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Refreshing Your Deck: Can You Stain Composite Decking?

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ZARⓇ ensures your project gets the look you want with the durability and protection it needs.


For many people, their deck is the hub of summertime activity. Grilling, entertaining guests and enjoying sunsets, the deck has to withstand it all. But what can you do when the wear and tear on your deck begins to show? Traditional wood decking can be refinished and stained, but can you stain composite decking? 

Unfortunately, the answer is an unsatisfying yes and no.”

If you have old, uncapped composite decking, you are in luck — you can probably stain it! However, if you have a newer capped version of composite decking, then you will not be as fortunate.

In this article, we will discuss when staining your composite deck is an option, along with tips on how to stain your deck for the best results. 

What is Composite Decking?

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Composite decking is made from an assortment of inorganic and organic materials, including recycled plastics, wood pulp, new plastic, fiberglass and various chemical additives. 

This combination of ingredients creates a more durable decking product with increased resistance to rot, wear and swelling than natural wood alternatives.

Why Stains and Most Composite Decking Don’t Mix

Why can you stain composite decking that is older, but not newer products? The answer lies in the fact that modern composite decking is capped and older versions are not.

Staining may not be viable for most people with composite decking manufactured after 2010.

Modern Composite Decking is Manufactured to Be Non-Porous

New composite decking products are unable to be stained because of the impermeable layer of PVC that surrounds them.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a robust and non-porous material used for a multitude of construction applications. Sewage pipes, exterior trim and vent caps are all built from PVC because of its impermeable, water-resistant qualities. 

The PVC coating increases the deck’s durability and resistance to rot, mildew and mold, and it also creates a surface impenetrable to stain. 

To tell whether or not your decking has a PVC cap, look at the cut end of one of your deck boards. Is there a smooth, solid ring around a rougher inner core? If the answer is yes, your deck boards are PVC capped.

Stains Need to Be Able to Penetrate

For stain to work, it needs to be absorbed by porous, natural fibers like those found in wood. Wood fibers absorb the stain’s colored pigments for a beautifully colored natural surface that showcases the wood’s natural grain pattern. 

Most Composite Decking Comes Prefinished

Because you cannot stain most composite decking, it usually comes prefinished in a variety of colors and tones. 

Composite decking eliminates your ability to stain, but there are still many color options to choose from before you build.

Stain Your Composite Decking with ZAR® Solid Color Coating

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ZAR Solid Color Deck & Siding Coating offers full color and coverage that shows wood texture without grain.


While you may not be able to stain your composite decking, all hope is not lost! 

ZAR Deck & Siding Solid Color Coating allows you to refinish your PVC-capped composite deck in a variety of stunning colors and finishes that tastefully work with any home.

ZAR’s innovative self-crosslinking Core-Shell Technology gives the Solid Color Coating superior adhesion while providing enhanced durability from Aliphatic Urethane fortification.

Once you use the ZAR Deck and Siding Solid Color Coating, you’ll never worry about staining your composite decking again.

How to Stain Composite Decking

With ZAR, staining” your composite deck couldn’t be easier; it only takes a little time, nice weather, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. You’ll be getting compliments on your new deck in no time!

Prepare the Surface

To ensure a solid bond, thoroughly clean and wash your composite deck boards. 

Make sure to scrub and clean any oil, grease or dirt — you want your deck to be as clean and free of debris as possible. 

Once clean and rinsed, allow the deck to dry fully before applying ZAR Deck & Siding Solid Color Coating.

Apply the Solid Color Coating

  1. Check your local weather forecast. You should only apply ZAR Deck & Siding Solid Color Coating at 40 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not apply if you expect rain within 24 hours.

  2. Stir thoroughly to ensure uniformity.

  3. Apply ZAR Deck & Siding Solid Color Coating with a synthetic brush, roller, foam pad applicator or sprayer. Be sure to maintain a wet edge during application. If spraying, back roll or brush to ensure color uniformity.

  4. Apply a minimum of two coats. Allow at least 30 minutes between coats and 24 hours to cure fully.

Find the Most Innovative Stains and Finishes for Any Project with ZAR

The next time you wonder if you can stain your composite decking, just know you can with ZAR!

From stain polyurethane, ZAR has a full line of premium finishing products that combine unlimited colors, unbeatable protection and uncomplicated application in order to create breathtaking finishes for any surface.

Want to find some inspiration for your next project? Check out our project inspiration page. How much coverage do you need? Use the ZAR free coverage area calculator and get it right the first time. 

Ready to get started? Find a retailer near you and upgrade your home with ZAR premium finishes today.

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