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Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain Review 2014 2.57/5 (9)

Penofin Red Label

Penofin Red Label

Important Note: This is our 2nd Review of Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain. Our first review was started in 2006 and completed in 2008. We are not aware of any product reformulations.

See Here for First Review: Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain Review

Penofin Ultra Premium Red Label wood stain is perfect where rain, wind, snow, or high elevations are encountered. The formula in Ultra Premium Red Label wood stain is the result of extensive testing, and the use of the highest quality ingredients. Penofin wins the “Battle Of The Stains” penetration tests over all competitors, and gives longer life to wood of any species. Easy to apply and simple to maintain.

Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 10

The cedar color on the cedar wood is one of our favorite tints. It does not add to much “orange” as some of the other decking stains we have tested. In our opinion, Penofin stains give one of the best finished appearances to wood once dry.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 5

The Penofin Red Label had lost about 50% of the tint. This was hard to tell as the majority of the stained had blackened in color. The areas that had not darkened (rails and other verticals) showed the most fading.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

Penofin has always had great penetration abilities. This is one of the best characteristics of their stains. Only wearing that showed was water drainage from the gutters above.

Cost Per Square Foot: 7

We used 4 gallons of stain for one coat on the newer cedar decking. The deck sq. footage was a little under 600 sq. feet.

Preventing Mold/Mildew/Algae: 5

Mold was growing in the Penofin Red Label stain. On further inspection, the mold was under “or” in the stain. About 50% of the stain had mold growing even though the deck was in full sun.

Ease of Application: 7

Application is easy with Penofin. The issue is the smell during application. It has a very strong odor and the homeowner complained that it did not go away for a few weeks after we finished.

Color Shifting (darkening) after 2 Years: 2

Turned a dark dirty looking brown color after a couple of years.

Difficulty of Reapplication: 8

One thing we have found as contractors is that Penofin is easily removable with a deck stain stripper. Just apply and lightly pressure wash off. All of the old dark Penofin stain will come off without issues. Apply a brightener when done.

Overall Score Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain at 2 Year Period: 6.5

Looks great and applies easily. Unfortunately it turns a dark color from the UV radiation.  Our test results on this review was slightly lower then the first that was completed in 2008. We have found that Penofin has shown a history with the stain turning black.

Product Information:

Help or Questions? Google Search Penofin Stain
Cost: $47.99 per Gallon, $224.99 per 5 Gallon Pail
Stain Type: Semi-Transparent – Rosewood Oil-Based
Available Colors: Clear, Cedar, Western Red Cedar, Sable, Chestnut, Sierra, Redwood, Bark, Hickory, Mission Brown
Application Temperature: 45-95 F
Coats Required: 1 Coat.
Coverage Per Gallon: 200+
Application Tools: Sprayer, Pad, Brush, Roller
Dry Time: 4-12 Hours
Cleanup: Mineral Spirits
VOC Compliant: 250 Compliant in all States
Manufacturer: Penofin

Test Deck Stats:

When Tested: Applied 2011 and Reviewed Summer 2013
Deck Wood Type: Newer Cedar Decking
Deck Square Footage: 600 Square feet
UV Exposure: Full sun. South Exposure.
How Many Years Tested: 2 Years
Stain Color Used:

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

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

27 responses to “Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain Review 2014”

  1. janice russell says:

    In Sept. 2012 we built a new deck, was told by our contractor that we should wait for the wood to dry. In Sept of 2013 we cleaned the deck waited for it to dry. We applied Ultra Premium Penofin Penetrating oil finish on the deck. It looked good (just good) while we were putting it on, but as it dried different story (kind of disappointing). But that isn't the worst with in months it looked terrible it was dark, and Mildewed it looked like a deck that hadn't been cared for in years. Today May 19th we started our project of trying to make it look better. Wash the deck to our surprise the Penofin also came off in a fibrous yuck. Our project of trying to make the deck look better now has ended with stripping all that worthless product off and starting over and you can bet it will not be with your product. If this comment helps one person it will be worth it. Didn't have one compliment on our deck. But had a lot of people asked what we used and why did it do that.

