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Hardwood Deck Stains

Hardwood Deck Stain Advice and Tips

Exotic Hardwood Deck Staining

Exotic Hardwood Deck Staining

There are many different types of wood used for decking material. While the most common is pressure treated pine, some of the most beautiful are any of the exotic hardwoods. Woods such as Ipe, Redwood, Brazilian, Mahogany, Teak, and Pau Lupe are very sought after for deck owners looking for a gorgeous yet durable deck.

Hardwood decks, like other wood decks, are subjected to the elements and need to be protected with a deck stain or sealer. Hardwoods have different characteristics from more common wood types used in decking. Like the name suggests, they are very hard or dense in nature. This means searching for the right deck stain when it comes to protection.

Because of the extreme density of an exotic hardwood special hardwood deck stains have been specifically designed with unique penetrating abilities. Regular types of deck stain lack the ability to penetrate the dense wood and will not perform well or last very long.

When looking for a hardwood deck stain look for special penetrating capabilities and one that is not prone to peeling. Special oils are used in hardwood stains that are able to dive into the dense hardwood and help condition the wood fibers. Without the penetrating ability the stain would remain on top of the surface and would not provide any protection.

A good hardwood deck stain will also be easy to clean and reapply as needed. Find an exotic wood stain that fades lightly in color as it wears and will not darken. All these characteristics along with high water repellency and enhanced beauty will give your hardwood deck the protection it needs.

Regular wood cleaning maintenance and stain applications will prolong the life of your hardwood deck. Follow these guidelines when choosing hardwood deck stains so the wood gets maximum protection and you get years of use from your exotic wood deck.

Need Help Choosing a Hardwood Decking Stain? Please Ask Below!

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72 responses to “Hardwood Deck Stains”

  1. Merel Jo9nes says:

    I have 3 decks with Tiger Wood decking that is 4 yeas old. Two of the decks are covered and one is totally exposed. When new all of the decks where treated with Penefin Blue. After the first year the exposed deck and perimeter of the 2 covered decks were very gray, almost white. At that time I cleaned with largest deck to remove the oxidized layer and recoated with the Penefin.
    Recently I have used a Behr cleaner and brightener to try to remove the white wood, white very disappointing results. Even at 100% concentration and scrubbing with a bristle brush did not remove all of the oxidized wood layer. I did try some Mini Wax cherry wood stain which gave a pretty nice color to the wood.
    Is there a better cleaner to try to remove the oxidized wood layer? Is it reasonable to just oil stain over the oxidized wood?
    Please let me know where I should go from here. What if any cleaner and what type of stain for best long term wood color retention?

    Thanks for the information

    • Merel, you probably need a stain stripper and wood brightener to fix since you still have some Penofin left on the deck. This would work better then a cleaner. Stain when done with Armstrong Clark in Amber or possibly Messmers UV Plus for Hardwoods.

  2. Tom Goodson says:

    I have a dilemma with regard to staining/sealing of a "soon-to-be" installed redwood deck, located in Angel Fire, New Mexico (elevation: 8,700 ft.). Obviously, I would like to 1) achieve the best possible result at the initial install, 2) do the re-stain/re-seal aspect as infrequently as possible in the future, and, maybe as importantly, 3) stain/seal the wood before installing onto the deck sub-structure.

    Many (most?) of the commentary I read on line indicates that "new" wood should NOT be stained until after 4+ months of exposure to the elements. This fact is not only inconvenient, but also adds immeasurably to the process, e.g., stain/seal BEFORE installation provides for a more complete access to all sides of the boards, but it also eliminates the need to mask-off several hundred square feet of stucco siding on the house.

    Finally, I would also appreciate it if you could suggest which brand(s) of stain/sealer to use on redwood. I have managed to purchase a batch of lumber that is all heartwood, i.e., all red, with no white (sap wood?), so assuming that the deck (after staining) should be very uniform in color.

    I will most grateful if someone with experience can advise/direct me (totally no experience) on this matter. Thank you in advance for your response.

