Best Deck Stains

Woody Jackson | Last modified on August 25th, 2022
45 Products Considered
23 Hours of Research
4222 Reviews Analyzed

Almost everyone loves wood, and the stain is getting popular day by day. There are so many colors to choose from, the traditional ones to bright colors like red. If you’ve just got a brand-new deck, staining your deck can preserve its color and maintain its longevity.

Exposure to the sun, ice, and other harsh weather conditions can result in your deck deteriorating over time. Using a deck stain can help prevent sun rays from penetrating the wood. It can also repel moisture and prevent the wood from growing mold or becoming soft.

best deck stain review
Best Deck Stains

Another great benefit of staining your deck is preventing it from cracking. The color pigments in your stain are not intended to give you any indication of how long the stain will last. Each wood type will react differently to the pressure exerted on it. Once the stain has completely dried, the pressure is no longer applied to the surface.

There are two major types of wood stains you can use on your deck: water-based and oil-based. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The Best Top Rated Deck Stains

1. Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain for Wood – Best Overall

I would suggest you try this product. It is a great offering and protects the wood. This stain is excellent for exterior projects. Ready Seal stain is really quick and easy to apply. Its fast-drying, washable, protects, seals, and beautifies wood. Ready Seal instant stain is the fastest, least messy stain ever. 

What I Like:

  • Easy to apply.
  • Fast-drying.
  • Can be used both in cold or hot weather.
  • Protects, seals & beautifies deck.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Color may not always be long-lasting and fade faster than other coatings.

2. #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain – Best Deck Stain for Pressure Treated Wood

#1 Deck Wood Stain is a superior quality product and is easy to use. The quality of the wood stain is brilliant, and it is applied evenly in one coat. It smells great and is easy to apply. It’s greatly suited for pressure-treated wood. The stain has an immediate change of color while applying. That allows visually to see where it had sprayed in areas to be painted over.

What I Like:

  • Protects surfaces from fading.
  • Prevent graying.
  • Dual-purpose stain and sealer.
  • Great for water cleanup and soap.

What I Don’t Like:

  • It can fade over time if you do not adhere to the rules of the application.
  • Colors can vary.

3. Cabot 140.0003460.005 Australian Timber Oil Stain – Best Oil Based Deck Stain

This is an excellent product for a deck. It is easy to apply and tends to cover in one or two coats. This oil-based stain has a particular composition that allows you to protect different types of wood. The stain is able to penetrate deeply into dense woods as well as those that have a lot of resin inside.

Moreover, this product is water repellent and has many color variations. This stain is well suited for both classic and exotic woods.

What I Like:

  • Has a unique composition.
  • Suitable for different types of wood.
  • Water repellent.
  • Has the ability to penetrate deep into the wood.

What I Don’t Like:

  • May have an offensive odor longer than other stains.

4. SEAL-ONCE Marine Premium Deck Stain – Best Water Based Deck Stain

An easy-to-apply stain that is suitable for most types of wooden surfaces. It is water-based and therefore non-toxic, completely safe for children, adults, and animals. Nevertheless, it does not affect the protective properties of the stain.

Thanks to the penetrating technology, the liquid particles penetrate deep into the wood and reliably protect products from environmental influences.

What I Like:

  • Safe for children, pets, plants.
  • Penetrates deeply into the wood fibers.
  • Has no side effects on the surface.
  • Creates an effective protective barrier against rain, sea water, sunlight.
  • Protects the wood and prolongs its service life.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Some buyers mention that the color appears a little bit lighter than expected.

5. Olympic Stain Maximum Deck Stain – Best Outdoor Deck Stain

I believe that you will have great results for the Olympic brand as this is a really great stain, suitable for different deck types. It contains both stain and sealant. Therefore, it allows you to reliably protect wooden surfaces from rain and ultraviolet radiation, as well as giving the wood a natural beauty.

You can read that the stain wipes off faster than usual in some reviews, but this is hardly true. A reliable manufacturer guarantees quality, and many positive reviews indicate the high quality of the stain.

What I Like:

  • Suitable for use in a variety of weather conditions.
  • Protects against water and rain.
  • Protects against UV rays.
  • Has a dual component protective formula.

What I Don’t Like:

  • May take longer to dry than stains from other manufacturers.

How to Choose the Best Deck Stain: Buyer’s Guide

While choosing the proper deck stain, you can face some difficulties. Pick the product that fits your needs, as well as budget. Remember, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on a stain if the topcoat isn’t correctly applied or protected from the elements.

Do not forget to seal, protect, and use – with proper application, you won’t have to do that again. You also need to consider that there are several different types of stains.

Types of Deck Stains

There are multiple choices when it comes to deck stains. This is a personal thing. It also depends on the shape of your deck, as well as the color of your house. Below you can find different types of stains for various purposes.

Semi-transparent Deck Stain

A semi-transparent deck stain is better to go for a natural look. This type of stain is suitable for older wood and deck. You can apply it a few times with thin coats if you want it more opaque.

But a thick coat will remove the color of the stain, and you need to reapply. If you are looking to darken the wood color, it is best to go for a semi-transparent deck stain.

It works like paint and dries really fast. You can use a brush to apply it. Nowadays, you have to prepare your wood thoroughly before you submerge it in the stain.

I would not recommend applying stain in direct sunlight or on a really hot day. It is enough to stick to a mild sunny day.

