Acrylic Water Based Deck Stain Issues  4.8/5 (28)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

Acrylic Water Based Deck Stains

If you have any Acrylic Water Based deck staining questions, feel free to leave us a comment below.


Why Acrylic Water Based Deck Stains Do Not Work Very Well

A major factor in maintaining a deck is keeping the wood protected. A good weather-resistant deck stain should be applied to the wood every couple of years to protect it from weather damage. A quality deck stain will not only protect your deck from the weather but will also enhance its beauty and keep it looking good for years to come.

Finding a quality deck stain can be tedious work. With so many wood stains on the market choosing the right one can seem impossible. The key to a good deck stain is getting it to last. There are many types of stains. Some are film-forming and stay on top of the wood surface while others penetrate the wood pores. The penetrating formulas seem to win out when it comes to beauty and protection.

Recently, the market has seen a flood of acrylic water-based deck stains claiming to outlast other stains. Some of the products claim to last 6 years on decks and up to 8 years on fences and siding. It is definitely a statement that gets your attention. Most semi-transparent stains get 2-3 years of life before needing a recoat.

However, after extensive testing, it has been found that these acrylic water-based stains do not quite live up to their guarantee. As a matter of fact, a lot of them do not outlast other stains and it is common to see them fail within the first year of being applied. So why do these stains not work like they claim they do?

Test after test it was found the majority of acrylic water-based deck stains such as Behr Premium Deck Stain and Sherwin Williams Deckscapes do not penetrate the wood as claimed. These products seemed to dry on top of the surface more like paint. In addition, it dries very quickly. So quickly in fact that it can be very difficult to apply and shows overlap marks if care is not taken.

The overall look of a deck stained with an acrylic water-based deck stain is very uneven and blotchy. It takes on a look of a semi-solid meaning much of the wood grain is hidden by the thick pigment of the product. Instead of enhancing the wood’s natural beauty it more or less masks the wood grain.

The acrylic deck stains are also very difficult to maintain. Because the product fails so severely the new coat will not adhere well to an existing coat. The stain has to be completely removed before a new coat can be applied. The areas of stain that do not fail like on the vertical spindles and such are extremely hard to strip off. A very harsh concentrated mix of deck stain stripper has to be used and many times is only somewhat successful at removing the acrylic water-based stain.

After testing and feedback from professional contractors, it has been determined that the majority of acrylic water-based deck stains do not live up to their guarantees and most of what they claim is simply a marketing gimmick to sell more products to unsuspecting consumers.

Please Ask Any Questions Below

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author avatar
Scott Paul ~ Restoring Wood & Decks Since 1993 Owner
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites. All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.

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robin
robin
1 year ago

Can acrylic deck stain be removed by power washing?

robin
robin
1 year ago

What kind of stripper do you recommend for Behr premium transparent waterproof deck finish? It actually does not look transparent but is an ugly orange color and blotchy.

Brent
Brent
1 year ago

I have some deck posts and play set that I want to stain. I don’t know what the previous person used oil or acrylic. Is there one that I shouldn’t use? One that will work going over either one.

Gen
Gen
2 years ago

I have acrylic deck paint left over can I add stain to it.

James
James
2 years ago

I purchased green cut Cypress from a sawmill. The Mill recomended a water based breathable stain. I decided to wait three months before building my pergola in hopes to dry out the lumber which i stacked with spacers, and covered with a tarp, put a fan on one end and a dehumidifier on the other in my hot Florida garage in the summer. (sealed the ends) What type of stain should i use after i plane the wood smooth before i build the pergola?

Lorretta
Lorretta
3 years ago

I used acorn brown Olympic water based stain.
It’s blotchy and not nice looking at all. Can I go over it with a good quality paint?

Lorretta
Lorretta
3 years ago

Thank you for your reply.

Tarron Barnes
Tarron Barnes
3 years ago

We are very frustrated with having been reassured by supervising personnel that the semi transparent deck stain we were buying was oil based as that was the only kind we were interested in. After applying the stain to 75% of our project, it is blotchy and upon internet research is absolutely not oil based but rather acrylic water based. We have already invested so much time and money, I don’t know what to do fix it. We purchased 20 gallons of Valspar semi transparent deck stain and now I know why it was drying so quickly and we couldn’t get it even.

Tom
Tom
3 years ago

What is best product to use to clean a deck that has acrylic stain on it? We don’t want to ruin the stain but need an every day deck cleaner.

Tom
Tom
3 years ago

Thank you we will try soap. So deck cleaners such as Mold Armor E-Z Deck Wash Deck Cleaner , are not just cleaners for maintenance? That seems misleading!

Kate
Kate
3 years ago

I have a new deck we stained it with a water based stain it looks more like painted and scratches with even your finger nail, how can we fix this problem

Kayla
Kayla
3 years ago

I am bidding on a large building that Deckscapes was previously used on and faded very badly in a couple years ago. Customer wants to stick with a latex acrylic stain but I’m so confused on what to choose. Do you know what has the best ratting for duration and color doesn’t fade out fast?

Helen Obenchain
Helen Obenchain
3 years ago

We believe our deck had Behr acrylic deck stain applied a few years ago. We removed most of it last summer, but still have some stain left in various places especially around knots and under the mats areas. How can we remove the rest of the stubborn stains so we can apply a new stain?

