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Armstrong Clark Stain Review 2015 4.45/5 (20)

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain ReviewArmstrong Clark Stain RatingImportant Note: This is our 2nd Review of Armstrong Clark Stain.

See Here for First Review: Armstrong Clark Stain Review

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain is an oil-based stain backed by  5 generations of experience in the exterior wood stain industry. Armstrong Clark is offered in 3 different versions: Trans parents, Semi-Transparent, and Semi-Solid Colors.

Armstrong’s has nondrying conditioning oils that separate from the drying side of the formula. These oils penetrate deep into the wood fiber where the wood’s natural oils used to be.

This process rejuvenates the wood. The drying oils stay at the surface, lock in the conditioning oils and create a dry to the touch barrier. Armstrong’s formulas also contain vegetable oils, transparent oxide pigments, water repellents, mildecide and solvent.

Armstrong Clark Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 9

– We used the Rustic Brown color for our deck deck. We have used this color many times and really like the look of this. It is mostly brown with a hint of red when applied. Very even appearance after full drying.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 7

– We used a semi-transparent color for our second test of the Armstrong Clark. The first test (2010) we used the Mountain Cedar which is a semi-solid color. The Rustic Brown did well but the UV protection was a little less. This is normal for as semi-solid color to have better UV protection and is not related to the Armstrong.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 9

– The Armstrong Clark showed no signs of peeling. Slight wearing in the high traffic areas. Overall AC penetrates deep into the wood grain so peeling was not expected.

Cost Per Square Foot: 9

– Armstrong Clark sells at $36.99 for semi-transparent colors. The coverage rate for AC is better then most brands. We used two gallons for 2 coats on the 300 sq. foot deck. AC suggests only one coat but we like to apply two coats to older decking.

Preventing Mold/Mildew/Algae: 7

– We had minor issues with black mold on the stain. This was mostly on the top of the bench surrounding the deck.

Ease of Application: 9

– We love the way that the Armstrong applies. Being that it is a hybrid of both curing and non drying oils, it is easier then most for application. In general the easiest stains to apply will be the ones that contain all non-drying oils. The issue we have found is that these stains types (Ready Seal and Timber Oil Brand) will not fully dry or cure at the surface resulting in a non seal of the exposed wood. We tested our application at 90 degrees in full sun and it still dried evenly. We used a deck stain pad for application.

Color Shifting (darkening) after 2 Years: 8

– The AC does not darken in color from UV. It fades through the years. Only darkening was the small amount of mold on the bench.

Difficulty of Reapplication: 8

– Cleaning with a deck cleaner and light pressure washing will be all that is needed for another coat.

Overall Score Armstrong Clark Stain at 2 Year Period: 8.25

– Armstrong Clark has been one of our tops stains to apply for the past 6 years. We really enjoy the way it applies and the ease of replication. Coverage rate is excellent as well. Our customers who have tried the Armstrong Clark have stayed with the brand when it was time to reapply.

Product Information:

More InfoArmstrong Clark Stain
Cost: $36.99 per Gallon, $199.99 per 5 Gallon Pail
Stain Type: Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid – Oil-Based
Available Colors: Transparent Natural, Transparent Cedar, Transparent Redwood, Semi-Trans Cedar, Semi-Trans Rustic Brown, Semi-Trans Sierra Redwood, Semi-Trans Amber, Semi-Trans Mahogany, Semi-Solid Mountain Cedar, Semi-Solid Woodland Brown, Semi-Solid Oxford Brown, Semi-Solid Sequoia
Application Temperature: 45-95 F
Coats Required: 1 Coat
Coverage Per Gallon: 200-250 sq. ft
Application Tools: Sprayer, Pad, Brush, Roller
Dry Time: 4-12 Hours
Cleanup: Mineral Spirits
VOC Compliant: 250 Compliant in All 50 States
More Info: Product Data
Manufacturer: Armstrong Clark

Test Deck Stats:

When Tested: April 2012. Completed 2014
Deck Wood Type: Cedar Decking
Deck Square Footage: 300
UV Exposure: Full Sun
How Many Years Tested: 2 Years
Stain Color Used: 
 Semi-Transparent Rustic Brown

*All products tested and results are from our experience. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that results may differ due to different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, and natural weathering.