  2. janice russell says:

    We built our deck in sept. 2012, we talked to our contractor and asked what to put on our deck to finish it, our deck is 16ft. x 28ft approximately no small inexpensive project. But, we wanted the best finish for it. He told us Penofin it cost more but it was good. We should wait until the deck wood dried so, we waited until Sept of 2013 to finish it. The Penofin looked good(not great). With in approximately 3 months it had turned dark and mildewed. Our deck has no trees and is in the sun. Our deck looked like it hadn't been taken care of for years. May 20th we started the project of trying to fix our deck. Thinking we will wash it, get the mildew off it should make it look better, well much to our surprise the Penofin came off too in globs of fibrous yuck. Our project now has turned into an all out mess. No compliments on this finish but they sure wanted to know what we used. If this comment helps one person it will be worth it. Not impressed at all.

  3. Todd Mathews says:

    I am a general contractor in S.E. Idaho and we have used this specific product with the transparent cedar color on Redwood , Western Red Cedar, and Inland Cedar for decks and pergolas. We are seeing the same blackening being reported here. I have contacted Penofin and they claim they have heard nothing about this problem. We have only seen the blackening in all the areas where the stain is exposed to moisture (rain and snow here). In all covered areas, the stain/sealer holds up fine. As previously reported by the previous comment, the black does come up using any quality of deck brightener and is coming off in "globs of fibrous yuck" (that is a perfect description). We will not be using this product any further on any of our jobs.

  4. Mark says:

    I used this product on a cedar deck and fence in the Seattle area. While it's true that the wood can darken, it's important to understand that it's not the Penofin that's darkening. Cedar contains tannin which is water soluble. If moisture penetrates the wood it will cause the natural tannin in the wood to be drawn to the surface, given it a dark brown or almost black color. I simply use a deck brightener containing oxalic acid to wash off the tannin stains and reveal the wood underneath. After 4 years it looks absolutely amazing, very rich in color almost like a fine hardwood floor. There is not even a hint of graying, and it looks even better than it did the first year.

    • Mark, glad it worked for you but you are wrong about the Penofin not being the issue with darkening. It is the product itself that darkens, not the tannins causing this.

  5. Kristin says:

    We have a composite deck with cedar railings. We live in Minnesota and our deck has full sun (southern exposure). Would this product hold up well for just the railings (the spindles are aluminum)? Also, we have a cedar covered porch with northern exposure–how do you think the product would hold up for that?

    • Deck Stain Help says:

      We would not use it as it tends to turn black. Try TWP 100 Series or Defy Extreme.

    • Zach Stickley says:

      Absolutely not! Our deck is also in direct sunlight too and I've been sanding and stripping hundred of cedar spindles all summer as a result of using Penofin! DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT!

    • Al Marcus says:


      total waste of time

      turns black useless product

  6. Kathy E says:

    I've also been a victim of this terrible product. I'm relieved yet frustrated to read these comments. The Penofin Company made me to think they've never heard of such a thing (a terribly darkened deck that looked like walnut). I've spent around 20 hours on my hands and knees using their wood cleaner to pull off exactly what others have described as thick globs of fibrous goo. Almost looks like the consistency of thick moss that has been put in a blender. Our beautiful cedar 500 square foot deck that is less than 2 years old looks ruined. I will not only never use this product again, I am seriously considering legal action. The company's answer was to send me very small 1.6 pound containers of their wood cleaner and brightener. They had the nerve to tell me I shouldn't have run out so quickly when I asked for more. No way could I remove the thick gunk coming up with the dilution they recommended. Rather, I had to spend $40 on a gallon jug to finish the job. And the deck still looks awful. I will have to do it all over again to completely get it all off. I agree with the above comments. Don't ever use this product on cedar!

  7. Tim Hanke says:

    This is the worst product possible. I would highly recommend staying away from it. The US Government should gave the company officers arrested. I have been in the construction industry for 30 years and never seen anything turn black like this. I nearly ruined my own mahogony deck that cost $10,000 in materials. I restrained this deck twice after being convinced mith Penofin's customer service that I over applied this stain. Finally restatined with an Armstrong Clarke stain and got great results.

    • Charlie K says:

      What did you use to clean/strip before applying the Armstrong? Same thing happened to me…furious to say the least. After the 1st coat of penofin red label I figured I screwed something up so I cleaned and re-applied only to get the same result. Now I just want to know how to get the product out/off the cedar in order to get the beauty of the wood back. Plan on using Armstrong once clean.

