What You Should Know About Staining in the Fall

As summer cools down and fall weather approaches, the window of opportunity to take care of exterior painting or staining projects is closing. That window tends to close a little quicker for stains. 

There are a few variables that can greatly impact the success of a stain project. Weather must be in your favor to complete any stain project. Stains are fairly reliant upon the correct temperature range and dry weather in order to cure properly. The type of stain can also play a role due to different temperature thresholds that are required for a stain to adhere and cure properly. This time of year is your last chance to complete that stain project before winter arrives! Keep reading to learn more about what you should know about staining in the fall.

Solid Stains Vs Semi-Transparent Stains

photo of a semi-transparent stained deck

Semi-transparent stain

Stains provide an appealing look, but they also protect exposed surfaces. Typically, homeowners will stain decks, fences, pergolas, or the whole exterior of a home. The first thing you must know when approaching a stain project is what type of stain you are going to use. The two main types of stains most often used are solid stains and semi-transparent stains

Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-Transparent stains are likely what you think of when you think of stains. Semi-transparent stains preserve the natural wood grain while creating an appealing aesthetic. The wood grain will still be visible through a semi-transparent stain while adding an additional pop of color. 

Semi-transparent stains are made to penetrate wood surfaces and bind with wood fibers. This helps to protect the wood and preserve it for longer. For that reason, it is typically better to use a semi-transparent stain on surfaces you may want to preserve for longer, such as your deck. 

Solid Stains

It’s important to understand what you’d like out of the look of your stain. Solid stains are more similar to paint and will cover the natural wood grain. If you want the wood grain to still show, a semi-transparent stain might be better suited for your project. Solid stains do not penetrate the wood or bind with the wood fibers. Instead, a solid stain lays upon the wood surface more like a top-coat of paint. Check out the image below of a solid stain project.  

photo of a solid stain deck

Solid stain deck

You can see how dark and thick the stain looks in comparison to a semi-transparent stain. Solid stains are a more stylistic choice when it comes to stains. When done right, a nice solid stain can really elevate your outdoor space by adding to the overall aesthetic while matching nicely with your exterior paint.

Weather & Temperatures Impact on Stains

Weather and the temperature of your environment are crucial factors when completing a stain project. Each type of stain has a temperature range required to apply the product and allow proper curing. You should always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines when applying a stain. Same goes for paint, but stains can be a bit more finicky!  

Temperature Threshold

For both semi-transparent and solid stains the ideal range is between 50-90 degrees fahrenheit. If it is too cold, or there is rain/snow within the first 24 hours of applying a stain product, it will not adhere or cure properly. If it is too cold or too hot when applying a stain it can create spotty results and will be cumbersome to fix. 

photo of a stained deck covered in rain

As mentioned before, solid stains are more similar to paints in their chemistry. For that reason, they have a wider temperature range that they can safely be applied. For a solid stain you can typically apply them all the way down to 35 degrees fahrenheit. Semi-transparent stains have a tighter window and you really should fall within that 50-90 degree temperature range. 

We need to keep in mind that it may be a nice fall day around 70-80 degrees out, but once that sun falls, the temperatures drop. Your painter should be aware of the temperature drop at night. If the temperature drops below that 50 degree mark at night, your stain may not cure properly. This can be especially true here in Colorado where we can have quick temperature swings. 

For this example we are using Sherwin Williams SuperDeck Exterior Deck Stain (Semi-Transparent & Solid).

Location Matters 

How well your stain adheres to your surface can even be impacted by the location of what you plan to stain. For example, if you have a ground-level deck that’s located on a side of your home that receives less sunlight it won’t receive as much heat being in the shade. 

During the fall, a shaded area may struggle to reach the ambient temperature that a stain requires. This will create a longer dry time and could increase the risk of your stain being impacted by moisture. 


It’s vital that your painter is well aware of the proper temperature threshold that your stain requires for application. If it is too cold, your stain project will not adhere or cure properly. It’s always better to play it safe when applying stains! You can typically apply solid stains later in the year due to their wider temperature range. We recommend waiting for the proper weather to complete a stain project as opposed to rushing your project. If you have a stain project you’d like to get completed, Kind Home Painting Co. provides free estimates. For inspiration, be sure to check out our Instagram page HERE.