Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Stain Review  2.7/5 (176)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat is a 100% acrylic exterior wood stain that provides water repellency, mildew resistance, and UV protection. This stain is a waterborne product that was introduced in 2010 as a two-component system: One coat of stain and one coat of a protective clear coat need to be applied. Available in a range of colors, this wood and deck stain is marketed as a good solution to help you protect and beautify your outdoor furniture, deck, and siding. However, our testing told a much different story.

Please note that this is our initial review of this product. You should also take a look at our follow-up review, in which we re-tested this stain on a different deck material in a different location.

We’d also love to hear your reviews of Benjamin Moore Arborcoat deck stains. Please post your rating below if you’ve used this product, and if you have any pictures of your experience with Arborcoat stain, add them in the comment area with a description.

Detailed Review of Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Stain

All factors have been rated on a 10-point scale.

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 4

After it dried, the Arborcoat stain gave a “plastic,” unnatural look to the wood. The finished result was a film-forming stain, similar to a varnish. These stain types are definitely prone to peeling in cold-weather states, such as the location of our test deck in Michigan.

Some Arborcoat users have noted that they had better results when applying this stain to a dry 12% non-PT wood deck. While the majority of comments and user experiences have been negative, the application is definitely a factor in the results.

Preventing UV Graying at the 1-Year Mark: 9

We only tested this Benjamin Moore deck stain for 1 year, but it did very well with preventing UV graying. The nanotechnology seemed to fully halt the graying effect. We noticed no color change after 1 year.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 1

Arborcoat Failure

Arborcoat Peeling on Deck

We applied this stain in the summer, and we got a call from the homeowner the following spring to look at the deck. On inspection, we were extremely disappointed. The Arborcoat had peeled significantly on the brand-new pine deck. Patches of the finish had peeled off the wood in strips. You could peel back large sections of stain with your fingers. The product did not seem to have penetrated into the wood at all.

Cost per Square Foot: 5

Arborcoat retails for $59.99 a gallon. Nine gallons were used for the 1,000-square-foot deck at a cost of $0.59 per square foot.

Preventing Mold/Mildew/Algae: 10

No mold or mildew was present at the one-year mark. The zinc oxide in the formula definitely seemed to help.

Ease of Application: 4

We found the Arborcoat to be difficult to apply. As with most water-based formulas, the Arborcoat dried fast and displayed overlap marks. Adding the clear topcoat did help even out the appearance somewhat. The stain applies like paint and dries on top of the wood. We were skeptical about the appearance and whether the stain would make it through the winter (it did not).

Color-Shifting (Darkening) After 2 Years: 8

There was no visible darkening of the stain except for some dirt that accumulated on top of the finish.

Difficulty of Reapplication: 1

The customer was so displeased with the condition of the deck after less than one year that they requested that the Arborcoat be removed. A traditional deck stain stripper did not remove the stain or topcoat. Power-sanding was needed, which cost the unfortunate consumer a substantial amount of money.

Overall Score: 5.75

Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat did not perform well in a cold-weather state and on a newly built deck. The unnatural appearance was reason enough not to use the stain, but the peeling and difficulty of removal really were tough to swallow. We’d suggest choosing from our top-rated deck stains instead.

Buyer beware!

Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Stain Photos

Arborcoat Stain Details

  • Where to Buy: Benjamin Moore paint outlets
  • Cost: $59.99 per gallon
  • Stain Type: Semi-transparent, water-based
  • Available Colors: 75 custom colors
  • Application Temperature: 40-90 F
  • Coats Required: Two, a stain coat and a top clear coat
  • Coverage per Gallon: 150-200 square feet in field tests
  • Application Tools: Sprayer, pad, brush, roller
  • Dry Time: 24-48 hours
  • Cleanup: Soap and water
  • VOC Compliant: 250 compliant in all states
  • Manufacturer: Benjamin Moore

About Our Test Deck

  • Deck Wood Type: New pine decking, ACQ
  • Deck Square Footage: 1,000 square feet
  • UV Exposure: Mostly shade
  • How Many Years Tested: 1 year
  • Stain Color Used: Cedar

All products tested and results are from our hands-on experience. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take into consideration that results may differ widely due to different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, and natural weathering.

Frequently Asked Questions About Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Deck Stain

How Long Does Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Last?

