Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

What is the Best Deck Stain?

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 it’s 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 cellular 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/thawing 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. 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!

Once we figure out the main reasons for failure, then we should research what stains would work well for your deck. This is the difficult part, so lets get started!

We will ask a series of 5 questions. Based on these answers (Answers are in Red) we will narrow the choices to 2-3 stain brands that will work at maximum performance for your deck:

Here is an example deck:

  1. Deck Location State: New York
  2. Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
  3. Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
  4. Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
  5. Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Peeled and turned dark in color

First of all the state of New York is a low 250 VOC state. This limits the stains that can be purchased or sold legally. Many decks stains that are of low VOC have been known to fail faster then a 550 VOC stain. There are still quality stains available, just not as many. The rest is fairly easy to figure out. This deck should use a 100% penetrating stain that does will with UV protection and is not prone to mold/mildew growth. A semi-transparent stain that fades evenly over time with little to no wearing. This make future maintenance easier.

Based on these questions and answers we would suggest one of these stains:

So here comes the fun part! Feel free to ask what are “the best deck stains for my deck”? Just post a comment below and make sure to include the answer to the 5 questions. Feel free to include any additional information that would be useful!

Ask in Comment Section Below. Make Sure to Include Answers to the 5 Questions.

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6,530 Responses to “What is the Best Deck Stain?”

  1. Richard says:

    1.Deck Location State: San Antonio, Texas
    2.Full Sun, Partial Shade
    3.Wood Type: Western red cedar decking, and rails, rough cut cedar posts
    4.Mold or Mildew Issues: no
    5.Reason for Previous Stain Failure: 2 years ago Sikkens Deck on older deck has turned gray under roof eaves, some high traffic areas, and in spots on vertical and horizontal rails, may not have been prepared well. We need to correct that and also have a newer section that has not been stained yet. All the same materials.

    • For the Sikkens area you will need a stain stripper and pressure washer for the prep. Brighten after. New wood does need to weather some so best to wait at least a few months. Clean and brighten the new wood for the prep. Look at the Restore a Deck products for the prep. For the stain, TWP 100 Series or Defy Extreme.

      • Hawaiian Sun says:

        Deck Location State: Hawaii
        Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun, near beach with good amount of moisture, very sunny days as well
        Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine kiln dried balusters and railings, composite deck
        Mold or Mildew Issues: Not yet, concrete walls on property get a little mildew
        Reason for Previous Stain Failure: New deck

        Thank you!

  2. jwilsonhomes says:

    1.Deck Location State: St. Petersburg, FL
    2.Partial Shade
    3.Wood Type: #2 Prime Pressure Treated Lumber
    4.Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    5.Reason for Previous Stain Failure: New deck installed yesterday

  3. Donna Davis says:

    1.Deck Location State: Tennessee
    2.Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    3.Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    4.Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
    5.Reason for Previous Stain Failure: No failure, just grey wood that needs staining (home recently purchased)

  4. Carol says:

    What is the best deck stain and seal?
    I live in Georgia
    partial shade
    Pressure treated pine
    mild mildew
    Previous stain faded and I am mostly wanting to seal and protect from weather damage

  5. Sam says:

    Deck Location: Hickory, NC; Summer: 80% Sun, Winter: 100 % Shade; Wood Type: Pressure treated pine; Mold or Mildew Issue: Yes, Reason for Previous Stain Failure: None

  6. Terry Benischek says:

    Deck Location — Northeast Georgia mountains
    Partial shade
    Pressure treated wood
    Mold and Mildew Issues
    Never stained

  7. Russ says:

    1. Deck Location State: Joplin, MO
    2. Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Shade for North Facing Deck, Partial Sun for East Facing Deck
    3. Wood Type: Pine —New
    4. Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
    5. Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Darkening – Mold and Mildew. Will be staining a 'New Deck'.

