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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6,849 Responses to “What is the Best Deck Stain?”

  1. Steve says:

    1. Tennessee
    2. Partial shade
    3. Pressure treated
    4. No
    5. New wood

  2. Annevo5 says:

    California, San Gabriel Mtns – Hight Desert
    Full Sun
    Pressure treated Pine
    No mold
    It has been a few years – last treatment was ?

  3. Tim Joseph says:

    2 stacked decks(slightly smaller deck over full dek below) Top deck full sun. Lower deck full shade and almost full sun mix.
    Pressure treated pine
    Very small area of green mold under stairs
    Peeled in some areas. Turned dark in some areas of lower deck.

    10 year old deck stained 4times with Clear Flood CWF-UV. This is a "floating house" 300ft of shore on Norris Lake. Therefore exposed fully to the weather elements (very high humidity and some flexing and of course no trees or plantings)

    • Remove all old coatings first for the prep. Try stripping with the Restore A Deck Stripper and pressure wash off. You may need to sand as well since you have a buildup of coatings to remove all of the Flood. After removal you will need to brighten the wood fully. Once you have a clean surface with no previous coatings, you can go ahead and stain. Look at TWP 100 Series. Maybe the Armstrong Clark in a semi-solid.

  4. MRW says:

    New Cedar fence, just built
    Eastern Montana
    Extreme temperatures, snow exposure
    Mix of sun & shade
    What stain to use & how long to wait before staining?

  5. Dave says:

    Central Virginia (south of Ruchmond)
    Partial sun
    Pressure treated pine
    Yes, mildew
    New construction

  6. Grant says:

    Fort Worth, Texas
    Covered pergola – structure only, no floor
    Full sun
    No mildew
    New installation

  7. Marlene Schaller says:

    Best stain/sealer for South facing deck in Minnesota, pressure treated pine, minor mold on part that is in afternoon shade, never sealed previously, about 8 yrs old.

  8. John says:

    Fence location : Clovis, CA (Central California)
    Full Sun
    I'm not sure about mildew / mold
    Just built a small fence out of redwood. I would like a stain that will bring out its beauty, not get darker as I have read on other posts. Ease in reapplication would be nice too.

  9. Karin says:

    1. Helena Montana
    2. Partial shade
    3. Not sure but maybe redwood
    4. No mold
    5. Wore off

  10. Ken S says:

    Central Wisconsin
    Full Sun
    Pressure Treated Pine
    No mold/mildew issues
    6 years old never been stained

  11. Mike Jansky says:

    I have a deck that was treated with Behr semi transparent stain three years ago looking pretty bad at this point

    The answer to the five questions

    State. Georgia
    Sun. Full sun
    Wood type. Pressure treated pine on half and addition is cedar I believe
    Mold or mildew issues. Yes
    Reason for failure. Semi transparent has aged and faded with intense GA sun and heat

    Your answer will be greatedly appreciated. Also any good prep ideas would help also

  12. jenny r says:

    1. Location – Western PA
    2. Full Sun in the evening during summer. Roof over the porch
    3. Pressure treated pine
    4. Minor mildew issues
    5. First time staining. Deck was built about 6 years ago

    Thank you
    jenny r

  13. Dan says:

    1. Southeast Michigan
    2. Full sun and partial shade
    3. Pressure treated pine
    4. Small area of green where full sun doesn't hit
    5. Peeling


  14. Henry says:

    Northwestern PA
    Pressure treated pine deck
    South facing, full sun until evening
    Some mildew
    Previously used Cabot Timber Oil, will need some stripping

    Looking to change to a better product, will also be staining a new deck around pool.


  15. Krystal says:

    1. South Louisiana
    2. Partial to Full Sun
    3. Southern Yellow Pine
    4. No Mildew brand new deck
    5. Just wanting to know what kind is the best to put on a new deck.

  16. Jesse says:

    working on sanding down a deck and looking for something to protect and stain it!!

    Deck Location State: North Carolina
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full sun all day
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: haven't seen any but would like to protect against getting any
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: previous owner used indoor paint that is pealing off (currently scraping/sanding to fully remove)

  17. Shari says:

    The best stain for my deck:
    Colorado -6,300 ft
    Full sun
    no mold or mildew
    I've tried many brands and with the southern exposure in full sun, nothing seems to hold up. I usually stain it 2x /summer. They wear off and water soaks the wood

    • What have you used before? Best would be to remove all old coatings and start with fresh unstained wood. Do this by stripping, pressure washing, and maybe sanding if needed. Brightener will be needed as well. Use a penetrating oil based stain to avoid wear and one with higher solids to prevent UV graying longer. Armstrong Clark in a semi-solid color is what we would suggest.

  18. Brian says:

    Deck Location State: Colorado
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    Wood Type: Redwood
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Good question. Was using Superdeck.

    • Hi Brian, did the Super Deck turn dark in color? We seem to have that issue with Super Deck in our state. Try the TWP 100 series after stripping and brightening the deck.

