One of the main differences between deck paint and solid color deck stain is that stain penetrates deeper into the wood, preventing it from holding moisture. Although paint typically lasts longer than stain, it is not designed to endure foot traffic as well as solid color stain.
Solid color stain is an opaque stain that is thinner than paint, allowing the wood's natural texture and grain to show through. It is designed for use only on wood surfaces that have not been previously painted. Solid color stains provide some protection from ultraviolet rays, but paints generally offer more protection. The natural tannin oils in wood can bleed through paint, causing yellow or brown stains to form on the painted surface. While homeowners must use primer before painting to stop tannin bleed, solid color stains prevent tannin oil bleed without a primer.
Because paint is available in a wider variety of colors than solid color deck stain, it is a good option for homeowners seeking a bright- or dark-colored deck. High-quality, water-based latex paint is generally a better choice than oil-based paint because it is very flexible and handles changes in moisture content well. Painting is typically messier than staining, and it requires more preparation.