  3. Tom Goodson says:

    I have a dilemma with regard to staining/sealing of a "soon-to-be" installed redwood deck, located in Angel Fire, New Mexico (elevation: 8,700 ft.). Obviously, I would like to 1) achieve the best possible result at the initial install, 2) do the re-stain/re-seal aspect as infrequently as possible in the future, and, maybe as importantly, 3) stain/seal the wood before installing onto the deck sub-structure.

  4. Casper says:

    I have deck made of pressure treated pine, that is 10 years old. It's never been stained, so it is a time. What stain is going to be best to do restoration in my climate: Calgary, Alberta.

  5. Paul says:

    I have a Brazilian mahogany deck that I cleaned and it's now spotty with some areas much lighter than others. Should we use a solid stain and what brand/color to get it to look mahogany?

  6. Roberta says:

    We have a six year old deck made of IPE wood that gets little sun, we are in the woods of Minnesota. Our contractor initially stained it with Penofin, my husband power washed it and stained it after two years each with Penofin. It is dark greyish brown with green mold. I hate it. Had our contractor told us it would not remain the beautiful red without lots of work we would have never let him talk us into this IPE wood. We wanted a composite. We are now fine sanding down all the surfaces and want to use the best sealer/finisher we can find. This is way more work then we were lead to believe. What would you suggest we use on it?

    • Roberta, nothing will last for more then a season of IPE. Strip and bright withe the Restore A Deck products for the prep then stain with Armstrong Clark in the Mahogany color.

  7. Amanda says:

    My husband and I replaced our old deck with new, smooth redwood. We live in Huntington Beach, CA and the deck is in full sun until about 5:00 pm. It has only been finished for 2 days and already we are having problems with mold growing. We are planning on staining it in 4-6 weeks with a clear or semi-transparent stain to keep the beautiful redwood look. Will the mold do damage if we wait to clean/prepare the deck before the stain or should we do it sooner because of the mold?

  8. laj says:

    Hi, I am in the process of installing a southern yellow pine PT wood deck and the contractor suggested to stain it in 4-5 weeks. I am in northern virginia and was curious about what stain and sealer should I use for this. Also do I need to pressure wash or do anything else to this brand new deck before staining and sealing?

  9. Gwen says:

    NEED QUICK ADVICE! I have 900 sq feet of 4-year-old mahogany porches that have been re-stained twice (so 3x in all) and have never looked as they should. My new contractor wants to use a Sikkens product but now that I am reading this I don't think he should. The Armstrong sound like the best for hardwoods but my problem is that the porches are being sanded today and I would have to mail order the Armstrong. It is my understanding that the wood should be stained as soon as possible after sanding, not several days from now. Is there another product that would be good that I can purchase locally (CT – 06877)? Any help would be much appreciated.!

  10. Christopher O'Reilly says:

    I have contracted to have a redwood deck and stairs built at my house in the Colorado Mountains at 9600 feet. What is the best type of stain for me to use and when should I apply it? We get a LOT of snow every year as well as freezing temperatures and ice. In addition, the deck will get at least 8 hours of sun every day that the sun is out (300 days a year). Thanks for your help and your site is great!

  11. Minal says:

    I have 1000 sq. feet of IPE decking installed 4 months ago. i want to find out which is the best stain to use? I understand that there are only a limited stains which work on exotic hardwood like the IPE which are IPE oil; Armstrong hardwood stain; Defy hardwood stain; Messimer's hardwood stain and Penofin harwood satin.

    Which would be the best to start using on my IPE deck on a yearly basis?

  12. Olivier Nguyen says:

    I just completed a new deck with knotted cedar. the wood bought in august, 2013. Since I live in New Jersey, the winter is coming, should I stain it now or wait until next spring? right now, my plan is clean it, brightning it, sand it with 50 grit drum sander to smooth and even the decking, then stain it. what is your advise?

