Deck Stains

We have been getting great feedback here at from all of the consumers who have been looking for better stain alternatives for their deck restoration. Our most popular article, “What is the Best Deck Stain” has quickly become the number one article on the web for asking questions and getting answers on restoring your exterior wood and deck.

In this article we are going to cover what actually is a “Deck Stain”. We will compare the many different types of decking stain options available and what are the positives and negatives of each.

Deck Stains

Deck stains are used to protect and preserve your exterior wood. They offer UV protection, water repellency, mold and mildew resistance, etc. Deck coatings come in many different types of opacity and bases. Many deck stain brands can be restricted in certain states, cities and counties due the VOC laws.

Deck staining can be a “chore” for residential homeowners and unfortunately walking into you local store may produce some of the worst options available. Not all deck stains are created equal and there is not a perfect stain type or brand that will out perform all the others.

Water-Based Deck Stains

Water based deck stain have come on rapidly in the last 4 years. The main reason for the vast amount of water based stains on the market today is related to changes in VOC laws across the country. Many states have adopted or soon will adopt lower VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) regulations. This has prompted stain manufacturers to increase production of water soluble decking stains. In our opinion, water-based deck stain are “thin” paints with varying amount of acrylic and pigment.

Pros: Water cleanup, less chance of mold or mildew growth. Environmentally friendly.

Cons: Do not penetrate like an oil-base can. Slightly harder to apply as they dry quicker. Can be prone to peeling and wearing. *Defy Stains are the only exception that we have tested. They penetrate the best of all water based stains, nearly as well as an oil.

Oil based Deck Stains

Oil based decking stains have been around for 20-30 years and have been traditionally what all stain manufacturers produce. Oil based stains are typically made up of natural and synthetic oils. Many contain oils such as: Linseed Oil, Paraffin Oil, Tung Oil, Rosewood Oil, Etc.

Pros: Excellent penetration into wood. An oil molecule is smaller in size then a water molecule. Better a deck stain can penetrate, the better the performance. Easier to apply. More natural looking

Cons: Stronger odors, longer drying and curing time. Some oils can promote the growth of mildew. Some oil-based stains will darken in color over time.

Solid Decking Stains (Opaque)

Solid deck stains look like paints. They cover the wood so you will not see the wood grain anymore. Once you apply a solid decking stain there is little chance you will ever be able to go back to a transparent stain. Solid stains come in both oil and water based versions.

Pros: Excellent UV protection.

Cons: Films on top of the wood and do not penetrate well. Prone to peeling. Looks like a paint. HarderĀ  to apply. Cannot be removed with a deck stain stripper effectively.

Semi-Solid Stains

The Semi-Solid Deck Stain will only show a small amount of wood grain as they contain a high amount of pigment. They are offered by a limited amount of manufacturers. Semi-solids can be both water-based and oil-based.

Pros: Very good UV protection

Cons: Only a small amount of wood grain will show. Oil-based semi-solid versions will penetrate and perform much better the water-based versions.

Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-transparent stains contain pigment that highlights the natural grain while sealing the surface. The semi-transparent wood and decking stain is our favorite. Both water and oil-based are available.

Pros: Average to better then average UV protection. Shows natural grain. Very good penetration. In most scenarios can be cleaned and re-coated easily. Can be removed with a deck stain stripper.

Cons: Most water-based versions perform poorly compared to the oils. Many states with the Low VOC laws have a limited amount of quality oil based stains available. May need to buy online if in a Low VOC area.

Transparent Wood stains

Transparent deck coatings look the most natural as they contain minimal pigment. Average life of a transparent decking stain is about 1 year. Mostly oil-based only are available.

Pros: Very easy to apply and reapply as needed. Natural looking.

Cons: Below average UV protection. Typically need to be re-coated annually.

Clear Wood Deck Finishes

Clear Deck Finishes offer little to no UV protection and will gray quickly. Typically used as sealers.

Pros: Does not change the appearance. Extremely easy to apply.

Cons: Grays and oxidizes in months.

Non Drying Oil vs Drying Oil- Based Stains

Drying oils are “curing” oils. This means that they actually dry on top of or just below the surface. They will help “seal” the wood as well. Non-drying oils are the opposite. They never actually dry but rather dive deep into the wood to help condition the cells of the wood. Paraffin oil (not wax) is the most common.

Are Deck Finishes, Stains, Sealers, or Both?

