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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198 Responses to “Best Stain for an Old Deck”

  1. Karen Cahill says:

    I purchased my home last August and am assuming the deck is at least 10 years old. It was last stained two years ago by the previous owner – he hired contractor to apply an oil-based stain. Color is a timberline type red. It still looks good, but some boards are starting to crack and my kids have twice gotten bad splinters. I hired a contractor to pressure wash and he was going to apply Rustoleum 4x Deck Restore, but after reading all the bad reviews I decided against it as the current stain is oil based. I think I would like to apply an oil-based stain of similar color. You can still see the stain on the deck, but the deck is not dirty or moldy, so do I need to do anything besides pressure wash before I apply the stain? And what is best way to remove the higher splinters?

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. Bil says:

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. Scott says:

    I have a 7 year old cedar deck in central Missouri that gets full sun. We have tried solid color stain 3 times in seven years , it keeps peeling off. Now we have heard of a TWP 100 and TWP 1500 semi-transparent stain that sounds easy to maintain, and repair.
    Which product is best suited for our deck?
    Or is another product better at this time?

    • Unfortunately you cannot use the TWP stains as they will not work on a solid stain and removing 3 layers of a solid stain is extremely difficult and would require having sanding. You options are to sand or replace the wood if you want to switch. If not then you will be stuck with applying a solid stain and it will continue to peel.

  22. Kim says:

    My husband did not want to use a stripper on our wood, so he decided to sand the whole deck -after I power washed it. It now looks brand new. ( deck is only 4 years old to begin with. ) Can you tell me if we still need to put a Brightener on before applying the stain.

  23. Amber says:

    I believe our deck is cedar and probably about 12 yr. old. The previous owners used what looks like semi solid stain. The main issue with our back deck is shade and therefore a nice, super slippery sheen of algae grows and makes it VERY hazardous to walk on when wet… which is a lot of the year here in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. How do I prep this slimy deck and what will hold up best in our moist environment? Is there anything I can do to give us some "grip" underfoot in the wet weather? Any suggestions would be welcome!
    Thanks, Amber

    • Best to strip off the old stain and get the wood to a bare surface. Brighten the wood when done. Once the current stain is off and then you use a penetrating stain that does not film, it should not be slippery. Look at TWP 100 Series or Defy Extreme Stain.

    • Amber says:

      Thank you!
      My new road block is… how do I protect my house from the deck stripper?I don't want to have to repaint my house as well as stain the deck. Our deck is elevated about 13ft off the ground and surrounded by our house on three sides. Is this going to create a huge mess under my deck too? What are your thoughts on this?

  24. sansara2 says:

    We have some people working on our back deck for us. The deck was prepped by using a high pressure washer. We wanted gloss black for the railings and Olympus solid deck stain in the "curry" color for the deck surface. They used a spray gun to paint the railings black and in some areas of the deck the black gloss fence paint got onto the deck surface creating blackish areas and naked deck wood in other areas. It looks awful. Will the solid lighter "curry" colored stain be able to cover the surface evenly under these circumstances or does the floor of the deck need to be "re-prepped " in some way first?

  25. Amy says:

    I have a 20 year old deck that we used latex solid paint stain on it 2 years ago. There is a lot of cracks and splintering. I used a deck cleaner and brush to clean it as of now, but need to restain. Looking for what would be the best stain to use and how to prep the wood before hand. I live in NJ and the wood is pressure treated pine.

    • You will need to stay with a solid stain unless you want to sand it all off. Issue is if you do not sand it off, it will continue to peel as the new coat will not fix the old stain. Which would you prefer?

  26. Sherry says:

    The previous owners of my home never stained the deck they built 10 years ago. I inquired at a Benjamin Moore store and the person who helped me recommended I start with their RESTORE cleaning product for weathered wood, then use BM BRIGHTENER, and finish with a semi-solid stain for the best protection that won't peel. Should I use a pressure washer too? If so, when? With the products? Before? After? I want to paint the railing and spindles white. Is this sound advice? I'm worried the paint won't stick. Thank you?

  27. Sherry says:

    I should add that I live in Massachusetts where our weather can be extremely hot and cold. Thanks.

  28. Deborah says:

    Hi. Live in Atlanta, GA. I have a 13 yr old PTP deck that has been neglected over the past several years, but previously stained with an unknown semi-transparent-looking product. Contractor that I sent pictures to determined it was an "acrylic film former" (whatever that is) product due to some drip marks visible on the pics. Said putting a stripper on wood this old wood damage it – wanted to replace it instead. A couple of questions:
    1. What is he talking about?
    2. How do you determine if the deck needs to be sanded before re-staining?
    3. Which stain – TWP (& which one) or Armstrong-Clark (because of its conditioning oils for older wood)? I have seen both recommended for decks like mine & not sure what factors go into choosing one over the other.

    Deck is west-facing & gets mid to late afternoon sun. Wood is weathered and cracking some – also horizontal surfaces are a little rough. Stain is mostly lost on horizontal surfaces, but not on vertical ones. No cracking, peeling or flaking stain. Algae & mold/mildew present. Would like a semi-transparent reddish-brown or redwood color.

    Thank you very much for your help.

    • 1. Deck stain stripper does not damage wood. Not sure what his point is. Acrylic filming stains are much harder to strip though and may require numerous applications of the stripper to get it all off.
      2. I would suggest stripping as much as you can then sand the deck after to remove the rest. Brighten the wood as well.
      3. Either stain would work for you. TWP has a Rustic color that is reddish with a hint of brown.