Please Rate This Product. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

88 responses to “Armstrong Clark Stain Review 2015”

  1. Daniel says:

    I have used many different deck stains at my father's house throughout my years and never been fully satisfied with the final result of the stain on the deck. I finally stumbled upon Armstrong Clark stains and I will never use another stain again. Thanks a lot to the people at Armstrong Clark Company for providing me with a stain I can rely on every time.

    • terri says:

      did you try TWP and if so, why did you like Armstrong better ?

      • Robert says:

        I second Daniel's high remarks on the Armstrong Clark stain. I haven't used any of the others on this list but decided to go with Armstrong Clark was rated very high for ease of application which I feel is important since some stains may rate high but be a real pain to apply correctly. I used the semi-transparent cedar stain and it looked awesome when I was done, easy to apply with stain drying nicely in adequate time without any stickiness.

  2. Stan says:

    I have PT deck that is about 8 years old and was stained with Caboy oil base stain that's looking pretty bad the wood is pretty ruff and I'm thinking of using A/C to restrain with a similar solid I have read that it might take two coats how do you do this when it says that some oils penetrate and some dry how does this work also I saw a few reviews say that it left a oily reidue
    What would be the best route to go just want to do this once and whatever is wet on wet application thanks for any advice I've read so many reviews I'm confused at best

    • FYI, the AC does not come in a solid stain and you cannot apply it over the Cabot. If you want a solid color stain then stay with Cabot or look at Flood.

      • Karen says:

        I have cedar board and batten way up high on the gable ends so I really don't want to have to re-do anything. Used cabot oil transparent 9 years ago. Pressure washed it and it looks better. Can I put a semi transparent AC over it since it's basically gone or should I just go solid and if so which product. I wish I had found this earlier.

  3. infinitequery says:

    I have posted 2 negative comments about our experience with Armstrong-Clark products-I can't find either one so I would be cautious about believing what is allowed to be posted. I spent almost $500.00 on this product and I will have to start all over again with a thousand sq. ft. of decking arrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We have posted your review from last year. It is against our policy to post more then one review from one customer on one product. Only one is allowed. We explained this to you last year as well. Your review from last year is still online and always has been. Thanks for sharing your experience last year and sorry you had an issue.

  4. Dia says:

    I used AC on my ipe deck that grated in the 4 yrs since installation. It went on pretty easily and looked great but took several days to dry. The portion of the deck that's fully exposed shows quite a bit of color loss but the covered part still looks good. It's also giving off splinters in both section somewhat.

    CN I restrain just the faded part and will it blend in more ore less.

    What will help the splintering? I really did not expect this with ipe.

    • You cannot spot treat and have it blend if all the same level. If you have different levels or an exact dividing board, you may be able to do it but it will be off some. Never heard or seen IPE splinter. It is the most dense wood out there.

  5. Dorrie says:

    Need some guidance here! I am in Northeast Ohio and just power washed 25 year old PT large deck. Past stain has always been oil based solid. Stripping that all off and replacing some boards. The boards have 4 nails in each from back then so the question is .. will a semi solid cover the nails up enough and look decent or should I stick with a solid? After reading I was considering the Armstrong Clark for easy reapplication each time. Does AC have a solid or would the semi solid cover enough of the unsightly nails ?? Thank you.

  6. Vicky says:

    Wondering what to use here in Maine on a small permanent dock in the lake (spillage of prep products is an issue). Armstrong Clark seems a good choice since they recommend just soap and water for prep. This is new spruce decking. Thank you.

  7. Iain says:

    and no comment about Graying? I guess if you use a rustic brown you cant really see the color of your wood anymore. ….and it gets an 8.25?