We found that Benjamin Moore Arborcoat stain didn’t even hold up for a full year: Less than a year after application, we saw severe cracking and peeling of this Benjamin Moore exterior stain.

Is Arborcoat a Good Stain?

No. While Arborcoat stain scored well in regard to keeping mildew and mold at bay and preventing UV graying and color-shifting, it performed quite poorly in all other areas, such as application, durability, and appearance.

What Sheen Is Benjamin Moore Arborcoat?

Arborcoat stain comes with only a flat sheen option.

Is Arborcoat a Paint or Stain?

Arborcoat is a Benjamin Moore exterior wood and deck stain.

Does Arborcoat Need a Top Coat?

Yes. Benjamin Moore advises to use a topcoat in order to get the most protection possible for your deck. not sue why as this leads to additional peeling.

Is Arborcoat Oil- or Water-Based?

Benjamin Moore Arborcoat we tested is a water-based stain.

Does Arborcoat Solid Stain Need Primer?

No. Arborcoat solid stain is self-priming, so there’s no need to add a layer of primer before applying it.

How Do You Apply Arborcoat Translucent Stain?

First, make sure there will be no rain for the next two days. Then, use a roller or paintbrush to completely cover each board on the deck. Ensure thorough coverage. Then, allow the stain to dry completely.

How Many Coats of Arborcoat Do You Need?

Arborcoat uses two coats: one coat of stain and a top clear coat.

Is Benjamin Moore Arborcoat a Sealer?

Yes: Arborcoat is considered a sealer and a stain.

Please Rate This. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

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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Rick
Rick
10 months ago

Arborcoat is a terrible product with terrible customer service, both from the retailer and Benjamin Moore. These photos are from about 5 months to 12 months after application in Madison WI. That was a lot of money and time down the drain. I’ve NEVER had a product fail like this.

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Steve
Steve
2 years ago

The Arborcoat semi transparent is the absolute worst product I’ve ever used. I pressure washed the deck, and then followed all directions carefully, used the two prep products, and two coats of stain. It was very hard to use and looked like a mottled mess when completed, showing all back brushing intervals, etc. It didn’t even make it a year. I did it early fall ($800 in materials and 8 days of hard labor) and by the end of winter is was peeling off where ever any runoff hit it. I’m not an inexperienced, first timer. I’ve built entire houses and have painted for over 30 years. I know what I’m doing. This is expensive garbage, that left me with a real mess. I have to figure out how to remove all of it, on a 1,000 square foot deck, and apply a product that actually adheres to wood, and lasts a while. I have never written a review of anything before, for or against, but this crap is “special”

Bonnie
Bonnie
3 years ago

Here’s my No2 cedar deck one year after ArborCoat. Terrible.

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Sheila Daout
Sheila Daout
3 years ago

I am beyond upset about the Arborcoat solid stain that we applied to our deck. We have stained the deck numerous times over the years with other products and never had such a bad problem as we are now. We did everything right from application to letting it dry properly. It has been nothing but a horrible experience ever since. My dog’s paw prints stick to it and cannot be washed off. I’ve tried everything. And even a representative came out to look at it. I need some recourse!

g carris
g carris
3 years ago
Reply to  Sheila Daout

Sheila, EXACTLY our experience. Sanded 700 Sq Ft deck on lake & EVERY footprint/pawprint sticks out. The deck looks filthy. The rails are peeling. Rings End, Danbury CT came out to inspect & gave us a gallon of Krud Kutter to clean. That’s not the problem. this is NOT a stain. it sits on top of the wood & attracts dirt. Any suggestions?

Tim
Tim
3 years ago
Reply to  g carris

No stain pigments of any kind penetrate wood, All stains ARE film forming. You folks having issues with this product should really leave it to professionals. Did anyone of you do a moisture test before you applied it? I didn’t think so. SMH

Rick
Rick
10 months ago

I agree, and I’m a pretty experienced DIYer. And I used my moisture meter before staining, and the stain failed miserably.

Peter
Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  g carris

I have the same problem, wondering if you found a solution.