  13. BobbyZ says:

    When asking questions on Deck Staining please include: 1. State you live in Virginia (northern) 2. Full Shade, Partial Shade, or Full Sun Partial Shade 3. Type of Wood Pressure treated pine 20 years old 4. Mold or Mildew Issues minor 5. Main Issues with Previous Stains Just stripped off Behr semi-transparent because it would not dry–still tacky/sticky after 3 weeks of good dry weather. Felt certain I was facing future flaking issues–hope I was right because stripping process just about killed me. Still need to finish cleaning to neutralize–hope to do that this weekend. Now looking for recommendations as to best stain and whether upcoming weather (highs around 58-59 and lows around 37) would already dictate leaving the deck bare for this winter. I am leaning toward the Armstrong Clark Semi-solids because of the promise that I might not have to do this job until further down the road, i.e., they evidently last longer. But I would like to confirm that they are not like solid to the point that they might flake and would need to be stripped, rather than simply cleaned and re-stained in the future. Ready seal, although it reportedly fades fast, evidently has no high or low temperature restrictions. If you think it is too late/cold for Armstrong Clark or another such stain, would Ready Seal be an option, followed by Armstrong Clark in a few years? Thanks for your valuable site!

    • BobbyZ, If it were us we would leave until Spring and clean and brighten again for the prep. AC semi-solid is a penetrating stain that does not film on top of the wood. You may get some wear but it does not peel. When time to reapply it can be cleaned and re coated. You could apply Ready Seal now and AC later on down the road as well.

  14. Barbara says:

    I live in coastal North Carolina; on the sound, about 1/2 mile from the Intracoastal waterway. We installed a wrap around deck (3 sides), of pressure treated pine about 3 years ago and have not put anything on it. We get a lot of green mold in this very humid area. We want to put a waterproofer on it now, but we don't want to have to strip anything later. I already wash it twice a year because of the mold that accumulates, so I don't mind having to clean it regularly. What should I put on it to take care of it and help it last longer, but only have to clean it and reapply as needed. Also, I always clean it with a mixture of Clorox, Dawn, and water. It is the only thing I have found that will take the mold off, still with some scrubbing. Thank you for any insight for me.

  15. BobbyZ says:

    OK, thanks. You say clean and brighten "again". Am I correct to take that to mean that it would be necessary to clean and brighten now (after my recent stripping job) as well as again in the spring. That is, is there a problem with having stripped now and then waiting until the spring to do the cleaning and brightening.

  16. Marcy says:

    We have had our IPE deck for 10 years. WE have always used Penofin. We would like to switch stains, but the gazebo

  17. ron says:

    After years of peeling from using the Sherman William exterior deck stain (hated it), I finally had enough and sanded down the deck to the wood. Today. I applied the arborcoat clear stain and overall very happy with the application. I have been happy with Benj Moore products in the past and hope this one is of similar. After the application, I do notice a bit of unevenness in the coat on the floor of the deck and want to apply a second coat before I return with the furniture. How long should I wait before applying this?

  18. Michael says:

    Hi everyone.

    I've just had a new mahogany deck installed and I'm looking for the right sealer/stain.
    I live in Northern New Jersey and the deck will get full sun, partial shade. The winters can get pretty harsh and frozen. There is a large tree on the left, so we get a lot of junk falling from the trees as weld as bird droppings. In fact, there are already some spot stains on the new woods thanks to those pesky birds. >:(
    I'd like to keep the natural look of the wood without changing the color, although I realize that it should give me that wet look, which I love. any suggestions? Not too worried about cost. I'm more interested in quality and ease of application.

    The decking guy who put it in recommends Sherwin Williams, but I just don't know.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Look at the Armstrong Clark in the Amber color for this deck in NJ and a wet look. Stay away from SW.

      • Michael says:

        Great, thanks. I will definitely look at that one. I was also looking at the Messmers.
        As for the oil based stains, any advice/tips on application, prep, or setup?

        • Messmers makes a decent product for hardwoods as well. Use a deck cleaner and wood brightener for prep and we like stain pad applicators.

          • Michael says:

            Thank you for the advice.
            I also contacted ACR directly, and they recommended the Amber or Mahogany stain.
            But I'm a bit confused….why would I use Amber (or Mahogany) stain if I want to keep the natural color of the wood?
            When I clean the deck with a brightener, does it "bleach" the deck? Will it discolor the natural finish of the wood?

            Thanks again.

          • Clear with no color will not give you any protection from graying. this is normal for any brand of stain.

