This post was updated most recently on February 24, 2021
You’re probably reading this because you’ve recently built a new wooden deck or you’re repairing and refinishing an older wooden deck.
As you know, there is a dizzying array of deck stains on the market, and it can feel almost impossible to choose which one will look the best and give you reliable performance for years to come.
We understand. And that is exactly why we created this website.
Today, our focus is on finding the best solid deck stains available. First, we’ll offer some handy information on why to stain and some of the stain options out there. And we will end with reviews of some of the best solid deck stain 2020 has to offer.
Wooden decks need to be stained for a couple of reasons.
Decks are constantly exposed to the elements and they are damaged by this exposure.
UV rays from the sun dry out the wood fibers and make the boards crack and splinter. This also causes the boards of your deck to become old and discolored.
Water can get into the wood and cause rot and decay.
To avoid this damage to your wooden deck, you need to finish it off by sealing or staining it. After this, keep up with regular maintenance to ensure it lasts.
Types Of Deck Stains
There are multiple types of deck stains that serve different purposes.
Here we’ll give you a brief overview before focusing fully on the best solid deck stain.
Clear Stains and Sealers
This is the most basic option available. Clear stains will protect the wood beneath from water damage while allowing the natural beauty of the wood grain to show through.
Unfortunately, clear stains won’t protect the wood from UV damage from the sun.
They have a simple application process but need to be reapplied frequently since the wood becomes gray and worn from the sun.
Semi-Transparent Deck Stain
This type of stains is a pretty good middle-of-the-road option.
Semi-transparent stains will seal the deck allowing it to be waterproof, while also providing a hint of color to the deck wood.
This pigment in the semi-transparent stain also acts as added protection against UV rays.
This type of stain is easy to apply and will generally look good even as it ages.
Semi-transparent stains will typically last 2-3 years on horizontal surfaces before re-application is needed. They’ll last longer on vertical surfaces (3-5 years).
Semi-Solid Deck Stain
These stains are in between a semi-transparent stain and a solid stain.
They contain the waterproofing capabilities of all deck sealers while the added pigment provides UV protection. The amount of pigment is higher than in semi-transparent stains so you’ll be able to see the wood grain through the stain, but it won’t be quite as defined. More pigment means better UV protection.
Solid Deck Stain
These stains are quite popular with homeowners working with older decks, or anyone who prefers a solid color on their wooden deck.
These stains will deliver the waterproofing you need, and they are also the best when it comes to protecting your wooden deck from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
While the other stain types penetrate the wood, solid deck stains don’t. Instead, solid stains sit on top of the wood much like paint does. This is one reason solid stains are so great for working with older, weathered decks. The opaqueness is great for covering up inconsistencies in the deck wood.
If you don’t care much about seeing the grain of the wood and would rather have a bold pop of color, solid stains are your best bet. Some brands of solid stains can be tinted to an unlimited number of colors at a paint store, while other solid color stains are available in a few popular colors.
These stains require some additional care to prevent peeling. Even the best solid deck stain will need regular cleaning to prevent a grimy buildup from forming.
Questions To Ask When Choosing A Deck Stain
Oil-Based or Water-Based?
When choosing your stain, one of the most important things you need to think about is whether you want to use a stain that’s oil-based or water-based. As with all things, both options come with their distinct benefits and drawbacks.
Oil-based stains are easy to apply, but on the flip side, they are smelly and messy and can be a food source for mold and mildew.
With recent advancements in water-based technology, we’re now starting to see waterborne stains outlast oil-based stains. Plus they’re easy to apply, safer for the environment, and are easy to clean up. When using a good quality stain, you can easily get 3 years out of a single application.
Semi-Transparent or Solid Color?
When comparing semi-transparent and solid color stains, they both offer different advantages and disadvantages, and the key to “better” becomes picking the advantages that are right for you.
Semi-Transparent Stains offer the following:
They are typically fairly easy to remove. Because they do not form a film, when the stain has worn down and it is time to redo your deck, semi-transparent products are typically fairly easy to remove, normally requiring only a little wood cleaner and a small power washer.
They can be maintainable. Some of the water-borne products, such as Defy Extreme Wood Stain (www.defywoodstain.com), #1 Deck Advanced Solid Color Stain (www.1deck.com) or Restore-A-Deck Solid Color Wood & Deck Stain (www.restore-a-deck.com), do not darken over time and, as they begin to show signs of wear, can be brought back to life with a mild cleaning and a light maintenance coat. This feature is limited to waterborne products and it does make keeping decks looking good exceptionally easy.
Less likely to peel. Unlike solid color stains, when properly applied semi-transparent products do not form a thick film over the surface of the wood making them less likely than solid color products to peel.