This question can be confusing to homeowners. In general all deck stains are sealers as well as they will help prevent water absorption. Deck sealers typically are not stains as they do not have any pigment. Some though may have a very light tint.

Low VOC Stains and States:

Currently there are 17 States that restrict Decking Stains and Coatings. These states require a lower amount of Volatile Organic Compounds to be released into the air. This mainly affects oil-based coatings. By lowering the amount of “solvents” that can evaporate into the ozone you need to increase the amount of “solids”. This can cause issues with oil-based stains as they may have drying and curing problems. There are still a few good oil-based stains available in Low VOC States but not as readily available at your local stores. You may need to go on the Internet to find them and have them shipped. A couple of examples would be TWP 1500 Series and Armstrong Clark Wood Stains.

Current Low VOC States:

California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Northern VA, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana. Suggestions:

With all of these different types of products we prefer the semi-transparent products as they allow the wood grain to show. They offer better then average UV protection and can be easier to reapply in the future. Penetration is better for oil-based versions over the water-based versions. The one exception is the water based Defy Stains.

*All decking stains will eventually fail that is why you want a deck stain that is easy to work with down the road.

206 Responses to “Deck Stains”

  1. Kate says:

    Can I put Penofin Brazilian Oil over Olympic Semi-transparent acrylic oil based stain? Or vice versa? I have just cleaned/scrubbed and sanded my deck and I can't decide which one to us. If I go with the Olympic this year and then decide to use Penofin next year do I have to do a major cleaning all over again?

  2. Stacy says:

    We have a treated lumber deck that is about 6 years old. The first stain applications were not done well, so last summer we stripped, cleaned and re-stained the deck using an Olympic Semi-Transparent stain. We applied one coat. This summer (one year later) the deck seems dull and has developed some mildew. We had a very wet winter and lots of rain this spring, and the deck does not get much sun. Can we just clean and re-apply the stain?

  3. Kelsey says:

    I just scanned all of the above comments and I don't believe anyone has asked this question. We live in Indiana and just discovered that oil based deck stain is no longer sold in our state. We have a 6 year old cedar deck stained 3x over the course of 6 years with semi-transparent oil based stain. The deck sits in a mostly shaded are and was sanded this past weekend. Can we re-stain using a water based stain or must we strip it first? Thanks!

  4. lynn bedell says:

    Have you reviewed Behr's DeckOver? Is this a good product?

    • Starlene says:

      DO NOT USE DECKOVER! We just stripped and cleaned our deck and put two coats of deckover on our deck. Waited 24 hours to walk over it barefoot to remove leaves and stuff that fell from our palm trees. It was stained from the debris. It's been 4 days now. We have dirty footprints and leaf stains that nothing will clean off. Behr says use Dawn and water with a soft brush. What a joke….it doesn't touch the marks. So now we have a newly finished deck that will soon look worse than the old one did.

  5. Matt says:

    I have a cedar deck that was built Jan 2010. We Stained it with Olympic semi-transparent natural cedar color stain in may 2010. I will note that I sanded off my first attempt at staining. The following spring the color had started to fade and many areas developed gray areas. I never got a chance to re-stain it, and now we at the end of spring 2013 and the deck in now peeling and has lost most of its color. I want a stain that penetrates and lasts. I live in MA and was looking towards TWP1500 based on your reviews. Can I apply this stain if I remove the current stain and clean the wood using FLOOD wood finish remover, I will sand the deck if i need to.

    • Matt, as long as the wood is prepped correctly then you can apply the 1500 Series.

      • Matt says:

        I am in the process of prepping the deck now (when it dries out of the rain). My plan is to 1. use FLOOD WOOD FINISH REMOVER first, then sand off areas left behind. 2. use FLOOD BRIGHTER/CLEANER. 3.Let dry 4.Give a final wipe down with a rag or dry mop. 5. Apply TWP 1500 semi transparent using airless sprayer, back brushing using a lambs wool applicator. Does this sound ok or am I missing something?

  6. carolyn says:

    Is it okay to mix semi transparent and solid colors stains together before applying?