    • Burt says:

      i have never used the red label i always used the blue with really good results…i know one thing after reading all the complaints i'll stick with the blue label…i've used it for years with great results

  8. Tom Foley says:

    You all applied it too thick. Instructions are clear in requirin rub off witin a short time of applications. I put two coats on my covered pressure treated deck. Last year I put on another coat. I expect another ten years will pass before another coat.
    Tom Foley

    • Zach Stickley says:

      I beg to differ… I wiped multiple times to ensure all excess stain was removed and still ended up with a terrible mess! It might be that the pressure treated lumber you used prevented excess stain to be absorbed giving you favorable results. As for me and the use of Penofin on our cedar deck it was a disaster!

  9. Zach Stickley says:

    Well I have used the Blue labeled Penofin and can say that it has been an absolute NIGHTMARE!!! To begin, I consider myself a skilled painter and bit of a perfectionist, one who pays attention to details. My wife applied Penofin to our new cedar deck last fall, it looked great for a few weeks and by spring it looked like our deck was 30 years old and had been neglected. Thinking we did not follow the directions to a tee I assumed it was our fault. So, we spent nearly 200 man hours sanding every square inch …painful indeed!! I applied the second coat with extreme care to their recommended application methods. It looked awesome when we were done for the second time… ! month later it started to show the same signs and within weeks it looked as bad as the first application. In desperation I when to the lumber yard and they suggested calling tech support at Penofin. They were certain that I did not properly wiped the application after applying. What ever I thought… I wiped it off several times in fear of having repeat results. Penofin tech support recommend "Step 2" cleaner and "Step 3" brightener… $71 dollars later I headed home thinking this would be an easy fix (according to the tech support). It was nearly as painful as sanding!!!! In order to bring the wood back to a none black state required a LOT of elbow grease. The cleaner did work but removed 90% of the finish. Enough babbling… in a nut shell, our new cedar deck ($15,000 invested) now looks like crap! To say the least, I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND PENOFIN TO MY WORST ENEMY!

  10. Elmer Cotrina says:

    Penofin is lije a like to find an amazingly hot women, a gold digger one, it last just for one month.
    I can't believe what a mistake I did to apply Penofin over my customer fences, what a mistake, it turn dark going yo black after just a month. I call Penofin customer service they told me to power washer using their cleaner and brightener.
    It did not work as I expect color still dark, worse I give a year warranty for this job and even without warranty I can't leave a job that unprofessional using my business name.
    I had to sanded all to do use a different product.
    Do not waste your time or money, this product should be banned.

  11. Evan Miller says:

    Product went black in exposed areas twice in a row. Complete waste of time and money. Company not responsive to complaints. Will not use again.

  12. Richard says:

    My wife loved the light bright color of our redwood deck previously treated with Mesmer's UV Plus and didn't want it any darker. So I tried Penofin "Transparent/Clear" last time, being careful to wipe off excess as instructed. Now it's nearly black and I'm in big trouble with her! Has anyone found a chemical strip that works, or is sanding down to fresh wood the only solution? And what products would you folks recommend to try next time?
    We all wish we had seen this site before our projects, right?

  13. James says:

    My deck turns black every year. I live in Vancouver B.C. , Do you think TWP would work to prevent this?

  14. Chris O. says:

    We have a new construction home in Seattle, WA with a rooftop deck and two smaller deck/porches, all cedar. The builder used Penofin Red Label, Mission Brown on all of the vertical cedar surfaces of the home itself. There have been no mold or black issues and frankly, looks great. The wood has weathered for 8 months.

    However, after reading many of the reviews, I'm concerned about using the Pen Red on the decks/porches for fear of the mold and black issues. I have used Penofin Step 2 Cleaner which removed a significant amount dirt and grime.

    Should I stick with the Penofin to match the rest of the home or think about switching to TWP, maybe Pecan or Cedar Tone?

  15. Jake says:

    I would not recommend Penofin products to anyone. After following all of the company's recommendations, the products failed to protect my deck. After contacting Penofin and following their cleaning and re-application guidelines,my deck is nearly ruined. To top things off the company won't offer any support to address any Of the issues. Don't waste your time and money with Penofin.

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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.