  8. Shelly says:

    Just stripped a 5 yr old pine deck. A solid stain was previously done, but after stripping and sanding, the wood looks almost new. I want to go with a transparent that shows as much of the wood grain as possible. I've considered TimberOil and do not mind the regular maintenance. However, is there a reason timber oils should not be applied to older decks?
    If we use a transparent oil stain from AC, I'm wanting to be able to only lightly clean and reapply a coat every year or so VS having to strip again.
    Any advice would be so helpful. Thank you.

  9. Lori says:

    We have a house with a very large, 25 year old deck of pressure treated lumber. In the ten years that we've owned the deck, I've never managed to get the entire thing treated. This summer, I am determined to finish the entire thing and to do it right. I have power washed and scrubbed with oxy clean and wood brightener. Some spots still have some old stain, so I'm going to apply stripper. Then I was going to sand. What grit sandpaper should I use? Then, after sanding, do I need to brighten again?i had read that sanding opened the wood pores, but after reading at your site, I'm thinking differently.

  10. Linda says:

    We have a 15 year old 20 x 20 Brazilian Redwood deck with privacy fence along 20', pergola over 10 x 10 area, and spindles and bannisters around two other sides. The first several years we used Cabot Australian Oil Stain – Honey Teak – and loved the color. A few years went by without maintenance, hired someone to restore the deck, and they used Sikkens Cetol SRD Translucent Wood Finish – 085 Teak Teca. Last few years we have not had maintenance done, and decided to restore again. We power washed and most stain peeled right off, but some remains. We saw that Armstrong stain has high ratings and wondered what your recommendation is for both stain types and color that would bring out the best of this beautiful wood. It seems there is no getting around annually staining.

    • Continue the prep by using a stain stripper and pressure washing to remove all of the old stain. Brighten the wood when done. Maybe Armstrong Clark in the Amber color is what you are looking for.

  11. Rebecca says:

    We have a 5 year old cedar deck that needs a new coat of stain. We used Cabot Burnt Hickory Semi Transparent last year and just do not love the color. It's ok, but it's just too dull. Can we clean it good and use this stain over it? I know it won't completely cover it, but I'm wondering if it will brighten it a little? Also, is it necessary to strip it first?

  12. David Montgomery says:

    First off, what a great website this is. After endless research of retailer reviews, I discovered the unbiased ratings and reviews here. And then I wrote and received advice specific to my situation—"What would be the best stain for my deck in Toronto?" I'd previously used a solid stain (ie paint) that had peeled terribly, and was told it would need to be completely sanded off (sigh). It was a pretty big job, bigger than the crappy rental equipment available at my local big box building supplies store. So I bought a nifty new belt sander and got to work. That was the hard part. When I applied the Armstrong Clark semi-solid deck stain last summer, it was so easy to apply. And, despite a fearsome ice storm and one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record, the deck survived without a scratch. Zero peeling. No wear marks at all. Great advice. Great product. THANK YOU!

    • Todd says:

      Hi David,

      As we are in roughly the same area in SW Ontario I thought to inquire about the colour you used and the type of wood? i.e Pressure Treated vs Cedar etc.

  13. V. McCarthy says:

    I just cleaned, power washed my 25 yr old deck. It has not had anything done to it for 10 years or more. After a lot of cleaning I was ready for the stain. I decided on Armstrong Clark. It went on very easy but the coverage on my PT deck was way less than what they said. I needed 3 gallons for the 340 sf deck. I used the rustic brown. The color is much darker than I thought it would be. Next year when it needs to be redone can I use a lighter color Armstrong stain over it?

    • You can use a lighter color but it will not lighten the Rustic Brown. More then likely your wood wood is extremely porous. this resulted in the coverage being less and the color being darker as you had more stain dive into the wood per sq. foot then normal.

