Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
Deck Stain Help Articles
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

Posts Tagged ‘Deck Stain Help’


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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Hardwood Deck Staining

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 your 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. The 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.

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Covered wood porches add a lot of curb appeal to your home. They also provide a nice outdoor living space out of the sun and rain. The entrance of your home is the first thing guests see so keeping it maintained is important. Covered wood porches do not take as much abuse from the weather because the roof protects them. But they still need to be waterproofed for them to last many years.

To stain a covered wood porch you will first need to clean the wood. Using a wood cleaner and a pressure washer is a great way to prep the wood prior to staining. Follow the directions on the wood cleaner and be careful not to use excessive pressure so the wood is not damaged. If you do not have access to a pressure washer you can also use a soft scrub brush and garden hose. Let the wood cleaner loosen all the contaminants then wash it away. For covered wood porches that have an old stain on them use a wood stripper. This will loosen the existing stain and make it easier to remove.

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New Cedar Wood

The first step in deck restoration and/or maintenance is to clean and prep the wood. This is the key to a longer lasting finish. Properly prepped wood will allow the deck stain to penetrate and perform to its full potential. So how dry does the deck need to be after cleaning it to apply the stain? Well that can be measured in several ways.

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Stripping an Old Deck Stain

Failing Deck Stain

When it comes to restoring an older wood deck, it’s extremely important to prep the wood correctly. Not doing so can lead to premature failure of the new deck stain. No matter the brand or cost of a deck stain, it will not last as long as it should if it isn’t applied to a perfectly cleaned and prepped surface.

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Peeling Solid Deck Stain

Have you had a bad experience with a decking stain?

Our most popular article, “What is the Best Deck Stain” has become the #1 article for consumers on the Internet for deck stain questions and answers. We have decided to create an article based on negative consumer feedback and experiences with decking stains.

We are looking for bad experiences with a particular brand of decking stain.

Please include:

1. Brand of Deck Stain

2. Type of Deck Stain (i.e. Solid, Semi-Transparent, Transparent, Semi-Solid)

3. Location and date applied

4. How long did it take for the stain to fail and how did it fail. (Peeling, Turned Black, Mold, Etc)

5. A brief description of your overall negative experience.

Note: This is mostly for fun and to allow you to vent your frustration!

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Average Article Ratings Score

4.56/5 (25)


Do You Need to Stain the Undersides of a Deck?

Bringing up some debate is whether or not you should stain the undersides of a deck. It is common and advisable to stain the weather-exposed surfaces of a deck to protect them from water and sun damage. But do the undersides of a deck also need protected?

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How Much Deck Stain and Prepping Products Should I Buy?

Before staining a deck you need to figure out the deck’s total square footage. Once this calculation is considered, you can figure out how many gallons of deck stain you need by reading the coverage rate of the stain you are buying. On average most deck stains cover 150-300 sq. ft. per gallon depending on the age, condition, and porosity of the wood.

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Should you Pre-stain New Wood Before Install? Simple answer is No.

Wood decks are a great way to add extra outdoor living space to any home. Not only do they provide a place for family get togethers, they can add value to your home. Building a new wood deck or replacing some boards on an existing deck obviously requires using new wood. As you probably know the new wood will need to be treated with a wood stain to protect it from the elements. One might tend to think that pre-staining the new wood prior to the install will save some time. Although it would seem that way it is really not a good idea to do so.

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How to Change From Water Based to Oil Based Exterior Decking Stain and Vice Versa

The longevity of a deck or other exterior wood structure depends highly on how well it is maintained. A wood surface left alone or neglected will not last long in the harsh environment. Wood needs to be sealed and protected from moisture, UV rays, mold, mildew and such contaminants that will cause rot and decay. The most common types of wood protectants are oil and water based.

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Deck Stain Help Stats
as of July 2016
  • 25,000+ Questions, Answers, and Consumer Reviews
  • 12,000+ Contributors
  • 170+ Help Articles and Reviews
  • 3400+ Forum Help Posts
  • 2300+ Consumer Star Ratings

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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.