  7. Cld says:

    What do you know about Sherwin Williams Revive stains? A couple of paint/stain pros recommended it. (2 yr old deck, gets full sun between 11 am and 4-5 in the summer

  8. blamingthewife says:

    We mixed two stains together to get a desired color to stain a secondhand redwood play set that we had sanded down to the wood. Having got the bulk of it stained, I'm worried we've made a terrible mistake (confirmed by reading the above posts!). Stain 1 was semi- transparent behr cedar (acrylic), and stain 2 was Cabot oil based semi solid in bark. It mixed well, perfect color, and went on fine….week later, went to putoin a second coat and it had turned to pudding consistency in the can. Not so worried about the second coat now, just wondering what will happen to the play set this summer? What typically happens in this case, or does no one usually make such a silly mistake? Also, when it's time to restain, what do we need to do to do it right?

    • blamingthewife, you cannot mix oil based and water based stains together. I am surprised it even applied to the wood. If it dried okay then I would consider yourself lucky and just leave it alone until it is time to redo. You will probably need to strip it off in 2-3 years and start over.

  9. Chris says:

    Can Danish Oil be added to products such as TWP1500? I have done this in the past with Flood CWF (pre EPA changes) and it mixed well and penetrated cedar decking much more than sealer right out of the can.

  10. linda says:

    1st – Have cidar deck exposed to alot of sun replaced some boards plan on sanding the whole deck can we use the TWP 1500 Semi Transparent stain would it look uniformed with old and new board?

    2nd- Cidar deck under porch no sun exposure15 yrs old been using CWF clear looks like a hardwood floor problem used power washer yikes and put marks into it down to natural wood :( Can we use a solid stain to hit them areas or do we sand the while deck?

  11. mike says:

    I am curious as to whether you would ever put spar urethane over top of an oil based stain such as armstrong clark? does the spar add anything worthwhile to coat the stain with on an exterior wood door? what about on window frames and window sills which are kind of an interior/exterior use as they are subjected to exterior conditions. also, i have seen a light linseed oil used to prepare wood for consistency before staining with a product such as armstrng clark stains; once agian, does this make any sense to you and does the linseed oil pre-treatment add anything of value at all? Thanks in advance for your replies.

  12. mike says:

    Thanks for the feedback regarding urethane not to be used on exterior applications- i assume the problems are related to the inevitable peeling of the urethane and the difficulty of stripping afterwords?; i am looking to use it for inside window frames that are exposed to hot summers and cold winters with lots of sun shine as all i read indicates little other solution for internal window frames? i will avoid using it on the external door and will find another solution for the external door- i may just use a clear absorbing stain such AC and plan on refinishing them every couple of years with the stain; thanks for the feedback

  13. Karin says:

    Why did deck ends curl up a year after I put Thompson Water seal on my elevated deck? We bought an elevated Dome home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The deck floor was weathered grey and did not look treated. The railing is covered with solid stain that washed off with deck cleaner. The deck boards are not extended over the fascia. There is a small gap between the fascia and the frame where wire fencing had been attached. As I removed the wire, the gap widen. and collected leaves, ect… Should i remove the fascia board or just pull it out at the bottom so water no longer collects?

  14. Jonesy says:

    Do I need to apply a sealant after my deck was painted with Sherwin Williams Exterior Deck stain ranchero red acrylic flat? it look so dull and its peeling up already after one day.. paid for 'Handyman' …

  15. oldmanhank says:

    Yesterday afternoon my deck was fully prepped and ready for staining. For the three preceding days, it had been exposed to almost full sun, temperatures in the mid to high 80's, and zero new water. Then with no prior notice, it rained – for about 10 minutes, probably dropping 1/4 to 1/3rd inch. My question is : if with no further bad weather, how long do I need to wait for the moisture content to be low enough (18%?) to proceed.

    Thank you very much

  16. Steve says:

    I live on the coast of Oregon. I am about ready to lay my Port Orford Cedar (POC) (white cedar) decking and I'm getting mixed info on staining now or waiting a year after exposure to apply stain. The wood manufacturer says its fine to stain as their wood is kiln dried, MC is <8%, shows no sap bleed, and the surface does seem to absorb water OK so no mill hardening to deal with. One paint supplier said I have to wait a full year for the wood to age because of tannins and resins in the wood. I'm a firm believer in treating both top and bottom to prevent cupping and waiting a year kills that idea. I plan on using oil-based Cabot Semi-transparent deck and siding stain. Any other precautions I should address before staining new wood? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  17. Tanveer says:

    Oil molecules are much larger than water molecules. If oil stains penetrate deeper it's not due to molecule size. Please correct startement.

    • brixen says:

      Agreed, Tanveer. Amazing that whomever writes for this site could get this simple little scientific fact so wrong. Water is a polar molecule. One side of the molecule is positively charged, while the other is negatively charged. The two atoms of oxygen cling to each other with the single hydrogen atom on the other side.