  14. Kellyn says:

    Wow! What an awesome website. I was wondering if you could give me a recommendation. We have 1100 square feet of deck on our house. Our front deck is cedar, but our back deck is something else (not sure what, exactly). Our back deck looks terrible. When we bought the house, we stained it with ready seal and that worked great on our front deck, bUT not the back deck. Back deck is weathered and receives a lot of sun exposure in the summer and is open to the elements in the winter. Its cracked and ugly. We live in Washington. Would this stain be a good option for our back deck? How about the front cedar deck? Thank you!

  15. Dorrie says:

    If I use AC Semi-Cedar on the flooring and it does not give enough coverage can you prep and clean in the spring and use a darker AC color on it? Also, probably a silly question but if I order a 5 gallon pail I know I can't lift it too easily. Is it poured out easily into smaller container to handle? How do you get a 5 gallon pail completely stirred and mixed well enough?

  16. Avery says:

    Hello, thanks for this website. I live in Seattle and have chosen the very cheap option of resurfacing a deck with hem-fir mix. If cost is not an option for the stain what specific product would you recommend. Thank you so much!

  17. Carrie says:

    We replaced our deck this summer in kiln-dried cedar, and had that finished with an oil-based transparent cedar-tone sealer. The deck is raised about 5' off the ground, and to save money we kept the old vertical wood skirting (pine with a semi-solid stain which is approximately 70% off after stripping and washing.) I know the two woods will never match exactly, but I'd like to find one oil-based product for future applications that will work on both surfaces – semi-transparent on the new cedar and semi-solid on the old skirting. (FYI- I don't love the color of the sealed cedar. It looks too "orange." When we refinish it next year, I'd like to use something in a reddish-brown tone for both surfaces.) But it doesn't appear that Armstrong has matching reddish-brown colors in both semi-transparent and semi-solid. What would you recommend?

    • Semi-solids will not match the semi-transparent in the AC or any other stain that we have seen. It might be somewhat close but definitely will not match. You will need to remove all of the current stain off the verticals. 70% is not enough. Shoot for 95% or more.

  18. Jon says:

    I have a 120 sf 1 ft high PTP (yellow pine) deck, one year old. Sealed last year with canola oil and vinegar. Looked good until we got heavy rains and then the vinegar washed out and the deck got black mold.
    Last week, I washed with laundry Oxyclean and TSP and then followed with Bar-Keeper's (oxalic acid). The black is all gone except for the ends, which I will redo, but the deck is a kind of bleached out light grey, rather than natural wood color.
    Is that wrong? Can I stain now ? Some are suggesting pressure washing but not sure.
    I am leaning toward Armstrong Clark ST in sierra brown, which has reddish tints that would match the terra cotta paver patio and go with a pumpkin colored house wall.

    Need paraffinated oil b/c of the heavy rains in this area, high uv protection (solids) and good penetration.
    Deck gets sun year round and is very hot all day in summer.
    No protection but may put a cloth awning up later.
    Do not want to pressure wash and don't want to use caustic soda or corrosive acids close to my patio pavers.

    • When washing did you remove all of the oxidized wood cells with heavy scrubbing or pressure washing? The cleaner and brightener will not harm the pavers. I would suggest pressure washing after applying the cleaner, rinse then apply the brightener.

  19. Albert says:

    Hi everyone, so I used this stain last year on my deck and found the color too Orange. I used the semi-transparent cedar on my cedar deck. Once I clean the deck this year, can I apply the transparent natural over this semi from last year ? Any other ideas ?

    • Not with a cleaning only. Is you strip and brighten you can.

      • Albert says:

        I was told by someone to use the same stain but when I clean not to use the brighter since it may participate in maxing the color look more orange (I used the restore-a-deck cleaner + brighter). I was told this time to use a mixture of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water with a squirt of dish soap to clean and no brighter…..and then stain with the same product …and after this would be less orange…..thoughts ?

        • The brightener does not make stains orange but it does lighten the wood. Not sure if this process will work. I would prep normally and mix colors. Adding some Rustic Brown into the Cedar color will tone down any orange pigment.

          • Albert says:

            Thanks, and what is the reason I cannot put a transparent clear on the previous cedar color semi stain? Not sure I follow why this can't be done.