  8. claudiaonley says:

    Location: Atlanta,GA
    Exposure: Partial sun
    Wood: Rough and smooth cedar
    Mold or Mildew: Could be a problem
    New screened porch: first time to clean, brighten and seal…would like to keep the color of the rough vertical cedar posts and match other cedar to it

  9. Ellen Conde says:

    We are completing the renovation of an old home on Isle of Palms, SC and need a stain for decking near a pool and front porch. Any help would be great.
    1. Location: Isle of Palms, SC (block off of beach)
    2. Exposure: Sun with minimal snow
    3. Wood Type: Treated wood- recently pressure washed
    4. Mold or Mildew: Not currently but would like to prevent
    5. Reason for Stain Failure: Age & failure of previous owners to maintain stain

    • Hell, make sure to prep well first as that is the key to stain longevity. If you have old coatings these will need to be removed first by stripping and or sanding. If just dirty and gray then use a deck cleaner. Use a wood brightener to neutralize and lighten when done. Stain with a penetrating semi-transparent stain. Look at TWP 100 series or Armstrong Clark.

  10. Tina G says:

    We just built a brand new deck out of con heart redwood. We live in Northern California within 30 miles of San Francisco. We used Penofin Red Label. All the prep work was done per manufacturers instructions. Withing three weeks the part of the deck exposed to the sun is growing mildew in the stain. There is one small section that is completely covered that shows no mildew but for how long.

    In the past we have used Cabot to restain old redwood decks. The results were better, lasted longer and cost less. I am shocked that the Penofin is working so poorly. It's as if the Penofin is growing the mildew.

    What can be done to remove the Penofin from the deck and railings? What product can be used instead. The deck gets a reasonable amount of both sun and shade. Seeing the deck grow midlew from the Penofin has me worried about any product. This was a brand new deck that was cleaned properly before the stain was applied and the stain was applied with dry weather and a week before anyone set foot on it.


    • Well for one we believe all new would should season for a few months and prepped first before staining. That is not the whole reason why it failed though. In general Penofin has an issue with darkening and attracting mold. To remove you will need a deck stain stripper and light pressure washing. You will need a wood brightener after this to neutralize. As for the stain, look at TWP 1500 Series or the Defy Extreme for stains that perform better with mold prevention.

  11. Jorge says:

    Deck Location State: CT
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Partial Shade
    Wood Type: Tulip
    Mold or Mildew Issues: no issues on my house, but possibly? Live close enough to the water and this is under a tree canopy that this pergola may have to deal with it.
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: this is a brand new, freshly milled pergola that will be installed.

    (Benjamin Moore arborcoat product being suggested. You seem to not like that very much.)


  12. Brett says:

    1. Deck Location State: North West Louisiana – this is for a redwood play set
    2. Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    3. Wood Type: Redwood (Rainbow Playsets)
    4. Mold or Mildew Issues: Not on the redwood. However, my nearby cedar fence has mold/mildew, so the environment is favorable to such grown.
    5. Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Scuffs, rubbing of after several years

    • Rainbow sets come pertained with Super Deck I believe. Strip and brightener for the prep so the new stain will apply evenly. Stain with TWP 116 Rustic for that reddish brown color.

  13. Tom says:

    Deck Location State: Makaha, Oahu, Hawaii,
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    Wood Type: Hi-bor® Borate Pressure Treated Wood from Lowes
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Had paint on it. Wood is rotting underneath.

    Lots of sun and wind deposited salt. Close to the sea.

    Half the deck is new, the other half will be stripped of as much paint as possible and recoated with opaque stain or something else. Can we use paint again? Is Consumer Reports recommended Behr opaque stain a good solution or bad? How about Sikkens Cetol or SRD? Any others? Any help would be very appreciated. Thanks Tom.

  14. Katy says:

    What is the best thing for our deck? We live in middle Tennessee. Possibly pressure-treated pine. There was no stain before. And there are no mildew issues or mold issues in that area. We have both a porch and a deck, and the deck gets more direct sun. Thanks!

  15. Dan w says:

    Location St Louis Mo
    Full Sun
    Red Cedar newly built this fall
    No mold
    No previous stain

    Would like to keep cedar wood color through sealer

  16. Craig says:

    1. Texas
    2. Full sun
    3. pressure treated pine
    4. no
    5. new construction pergola

  17. Ken says:

    What's the best stain for my deck railing? Northern California, partial shade, fresh redwood, no mildew,new railing

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