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What is the Best Deck Stain?

What is Best Deck StainsNote: This is the first version of our most popular article on DeckStainHelp.com. 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!

What is the Best Deck Stains?

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
  6. Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain (Solid, Semi-transparent, Transparent, etc): Penofin Sem-Trans

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 than 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 well 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 makes 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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12,023 responses to “What is the Best Deck Stain?”

  1. Jean says:

    What is the best stain for my deck?
    Deck location is Southern Louisiana.
    Full Sun
    Wood type pressure treated pine
    Mold or mildew issues no
    Reason for staining is it's been a few years and is showing wear.
    Previous stain brand Sherwin Williams Deck scape semi transparent.

    • Remove the SW first with a stain stripper and pressure washing. Brighten after. Try the Armstrong Clark. Look at a semi=solid color for max UV protection in full sun.

  2. Brian Callich says:

    State – Arkansas
    Deck is in a range from full sun to full shade based on time of day-sun travels across deck east to west
    Pressure treated pine
    Mold/mildew – no but problems with green growth looks like moss
    Issues with peeling
    Last used Sherwin Williams solid latex – didn't last 2 years

  3. KristenG says:

    DECK LOCATION: Middle Tennessee
    SUN FACTOR: partial shade
    WOOD TYPE: not sure :/
    MOLD/MILDEW ISSUES: yes, green mold/mildew in many places (develops seasonally)
    REASON FOR FAILURE: deck is 8 years old and simply fading and weathering, has not been sealed or treated
    PREVIOUS BRAND: unknown, contractor believes deck was stained but never sealed

  4. Amanda says:

    Deck Location State: Minnesota
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: NO
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Not sure what was previously applied, it doesn't appear that anything was. Deck came with the house. The deck is looking dull and the wood looks dry
    Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain (Solid, Semi-transparent, Transparent, etc): Not sure, possibly nothing

  5. Nicole says:

    Connecticut
    Full sun
    Pressure treated
    First time staining
    Some mildew

  6. Guest says:

    Deck Location State: Illinois
    Full Sun
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Peeled
    Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain: Revitalize (Pittsburg), solid

  7. Don says:

    Deck is in alaska. Partial sun. Red cedar. No mildew mold issues. Main problem is peeling and wood under peeling is white in color (Faded). Deck stain was behr transparent weatherproofing wood finish. Deck is 5 years old was treated with the behr when new and touched up after three years. Was wondering what you would recommend to Strip it and restain it?

  8. Christopher Evans says:

    Austin, TX
    Full sun
    Red Cedar
    Some Rot
    Peeled mostly in the areas that don't have tree coverage
    Behr premium transparent

  9. Stephanie says:

    Deck Location State: Parker, Colorado
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Partial sun in the winter, more sun in the summer
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Red wood
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Previous resident didn't protect the wood when it should have been repainted or restained
    Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain (Solid, Semi-transparent, Transparent, etc): unknown

    • Stephanie says:

      I meant to also ask – a couple of my boards are split through. Should I replace them? We are planning on removing all of the screws and unfortunately whoever installed the deck used dry wall screws. There are 24 screws per board and 32 boards. We were planning on turning all of the boards over, using deck screws and then staining the deck. I have a German Shepherd and I figured if I painted the deck it would show all of his muddy paw prints if it's been raining/or the snow has melted.

    • Try the TWP 100 Series for this deck after prepping with the Restore A Deck products.

  10. Mary Alice says:

    Deck Location State: central New Jersey
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: partial shade in the morning and full sun in the afternoon
    Wood Type: Cedar
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: just looks very worn after 2 years. very limited peeling. Cabot says that this stain is supposed to last 5 – 10 years. We have used it several times and only seem to get 2 years out of it.
    Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain (Solid, Semi-transparent, Transparent, etc): Cabot – solid color oil decking stain

  11. Stephen says:

    Deck Location State: Cincinnati, OH
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun in late morning and all afternoon. Deck is on west facing side of house.
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: none
    Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain (Solid, Semi-transparent, Transparent, etc): None
    Deck was built in 2015. I plan to clean the surface with your Restore-A-Deck first.

  12. Peter says:

    Best deck stain for my deck:

    North Carolina, Mostly shade, Pressure Treated Pine, No, N/A new deck, N/A new deck.

  13. Francine says:

    Location: Buffalo WY
    Full Sun
    Southern Pine, pressure-treated
    No mold or mildew issue (this is a very dry climate)
    No previous stain: deck was built 1 year ago, have let it dry & am now ready to stain

  14. Ben C. says:

    Stain recommendation, please:

    1. Virginia
    2. Partial shade
    3. Pressure treated pine
    4. Yes, some mold/mildew issues
    5. No preivous stain failure
    6. Has not been stained before

  15. Dylan Pincince says:

    Deck Location State: Massachusetts
    Partial shade
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Peeled
    Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain: Behr Deck Over (previous owner)

    Older deck but boards seem solid.

    • Deck Stain Help says:

      You will need to remove the Behr Deckover first. Strippers do not work so sanding and scarping is you best option. Once fully removed, you can use a penetrating stain like the TWP 1500 Series.

  16. Sharon says:

    State: Nebraska
    Partial shade
    Cedar
    Yes
    Peeling
    TWC Semi-transparent

  17. Jim says:

    New York
    Bright sun til 2pm
    Mahogany wil lbe sanded
    Don't want stain color…want transparent
    Cabot VOC Mahogany?

    • No on the Cabot. Changed their formula and it is not as good. You stated that you want no color, but you just asked to use a Mahogany color. I am confused to what you want?

  18. Wanda says:

    Deck Location State: Louisville Kentucky
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: The deck is on the west side of the house. Full shade in the morning, the full sun in the afternoon to early evening.
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: None, new deck was built in August 2015
    Previous Stain Brand and Type of stain: None.

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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.

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