Have you taken a look around your home recently and checked the quality of your wood furniture? What about your cabinets and front porch? Wood is a very strong material but can be made even stronger with the right products to aid their longevity.
Simply painting it has limitations and won’t prevent water and other corrosive substances from getting on the inside. These sorts of problems could eventually lead to stains that are difficult to get out or even wood rot.
The easiest solution (or prevention) is deck sealers. They will form a barrier around your wood, working deep into the crevices to prevent salts and moisture from aging it prematurely.
Below are five of the best deck sealers that you’ll find online, picked for drying time, transparency in color once dried, and their ability to block out water. When you’re done with that section, be sure to go over the Buyer’s Guide for time-saving tips that’ll shorten your shopping time. In the end, two of the absolute best from the list are briefed in the Summary.
Best Deck Sealers – Top 5
- 1. Best Overall: Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer 98
- 2. best deck sealer for pressure treated wood: Waterlox Original Sealer/ Finish- Gallon 95
- 3. best clear deck sealer: Cabot 140.0003460.005 Australian Timber Oil Stain, Quart, Jarrah Brown 93
- 4. best deck water sealer: Minwax 630510444 Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane, quart, Semi-Gloss 91
- 5. best cedar deck sealer: Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854 1-Quart Bulls Eye Sealcoat Universal Sanding Sealer 88
Best Deck Sealers Reviews
1. Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer – Best Transparent Deck Sealer (Editor’s Choice)
The Ready Seal 512 is a five-gallon deck sealer that has just about all of the best features that one looks for in products under the category. It does many things right and has a few flaws. One of its major attributes is its ability to keep away streaks.
If you’ve worked with paint or low-quality wood sealers before, you might have firsthand experience with products that result in streaks after drying.
When this happens, getting the sealer smoothed out can be a painful process that might even involve the re-application of a different coat (from a different brand). However, this isn’t the case with Ready Seal. One cost will likely be enough for what you need to treat. And by treating both indoor and outdoor wood fixtures are possible.
It doesn’t smell much either yet it wouldn’t hurt to crack open a window or two if you’re going to be busy with it inside your home. Running is nonexistent, regardless of how or how cold the weather is around you. Of course, the ideal time to coat your wood is when there’s no rain and at least moderate humidity.
But when it does rain, water will never breach the sealer. Instead, all liquids will bead on the top. This is helpful, especially if you live with small children who constantly drop things on hardwood floors.
Important to Know
If there is an issue, it’s mostly relevant to the sealer’s viscosity. It’s slightly thicker than water, which may not work well with some spray nozzles. If you’re planning on spraying the sealer instead of painting, be sure that the hose you get won’t clog due to being too small for the mixture’s thickness.
Again, there’s hardly anything negative to say about Ready Seal. It dries fast and doesn’t carry over any odors once hardening is complete. Highly recommended.
- Only a one-time brush is all that’s needed; no marks or streaks.
- It doesn’t run or become thick (or too thin) in areas where the solution is applied.
- Prevents water from damaging the interior portions of wood.
- It may not work well with some spray nozzles.
2. Waterlox Original Sealer/ Finish- Gallon – Best Deck Waterproof Sealer (People’s Choice)
The Waterlox Original Sealer is best for people that plan to spray the sealer on to their wood surface. But even if you weren’t going about your work this way, the product still performs great during application and years after. The can that it’s sold in doesn’t clog at the top, maintaining a consistent flow until there’s no more solution left. The color is also transparent, having no hue or other shades that would change the look that you anticipate.
This is important as some wood sealers might leave tints, particularly if you do multiple re-applications. There’s nothing to worry about here, so go ahead and coat your wood surface as many times as you want. Keep in mind that you must wait about 24 hours before adding more sealer on top of what you’ve already done. Depending on the location you’re working in (outdoor weather, indoor humidity), the drying time could vary by a larger or shorter margin.
If you want something that’s truly waterproof, you might be better off skipping the rest and going straight for this product’s description. Seepage is a big problem with sealers as the years go by, something that forces consumers to keep constantly buying them. Of course, those in more extreme climates would probably have to do this in any situation, but with less frequency, if Waterlox is used only.
Important to know
Be careful when painting with this sealer indoors. If you have small children or pets, you should keep them away; odors are quite strong but do dissipate after drying is complete.