John L
John L
3 years ago

Do NOT use Arborcoat over Benjamin Moore clear wood preservative no matter what BM or the BM dealer tells you. I’ve been using Benjamin Moore clear wood preservative on redwood siding for 35 years without issue. BM discontinued the clear wood preservative and recommends Arborcoat. After 2 years of New England weather, the Arborcoat on the south facing side of the house has a chalky, milky appearance. I’m going to drop BM and use Cabot clear wood preservative instead. I hope I’ll have better luck.

justin
justin
3 years ago
Reply to  John L

Use daly’s teak oil. Uses the same type of phenolic resins the old BM clear was using

Wil
Wil
3 years ago

Applied this to my deck September 2019. Didn’t last the winter – it peeled/flaked off all over the place.

Today, I was attempted to clean grime off the surface to start prepping for another coat and the stain peeled off from the pressure from a garden hose. So, I bought a pressure washer to strip it all off and I’m now looking for another stain to spend a few hundred dollars on…

IMO 5.75/10 is far too generous.

Carina
Carina
7 months ago

Painting contractor, also in Michigan. Used Arborcoat waterborne semi transparent stain only once and it’s junk! (I’m a regular user and fan of Ben Moore products but not their deck stain, ever again.) Horrible to apply, even one board at a time in the shade, left lap marks. Adding Floetrol didn’t help. Does not penetrate the wood, and dries with a slight plasticky sheen. Failed within a year. My Ben Moore stores have realised this is not a popular product with their professional painters and carry TWP, which is a vastly superior stain at the same price point, and what I’ve used for years.

Eric
Eric
9 months ago

This applied in 1998 in a mission brown color to rough cut reverse board and batten rough cut white pine wood siding. No peeling but ready to change colors. Chemical stripping and pressure washing dissolve just a small layer off. Since it already lasted for 25 years I was looking for a similar product. Are any solid stains still linseed oil based? If not what is the best water-based solid stain to go over this.

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carlos
carlos
1 year ago

i used semi transparent stain on new wood, but came to light can i put an other coat to make darker ?

Kristen
Kristen
1 year ago

Arborcoat was recommended by our painters for our new pine deck. The product was applied, one coat and looked horrible. It was streaky and uneven. They came a reapplied another coat. Within months, it was cracking and peeling. Painters came and ‘fixed’ things again. Now the stain is bubbling everywhere. How can it be a stain if it never soaked in?
Total loss. Will need to get the entire deck sanded and find a stain that actually works.

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Jeremiah McKenna
Jeremiah McKenna
1 year ago

Man, I wish I had seen this review and all of these comments before I allowed my client to dictate that I use this product on the new deck and stairs that I built on her lake front house. Only time will tell how it holds up to the Lake Pontchartrain salty water and sub-tropical weather. I will take pictures and post them as time goes by and my time to allowed to take pictures dictates.

Referable Painting
Referable Painting
2 years ago

I love Arborcoat for all reasons cause it works if you prepare and apply correctly. Better than all of the others in my opinion as a licensed Ca. contractor of 25 years.

Frank Winters
Frank Winters
1 year ago

Good to read that! last spring I had a pro refinish my deck (fir) including sanding off the old (ugly) dark oil finish He then applied one coat of BM Arborcoat and advised me to redcoat it in one year (now). He didn’t put a clear coat on top — just the one coat of stain. It held up very well except that there were stains from pollen and mildew — I cleaned that with vinegar and water. Question – should I follow his advice and apply another coat now?

Tdoo
Tdoo
2 years ago

Just bought this at suggestion of local lumber yard. Not easy to apply as it was thick on the mullions of the fir exterior door I applied to. Can I apply Helmsman water based indoor/outdoor spar urethane now? I’d like to protect from harsh direct UV exposure and winter rain/snow.

Bryan
Bryan
2 years ago

Used on outdoor cabinets was going to use a polyurethane on it. So your saying I can’t ? So what do you use to clear coat ?

sharon fluitt
sharon fluitt
2 years ago

We painted our screen porch 3 weeks ago and it is still sticky. I have a fan on it and its been in the 90’s for weeks now. I need help

Patricia oreilly
Patricia oreilly
2 years ago

I am sick,,, after reading these reviews we all have the same issues. This is a failed product , we all should get a new deck from the company. At age 70, I powered wash, chemical treated my deck twice . Taking over 3 three weeks to complete May 2020, it is horrible. Dog prints, dirt, peel, washes away !!!! Shame on this company and a slap in the face for all their faithful, now to be past, customers. I still have not heard from rep. Change products everyone

jnardo
jnardo
3 years ago

Is arborcoat Protective clear coat the same as Thompsons Water sealer??