      Oil on the other hand is made of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms forming hydrocarbon chains, which are very large molecules. This makes them non-polar, meaning that oil molecules are attracted to each other more than water molecules.

      Size does matter: water molecules are much smaller than other molecules. So a number of water molecules have to break their hydrogen bonds to accommodate oil molecules, which is another reason why oil doesn't easily mix with water.

      Whomever claimed that water-based finishes do not penetrate as well as oils, was skewing the test, or testing high solids formulas of water-based product vs lesser solids formulations of oil-based products. Wood, being water-based will tend to absorb water much more than it will ever absorb oil – the law of like attracting like. But water is only the vehicle, it is the resin (usually acrylic) and the additives carried by the water that will protect the wood. Oil molecules are also carried into the wood via the petroleum solvent vehicle used in oil-based formulations.

      I do not personally like any water-based deck finishes I've tested or used because they require far too much preparation (sanding) when needing a recoat. They are durable, but not practical. It is far simpler to recoat an oil-based deck finish, just clean, and reapply.

      And NEVER have I found a 'water-soluble oil' finish that was worth the cost of the container.

  18. Michigander says:

    I bought a water based tinted transparent stain and, after applying it to a few outside rails, I decided it was darker than what I want for my very old deck. Can I mix it with the same brand of non-tinted water based neutral to lighten it up some? I asked at the store I got it from and they said it was never a good idea to mix tinted and non-tinted stains together even though they are both water based and transparent. Are they correct?

  19. Mike says:

    Bottom line…I have a new all Mahogany deck and would live to preserve the color and integrity. What is the best, overall stain to apply? That will protect it best, overall and not peel. One that will best penetrate and minimize the change of color.
    Oil or water based?
    Penofin? Sherwin Williams? Super Deck?
    I didnt see any particular recommendations…

  20. Just asking says:

    It seems like you have many answers for many questions here. Our deck, made of cedar, was finished about one month ago. Faces east in nebraska, half covered, half not. When is it best to stain new cedar? What product would you recommend for new cedar?

  21. scott says:

    I have a 12 yr old deck that has olympic maximum oil based semi transparent cedar stain on it. I had to replace all the floor boards this month. Deck is upper level and over top of a garden. I would like a different color on it and yes i definitely should have cleaned it before replacing boards. can I wash the deck now with the new boards on it and also do I have to try to strip off the stain to redo it in a different color and can I just put on a new color using oil base? Any suggestions would be appreciated. (i know i cant stain new boards yet) Also what brand would you recommend?

    • Scott, you need to strip off the Olympic then use a wood brightener for the prep. Try TWP or Armstrong Clark for the stain.

      • scott says:

        The stain on it now is 3 years old. The deck posts have some splintering and cracks. Do i still need to try to strip it since its been on for so long and if so, will it hurt the new boards and garden below it? Thanks

        • Scott, if you have any old stain on the wood you should remove it first with the stripper than brighten. If not you can use the cleaner instead of the stripper. I would protect the garden.

  22. Sam Haworth says:

    Oil molecules are not even close to being smaller than water molecules. Water molecules have three atoms, H2O, right? Oil molecules are long chain hydrocarbons, some hundreds of atoms long. For example, linseed oil is made of a high percentage of alpha-Linolenic acid which has the chemical formula C18H30O2. That's 50 atoms!

    I would suggest that the larger molecular size is the reason oil-based stains spread easier and dry slower. Even though they typically have a higher volatile component concentration than water based, which is what flashes off as the stain drys, the larger molecular size slows absorption into the wood. In water-based stain the water would be absorbed very readily; wood comes from plants and last I checked plants use water to live. Hence the the internal pores and passages of the wood are designed for water already. Think about getting a drop of water on a dry board. It doesn't hang around very long. So water based stains "dry" partly by having the water absorb into the wood, to be released later.

    Oil-based stains may seem to penetrate better because the pigments and other components are more soluble in the oil base and are therefore carried into the wood better when the oil does get absorbed, but that's just speculation. I suspect it's more complicated than just molecular size though.

  23. tina says:

    Wisconsin_Full Sun_Pressure Treated_New_New_This deck was just put up last month. It is around our pool, so the ladder is set up to get out of the pool on the deck. How long do we have to wait to stain? The deck boards were stored inside a barn for 1 year, so they already have shrunk. The side rails were bought from inside, so they are dry. The only thing that has not been dry for awhile is the posts._Thanks for any help you can give me.