  29. Sherry says:

    i want to paint my deck rail and spindles white, but I'm worried about adhesion. Since the wood is weathered and unfinished I will use Benjamin Moore Restore, then Brightener. I'm sure I should use a good quality primer before painting. What do you recommend? Will Latex paint be sufficient? Thank you.

  30. Kitty says:

    I have a 12 year old deck, approximately 1000 square ft, that we have stained every other year with Behr premium semi-tranparent stain (natural 500). It is an upper deck with a concrete patio below, and it has sun almost all day (NC foothills). The stain on the deck has begun to peel badly in all but a few areas shaded by the house. In those areas, the stain is thicker from years of repeated application. After reading your site, I purchased both the Restore-a-Deck stripper and the RAD cleaner/brightener kit, and I plan to return the new cans of Behr stain. Now I have a few questions:
    1) Since this is an upper deck adjacent to and above aluminum framed doors, windows and brick and stone with black mortar, do I need to take special precautions, particularly while using the stripper?
    2) Will the stripper remove the Behr stain, especially in the thicker areas?
    3) What stain do you recommend for this deck in the NC foothills? I will be retiring in the next few years and do not want to spend a lot of time maintaining this deck. Thank you!

    • 1. Take care around the aluminum with the stripper. It will not harm the brick or stone.
      2. Probably not all of it. You are basically trying to remove a filming stain that is acting like a paint with these thick areas. This is not easy to remove and Behr is very stubborn to remove. You will need to sand as well.
      3. Once removed, use the TWP stains.

  31. NicoleV says:

    I have a three year old cedar deck that we failed to treat when first built – as of now there's nothing on it. It had faded & I would like to brighten & waterproof it.
    If I want it to look like it did when new, do I need to stain it? Which products would you recommed?
    Thank you!
    Nicole

  32. shelleysixkiller says:

    I have lived in my place 3 years, the first year my landlord brought over some deck paint/sealer but its all chipping off? The boards are old? What can I do now?

  33. Marilyn says:

    15 year old cedar deck. Very large (15 x 80). Four years ago we had it sanded, power washed, and many horizontal boards replaced. We then stained it with Rustoleum Deck 2X Restore which began to peel off after the first winter. Is there any product I can use to remedy this situation or must I start completely over with stripping, powerwashing, and sanding? I am sick about this.

  34. Janet says:

    I have a 320 sf deck that is covered. Five years ago, I applied a solid stain to the floor boards. Over time, it has become scratched and worn and looks terrible. I have tried several strippers, trying to remove this old stain. Nothing has worked. I am considering sanding it, but wonder if sanding will be able to get into the space between the boards. My other option, besides replacing all of the boards, is to just restain it again using another solid stain. This would at least give me a couple of more years before ripping everything out and starting over. My question is this: can I apply another solid stain over this one as long as there aren't any loose or peeling areas? It's scratched off in places, but otherwise it's sticking tight. Any other suggestions? For what it's worth, applying a solid stain was a HUGE mistake since it is impossible to remove when it starts looking bad. Thanks so much for the help!!!

  35. Carolyn says:

    I have read many questions below and it makes me think that there is never a good time to use a solid cover (almost like paint) an open deck. I have seen people rip out their not-so-old decks just to get rid of that peeling deck paint. Why don't more people just use a penetrating transparent (tinted to whatever color) stain that soaks in to the wood, and won't ever peel? That seems to be the best thing ever! I assume it's because it doesn't last as long, but hey – at least it doesn't peel! Scraping and sanding are the worst!
    Having said all of that – I stained our covered / screened deck several years ago and although there is no peeling, it has faded. I need to reapply a transparent stain. Is there one brand that's actually better than others? I assume to clean and brighten, then apply as stated above. Does the wood have to be dry?

    • Carolyn, we are fans of penetrating semi-transparent stains as they are much easier to maintain and they show the natural grain of the wood. Good ones will last 2 to maybe 3 years. Clean and brighten for rep and try the TWP or Armstrong Clark.

  36. Sonny says:

    I have been using a product call Flood UV protectant, It's a semi transparent stain. clear color which is not clear,
    it has a slight tint to it, and they have a Cedar color which is semi transparent also. I have been using it for 15 years,
    I do a lot of deck staining and it seems to hold up great. no peeling at all ever, my deck has had it on for 12 years and
    no peeling, never replaced a board, they use to have a an oil base product but I can't find it anymore so I have been using the water base product they replace it with and still works great.

  37. Craig says:

    I have just finished either replacing boards or flipping boards. While the deck is much improved, it has somewhat of a checkerboard appearance. I can't decide if I should use a semi-transparent stain or an opaque stain that would be consistent but I would lose the ability to show any grain. The wood has never been stained in the past; just sealed. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

  38. Mary Peretti says:

    We just purchased Sikkens Cetol.translucent deck stain gor a deck which is 25 yrs old. I thought the semi transparent would be better; however, the paint store rep advised that this is the same as semi transparent which cannot be true as the website shows both profucts., translucent and semi transparent. The deck is in semi descent shape eith dome green and will be power washed and stained professionally.

    I called Sikkens customer service and the rep advised that the translucent is of good and higher end quality. He said the semi transparent would have to be mixed if the store does not carry it.

    Can you please advise as to whether you would recommend the Sikkens translucent or semi transparent for my purpose. I cannot find TWP in my area and I do like the Sikkens stain colors. We have used the Sikkens translucent before.
    Thank you

  39. Susan says:

    I have drip spots on deck from stain can i cover the drips and run by using darker stain?

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