  19. Robert says:

    I inherited an IPE deck from previous owner; I guess it’s maybe 5+ years old. It looked really rich when we bought the home but of course now it’s faded and needs to be … “redone”.

    So I’m not sure what was done to the wood … sealed? Stained? Both? What products were used? Just don’t know.

    Yesterday, I scrubbed off the deck with a mixture of TSP powder, a little mild dish detergent, and some bleach (recommended by a few IPE web sites as a homemade cleaning solution). I then let it dry.

    I had bought some Flood CWF Hardwood IV (is this stuff stain, sealer, …?) . This product was also recommended by an IPE expert web site. I opened the can and was surprised to see a thick, chocolate milk looking fluid. I expected a more of a watery, clear stain. I tried brushing on this product, and it seemed to be very buttery/greasy. Just sat there on the wood; I had to rub it in with the damp towel.

    I don’t have a good feeling about applying this product. After a few planks, I decided to seek help.
    My questions:
    Do you know anything about Flood CWF Hardwood? Is it an appropriate product?
    Do I have to prepare the wood of the deck in other way(s) before attempting to apply a finish coat of something? Maybe I need to strip away all previous treatments?

    Thanks. You guys really seem to know your stuff.

    • Flood CWf is an average product but we do not like the consistency either. If you still have old stain visible than yes you should strip it off. If not than clean and brighten for the prep.

      • Robert says:

        Thanks for your quick reply. Something is concerning me though; even after I strip the old stain off (using Restore-a-Deck which is your best recommendation) ..and then maybe clean and brighten …won't I be in the same boat 1 or 2 years from now?
        I mean, I have a stain that needs to be stripped (now) so that I can apply a new finish (stain) to it. It will last 1 or 2 years, and then, won't I have to again strip this latest application of stain in order to refinish (stain) the deck next time around? It seems not to make sense that I have to take off the old stain so that I can put on a new stain, ad infinitum. Or am I not understanding something ….

  20. Glenda says:

    Any experience with staining Accoya wood? From what I'm reading, I would consider it a hardwood. I have not done so yet, however, I am seriously considering replacing the floor of my deck with Accoya (rails are powdercoated wrought iron). I am in central North Carolina. The deck gets full sun during the summer months and most of it is shaded during the winter. It is also advised to treat all sides of this particular wood (which I realize you say is not necessary). Interested in your thoughts please. Just in case, their instructions can be found at under "Downloads". Wealth of information on this site and thanks to all who participate in putting it together!

    • Looks like it is a thermally modified wood. Sounds interesting bu no experience with it. Would love to see some pictures in our forum if you decide to use it!

      • Glenda says:

        Thanks for your reply. It appears to be relatively new here in the States; fortunately, there are two lumber companies within driving distance of me that stock Accoya. I'm waiting on a sample and pricing to arrive. We'll go from there! If I decide to use it, I would be more than happy to post pictures. I'm just not sure which route I would take with stain and I don't have anyone in this area I trust to guide me. Thanks again for your response and the knowledge you're sharing with us on this site.

  21. Kevin says:

    Hi, I have a new small deck built with Red Balau in San Jose, CA. Partial sun as it is covered by a Monterey Pine tree that does tend to drip sap. I am looking for a good sun and water resistant stain that will be close to the natural color and possible make it easier to remove the sap. What would you recommend?

  22. Doug S says:

    Hello, I have a mahogany deck that is about 10 years old, it get's partial sun, and i live in New Hampshire so winters can be quite harsh. I just finished cleaning the deck multiple times with a cleaner and pressure washer to get all the grime off. I'm almost ready for stain. I did some research and it seems like the TWP 1500 series in redwood is what i want to go with. What do you think?

    • WE have used TWP 1516 Rustic for Mahogany with good results but the manufacturer of TWP does not suggest their stain for hardwoods such as Mahogany. Might want to look at the Armstrong Clark in the Mahogany color.

