Are Deck Finishes, Stains, Sealers, or Both? 4.9/5 (8)

This post was updated on January 14, 2022

Deck Finishes, Stains, Sealers, or Both?

Deck Finishes, Stains, Sealers,

Deck Finishes, Stains, Sealers,

Here at we continue to be your go-to source for 2022 on the latest in deck restoration news and trending topics. See below for an article that answers the question, are Deck Finishes, Stains, Sealers, or Both? We appreciate your input. Feel free to leave a comment below and pictures of your completed projects if you have them.


One of the more popular questions asked on is what is the difference between a deck sealer and a deck stain and do I need to apply a sealer over a deck stain? Some might think that a deck sealer and a deck stain are basically the same things but in all actuality, they are two different products when it comes to appearance. They both share the same purpose in general, to preserve and protect the wood but there are some major differences.

Deck Sealers

A deck sealer is typically a clear or transparent finish that penetrates into the wood. It helps to lock out moisture and reduce water intrusion. Unwanted moisture can lead to mildew and wood rot so it is crucial in reducing the chances of jeopardizing the wood’s longevity. A clear deck sealer, however, will not protect from sun damage or prevent the wood from turning gray from UV oxidation.

Deck Stains

A deck stain has the same water repellent qualities that a deck sealer does. A deck stain, however, has added pigment or tone, which gives the stain some color that can range from transparent to solid in color. The pigment is your UV blocker and will help prevent oxidation/grating of the wood. The darker the color or the more pigment added, the more sun protection the stain will provide.

Can you Apply a Deck Sealer over a Deck Stain?

The short answer is no and there is no need. A deck sealer needs to penetrate into the wood grain. If you try and apply a deck sealer over a deck stain, it will not be able to soak into the wood grain and will dry sticky or unsightly. There is also no need to seal over a deck stain as deck stains will have the same water repellency properties that a deck sealer has.

With a deck sealer or deck stain, we prefer semi-transparent deck stains. These stains offer the best of all worlds.

  • They penetrate into the wood grain
  • They tint or enhance the wood while still showing the natural wood grain
  • They offer UV protection from graying
  • Most can be cleaned and reapplied as needed without the need for heavy stripping/sanding

Choosing the perfect deck stain can really help enhance the natural beauty of the wood while providing adequate water and UV protection. See here for our Top Deck Stain Brands

Deck Stain and Sealer

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Keston Nelson
Keston Nelson
1 year ago

Can you use a roller for application of a semi-transparent deck stain? What is the best method of application for staining? The type of wood I used is Sierra Presure Treated.

Schuronda Morton
Schuronda Morton
2 years ago

My deck is 25+ years old, thankfully in good shape but graying etc., which is best stair sealer with color added?

Michael Ralph
Michael Ralph
3 years ago

Love your site, just wish I had found it before I started.

I bought a house with an 8 year old dock/ boathouse on a fresh water lake in mid-Florida. The majority of the wood is under cover or shaded by large cypress trees but there are some places that are open to UV. The dock has been treated with Thompson’s clear water seal the past few years,

I would like to stain it using RAD semi transparent, I have cleaned and pressure washed the wood using 30 second cleaner and it really looks clean and bright,

My question is did I need to strip the Thompson’s before cleaning and pressure washing or am I good to apply the RAD? If not, what do you recommend?

Michael Ralph
Michael Ralph
3 years ago

Some areas appear to still repell water, so if I strip do I need to strip the entire deck or just the trouble spots. Also do I need to use the Brightener on the stripped areas to balance the ph prior to staining

I’m thinking I should strip and brighten the entire deck then stain using the semi transparent

What do you recommend?

Michael Ralph
Michael Ralph
3 years ago

Where can I order the stripper, Brightener, and stain?

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