Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

Best Stain for an Old Deck

Best Stain for an Older Wood Decking

Wood decks can be a beautiful addition to any property but when neglected they can also become an eyesore. When a deck goes too long without being maintained sun and water damage occur. The wood loses its natural oils and becomes very dry and porous. Cracking, splitting, warping, and graying are all signs of an old deck that has not been protected against weathering.

Here are the steps needed to make your old tired deck look new again:

Repair First

Do a thorough look over for any rotten boards and replace them. Check for loose boards and railings and tighten these up as well with decking screws. Check foundation for any structural damage.

Clean and Brighten Deck

It is not impossible to bring an old wood back to life. A little care and maintenance can revive most neglected decks. If the deck is still in good structural condition the grayed wood can be cleaned using a wood deck cleaner.

Use a scrub brush or pressure washer with the deck cleaner to remove unwanted mold, mildew, dirt, and graying. The transformation of washing an old deck back to clean again can be amazing. After using a wood cleaner it is important to use a wood brightener. While the wood is still wet, apply a wood brightener to the surface to enhance the wood’s beauty and open the wood pores for better stain penetration.

Apply Penetrating Stain w/Non-Drying Conditioning Oils

Once the deck dries choose the best stain for an old deck. Because old wood decks are extremely dried out, a wood stain the conditions the wood is essential. We use stains like Armstrong Clark for an old deck. This type of wood stain contains non-drying penetrating oils that help rejuvenate the wood cells. These conditioning oils stay deep in the wood to replace the wood’s lost natural oils.

The stain also contains drying oils that separate from the conditioning oils. These drying oils remain on the exposed surface to cure locking in the conditioning oils and providing a layer of protection against weathering. This conditioning of the wood’s cellular structure and weather protection are the key to reviving an older wood deck.

Maintain Every 2 Years

Repeat the cleaning and staining of the wood every 2 years to keep up the look and extend the life.

Many deck owners think an old deck may have to be torn down and a new one built to replace it. This is not always the case. Old decks can be cleaned up and coated with stains specifically designed to rejuvenate old wood. It may just be possible to bring your old wood deck back to life and get many more years of use out of it.

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158 Responses to “Best Stain for an Old Deck”

  1. S-Georgia says:

    I have an old deck previously coated with solid deck stain. It's peeling in the traffic and high-sunlight areas. I had considered a deck restore product until I found your site. Thank you for saving me money, time and aggravation. I'm willing to sand the old finish off (~1000 sq ft) such that I can use an oil-based penetrating stain. But, I have another issue that I haven't found comments about on your site. I have a wooden walkway entrance (~180 sq ft) that gets slippery when wet. I need an anti-slip solution. Can I put a non-skid coating over an oil-based penetrating stain? Or, what would you recommend to help make the walkway anti-slip? Thank you.

    • Anti-slips will not work when using a penetrating oil based stain. You will need a filming paint for that to work and they will peel. If you prep well and the stain penetrates 100% than it should really not be slippery.

  2. Ken says:

    have a 7 year old deck that needs restained every 2 years. used cabot last time. Is TWP or Defy have a longer longevity? Is it better to use a solid color stain for longevity? If so what do you recommend? Live in Georgia. Thanks

  3. Jeff says:

    My deck is at least 8 yrs old. Most of the boards are in good shape however 4-5 need to be replaced. I have power washed and lightly sanded and am now ready to put a stain down. 1) will I have a problem with uneven staining due to having new wood with old. 2} I am planning on using TWP 100 stain. Is this a good product for my project? 3) Am I missing anything?, any suggestions?

  4. Chris says:

    Hi. Great site and a wealth of information. So here's my story and request for guidance… I bought a house in Northern California Sonoma County area about 6 months ago with a great back yard sporting an 850 sq ft redwood deck. It looks like the deck has been neglected for quite some time now. It is completely gray and weathered. A Freidman's hardware store just opened across the street and the young but seemingly knowledgeable gentleman at the store strongly recommended I use a good cleaner, light pressure wash, brightener and a tinted stain. He recommended all duckback products because, He says, they work very well for this climate. I am willing to try it unless anyone on here insists duckback might be the wrong product. Well, the "don't apply in direct sunlight" portion of the instructions will be nearly impossible given that the deck pretty much constantly exposed to sun during day light hours. I intend on starting on staining day as early in the morning as I can reasonably see what I am doing. This will probably help with the sun issue for the first few hours any way. How big a deal is the direct sunlight thing? Also, if cleaned, scrubbed and power washed properly, is sanding the deck necessary?

    • You will not need to sand. He is correct on cleaning, brightening, and tinted stain. We have found that the Superdeck will darken in color. Applying in direct sunlight with it will increase the chance of it not drying evenly.

  5. Bil says:

    If I want to paint (not stain) a five year old railing that has never been painted/stained before, do you still recommend a cleaner/brightener?