    • tina, you can and brighten now and apply one coat of stain of the Timber Oil or Armstrong Clark. You will probably need to apply a light maintenance coat next year so time.

  24. Amy says:

    We have a deck that was built last summer. We were advised not to seal it right away so the chemicals could wash out of it. By this summer it was covered with mildew. It does get a good amount of shade. We bleached and pressure washed it. Now we need to seal it. I don't care if it has a color stain. I just want to seal it from the mildew! And I am willing to seal it from the bottom too. What should I do?

  25. Jay says:

    Damn it, I live in maryland!!!!!!!

  26. Jay says:

    I want to be able to apply a Stain. But I live in Maryland. I would Like to see the fine grains on the wood from mediocre-clear. I am completely new to this "redoing decks thing". What stainer do you guys suggest? or should I just completely skip the staining process? PLease respond to my email! Thank you for your help so much!

  27. Randy says:

    Used tpw 1500 low voc, my wife has severe asthma and had a bad reaction to it ,it also dries very slow .the product performed well as a stain and sealer ,but asthma sufferers be warned .The TPW was chosen for it' s low voc ,however,not low enough.

    • Randy, sorry to hear. VOC is a government rating for Volatile Organic Compounds. TWP 1500 has a low rating of 350 while most are 550. This rating really does not have anything to do with a persons health but rather how much evaporates into the ozone.

  28. Jess says:

    My deck was built in early spring and is in need of staining. Full sun most of the day, about 8 feet off the ground, thinking a semi-transparent stain. What is your recommended stain for central Va? The local store recommended Olympic Maximum but the contractor said it is junk and recommended Cabot. I am finding mixed opinions and reviews… Thanks!

  29. Albert says:

    I need some clarification on the Flood stain review on your site….I want to make sure if I go with this product that I buy the correct one. The review is here… and you mention CWF in the title, mention it is oil based and available in semi-transparent (this is what was reviewed but the picture shows the clear finish)….but on the flood website here the CWF-Uv and CWF-UV5 are transparent/translucent only and water based not oil. The semi-transparent is oil based but on the gallon it's called "Semi-transparent penetring oil" and no CWF in the title. I'm looking at buying this last one called "Semi-transparent penetring oil" as mentioned and the image shown on the flood website…….is this last one the product you guys reviewed? Thanks for the help

    • Albert, we review the semi-transparent oil. The picture of the can must be wrong.

      • Albert says:

        Actually I'm back from the store here selling it (Betonel in Montreal) and the picture on the flood website is the same as the gallons in the store.. So difference between what is sold in Canada vs. US. The difference is obvious when you compare on both flood sites. So I need to figure out if the semi sold in Canada is based on the CWF-Uv formula or on this one also sold in the USA

        • Albert says:

          Ok, i figured it out, in Montreal, the "semi-transparent penetrating oil finish" correspond to the CWF-UV5 semi in the US. I got this when I opened the MSDS and TDS sheets of the Canadian prouct and identified the product as "FLD144 CWF-UV5 clear tint base"….the same as when I check the UWF-CV5 oil base on the USA site.

          So this being said, the flood stain is available here in Canada, would it be comparable to the Armstrong one? Trying to avoid shipping cost every ime I need a gallon ……

  30. Alvin rogers says:

    This is the end of August and we hope to have our new pressure treated deck finished in a couple of weeks. We live in Nashville, Tennessee. Should we stain it in late October or wait until spring. We are planing on using an oil base semi transparent stain. Does this sound appropriate? Thank you!

  31. Gaylen says:

    I put a MInwax water based stain on my deck about 3 years ago. Very bad pealing and I need to re-stain. Can I put a dark oil based stain over the waterbased stuff? I pressure washed it and about 50% came off.

  32. Barbara says:

    we put a new pine milled board on for our deck. it seems to have a mill glaze how can I tell for sure? we live in nova scotia canada on the south shore. when can we put something on the deck, it is getting dirty already with just walking on it.
    so how long do we wait to do anything
    do we use a cleaner first ( mud and grime on it now)
    then what , we are thinking a semi stain, but then reading your reports maybe a solid stain would be better. do not want it too dark. but it is way too light right now.
    the deck gets partial sun as we have a overhang roof.
    can you help?

