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I am putting together a bar top on my deck, and don't want to use pressure treated wood on the top surface (as I understand it that would be ill advised for an eating area). An option I am considering id using untreated Southern Yellow Pine lumber that is covered in solid stain.

Will the stain provide any protection against the elements?

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I've done more digging, and this is what I've found:

Paint

  • Sits on top of the wood and is capable of forming a sheen
  • Is good at keeping moisture out, but traps whatever moisture that does get in
  • Should be easier to clean food / drink spills off

Stain

  • Can't be applied over a previously painted surface (not a problem in my case).
  • Bonds to the wood more closely than paint because it actually soaks in
  • Allows moisture to leave the wood.
  • Does not form a sheen - leaves original texture of the wood exposed

In my application, I chose to go with paint. I applied two coats of exterior paint with "built in" primer.

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A protective stain would help keep the wood from the elements, a spar varnish would be better, plus give you the advantage of wipe-ability.

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