          • The AC does not come in a clear. Adding a transparent over a semi-trans will not lighten the color. The semi-trans will always be the dominant color.

          • Albert says:

            Ok for it. I did not want to remove the existing orange tone but simply avoid maxing it more orange….this is why i figured the natural transparent over existing

          • Albert says:

            OK, so we decided to re-use the Restore-Deck product to clean and brighten but this time apply the clear transparent over the cedar semi from last year. I just want to make sure that I do not need to do anything else before I apply the stain…..again I understand the old color will not leave (and Im ok with that). Can you confirm no technical issues with clear transparent on my previous semi-transparent cedar ?

          • Not that I know of but might want to ask them directly.

          • Michele says:

            I just called AC for some samples and didn't want orange either. They suggested we try their new Semi Amber color instead of the Semi Cedar color. Good luck!

    • Katzaw says:

      Hi Albert:
      We used a 50/50 blend of cedar and red tone on SYP and are thrilled with the color.

  20. Katzaw says:

    Very happy with the product. I wish it was easier to source in NJ. The popular opinion here is that Cabot is the best and Wolman is most prevalent I'm glad I "convinced" my contractor to special order the Armstrong Clark. It has held up very well..

  21. Tad says:

    I applied the Armstrong Clark Stain (Transparent Natural) to a new cedar fence in June 2014 and two years later I am underwhelmed by the appearance of the sections that are exposed to the sun.

    Do you have any suggestions as to whether this is typical for this stain and timeframe? Can I restore the exposed sections without completely stripping and starting from scratch?


    • Yes this is normal for the Natural tint and the exposure. You have to take inconsideration that you choose the lightest tint in the AC. This means it has the least amount of UV protection and will fade quicker then say a semi-transparent color. You do not have to strip for prep. Just clean and reapply the same color or a color with more pigment for additional protection.

      • Tad says:

        Thanks, do I need to both clean and brighten ie the Restore-a-deck kit?

        • Tad says:

          I'm also wondering how Cedar Transparent or Cedar Semi-Transparent would look next to the Transparent Natural panels that don't need cleaning.

          • Richer and darker. You really should clean and reapply a coat to all the wood. Semi-trans will last longer then any of the transparent colors.

          • Albert says:

            I used the AC semi-transparent cedar last year on my new cedar and found the color too orange…. Im not the expert but if you liked the color of the transparent stain you may want to clean and apply a coat every year vs. a colr you may not like as much and apply every other year …..Im stuck here and not sure what to do….

          • Albert, semi-transparent cedar colors will almost always be orangish in color, does not matter the brand. It is the nature of the pigment that is used.

        • Yes that would be best.

  22. Kendall says:

    I have a 25 year old deck. It is actually in pretty good shape. I am power washing and scrubbing it now. I am shocked at how good it looks. My question is; due to the wood being very dry, will I need to use a lot more stain because it is going to suck it up? I do intend to use 2 coats. I am unclear if this is a stain and waterproofing product also? I am going to use a semi-transparent. Deck is in full afternoon sun, faces west. There is a lot of mold that I am scrubbing off, if that matters.

    • Yes it will be more absorbent since it is older wood. Apply the two coats \”wet on wet\”. First coats goes down and the second coat should be applied within 20-60 minutes of the first coat. The AC is a stain and does help seal the wood.

  23. Cathy says:

    Great info!
    Put a small PT pine deck last fall. Partial shade area in western NY.
    Looking at the Armstrong ( color) just need a second opinion.

  24. Jim says:

    I have a 4 yr old mahogany deck in full sun in DC. First stained it with Sikkens Cetol Dek Finish (2 coat system). Looked good after one year, but started to dis-color badly after two years … so I sanded the deck back to bare wood and tried a coat of Penofin Hardwood stain. Bad idea! After four months the deck's color had darkened significantly and after one year it was nearly black. Recently sanded the deck back to bare wood again, so my choice now is to try yet another stain (maybe the TWP stain you recommend) or simply do nothing and let the wood go through its natural greying process. Any thoughts?

