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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10,234 Responses to “What is the Best Deck Stain?”

  1. Thea says:

    1. Location: Colorado, 10,000 ft altitude
    2. Partial to full sun
    3. Pressure-treated pine
    4. No mold, some boards worn/cracked and rotted a little and needs sanding
    5. Looks like a solid stain was previously used, peeling and gray underneath

    If I could use the same stain for the cedar board and batten siding of my garage that would be great. It looks like an oil-based stain was applied to that before but areas are now faded and graying.

  2. Eversarc says:

    Location: Southeastern Massachusetts
    30 year old deck, 3 dry rotted boards will be replaced
    Full sun, minor mold at wall ledger edge
    Cracked, weathered PT pine
    30% Peeling, faded Sherwin Williams Deckscape from 2 yrs ago
    Just pressure washed with TSP & bleach – Help!

    • You will need to remove all the SW first before applying a different semi-transparent brand. Stain stripper and sanding will be needed if you still have some left on your wood. You can apply a solid stain or a Deck Resurfacer stain over it if you want and you do not want to sand or strip. For a solid stain, look at Flood Solid Stains. For a Deck Resurfacer stain, look at Deck Revive by Gulf synthetics. If you want a semi-transparent, look at TWP 100 Series but that will require full removal.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    1. Midlands South Carolina – Two real seasons, hot and cold. Mild 3 months. Hot May thru Sept. Summer highs 98 – 102 F with very high humidity 85-90%. Heat index 105 – 115. Wet and cold Winter and Spring.
    2. Full West Sun. At Summer's height 8 hrs.
    3. New deck: Pressure treated Southern Pine
    4. Mold and mildew on previous deck
    5. Previous deck was painted with a high quality paint. Lasted 1 year before it peeled. Wish to stain replacement deck to avoid the same problem.
    6. deck is used every day by us and pets. It's our access to the backyard with a high traffic area leading to and including the steps.
    7. the new deck was finished yesterday. The wood has to dry and cure before we can treat it.

    Thank you for your time and help.

  4. Jim says:

    Montreal Canada
    Shade to full
    16 yr old Pressure treated pine
    Some mold in shaded areas
    Behr (water based) with good adhesion has just worn thin after 6 years. Virtually nothing left so I used low setting pressure wash down to raw wood 3 days ago without wrecking the surface.

  5. Bob Snyder says:

    What is the best stain for my deck?

    Deck Location State: Western Oregon
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Partial shade
    Wood Type: Redwood deck, Cedar railing
    Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Mot Applicable: New deck, weathered 12 months

    Thank you for the great website!

  6. Tom says:

    #1. Arizona
    #2 Full sun
    #3 Not sure – guessing pressure treated pine (Pergola came with the house)
    #4. beige and gray fading areas
    #5. Pergola at least ten years old – stain faded but wood in pretty good shape

  7. Jack says:

    State is Wisconsin
    Full sun
    Pressure treated pine
    Last done in 2008 so it is time for an update

  8. DLD says:

    1. Colorado 8000 ft in a banana belt, eastern side of Continental Divide, snow does not stay on deck
    2. Full Sun all year (intense western exposure)
    3. Pressure Treated Pine, majority of wood floor is over 30 yrs old.
    4. No Mold or Mildew
    5. 2009 solid stain bubbled and peeled on original and replacement boards. Solid stain applied
    in late 90's lasted close to 8 years, but faded badly.

  9. Allison says:

    1. Denver
    2. full sun and partial shade
    3. 5 year old and new (this summer) pressure treated redwood
    4. no mold nor mildew
    5. Never has it been stained. This would be the first time to blend the colors

  10. Perry ferguson says:

    Indiana,'part full sun part partial ,presure treated pine yes mold no stain new wood

  11. Chuck says:

    What stain would be best in this situation.
    1. Near Baltimore, md
    2. Pine deck about 16 years old and have used the Cabot oil semi-solid stain for years, both the old and new formulation which did not work well
    3. Mostly sun
    4. Mold is not a big issue
    5. On the floor decking, the stain has faded and is wood is graying in several spots, the railings have more stain on them
    6. Deck is cracking on several boards, but not affecting structure
    7. Color is new cedar, but not opposed to going darker if needed to cover the old stain