  33. Julie says:

    I live in Minnesota. The 25 year old cedar siding has been stained with oil based semitransparent stain. Some of the siding and fascia has been replaced and is much lighter color than the old siding. I am afraid that semitransparent stain will not make the old and new boards the same color. The folks at the paint store said that I should put on an oil primer and then latex solid stain. They said that the latex will be more durable in this climate and that the primer will prevent the oil stain from leaking through the solid stain. Do you agree?

  34. Simon says:

    Applied Sikkens Cetol SRD (oil based) translucent stain to cedar fence 10 yrs ago. Fence needs to be re-stained, but only water-based stain available now. What are my options?

  35. Diane says:

    Most the semi transparent Behr (water based) stain is now off my deck and will be using a deck cleaner then a power washer to further the cleaning process. I want a good new stain. Can i use an oil based stain or must i go with water based again?

  36. Mike says:

    Preparing to stain a 15 year old pressure treated deck in Iowa previously stained with Wolman Durastain semi-transparent. The old stain has been removed with a stripper and power washer. There are some random very small spots of old stain given the challenge of removing it. The wood condition is in fair shape for the age. Noticed small amount of mildew on some vertical surfaces but they hadn't been cleaned/re-stained in several years. I will be using a brightener prior to staining.

    Would you recommend going with an oil or water based stain? I see the pro's and con's of each type but looking for a tie breaker. A concern is whether that small bit of residual old stain would cause me more or less issues depending on the type chosen. Maybe each would work equally as well so other factors are more important (thoughts?). I'm considering your recommended brands in a semi-transparent for each type – TWP, Armstrong Clark for oil & Defy for water based. If your answer was "oil based", would you choose one brand over the other? Stripping was no fun so I really want to get it right. Thanks in advance for the help.

    • Mike, when we strip decks and cannot get all of the old stain off completely we use the Armstrong Clark stain in a semi-solid color that is similar to the old stain. It does a great job of blending it well. I would go that route.

  37. Diana says:

    Please help! I wish I had found this site 2 days ago! Here's my situation. I live on the coast of Maine in a 1-1/2 yr. old house with a south facing deck that we keep clear of snow in the winter. The deck is Port Orford cedar which has not been treated. The railings are red cedar. The professional house painter used DeckScapes on the rail about a month after the rail was installed. In less 3 months!!! it was peeling. I scraped and sanded all horizontal surfaces and reapplied DeckScapes. After watching DeckScapes blister and peel for the past year, I decided to strip the entire rail system and start from scratch.

    I've been talking to a local paint rep for the past year, trying to figure out what to use. Finally, I decided to use Minwax Helmsman. It was used on the sill for the front door, and I liked how it has worn over the past year+, and I like it's clear finish that shows the wood grain clearly. I'm using the satin finish. So, even though it's a urethane, it's not too glossy. So, please tell me. Is this a really bad idea? None of the deck stains mentioned are an urethane product. Why not? So far, I've spent about 4 days removing DeckScape and 1/2 day putting 1 coat of Helmsman on the horizontal surfaces. Please tell me if this is a poor choice of product before I ruin this deck rail system!

    Many thanks for your very informative and helpful site. As I said, I just wish I found it before!

  38. jnb1435 says:

    We're installing a pressure-treated, premium grade wood deck (from HD) and would like to know the best type and brand of stain to use. We live in the Indianapolis area, and our deck will have morning shade and western afternoon full sun. Summers are often in the upper 90's and winters can be very cold and snowy. Also, the deck will be close to the ground. We've had a very bad experience with Thompson stain on our former deck, and don't mind paying more for a product that will perform well.

  39. Sharon Herrin says:

    I live in South Mississippi. My deck has been stained twice, once with transparent stain that lasted six months. After a year it was stripped and stained with semi-transparent Holman Dura-Stain. In six months the wood was splitting and the stain peeling. I suspect that the deck was not properly prepped both times. As a female homeowner I am at the mercy of painters/contractors. This time I bought the deck cleaner, am having some of the wood replaced and all of the loose chips sanded off. I have been to Lowe's, Home Depot, and a large local store. At each store I get different advice. I have spent hours on the internet and cannot find a highly recommended stain to put over the semi-transparent. A stain gets good reviews on one site and poor reviews on another. Do I have to put a solid stain on the deck if I don't want to go to the expense of sanding the entire thing? It is an elaborate split level deck with spindles and lattice work. Can you please make recommendations for the stain I should now use? You are my last hope!! Help!