Open any windows that are close by to the area you’re working in, which would be the entire home when hardwood floors are the case. But don’t be worried; odor tends to go a bit faster than the time it takes for the sealer to dry.
- The sealer doesn’t clog around the top of the can.
- Color stays in the sealer permanently and doesn’t fade over time.
- Re-coats can be applied every 24 hours.
- It must be used in areas with proper ventilation.
3. Cabot 140.0003460.005 Australian Timber Oil Stain, Quart, Jarrah Brown – Best Deck Sealer for Pressure Treated Wood & Best Clear Deck Sealer
The Cabot Australian Timber Oil Stain Sealer, as the name shows, comes from Down Under. And much like the climate in the country, this sealer will dry fast and have your wood protected in record time. When you paint with it, take note of how streaks seem to fade out on their own. In some cases, you might not even need to brush over anything.
Furthermore, there are no pesky colors to concern yourself over here; the sealer is entirely transparent. When it goes on, you can see right through the sealer but have protection from water and any other liquids that would age the wood. And use it as sparingly as you would like. There’s enough sealer to cover hundreds of square feet, and have room left over to spare on your furniture or cabinets.
Based on where you reside, pollen may cling to the surface of your sealed wood easier. It won’t stick to the point of leaving a permanent mark of the surface-treated but doesn’t slide off without cleaning it on your own.
If you’re in an area that gets lots of yellow pollen during the spring and summer months, be prepared to clean pollen off your wood pieces that are coated with this product. If that doesn’t bother you, consider the Cabot for its strength and penetrating power that blocks harmful elements from damaging your wood.
- Stays dry in the can for a long time (when closed back properly).
- No uneven discoloration, during the drying process and long after.
- It doesn’t need to be used in large amounts.
- Pollen tends to cling to the wood after the formula dries (must be wiped away).
4. Minwax 630510444 Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane, quart, Semi-Gloss – Best Deck Water Sealer
Minwax Water-Based Helmsman Spar Urethane is sold in a can but won’t crystallize as soon as you open it. If you’re working with outdoor wood furniture or other objects outside, put this high on your list of possible buys. Its ability to block ultraviolet rays from the sun would do well for pieces that have already been painted but are at risk of fading from fading. As you know, anything that’s painted and has contact with direct sunlight could lose its hue over time.
Sometimes, this might even happen within a month’s time. Applying just one lying to your wood with the Minwax is enough to shield your items for years to come, without the need of using another sealer. And best of all is how well it evens out itself. Paint as you will and never go over any troublesome spots. The sealer stays level and reveals zero lumps or bumpy texture after it dries.
After drying is done, you may notice a slightly yellowish tint on some wood fixings. The look might be more noticeable if the wood itself is darker in color.
It’s not enough to be distracting from the overall look you give to finished projects but may not be what you want. If this is the case, try out some of the other sealers that are shown already.
- Prevents UV and water damage; doesn’t lead to fading.
- Stays even on uneven surfaces.
- Safe to paint over some surfaces that have already been coated (or painted, such as wood).
- It has a yellowish tint that shows immediately after the sealer dries.
5. Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854 1-Quart Bulls Eye Sealcoat Universal Sanding Sealer – Best Deck Sealer for Old Decks
Last on the list is the Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854. It can be used on any wood, regardless of texture or density. No wax is listed in the ingredients either, something that would otherwise take away the sealing effectiveness of the product. If you want a sealer that doesn’t reflect too heavily, give this a consideration. There’s no discoloration and it goes on transparent, remaining that way indefinitely. If you spill something, don’t fret over it too much. Everything will remain on the surface, never penetrating through the barrier that’s formed from the sealer after it dries.
However, if you’re the type that needs to know the expiry date of anything that you buy, it’s going to be difficult to find that out here. Many cans won’t display it, so you’ll have to guess by looking at the paint as to whether or not it’s good enough to use (if you’ve had one stored for a while). To prevent it from going bad too early, always store it in a cool and dry location that isn’t too humid.
- Shows up completely clear after hardening; no hues or yellow tints.
- Leaves a moderate shine to anything treated (but not a mirror finish).
- Spills remain at the surface of wood, increasing its age.
- Some cans may not have an expiration date printed on the label or on the underside of the can.