  6. Bil says:

    Follow up question to above. What is recommended for a solid color (white) stain? Would Flood be a good choice?

  7. Sherry Young says:

    We have a deck that is in full sun most of the day. We applied a semi-transparent stain last year that has not protected the deck. We have weathering, cracking and minimal warping. We have a rubber liner between the floor boards and the structure underneath to cover the area under the deck for storage. My question is this: can we use the cleaning and sealing products you recommend here without harming the rubber liner underneath? If not, do you have any other suggestions? Thank you.

  8. Christie says:

    Our deck is 6 or 7 years old. We live near Pittsburgh, PA. We have been using Thompson's stain on it in the reddish color. It fades horribly on the uncovered part of our deck, so every year I just put a fresh coat on top just to get through the summer. I realize it is doing nothing other than cosmetically making it look better for a few weeks until it starts to peel off since it isnt penetrating the wood. Next year I would like to strip it and do it correctly with the hopes of getting a few years of no maintenence. Since I have so many layers of old stain, could you recommend a good stripper and cleaner/brightner? Also, I am looking for a stain like Restore or Deckover that penetrates and gets in the cracks with a plastic like protection. Any recommendations since both of those got horrible reviews?

  9. Tina says:

    I live in northern Ohio one mile from Lake Erie. Our deck is 23 years old-treated pine. It is in dense shade and we have had green mildew growth on most horizontal surfaces. It has been cared for over the years using CWF primarily, but the Sherwin Williams Deckscapes stain we used 2 years ago failed and we are trying to determine the best products to use to strip and stain. We would like it to match the color of our Redwood siding which is now a dark color.

    • This will not be an easy strip or removal when you have a buildup of old coatings and the SW. Try to strip off as much as you can with HD80 and sand the rest off when done. Look at Armstrong Clark or TWP 1500.

  10. Christine says:

    New home owner in NY and our deck is a mess. Green/black in spots, painted gray but paint is mostly peeled off. Deck is structurally sound said inspector and contractor that did some inside work for us. I'm a 29 yr old female new to the whole home repair game but to save money would like to tackle the deck with the help my dad and brother of course. What would you recommend steps to helping my eyesore? Planned on power washing paint chips off tomorrow. Then what? Brands, types, and best colors would be very helpful and appreciated!

    • Remove the solid stain/paint completely by sanding it all off or re-stain with another solid. Re-staining with another solid is easier but it will continue to peel. There is not a solid stain/paint that will fix the underlying current stain.

  11. Helen says:

    Had a tree removed on my property, and as one of the guys went to refill chain saw w/oil, the plug popped out without him knowing, with oil all over driveway, up the sidewalk, and he went across my deck and back with the saw before he realized no plug. However, one of the guys saw what had happened, but unfortunately too late. Tried the Rustoleum product someone used above (Deck & Concrete Restore).It did nothing to remove the stain. The deck has not been preserved for some time, and this was disheartening to say the least. Any suggestions?

  12. Crystal says:

    We have a 14-year old PTP deck with lots of cracks, but structurally sound. We used TWP100 cedartone 3 years ago.We read here that Armstrong Clack contains conditioning oil. Would AC be better for our dried out, cracked deck than TWP? Since most of the TWP are gone after 3 years, do we need to strip off TWP if we use AC?

  13. Fran says:

    We have a 26 year old pressured treated deck that has been damaged by power washer and some lack of care. It is structurally very sound and we have recently replaced some of the really bad boards. the deck(s) are 900 sq ft so it is cost prohibitive at this time to replace ($14,000-$25,000). We used Cabot Clear on the deck about a month ago because it is dry, splintered. We wanted to prep the deck in the fall for a spring Cabot Deck Correct application. What do you think about that product. We do have a portion of the deck (different section but connected) painted with a semi-solid Cabot stain and really like it. Are these DecK restoration products really doing what they say? I did go the website that you gave someone about these products. Cabot's produce is new. Thanks.

  14. Liz says:

    Live in Southwestern New Brunswick,Canada. Just purchased a home that was sided with wolmanized wood. The front and sides have held up very well, has a slight greenish hue to the wood, but the back of the house facing in a sort of south west position, the back of the house gets solid sun exposure for most of the day,summer and winter. The deck is on the back, and gets the same amount of sun exposure. The back of the house siding is dark and some of the boards looked almost burnt, warped,etc. whar can be done for the siding, or would residing it be the best? Also, what do do with the deck? Will of course clean it, but what is the best option for staining or painting it. Have looked at the Rustoleum and Home DEpot products, but for the Northeast weather here, don't think they will hold up. I am in my late 60's and this would be an undertaking I would take on myself. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

    • Use a deck cleaner and pressure wash all wood, brighten when finished. Try the Armstrong Clark in a semi-solid color for this older and dried out wood in full sun.