  23. Teri says:

    Hello. I am located just north of Chicago and have a two tired teak deck surrounding an inground pool. Sides of deck are ipe. Deck was installed six years ago. It is mostly full sun. We have been getting away with prepping and reapplying stain every two years. The first year we used Messmers the other years Benjamin Moore Hardwood Stain in their "teak" color. What brand hardwood stain comes in the darkest color? Doubt it's available, but looking for almost an espresso color. Also, is it possible to "adjust" any brand of hardwood stain color? From reading through reviews and comments it looks like my best bet will be Armstrong Clark in the Mahogany color. A deep reddish tone would be ok just want to avoid anything orangish. Any advise?

    • The Mahogany is red on teak but looks orangish on softwoods such as pine or cedar. I would get some samples to test. TWP 1504 Black Walnut may work as well and that is the darkest color we have used.

  24. Mike Benner says:

    looking for stain recommendation for Mahogany deck restain. The deck has been sanded, only traces of the old finish is visable. I live in Oregon

  25. Bill Norman says:

    Need to apply a water base exotic clear stain for African Rock Wood on the beach at Hilton Head, S.C. What should I use? It's about 15,000 square ft. Can I spray it or does it need to be applied w/a roller? Thank You, Bill

  26. Drew says:

    My new mahogany back porch is just 7' square with surrounding steps down to grade – 3 steps. Now it's time to treat. The problem is the weather. It will be clear tomorrow, then 100% chance of rain the next day, then a week straight of clear days with highs in the 40's and 50's and lows in the 20's and 30's. Should I have him go ahead and treat? Also, I am hoping to bring out the color and protect from sun and snow. He purchased Messmer's UV Plus in Natural With Transoxide Pigment High Solids Formula. That's a mouthful, but is it a good choice? His helper tells me to get Sherman Williams.

  27. James says:

    I have a dock on a fresh water lake with IPE as the decking material. What stain would folks recommend. I only visit the property a couple times a year, so I am looking for something that will require little maintenance.


  28. RJ Hanson says:

    Somehow I can't seem to get logged in. Hopefully my question can be answered. We have teak outdoor furniture – table, 6 chairs and a couple of lounges. They are probably around 15 years old and to my knowledge have never been sealed or stained. I would like to stain them a gray but have no idea how to prep or what stain to use. I've ready so many articles on your sight I'm totally confused. Thanks for any help you can give

  29. lhwozniak says:

    Hi there
    We have just installed a new Batu (red balau) hardwood deck, Northern California East Bay Area, summers will have full sun exposure.
    We were considering the Penofin hardwood oil but after reading some reviews are still searching.
    -Is the 1st year application process the only key to avoiding the molding/blackening? As long as mildecide Is in stain will we avoid that issue?
    -if our hardwood was already exposed to climate/air at local lumber yard is wait time before staining still 12 mos?
    -we are awaiting railing and hoping to stain I'm about 3-4 weeks which will be about 1.5 months after install and now looking at Armstrong.
    -any feedback on Storm #2 products also appreciated.

    • -Stains will help to prevent mold as long as they have a mildewcide.
      -You do not need to wait 12 months.
      -Prep with a deck cleaner after you wait the 2 months. Just one coat of the Armstrong Clark

  30. gg10 says:

    I am installing a new deck in Batu hardwood. I am in Northern California, Oakland. Pretty much full sun exposure. I want to achieve a nice rich color and not let it fade to grey. Can you recommend the best product to use as well as how long I need to wait before applying? I thought I would be applying right away, but from reading comments here, it sounds like the wood needs to sit raw for awhile? Thank you so much for your help!

    • Sit for a few months and clean the deck before staining. Look at Armstrong Clark in Amber color.

      • gg10 says:

        Thanks! So my contractor has not installed this type of decking material before and did not seal the end cuts as he was building the deck. After 1 month, I am already getting cracking on the ends of the boards. Is there any remedy to prevent further splitting? I am panicking that my deck is already failing and it isn't even complete. He wants to sand down the deck and apply the stain. Do we need to sand the new deck, or is the cleaner/brighter prep enough? Any help or advice is much appreciated! I want this deck to turn out beautiful and I am scared!

        • Splits at the end will happen no matter what and applying an end cut sealer there will not stop this. It is not a big deal so do not worry about it. Clean and brighten for the prep. Clean and reapply every year or as needed.

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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.