresh coat of stain, a semi-transparent stain will come off very easily with pressure washing and sanding which means less time and work for the Pinpoint Maintenance professionals, and less cost for the owner. A solid stain will never completely come off so each year a new layer is added on, it can easily chip and peel providing less protection.

Solid Stain

Solid stains may not be the preferred choice by Pinpoint Maintenance for decks, fences, pergolas, and the like in Naperville and the Chicago Western Suburbs, but a solid stain is at times the only choice. Here are some reasons why a solid stain would be the better choice for some.

  1. Older Deck or Fence : It is expensive to completely replace a deck or fence. If you are looking to cover over imperfections that are easily seen, a solid stain can mask over those better than a semi-transparent stain. Since a solid stain goes on wood similar to a paint, it will mask most of the wood grain and imperfections you don’t want to see.
  2. Wide Variety of Colors : A solid stain can be almost any color the owner wants. If you are looking for a pop of color or something to match the color of your home, you will most likely have to go with a solid stain to match.
  3. Cover Up : If you are looking to cover over a previous solid stain or paint, solid stain will be able to cover over the areas needed unlike a semi-transparent stain. If you have a solid stain on your deck, it is very difficult to go back to a semi-transparent stain since it is nearly impossible to get all the solid stain off the deck once it is on.

Are there any options if you have Solid Stain on your deck, and want to go back to a Semi-Transparent Stain?

The answer is YES, but only on your horizontal surfaces. Pinpoint Maintenance would be happy to assess your deck and see if it would be a good candidate to use our aggressive sanding process on to get the solid stain off your horizontals. This is a more costly option as it does take aggressive sanding and machinery to get the solid stain off of the horizontal surfaces. The results, though, can be well worth the effort and have saved some decks from total replacement. The end result is a two-toned deck where the railings and verticals keep the solid stain, since it is nearly impossible to get solid stain off vertical surfaces, and the horizontals get a fresh coat of TWP semi-transparent stain. Vertical surfaces do not get nearly as much wear and tear and are easily maintained even with a solid stain. Going forward, the frequently used horizontal surfaces (tops of handrails and floors) that get the most use and exposure to elements will be easier to maintain and better protected. The two-toned look is also very cosmetically pleasing and has been a great way to revive a deck. Check out our Instagram feed to see pictures of some of the decks we’ve been able to help!

Whether you go with Semi-Transparent Stain or Solid Stain for your deck, fence, or pergola, Pinpoint Maintenance would be happy to assist you. Our experts in the Naperville and Chicago Western Suburbs can give you their professional opinion on what the best option would be for your area based on experience and research. Call us today for your free assessment!

About The Author

Pinpoint Team
The Pinpoint Team strives to work together for the best results for all of our team members as well as our customers. We love any feedback to help us grow and work together to improve.


  • Grady Galvez on January 16, 2021

    One of the best differences explained I had gone through about Semi-transparent strain vs solid strain. I think you should also add or mention brands of Semi-Transparent strain and their pros and cons for better understanding.

    • Pinpoint Team on January 18, 2021

      Thank you for your suggestion! We are glad you enjoyed the blog article.

  • Stephanie Augmenshaw on February 15, 2021

    It’s been a long time I actually pulled out a piece of paper to take notes on a blog post. Thanks for this post about wood decks. You’ve earned yourself a new reader!

    • Pinpoint Team on February 15, 2021

      So glad you enjoyed the blog! Feel free to check out any of our other blog posts.

  • Mike Auburn on February 18, 2021

    This entire post about wood decks absolutely ROCKS! Thank you for all the hard work you put into it. It really shows.

    • Pinpoint Team on February 18, 2021

      We are glad you enjoyed it!

  • Helsie Paige on February 18, 2021

    Fascinating. Definitely bookmarking this page. Really valuable info, thanks for posting about wood decks.

    • Pinpoint Team on February 18, 2021

      We appreciate your response!

  • Janethe Harlow on February 19, 2021

    This is a blog about wood decks to watch for sure. I think you have a really awesome writing style by the way. Very easy to read. Your blog design is so clean too! Thank you all the hard work!

    • Pinpoint Team on February 19, 2021

      Thanks for the kind words, glad you liked it!

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