Best Deck Sealer: Buyer’s Guide
This guide will assist you in picking the correct wood sealer for your individual purposes. It will help but remember to place the product that you think would help you the most
How to Choose the Best Deck Sealer
Because of the varying nature of wood sealers and the ingredients that are placed in them, it can be hard to know which is best for sealing your front and back porches. IF you don’t plan on sealing up anything other than your deck, sealers with some form of UV protection would be wise products to settle on. Also, be sure that the products of interest contain little to no wax. This can age quickly and has less water protection than brands without it.
What color is your wood? If it’s dark, try not to acquire a sealer that has some form of hue after the product has finished drying. If you do end up with one that leaves a slight color in your wood, it could potentially ruin the entire visual effect that you had in mind for the wood when it dries.
For some products, this could be a hazy shine, but for others that aren’t entirely transparent may lead to color variations. Furthermore, the final color may not be visible until a week or two has passed.
You’ll have to be patient with some products, more so if the wood your coating covers a large area. In short, know as much as possible about the sealer’s transparency level before settling on any one brand. A majority of those shown in the reviews above are colorless, although a few may not stay that way based on specific circumstances.
Best Way to Apply Deck Sealer
What you Plan to Seal
Again, if all that you’re planning on sealing are decks or outdoor patio furniture, you can settle on the strong wood sealers that leave a strong odor until dry. But if you want to go indoors, it would be wise to view those that don’t leave any lingering smells for too long. Getting the wood sealer smell to go away before the product dries isn’t easy to do, but not much of a problem for anything that’s sealed outside.
But above all, try to avoid using any of the sealers around kids and pets. If you’re painting something indoors that has painted over it already, see whether or not it would be safe for you to coat it. Some sealers work better before or after a paint job; be sure to read the instruction manual of the individual products to get more information.
Deck Sealer UV Protection
Having gone over UV protection from the sun, it’s also important that you consider fading that can occur from your own light fixtures. Any light has the potential to fade and discolor wood that has been painted. A sealer will prevent this from happening altogether. If you’re in a location that receives a good amount of sunlight in the hot and cold months, a re-coat might be a good thing to do.
If you anticipate going over the wood with several coats after the last has finished drying, be sure that you acquire the appropriate size. Many sealers can cover a maximum area of about 600 square feet. Factor in those re-coats before you decide on settling on just a single can.
Drying Time of Deck Sealers
The time that it takes for a deck sealer to dry is very important. Remember, you won’t be able to touch or walk on anything that has been sealed until it’s completely hardened. For some deck sealers, this could be anywhere from 12 to well over 24 hours. You might hear some professionals in the field suggest certain times and weather patterns seal your deck in.
For instance, applying a coat on rainy or humid days should be out of the question. You want to ensure that the sealer stays on and doesn’t run, which could potentially happen under bad weather or too hot/cold temperatures. And never put your sealer on when if it’s too windy outside, or if there are marked blooms of pollen. If the pollen gets into the sealer, it would be impossible to get out without scraping the barrier and started over new again.
Living in the rainfall area? You should stick to the products that would guard the interior of your wood best from water. If you’re not away, wood that’s waterlogged tends to buckle, which eventually leads to rot and breakage. It’s something that could affect the quality of your deck, floor, and furniture (not mentioned their safety).
And if you know that whatever you’re sealing is going to get wet very often, don’t be afraid to apply as many coats as you would like. When doing this, you’re effectively reinforcing the inside while simultaneously keeping the wood looking fresh.
- Only a one-time brush is all that's needed; no marks or streaks.
- It doesn't run or become thick (or too thin) in areas where the solution is applied.
- Prevents water from damaging the interior portions of wood.
Which of the deck sealers shown above do you think is best for your home or business? While there were only five reviewed, each has unique values that make them recommended for sealing deck or other wood pieces. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing something in an indoor or outdoor location either; all have the ability to get your wood protected.
You won’t even have to smooth out anything when finished brushing or spraying. Streaks go away on their own, whereby the coat stays even with the surface you place it on.
If you’re having trouble deciding which deck sealer is right for you, picking any from the list wouldn’t be a regrettable thing to do. But the first and second products (the Ready Seal 512 and Waterlox Original Sealer) are the best of the best.
Everything that one needs in a deck sealer is a feature in the products, ensuring that both will last for years (maybe even decades) after the coats have hardened around your wood surfaces. But don’t leave out the other three, especially if you’ve already decided on one of those to try out instead. And when you crank out the brush, roller, or spray to begin the sealing, prepare yourself to enjoy a permanently preserved deck that will never age.