If you’re looking for the best deck stain, it can seem like a bewildering minefield to navigate.
Luckily, it doesn’t need to be that way to find the top-rated deck stains.
You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of getting this decision right since the choice you make will influence both the appearance of your decking and also the durability of the wood.
Before you start looking through our deck stain reviews 2019, though, it pays to think closely about a few critical factors to streamline your buying decision.
Type of Deck Stain
First of all, you should choose between an oil-based or water-based stain. 20 years ago, oil based stains were the best choice. With the VOC laws changing in the last 10-15 years, all oil-based stain manufacturers have had to change their formulas. Additionally, water-based stain technology has drastically improved so that now, many water-based stains outlast their oil based counterparts.
If you need more help with that, check out our handy breakdown right here.
With that decision made, laser in on the specific type of stain. You’ve got 4 choices when shopping for top-rated deck stains:
- Clear Stain: A clear stain leaves the natural grain of the wood exposed so makes a common choice. While this type of stain has little oil or pigment, your wood will still be protected against the elements and preserved to some extent
- Semi-Transparent Stain: You’ll get a little color imparted with semi-transparent stain while still leaving the grain visible. Penetration is excellent, and you shouldn’t need to reapply the stain for 2 years. Oil-based versions of this stain tend to perform better
- Semi-Solid Stain: Containing a high level of pigment, you can still see some of the grain. The key selling point of this type of stain is the outstanding UV protection it provides
- Solid Stain: Solid stains, commonly known as opaque stains, last for 3 years or more before you need to reapply. This type of stain sits on top of the wood rather than penetrating. It works well to mask any flaws or inconsistencies in the decking. The flipside of this type of stain is that it’s prone to peeling
Deck stain comes in an array of colors.
When choosing this, you should match it to an unchanging element such as the exterior paint to give you greater lifespan.
If you want a subtle and more natural look, match the stain to the type of wood. That way, you’ll get protection and coverage without altering the aesthetic.
Make sure to conduct a small test first if possible. This way, you can be sure you like the look of the stain on the decking before committing to purchase.
While deck stain is typically cheaper than paint, you should still factor coverage area into the equation when you’re choosing your stain.
That said, you shouldn’t obsess over coverage area at the expense of quality. Try to get the balance right.
As a rough guideline, any stain covering 100 square feet with the first coat is more than fit for purpose.
Using wood cleaners & wood brighteners open up the pores of the wood so that maximum stain absorption can occur. This is what makes deck stain last. The deeper they soak in, the stronger their bond is with the wood. Now, this is assuming that the wood stain is made with high-quality resins that will actually soak in and bond in the first place. Using a cheap, poor quality deck stain that just lays on the surface isn’t going to do you much good, no matter how well you prep the surface.
Price always plays a factor in any buying decision, but it should never be the deciding factor.
You would think that the most expensive deck stains (some reaching $60+ per gallon) would be the longest lasting, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In addition, some stain manufacturers have 3-5 year warranty claims. In reality, this is just a marketing gimmick. No Stain will last 3-5 years on a horizontal surface. The idea is that they’ll sell more product because they have a warranty, and those increased sales will outweigh any warranty claims they have when their product fails to last
Regardless of whether you want an oil-based or water-based stain, the best deck stain doesn’t come particularly cheap. This is all the more reason to make sure you get the most appropriate treatment for the wood and your preferences.
What to Do Next
Check out our selection of the top rated deck stains below. We tested 30 different deck stains to see how well they performed. To document our testing, we installed cameras over each board, and had it take 1 photo per day for a year. Click on each product to view the time-lapse video results and read our deck stain reviews 2019 to see how each one might work for your home.
|Overall Score||Stain Title|
DEFY Extreme Wood Stain Review
#1 Deck Stain
Sikkens WB Stain Review
Superdeck WaterBorne Stain Review
TWP 100 Stain Review
Arborcoat WaterBased Stain Review
Wood Defender Stain
Arborcoat Oil Stain Review
Flood CWF-UV5 Stain Review
Wolman DuraStain Stain Review
Ready Seal Stain
Penofin Oil Stain Review
Thompson’s Waterproofing Stain Review
Sikkens SRD Stain Review
Cabot Semi Transparent Stain Review
Cabot Wood Tone Stain Review
Olympic Waterproofing Stain Review
TWP 1500 Stain Review
Behr Semi Transparent Wood Stain Review
Armstrong’s Wood Stain Review
SuperDeck Oil Stain Review
Penofin Ultra Premium Stain Review
Messmer’s UV Plus Stain Review