  15. Mike says:

    Crownsvlle, MD. Our deck has been haphazardl maintained with opaque stain like Behr. It is now peeling and many boards are cracked from exposure and winter freezing. We're planning on staying with an opaque stain because at 3000 sq ft the idea of stripping it all is a daunting task. We'd like to replentish the oils in the wood. Could I apply linseed oil to those areas and then apply stain – after pressure washing of course?
    Thanks.

    • No you cannot apply linseed or any oil at this point. You would have to remove the solid stain first. Just prep by removing all loose and peeling stain and reapply with another solid. Really does not matter on the brand as it not matter what, it will continue to peel.

  16. wjmooney says:

    I have an old swing set built with PT spruce (I assume as I purchased second hand). It's mostly posts with a small deck and steps to go to a plastic slide. I would like to preserve the wood from water and UV but don't have to have anything too fancy and don't want to spend a lot of money for a stain. Any recommendations for a stain for this kind of thing?

  17. crschwartz says:

    We are helping our kids with their deck at a recently purchased house. We do not know what was used previously. Not sure of age of deck either. We have a power washer, so we were wondering which product would be best. Ohio with snow on deck in winter. Sun and shade.All of the boards are still intact, some slight splintering on a few. Deck surface and wood railing.
    We were thinking deck cleaning, then the brightening product and then stain, not solid for the final.

    • If an old stain is present then you may need to use a deck stripper instead of a deck brightener. If not then use the deck cleaner. Stain with the Armstrong Clark in a semi-solid with the wood and protection.

  18. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this website! I have an old large deck in Minnesota that receives full morning sun. It is very gray in spots where water falls from the roof. Also quite a few boards are cracking and splintering. Alot of the old stain is still intact, it's just faded. The stain on the wooden spindles (verticals) is still pretty good. The stain that is currently on the deck is Ace Wood Royal semi-transparent, oil based and is no longer manufactured.

    Should I strip and brighten the deck first before putting down a new stain or would a wood cleaner be sufficient? What about the vertical spindles that are still in good shape (no chipping, maybe slight fading), do those really need to be stripped or cleaned also? I would assume so if I want to get a uniform look? Then, what stain do you recommend? TWP 100 or Armstrong Clark? What are the pros and cons in doing semi-transparent vs semi-solid when refinishing an old deck? I like either look. If I do a semi-sold, can I go right over the vertical spindles and just have those be a little darker? Thanks again!

  19. David says:

    We live in Charlotte, NC. We are repairing and re-staining a 15 year old privacy fence. The wood is old has some cracks and has a ton of knots that we are afraid will bleed out. We were considering a lighter semi or a solid. We are afraid that the solid will not last and will look hideous if the knots bleed out compared to the semi. Our contractor recommended Benjamin Moore arborcoat but after seeing the reviews I am very hesitant. I also don't want to put a solid that doesn't work given the amount of work to required to redo it. Is there anything we can do to prevent the bleed or is going with a lighter semi to reduce the visuals and keep the natural look if it does bleed through a good idea? we also don't have dealers of TWP or AC in the area. Would flood be okay or should I order TWP online?

    • You cannot prevent bleeding of sap. It does not always happen though. I suppose you could alwasy blend with a semi-transparent so it does not show up as much. Look at TWP. Flood is an okay stain if you want to get locally.

  20. Dennis, you can use the TWP 1500 in VT.

  21. dennis says:

    Thanks much for your reply and your superbly helpful site! I see that now. There was a page on one of the TWP distributor sites that had incorrect information. I have a question in on the TWP help site as follows — feel free to provide any advice on that as well — I'd sure appreciate it! Here's my question to them:

    I just discovered TWP stains and would love to use them for my current deck recoating project. I'm in Vermont, so I must use the 1500 series. I have just meticulously prepared the deck by spraying with a bleach/detergent solution and thoroughly rinsing with a power washer. It looks ready to go — the surface of the pressure-treated material is good, with no trace of dirt, mildew, mold, or algae. My previous stain was an Olympic semi-transparent (high VOC) applied between 2 and 3 years ago for different parts of the deck. The color still shows, but there is no surface buildup whatsoever and water soaks into it very readily — the wood is 25 years old and quite weathered, but sound. I hadn't thought that recoating with TWP would be a problem, but I see that on your "Switching to TWP stains" page you say "Before switching to TWP Wood Stains, you first have to remove all remnants of the old failing stain. Use a wood stain stripper and not a wood cleaner". However, the last commenter (jbosey) asked regarding the TWP 100 "Will it be necessary to strip it and brighten it or can we now just use the TWP?", and you replied "if the wood is clean and free of old coatings you can go ahead and apply the TWP 100". Is there a reason that I would have to strip all of the color off my deck before using the TWP 1500 product, or should the current fully-prepped condition of my deck be OK to go ahead and use the 1500? Thanks!

  22. Dennis, stains always before best when the wood is free of previous coatings. This allows the new stain to penetrate into the wood well. It is hard to say in your scenario but if in doubt that the stain will be able to penetrate, then strip off the old coating.

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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.

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