  40. harry morton says:

    please point me to a stain. Live in Arkansas, upper deck is older (25yrs) lower deck is 4yrs. have used one time stain, didn't last the 7 yrs as advertised. when I applied 2nd coat turned very dark. Just stripped this off and used brightner. Deck is partial full sun and tree/house shaded some in the day. Deck is treated pine. Would like a transparent or semi to maintain a nice wood look.


    • Harry, try TWP 100 Series or Armstrong Clark. BTW, nothing lasts more then 2-3 years on a horizontal surface. They use gimmicky warranties and charge way more then their product is worth.

  41. Valerie O. says:

    Can I thin CWF UV-2 with just a few drops of paint thinner so it will flow better through the stain stick pad? It's too thick!
    Thanks for your excellent site.

  42. Stanley R Jones says:

    I live in Northwest Mississippi, I just built a pergola using pressure treated wood. What is the best semi transparent stain/sealer I can use.

  43. Becky says:

    I have a salt treated deck that is about 11 years. I have 6 boards in different areas of the deck that I need to replace due to splitting. I want to re-stain the deck with a stain that needs the least amount of maintainence after I replace the boards. The stain that I have used in the past is Olympic cedar tone from Lowes. How long do I need to wait after replacing boards to stain and will I have to do anything special besides get any dirt off of the existing boards? Also will I be able to tell the difference in the old boards and the new boards if I do a transparent stain?

    • Becky, new wood will not match older wood when stained the first time with a transparent or semi-transparent stain. Best to let the new wood season for a few months then strip down the old stain so the entire deck is free from old coatings. Brighten all the wood when done. Apply stain of choice.

  44. Welvin Zabala says:

    I have a brand new covered wooden deck/patio. I am thinking of keeping the natural look of the wood. I have two choices in mind; the semi-transparent stain or the clear finish? I live in the Pacific Northwest. What is the better way to go if I want to preserve the natural look of the wood. Also, the ceiling of this patio is made of the same wood. Do I need to seal or finish that as well?

    • Clear sealers will not provide protection from graying. You must have color or a semi-transparent tint for this. The ceiling will not gray as quickly but you may want to apply just so it matches the rest of the wood.

  45. Dan says:

    Has anyone ever used a product called SEAL ONCE on a cedar deck? We don't care that the deck goes grey, but we may want to protect it from the elements. We want an easy on easy maintenance solution.


    • Dan, products like these are \”gimmicky\” in our opinion. They may help reduce the chance of rot and decay but they do nothing for UV protection, dirt, graying, water, etc. In theory they are supposed to react with the alkali in the wood creating an internal barrier that stabilizes the wood below the surface. These products work well to densify concrete but have been proven to be of much help for wood.

  46. MaryV says:

    Located in N. Ala. Have an 850 sf, 17-yr-old PTP deck w/ exposure ranging from shade (under tree), to part shade, to open sun.
    5 yrs ago we stripped off semi-solid (almost opaque) stain (Thomas, I think), re-stained w/ Beyer oil-based semi-transparent stain. Within 9 mos., the Behr was peeling. NOW, plan to strip & brighten (using products you suggest), then re-stain w/ semi-transparent oil-based stain. Because of spring season, will need to wait between stripping/brightening now, and staining (after tree pollen stops, about 1 mo.). What products do you recommend, and will any follow-up prep be needed between stripping/brightening and eventual staining? Thanks for a great site, and for taking time to answer all these questions!

  47. MaryV says:

    I just realized we'll need to deal with about 140' board feet of new decking, to replace some bad deck boards. Should we install those 1st, then wait a few mos. for weathering, THEN strip/brighten/re-stain the deck? If so, that puts us doing the work in July, when day temps can be in 90's in N. Ala. I hate to put this all off until Fall, as it's long overdue (deck's growing algae under tree-shade, splinters are hurting bare feet).

    • MaryV, yes I would install the new wood first, wait a few months than prep and stain. behr can be hard to strip off. Use the stripper to get off as much as possible, sand if needed the rest, brighten when done. Look at the Armstrong Clark stain in a semi-solid color.

      • MaryV says:

        Are you suggesting the semi-solid to better hide the new boards among the old? I'd rather use semi-transparent, unless there's a reason more compelling than esthetics (tho I know the semi-solid gives more UV protection, but I'd rather not have to strip it each time I renew the stain). Again, thanks for your hard work in maintianing this great site.

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