  25. Mike says:

    Love your site!!!!!!! We have a 960sf deck new ( 2 years old ) and 1000' of dock and pier (10 years old) in the Charlotte, NC area. Both are pressure treated pine. Used Sikkens cedar on our dock and pier at our old house. Looked beautiful the first year, but was a bit too orange for me and didn't look nearly as good the following year. For this new project I am looking for a stain that is brown (not too dark) but don't want orange. Looks like AC rustic brown might be a good choice. What are your recommendation for PT pine semi-transparent stain that has a nice brown tone without being orange?

    Here is a link to pictures of the deck, dock, and pier:

    • Ac Rustic Brown is one of our favorite brown deck colors. Not orange or red. I would suggest this. Make sure you prep is done correctly. Remove the Sikkens off the dock and pier and clean and brighten the newer deck. Make sure to tarp that concrete below the deck when staining! If you do the T&G ceiling, stain that first and watch for drips while it dries. We do paver sealing in our business and a nice wet look sealer would really make you backyard look great after the deck is done.

  26. Shortstroke61 says:

    What is the best stain for a Yellawood deck in South Carolina?

  27. Deena says:

    We have just sanded our deck. What would be the next step before applying the stain?

    • Lightly clean and brighten the wood after sanding.

      • Bart O'Sullivan says:

        I'm about to use a floor sander on our Ipe Deck. Why would I still need to clean and use a brightener if I'm down to clean bare wood? The five year old deck has never been treated with anything and I used counter sunk stainless steel screws with plugs so the sander should do a great job. All the boards are still as straight as the day they were put down, but a few boards have cupped some and the floor sander is my only option for evenly flattening the boards.

        • Cleaner and brightener helps to remove sand dust and to make the wood more porous for the stain. IPE is already dense and sanding can make it even less absorbent for the wood stain.

  28. Pam says:

    can I use ac over cabots? its been 4 years when I applied cabots semi solid oil stain

  29. Eric says:

    I have a 3year old IPE deck that I was previously oiling with Penofin Marine. I recently stripped and brightened the deck with restore a deck products before applying Armstrong Clark Amber hardwood stain. I'm concerned with how the product is looking only a week after application. It seems a bit splotchy in areas and it seems many of the boards are starting to lose the stain color already.
    I applied the stain using a 3" brush.
    I have pictures if you'd like me to send them to you.

    • You may have under applied. IPE wood is extremely dense wood. Feel free to post a picture in our forum.

    • Ron says:

      I had mediocre result with AC IPE Stain, just a year ago. My entry is nearly six years old, the first 4-5 years of which Messmer's was used, so I wanted to try AC based on stated reviews. I stripped and brightened and followed application direction. Looked good at first. Only the occasional UPS guy and rare solicitors use the deck in addition to the daily mail delivery/retrieve use. I will try to post before-and-now pics on the form, for you to get a sense of what I'm talking about. I would say the product performed poorly on wear and tear. It's also obvious that a bit of water dripping from the gutter onto the finish, is not a good thing either. I'm in a very mild climate in San Francisco Bay Area, my rating in a word: disappointed. I will try the Superdeck Exotic Wood Stain and see how it goes. Advice: resign yourself to doing this annually for your IPE, if you want the look you know you want, regardless of product and their claims!

      • Ron, your wood type IPE requires annual maintenance or even sooner as you stated. Ac does not claim longer life for your IPE, but we have found it to last longer on IPE than most other brands. Some like Penofin will only last a few months for IPE wood. I would give the Super Deck Exotic wood stain 3-6 months before needing another recoat.

        FYI, if you had a soft wood like Cedar, PT Pine, or Redwood, you would get 2-3 times the life and much less wear.

  30. Jerome Bakken says:

    On the product description it said that: "Wood must be at least 1 year old before applying Armstrong-Clark's semi-solid colors."
    Is that also the case with the semi-transparent colors?

  31. Lauralee says:

    Where do I buy Armstrong stain?

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.