Helen Obenchain
Helen Obenchain
3 years ago

Just sent pics so hope they arrive

Nancee
Nancee
3 years ago

What does it mean if the stain says it is acrylic oil formula? Do they have good ratings? This is Pittsburgh paint and stains. Stain and sealant in one.

Sam
Sam
4 years ago

I have a redwood deck that was stained with Flood Pro Series Semitransparent Acrylic water based stain. I was attempting to do a general cleaning since I saw some black areas on the deck. I used Penofin Pro-Tech Step 2 cleaner, follower by a Penofin brightner. After the deck dried, I noticed several areas where the stain was peeling. I decided to sand the deck and that took a lot of effort. I was planning to used a brightener after I’m done sanding and then apply a new stain. I like the redwood color of the Flood semitransparent stain which was close to a semi-solid, since it appears the deck is not the high quality redwood and has several knots (which I didn’t notice when it was stained). What’s the best stain you recommend for my deck which gets a lot of sun and moisture in the Los Angeles weather? I live near the beach so there is a lot of condensation on the deck in the mornings. I need a stain that’s durable and easy to maintain since I never want to sand the deck again! Does the fact that the Flood stain had some black areas and peeled after cleaning it mean that it’s not a great stain for the weather in my area? Lastly, is there a wood filler you recommend that is stainable? I tried a latex filler (FamoWood) and it didn’t take the Flood stain. Thanks!

Sam
Sam
3 years ago

Thanks for the reply. I looked into Armstrong Clark. I liked the semi-solid stain and was ready to go with that. The issue is that there is a deck built around the deck and AC said semi-solid shouldn’t be used on anything you will sit on. So not sure if an oil-based semi-solid stain is an option for me. Back to the drawing board.

Razz
Razz
4 years ago

Applied DEFY acrylic stain on our new deck after letting the wood weather for a few months then scrubbing it down with detergent and letting it dry 48 hours. Maybe I could have applied it differently but after sweeping snow off the deck during Winter it seemed as though the stain washed off with the snow. Called the company and explained what happened, they suggested wait until warm weather returns, clean it again and do a maintenance coat. Did as suggested but rain water does not bead up on the horizontal boards, it seems to soak in instead plus the boards are showing some cracking. The stain doesn’t appear very robust and wears from foot traffic. Looks like I’ll use oil based next time but I’m worried about mold and mildew forming with an oil based product. I have a pressure washer I’ll use next attempt. Hoping to use acrylic again due to ease of cleanup and low odors but concerned about its wearability and protection.

Bev
Bev
4 years ago

Bought home with deck, it was stained,
we didn’t know if oil or water stain. Painted with oil base Armstrong Simi solid.
Now it is tracking in the house on everyones shoes, on my carpets and hardwood floors. How do I get it off the deck?

Elvera Pierce
Elvera Pierce
5 years ago

Is there a stripper that might remove a fair bit of solid Behr stain from our large deck. Half of it peeled off and the other have has not budged with the Behr stripper. It is a large older pressure treated deck and so we would like to try to remove as much of the stain as possible before trying to sand it. Would we have to use a hand sander when we get to that point?? We purchased Armstrong Clark penetrating stain on your advice. Love your site!!!!

Jacqueline Roach
Jacqueline Roach
5 years ago

My HOA has designated BEHR #SC-129. as the approved deck stain. I talked to the HOA president and she said that we could likely get approved for BEHR #ST-129. Given the review here of acrylic deck stain and the poor reviews this deck stain gets, I would like to propose another type of stain that will look the EXACT same color but have better wear properties. The deck that I am having stained is brand new as of last September and this will be the first time it will be stained.

What do you recommend?

Jacque
Jacque
5 years ago

Is Flood an oil, water, or acrylic based product? I would like to try to get the HOA to agree to a semi-transparent version. Do they offer that as well as the solid color?

What prep should be done before applying the stain?

Jacque
Jacque
5 years ago

The wood was newly installed last September and is typical pressure treated lumber commonly used for decks. Nothing has been applied to the wood since it was installed. I just want to be sure to start the deck out in the best way possible to reduce future maintenance issues.

Jacque
Jacque
5 years ago

Any recommendations for a semi-transparent stain that can be matched to the Behr Chocalate color?

Cindi
Cindi
7 years ago

I need the simplest way to redo a existing staine wooden deck. I applied a oil based paint but after 5 days its not complety dry. Please help!

don
don
8 years ago

Will the acrylic deck stain adhere over a clear deck stain that needs to be refinished? I sanded the clear stain down to get rid of the surface stain, but the acrylic still peeled within a few months.

Bob truitt
Bob truitt
8 years ago

trying to figure out best stain for pressure treated wood I just installed

Michelle N.
Michelle N.
9 years ago

Two years ago I bought into the hype and covered my 3 new sets of outdoor wood stairs with Behr Premium Solid Color Weather Proofing Wood Stain – a 100% acrylic stain. It looks awful and definitely needs to be redone, but I'm not sure what is the best thing to do to fix it. I truly don't want to have to strip it all off and start over. Do you have any other suggestions? Can I clean and cover with something different?

Lou C.
Lou C.
9 years ago

Does this apply to Defy Extreme as well? You seem to have it highly rated.

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