  12. Kelli says:

    1. State: Montana, 5,000 ft.
    2. Full Sun
    3. Wood: Pine
    4. No mold or mildew.
    5. We were looking for something that lasted longer and held up better. We can get a lot of snow a once, it can freeze, which makes makes shoveling harder on the deck. We tried "deck over" and didn't prep it correctly…it didn't last. We now have it sanded down to the bare wood and are looking for a good stain

  13. Richard says:

    1. NE Oklahoma
    2. Mid-day sun
    3. Redwood and some cedar accents
    4. Little
    5. Turning dark in most exposed areas rapidly

    Deck around 2 years old. Let age, brightened, sanded, brightened again, well dried and applied Penifin Red. About 6 months later it was very obvious where sun/weather exposure was most. Repeated process and same results. Deck is again stripped, and brightened…

  14. Jessica says:

    1. Upstate NY
    2. Full sun
    3. Pressure treated pine
    4. No mold
    5. This is actually a castle swing set. It was treated a year ago when I bought it but it looks dry, gray in spots and looks older then it should.

  15. Jeff says:

    Deck location. Pennsylvania
    Partial shade
    Pressure treated pine
    Mold and mildew issues
    Requires repainting due to peeling

  16. Joanne says:

    1.Deck Location State: Portland, Oregon
    2.Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun, Partial Shade
    3.Wood Type: unknown, over 11 years old
    4.Mold or Mildew Issues: A little
    5.Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Peeling & flaking, about 10 years old

  17. Todd says:

    Deck Location State: North Central Florida (Swamp Country)
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: morning – Full Sun; afternoon shade
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Restaining to update back yard. Have powered washed old stain away.

  18. Justin says:

    Not a deck but a used kids playset…was thinking of the behr deckover but now have no clue…..

    Deck Location State: Melbourne Florida
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    Wood Type: not sure maybe cedar its used kids swing/playset
    Mold or Mildew Issues: not yet just worn out looking
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Turning grey and worn down and faded coloring

  19. Judy says:

    Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    1. Fort Collins, CO 4900' altitude
    2. 24 y.o. redwood (?)
    3. full sun
    4. yes for mold/mildew
    5. poorly maintained by previous owners, cheap solid deck stain massively damaged by hail storm

    • You will have to stray with a solid unless you want to sand it all off. For reapplying a solid: Pressure wash with a deck stain stripper to remove as much as you can of the current stain. Make sure that all stain that is still on the wood when done is not peeling and is on the surface well. Reapply another solid stain after 2-3 days of drying. look at the Flood version.

  20. Don says:

    1. New Hampshire
    2. Full sun partial shade
    3. 25 years old been stained 3 to 4 times with solid and lighter stain originally
    4. No mold or mildew
    5. It is currently a driftwood gray with some wear

    • Pressure wash to remove all loose and peeling solid stain. Reapply another solid stain over the current stain but make sure the prep is done well. Try Cabot or Flood solid stains.

  21. Greg says:

    I have lived in the same house 25 years with the same 12ftx12ft open deck and 12 ftx22ft screened porch deck, About every 5 years I use a Cedar Stain , usually CFW on the screen area and the open deck I use Thompson stain every year, but I am getting old and this will be the last time I do this for the next 5 years before I move, any suggestions?

    • Stay with the same otherwise you will need to sand off the coatings you have to get down to the bare wood. You cannot apply a semi-transparent stain of a different brand over a buildup of coatings like this. If you decide to sand then brighten after the full removal of the old coatings and try the TWP stains.

  22. Bill L. says:

    I live in Virginia Beach, VA and have a 3 month old salt treated pine deck. It gets full sun, no mildew problem. I want to select a coating that can be reapplied without sanding between applications. Pressure washing for cleaning is preferable. I would like a tinted product. Please let me know a recommendation.
    Bill L.

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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.