  19. Amanda says:

    Deck Location State: Florida
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    Wood Type: Pressure Treated Pine
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: too much UV, turned grey, some slight peeling

  20. Scott says:

    1 Minnesota
    2 Partial shade
    3 cedar
    4 no
    5 old stain faded, wood turned gray

  21. Doug says:

    What is the best stain for my decks? North Dakota ,full sun, cedar, redwood, no mold or mildew. The old stain did not really fail it just weathered off after 3 seasons. It did not look very good in season three. The previous product was a Sherwin Williams toner. Thanks for all your help.

  22. Ryan says:

    Camdenton, MO (lake of the ozarks)
    Partial to full sun
    Pressure treated
    No mildew
    Deck is two years old. Last spring did a clear stain by cwf, I think. It's already gray this year. Wanting maybe a little color to make last a little longer. Thanks for your help

  23. Chris says:

    What would be the best protection and stain for my deck. At 6700 ft. elevation, the deck is above a walk out, cement patio, is close to 600sf, and is about 6 years old, with a pergola. Floor and stair steps turn black after summer sun, and walking on it, about 3 months after staining. Power washed it, before I stained it last year, and it looked beautiful for 3 months, and then, back to the stain being broken down, and dark colored, and no water resistance. The rest of the deck looks good for the full year or longer. Would like something to last at least a full year on the floor area. It gets Intense sun in the summer, snow packed in the winter. I usually shovel the snow off, so it melts off pretty quickly, once the sun comes out.

    Deck Location State: Colorado
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    Wood Type: Cedar
    Mold or Mildew Issues: No
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Full Sun all day. Floor and stair steps turns dark 3 months after re staining.


  24. pcsundance says:

    Best stain for a new deck being built. Ottawa Valley Canada. Raised deck. Morning sun. Extreme cold and snow. Snow sits on deck all winter. Cold as -40

  25. Erika says:

    No mold
    100 percent sun
    Presser treated pine
    Wasn't maintained
    We would like to a semi transparent light cedar color would that work in this climate?

  26. Jack says:

    Home is 15 years old with a 8'6" x 26' tongue and groove front porch. Most likely I'll have a professional assist including repairing/cleaning/sanding existing floor but I'm interested in the best stain/sealer to apply afterwards.

    Deck Location: Nashville Tennessee facing primarily west but tilted slightly to the north.
    Partial sun but definitely full intense afternoon sun
    Wood Type: 1 x 4 tongue and groove which I think is pressure treated pine but could be cypress wood.
    Some mildew
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: Currently have a solid stain that is peeling but worst is that some boards are bowing so I'll obviously replace those.

    Thanks in advance for your input!

    • After removing the solid stain you should use a penetrating oil based in a semi transparent color that will enhance and protect from graying. Defy Extreme or the Armstrong Clark.

  27. Allie says:

    Austin Texas
    Full sun
    No mold/mildew
    Previously stained (last time w/ready seal)

  28. Nathan Parker says:

    North Florida Beach front
    Direct sun
    Pressure treated pine
    No mold
    Stain lasts less than a year

    • Prep well and try a semi-solid penetrating oil for this deck with max UV in FL. Armstrong Clark in one of their semi-solids colors. You will get better UV protection with this.

  29. malisha simms says:

    What's the best stain for my fence: located Mississippi, full sun, cedar, mold/mildew yes and reason is no stain or paint was ever applied to 10 year old fence.

  30. krina van ry says:

    very informative. would this apply to outdoor wood gates too?

  31. krina van ry says:

    1 tucson arizona
    2 full sun
    3 redwood
    4 no
    5 old gate painted, new gate just made

  32. Henry says:

    Northwestern PA
    Pressure treated pine deck
    South facing, full sun until evening
    Some mildew
    Previously used Cabot Timber Oil, will need some stripping

    Looking to change to a better product, will also be staining a new deck around pool.


  33. Wes says:

    Location: Seattle
    Exosure: Full sun western exposure
    Type of Wood: Ironwood
    Mold or Mildew issues: None apparent
    Previous Stain: Unknown. Wood silver appearance now in most areas, deep red wine in sheltered areas.

    • Wes, use a deck cleaner and light pressure wash to remove gray and restore color to all wood. For your wood type you need a exotic wood stain. Try the Armstrong Clark in Amber or Mahogany color.

  34. Wes T says:

    What are best deck stains for my new deck?
    Full sun
    It's florida so mildew could be a problem
    It a new deck, replacing a rotted PT deck

  35. Bryan Sperry says:

    Louisville KY
    Deck will be under roof, minimal sun
    Pressure treated pine
    Minimal mildew issues
    New deck

  36. donna says:

    Deck Location State: Northeast Ohio
    Full Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade: Full Sun
    Wood Type: red cedar
    Mold or Mildew Issues: Yes
    Reason for Previous Stain Failure: turned dark in color

  37. Erik says:

    Savannah, GA
    Mostly shade
    Pressure treated pine
    Mold and mildew issues (very humid here)
    chipping, old stain, time to update!

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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.