Solid Deck Stain

Solid deck stain is good, but it takes a lot of time to dry in cold weather. It needs to be applied again in light coats; otherwise, it can turn into spray paint type coating on your wood.

However, if you want brighter color or a really opaque solid deck stain is a nice material to use.

Exterior Deck Stain

Exterior deck stain consists of 5% to 8% water, plus a pH-dependent amount depending on the wood stain you use. Typically, deep colors require a higher amount of water to penetrate the wood fibers. 

Exterior wood staining products completely coat the surface of the wood and fill the grain. The moisture content is 8 to 10%. When exposed to moist air for a few days, the coating turns dry, tough, and hard enough to repel spills.

It is highly resistant to staining and temperature extremes from heat to cold because it forms a seal. Over the life of exterior wood colors, they will improve in appearance and protection.

Penetrating Deck Stain

Penetrating deck stain is the finest product in the list of best deck stain colors for above ground pools. Such kind of stain repels moisture for years to come. It also protects from UV rays.

It has better flow properties than other wood stains to give a smooth, uniform finish to the deck surface. Penetrating deck stain provides good resistance against weather conditions, including the frequent exposure created by rain events, which minimize its fading.

Its life depends on exposure to weather conditions and how regularly its protective coating is reapplied to maintain its original appearance despite the time.

Oil-based Deck Stain

This stain type is manufactured with oil components. It has been developed to achieve the best possible hardening effect on outdoor surfaces and provide better water resistance.

The pigmentation generates over time an oil layer that later ensures a uniform appearance even in direct sunlight through a protective coating with excellent UV resistance too. 

The oil layer, which later opposes the aging process or weathering action, helps extend these wood stains’ resistance towards elements, polishing compounds and chemical substances such as salt particles and others.

This pigmentation generates a fine uniform coloring along with improved adhesion to the surface of the wood treated that lends itself to achieve greater penetration.

These wood stains are excellent materials for surfaces such as decks, fences, wooden doors to protect them against external conditions such as outside elements such as wind, rain, dirt, and dust, etc.

Water-based Deck Stain

Water-based stains are great because they won’t damage the wood and make the deck last longer. It’s an eco-friendly option that makes it easier to maintain and extend the life of your deck. And there are multiple color options to match your existing paint colors!

Deck Stains by Wood Type

In addition to the fact that the stain for the deck varies by type, it also has differences in the types of wood for which it is designed.

Cedar Deck Stain

Cedar Deck Stain, a beautiful light-colored finish, works on wet or dry wood. This type is the ideal coating solution for decks and other wood surfaces made of cedar.

When creating a stain, the features of cedarwood, its structure, ability to absorb liquids, and so on were considered.

Redwood Deck Stain

Redwood deck stain has a wide range of applications, especially for outdoor use. It can be transparent and also gives protection to the wood. It is very much eco-friendly because it does not contain any VOCs.

Redwood deck stains were specifically designed to be breathable and easy to clean. They also wick moisture away for long-lasting protection while also increasing beauty and durability.

Deck Stain for Old Deck

The stain’s main task for old decks is to preserve the natural texture of the wood and hide damages to some surfaces. Such stains are specially designed to consider all these requirements and significantly improve an old deck’s appearance and increase its durability.

Pressure-treated Wood Stain

Timber teak, cedar, redwood, oak are all pressure-treated woods.  Pressure-treating is the process of adding chemicals to the wood to make them resistant to insects and decay.

Pressure-treated wood has a lot of cleaning power for its life because the natural oils in the wood have been leached out and replaced with chemicals that are resistant to mildew.

Therefore, the stain for pressure-treated woods may contain various chemicals to improve wood conditions, protection from external factors: water, UV rays, etc.

Stain vs. Sealer – What’s the difference

The main difference between these wood care liquids is between cleaning and waterproofing. Deck stain does more than just protect your wood against fading and water marks. It also seals the wood so that it will have a beautiful depth.

Both products have many equal ingredients and protective technologies, but the other key difference is color.

The sealer is transparent, while wood stain has pigmentation and can affect the wooden surface’s final color. Depending on the manufacturer, both fluids may also contain additives to protect against UV rays and prevent the growth of bacteria, mildew, and moss.

Best Deck Stain Brands

Most people want to protect both the life of their deck and the true natural color of the wood. Today, many manufacturers and offers on the market extend the life of wood products and decks.

Although new brands regularly appear, there are a few of the most popular companies that produce excellent stain for different types of wood and uses:

  • Thompsons
  • #1 Deck
  • Ready Seal
  • Cabot
  • Seal-Once
  • Defy

Depending on your needs, choose the stain that’s right for you.


Which deck stain lasts the longest?

Solid stains or sealers are usually the types of stain that is recommended for deck staining. Generally, two to three coats and will have a gloss to them.
Also, because it is hard and dark, solid stain tends to last longer than other stains.

What is the best deck stain for older decks?

Most of you know that the best thing to do for new decks is to use transparent stain. It looks great and has excellent protective properties. However, for older decks, experts recommend using semi-transparent stains.
With a semi-transparent stain, you retain the wood’s natural texture, while the presence of pigment allows you to hide the wear and tear of the finish.

Is it better to stain or seal a deck?

It Depends On The Type Of Deck And Its Condition. I Would Stain As A Staining And Sealing Combo, Or You Can Just Stain If You Want It To Be Darker. Whatever You Decide, It Will Look Nice.

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