Solid Color Stains offer the following:
Significantly more durable. Because they form a film similar to paint, solid color stains will typically outlast semi-transparent products. It is for this reason that they are often times used on the spindles and hand rails, even when a semi-transparent product is applied to the walking surfaces.
Provide a clean, “painted look” to the wood. Because they provide an opaque, painted look, solid color stains will effectively hide imperfections in the wood, which can be especially beneficial on older, weathered surfaces.
When recoating, complete removal may not be necessary. With solid color stains, you will often begin to see wear patterns in the high traffic areas of the deck. As long as the stain is still well adhered, removing/stripping the product off before recoating is unnecessary.
Why Consider Solid Color Stains When Staining Your Deck
Though decks have traditionally been stained using penetrating, semi-transparent products, there is a growing trend to consider solid color stains when staining your deck. There are many great reasons why:
The newer generation of products resist peeling!
Some on the newer products to market, products like Defy Extreme Wood Stain (www.defywoodstain.com), #1 Deck Advanced Solid Color Stain (www.1deck.com) or Restore-A-Deck Solid Color Wood & Deck Stain (www.restore-a-deck.com) have some pretty incredible technology in their cans making them especially resistant to the peeling issues that plagued some of the older solid color products from the past.
Solid color stains are more durable!
Because they form a film on the surface of the wood, solid color stains will normally prove to be significantly more durable and longer lasting than other semi-transparent products. It’s this extreme durability that makes them a great choice to consider for the most severe problem areas of the deck such as the rails.
The color pallet can be endless!
Some solid color stains, such as Defy Extreme Wood Stain (www.defywoodstain.com), are manufactured in a tintable base system. Rather than offering just a few select, package colors, a base system can be custom tinted to nearly any color in the spectrum. This feature does require that you visit the dealer to have the product tinted (in the case of Defy, that would be Do it Best Hardware Stores, nationwide), but it does open the possibility of an infinite spectrum of colors.
Once applied, they can be easily maintained!
Unlike many of the semi-transparent products that have to be completely removed before reapplying product, providing that the stain is well adhered to the surface, solid color stains can be refreshed, without stripping, by simply recoating over the original application.
They can be combined with semi-transparent products to create a really great look!
Combining the use of solid color stains with semi-transparent products can create some really great looks for your deck. When doing this, often times a solid color stain is used on the hand rails while a semi-transparent product is used on the decking (walking surfaces). Besides the fact that it creates a really great look for your deck, using a solid color stain on the hand rails and spindles means you now have a more durable product on the areas of the deck that are normally the first to fail.
Best Solid Deck Stain Reviews
We’ll end with a snapshot of 3 of the best solid deck stains 2021 has seen so far.
#1 Deck Advanced Solid Color Wood Stain
This stain is a 100% acrylic formula that is made to protect your wooden deck for years to come.
The finish of this solid stain is completely opaque, meaning no wood grain will show through at all.
This stain does an excellent job at hiding previous finishes and can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed on the deck. It will dry in about 1-2 hours depending on the temperature and humidity. It’s the best solid deck stain if you live in an area with unpredictable weather.
The stain comes in several popular colors. #1 Deck Stain also has a semi-transparent line of stains. A new trend that’s becoming popular is for deck owners to stain the horizontal boards with a semi-transparent stain, and the vertical posts and railings with a solid stain. This has a really nice look, and you’ll get an extremely long lifespan out of your vertical posts and railings with easy maintenance on your horizontal boards.
- Eco-Friendly Acrylic based formula
- 100% opaque
- Limited color selection
DEFY Extreme Solid Color Wood Stain
This acrylic stain from DEFY is an outstanding solid deck stain.
DEFY has always made great semi-transparent stains but their new solid stain is a game changer. There are 2 reasons why – 1) It contains zinc nano-particles that give it amazing UV resistance against color fade, and 2) It uses that latest and greatest in resin technology that has a minimum 5 year lifespan without peeling or degrading. For a solid stain, it has great application characteristics and actually penetrates the wood quite well to eliminate any chance of peeling.
It dries quickly and offers superb protection from mold and algae growth.
- Water-based formula with excellent penetration and protection
- 5 year minimum performance lifespan
- Low risk of mold or algae buildup
- Can be tinted to any color you like
- Zinc additives naturally resist UV rays and mold growth
- Must be tinted at the store
- Only available through Do it Best local paint and hardware stores
Restore-A-Deck Solid Color Stain
Available in 5 pleasingly neutral colors, Restore-A-Deck is a strong contender for the best solid deck stain.
With this stain, you can complete the staining process the same day you prep the wood, saving you some precious time.
The stain adds color to your deck while simultaneously sealing it to ensure it’s waterproof and safe from UV rays.
This stain also inhibits the growth of mold, mildew and green algae.
- Premixed colors
- Easy clean up
- Eco-friendly and safe
- Only available online