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Posts Tagged ‘Best Deck Stains’

armstrong clark deck stain
The Best Deck Stains

Armstrong Clark in Rustic Brown

Note: This is an updated version of our most popular article What is the Best Deck Stain?

We have had over 11,000 Q&A questions for the first article, helping consumers find the best wood and deck stain for their deck and specific environment.

The point of this article and is to offer guidance in choosing a quality deck stain that works well and will not create larger issues down the road when time to reapply. We have updated our original article by including answers to some of our most popular questions that we receive.

Here are some of our most popular answers to remember, before proceeding with any questions below:

  1. No deck stain will last 5+ years. A good quality stain will last 2 or maybe 3 years on a deck floor (horizontal) and typically twice as long on railings, siding, etc. (verticals).
  2. Penetrating stains will have less chance of peeling as they soak into the wood grain and do not film on top of the wood grain when fully cured.
  3. Penetrating deck stains are easier to maintain by cleaning and reapplying after 2-3 years.
  4. Filming Deck Stains that dry on top of the wood are harder to remove and/or reapply as they are more prone to peeling, wear, flaking, etc.
  5. Not all Deck Stains are penetrating. Even when they claim otherwise.
  6. Semi-transparent, Transparent, and Semi-Solids will show the grain of the wood to some extent. Solid stains, Deck Resurface Coatings, and Paints will not.
  7. Clear sealers without any pigment/color will not prevent UV graying. Lighter Pigmented stains that are Transparent, Semi-Transparent, or Semi-solid will have less UV protection than Darker Pigmented stains in the same transparency. More color/tint = better UV protection.
  8. Deck Stains are either Oil Based or Water Based. Filming or penetrating. Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, Solid (opaque) Stains or a Deck Resurface Coating. See here for more info on Deck Stain Types.
  9. Oil based stains can still be used in all States and Canada as long as they are compliant to local VOC regulations.
  10. When switching brands of deck stain it is always best to remove the old coating first. Do this by using a Deck Stain Stripper and/or sanding.
  11. Always apply a Wood Brightener after prepping with a Stain Stripper or Wood Deck Cleaner to neutralize the caustic.
  12. New Decks (less than a year) are treated differently than older decks (more than 1 year). New decks need to be prepped and usually cannot be stained right away. See this about Staining New Decks.
  13. Prep, Prep, Prep = increased longevity of a stain.

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What is Best Deck StainsNote: This is the first version of our most popular article on We help by guiding consumers in finding a high quality and low maintenance deck stain based on a series of questions. This article alone had had over 11,000 Q&A questions to date. We have updated this article by including some answers to our most popular questions.

Please visit our updated article here: The Best Deck Stains?

What is the Best Deck Stain?

This is the most popular question that deck owners have. Unfortunately there is not a “best” deck stain out there. There are products that are better then others, but there is not one that will outperform every other stain.

A better way to approach this common question is to ask, “what is the best stain for my deck and it’s environment”? Just because a deck stain performs well in the Northeast part of the country does not mean it will perform well in the high altitudes of Arizona. There are also VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) Laws the come into effect for different parts of the country. This may limit what is available in your state. For example, TWP 100 Series cannot be used in 17 states that have a low VOC content of 250.

To understand a deck stain and its potential longevity, we should first look at the main reasons deck stains fail:

  1. UV rays from the sun will damage the wood resulting in degradation of the wood cell structure. This will break down the stain while causing the wood to oxidize (turn gray).
  2. Water, snow, and ice will cause damage to the wood by breaking down the exposed cellular structure.
  3. Freeze/thaw will expand and contract the wood resulting in the stain “bond” with the wood cells to fail.
  4. Mold, mildew, and algae will  leave the wood unsightly/dirty and can result in rotting.
  5. High traffic areas will leave “wearing” patterns.
  6. Previous stain used was of low quality or applied poorly.
  7. The Stain was not applied properly or the wood was not prepped properly prior to application. Bad prep is the number one reason stains prematurely fail!

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Pressure Treated Pine

Need Help Finding the Best Stain for New Pine Deck?

The best time to stain a deck is after it is built while the wood is still new and has not been compromised by weather damage. However, it is important to allow a new pine deck to dry out for several months before staining it. A new pine deck contains too much moisture at first and you do not want to trap that moisture in the wood by staining it too soon. Wait for the wood to reach 12% moisture level or less. This can be checked with a moisture meter. As mentioned this usually takes a few months in warm weather depending on the sun exposure the deck receives. Do not wait too long though like a year or more because that is when most of the damage occurs to unprotected pine.

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When staining a deck there are many brands and types of stains to choose from. If you are looking for a certain color or wanting to mask the wood grain completely then a solid color deck stain is the best choice. There is however some things to consider when searching for the best solid color deck stains.

If the deck has been cleaned properly and does not have any existing coatings or finish on it then an oil based solid color stain is the way to go. These types of solid stains will always perform better than a water based solid stain. However, you may find that the oil based solid stains are harder to find due to strict VOC laws so any brand you can find should work.

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Best Stain for an Older Wood Decking

Best Stain for an Old DeckWood 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.

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We have our favorite stains and offer reviews based on this but not everyone has had the same results. We cannot expect our top rated stains to perform flawlessly in all scenarios nor would Behr Supreme fail in all scenarios. We do suspect it does in most cases though Smile

Please vote for your favorite wood and deck stain.

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Defy Extreme Review
Defy Extreme Wood Stain

Defy Extreme Wood Stain

Defy Extreme Deck Stain RatingDefy Extreme Stain was introduced in 2008 as the newest member of the Defy Stain family. Defy Extreme Deck Stain in a penetrating water-based stain that does not film on the wood. Defy Extreme contains synthetic epoxy resins that “harden” the wood pores below the surface.
Utilizing nano-technology, Defy Extreme is one of the best stains on the market when it comes to preventing UV graying.

*Note: Defy Extreme Wood Stain is an improved version of the Defy Epoxy Fortified Wood Stain. Containing the same ingredients but with the added UV protection of the zinc oxide nano particles .

Defy Extreme Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8.5

– Defy Extreme Stain had a rich look to the wood. Natural grain was highlighted evenly throughout. The Defy Extreme did not mask the grain like other water based wood stains. Penetration of the stain into the wood was excellent. The Cedartone color was slightly on the “orange” side but acceptable for a cedar deck stain color.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 9

– One of the best in the industry. Testing over a 2 year period showed little to no color fade. The zinc oxide nano particles seemed to help drastically with the Ultra Violet radiation that turns the wood gray.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– Better then average wear and tear. High traffic areas show some wearing but overall tested
extremely well. No noticeable peeling.

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Penetrating Decking Stain

Penetrating Decking Stain

A wood deck can be subjected to tough weather conditions. Deck floors are subjected to the excessive friction caused by heavy foot traffic. Because the flooring and tops of the hand rails are horizontal surfaces, they are more exposed to harmful UV rays and moisture than the vertical surfaces of the deck. This constant moisture followed by drying out, along with fluctuating temperatures causes the wood to expand and contract almost daily. This constant swelling and shrinking can result in cracking, splitting, and splintering.

To prevent damage to the wood, it’s necessary to block out the sun’s damaging UV rays and to prevent moisture from penetrating the wood. Applying a quality deck stain to the wood is the best level of protection. Deck stains do require maintenance every couple of years but you’ll get many more years of life out of your deck.

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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.