Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
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Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

Posts Tagged ‘Deck Staining’


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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Deck Stain Application Instructions for 2 coats “Wet on Wet”.

The term “wet on wet” refers to a two-coat application process specific to semi-transparent penetrating stains. In the wet on wet method the first application of stain is applied to an area. Then before the first coat dries or cures, a second coat is applied over the top. This method ensures that the first coat, being still wet, has not sealed the boards from accepting more stain.

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New Redwood Deck Stain

Clear Deck Sealers and Stains for Exterior Wood

It is no secret that protecting a wood deck with a water repellant sealer is vital to its integrity and lifespan. Clear deck sealers leave the wood looking natural which may appeal to the deck owner. Without a doubt, a natural looking wood deck is a thing of beauty.

Deck sealers do give adequate water protection by locking out moisture. This is important to the wood’s lifespan. When water is absorbed into the wood it swells and when it dries up it shrinks. This continuous swelling and shrinking eventually begins to crack, split, and warp the wood. A clear wood sealer will stop this water damage from happening.

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Should you use a Deck Stain or Clear Deck Sealer?

To enhance the appearance of a wood deck and protect it from the elements the wood need to be treated with a deck stain or sealer. Both deck stains and deck sealers protect against moisture and water damage but there are some differences between the two.

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Deck Staining and Sealing Instructions and How To Tips for Best Results

The instructions for staining and sealing a deck will vary from product to product. It’s always best to follow the manufacturers suggested application instructions for the best results. There are however some basic tips and techniques that will aid in staining and sealing with any deck protection product.

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Defy Epoxy in Cedartone

Finding the right stain for your wooden deck is the key to getting lasting results. But with so many deck stain choices it can be a daunting task to say the least. To narrow down the search for the best deck stain you first need to understand what the different types of protection are.

Without getting into oil vs. water based debate or colors, tones, and opacity levels there are basically two different types or characteristics of a deck stain – film forming and penetrating. Both of these deck stain characteristics will provide adequate protection from the sun and lock out unwanted moisture. They both can also enhance the beauty of the wood and provide general overall protection from mold and mildew, freeze/thaw damage, and heavy foot traffic.

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Two toned decks are popular among many deck owners for multiple reasons. A two toned deck normally has paint or solid deck stain on the railings and spindles and the deck floor is stained with a transparent or semi-transparent deck stain.

There are several advantages to having a two toned deck. Being able to match or blend the deck in better with the house without having to give up the natural wood look is one benefit. Most houses have 2-3 different colors including the siding, trim, shutters, gutters, fascia, etc. When a wood deck is all natural with a translucent stain it sticks out more from the house. Some deck owners like the deck to blend with the house a little better so they coat the railings and supports with a solid deck stain color to match. The deck floor can then be stained with a semi-transparent stain so it still has that natural wood appearance.

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TWP 100 Wood Deck Stain
TWP 100 Series Wood Deck Stain Ratings

TWP 100 Wood Deck Stain

TWP 100 Deck Stain RatingImportant Note:  This is Our 1st Review of TWP 100 Series Stain. Our second review was completed in 2012. Please see here: TWP 100 Stain Review 2013

TWP 100 Series Wood and Deck Preservative has been manufactured for over 20 years while proving to be one of the best products on the market.  TWP Stains are registered as wood preservatives by the Environmental Protection Agency, the only stain to achieve this distinction. TWP 100 Series is a 550 VOC compliant wood stain that is available currently in 36 states. Composed of natural and synthetic oils, TWP 100 Series will provide ample protection from snow, rain, and ultra violet radiation.

TWP 100 Series has been rated #1 by Consumer magazine.

TWP Stain – 100 Series Rating

TWP 100 Series Wood Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8.5

– We tested the 101 Cedartone color for the pool deck. The semi-transparent color was a traditional cedar color, slightly orange/yellow. The stain had no issues penetrating into the wood completely and did not mask the wood grain.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– The TWP 100 Stain retained 80% of the original color after 2 years of weathering.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8.5

– TWP 100 exhibited zero peeling of the stain after 2 years. Slight wearing around the stairs where the wood butted up to the pool. This area was slightly more faded as well. Possibly from the chlorine in the pool.

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Flood CWF Oil Review
Flood CWF Oil Review

Flood CWF Oil Review

Important Note:  This is Our 1st Review of ArborCoat DeckStain. Our second review was completed in 2015. Please see here: Flood CWFUV5 Review 2016

Flood CWF-UV 5 OIL  is a high quality translucent, transparent and semi-transparent wood finish for exterior wood. It is a deep penetrating oil that is fortified with Flood’s Penetrol additive for maximum protection. Containing transparent oxides to protect from graying and ultraviolet damage.

Note: Flood CWF products have undergone numerous changes in the last 20 years. Flood back in it’s heyday was at the top of the stain world with their original oil-based formula. This formula is no longer available as the company has gone through numerous changes such as product reformulation (change from oil to water based), name changes (Supreme Performance), and parent companies. Flood is currently owned by Akzo Nobel. It seems that Flood has gone back to it’s roots by reviving the CWF formulation that powered this company in the first place.

We only hope that the CWF is as good as it used to be in the early 1990’s.

Flood CWF Oil Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 7

– The Flood CWF in the transparent cedar color had a nice golden color with a hint of orange. The cedar deck was highlighted with a rich color but the knots of the wood were very light, almost blond in color. There were a few shiny spots throughout the deck where the stain did not absorb very well.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 7

– Flood CWF did okay at the two year mark where about 70% of the original color remained on the wood. We were please but had hoped for better results.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– We noticed a small amount of wearing on the stairs after the two years. Most of the deck did not have any issues.

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as of July 2016
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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.