Deborah C Osullivan
Deborah C Osullivan
3 years ago

Can you recommend a better product , we are about to clean an stain our one year old deck, that is we built around our in ground pool. It has been a year for the wood to cure??? thank you . we just want a clear coat since our fence is almond ( We do all the work ourselves, rehabbers)
Thank you

Dave
Dave
3 years ago

Sikkens is the best on the market for deck stain….period!

Deck failure
Deck failure
3 years ago

Extremely disappointed with Arborcoat!! The stain did not last through one winter. Taking it off has been awful. We have spent days with stain stripper and sanding to remove this product. The cost of renting equipment and the time it is taking to take off this stain is ridiculous. Never making this mistake again.

Kathy
Kathy
3 years ago

I have pressure treated wood on my deck. The deck was power washed & will be sanded. I was going to use the Arborcoat natural color in a oil base. Is there another brand that I would be better off using since the Arborcoat did not get good reviews?

Dustin
Dustin
3 years ago
Reply to  Kathy

This is actually a good product. This review is completely biased. As for other products I would suggest this or the Behr premium wood coating. I myself prefer the Behr but that is because of price alone.
What you need to remember is regardless of what anyone says a stain for decks is more like paint unless you go transparent. If you go solid it will have a more of a paint look because of the latex in it. It does work and lasts but don’t expect miracles. It is in the elements and on wood. Hot and cold change not only the make of the paint but the wood as well so yes there will be some fading, cracking and peeling overtime, even within a year because not one board is the same

Chris
Chris
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin

WORST product I have ever used on decks

Jason J Guimond
Jason J Guimond
3 years ago

Do you have any reviews of arbor coat oil based? Specifically on hardwood?

I used TWP – 2 thin costs last September on my mahogany handrails and it was completely washed away by March of this year. Couldn’t believe it!

Was thinking messmers uv plus or arbor coat oil. Wanted your thoughts.

Thanks

Jason J Guimond
Jason J Guimond
3 years ago

Thanks for the reply! But you haven’t tried the oil based? I would recommend trying it. We have used it on several softer woods with good luck! Very good color retention

Thanks

Jason J Guimond
Jason J Guimond
3 years ago

👍👍 thanks

g.carris
g.carris
3 years ago

use Sikkens. It is amazing. wood looks beautiful & it lasts.

John Vermouth
John Vermouth
3 years ago

Abject failure. Removed old stain in september. Sanded to 60 grit the week after pressure washing. Lightly washed again 2 days before staining, using fans to maximize the 2 days of drying. Stained (roll and tip) in early october after having 2 dry (post-wash) days, and 2 more days to dry before next rain. Deck was wrecked by february. The wasted money is disappointing; the wasted time is infuriating.

tim
tim
3 years ago
Reply to  John Vermouth

What was the moisture content of the wood when you applied it?

Kurt Sickler
Kurt Sickler
3 years ago

Allowed my pressure treated deck to dry properly . Applied with brush and followed with a rag in other hand. kept a wet edge. Deck is 650 sf. Used 326-30 translucent teak. Also applied to mahogany railing. 3yrs is 100% southern exposure,northern Ma., no shade. Looking great ! Will reapply this summer. My only regret; I had my boards with the grain down but wish I had applied stain to bottom first. All my boards are cupped and hold water. Bummer. Also used the Camo side screw system.
Very pleased !!

hawker
hawker
3 years ago

i have just been dealing with Benjamin Moore over a serious Aborcoat peeling issue on all horizontal services after 9 months. The local BM rep stated that this was due to the fact that I did not sand with 60 to 80 grit paper, after power washing the deck. It should be note that no were on the product label or in the dealer do they advise that this is a must. I now have to strip the deck, sand and re coat. BM will only replace the stain. The local dealer has offered to help with prep, as he understands what good customer service is all about, something BM does not understand.
BM need to change their labels and advice to advise customer sanding is a must.
A bloody shame they treat customers like this, after spending meg bucks on their products. No longer a loyal customer!

Do you recommend Murphy’s soap for mopping my cove
Do you recommend Murphy’s soap for mopping my cove
3 years ago

Do you recommend Murphy’s soap for mopping my covered porch with arbor coat stain?

STacy
STacy
4 years ago

I stained my new cedar deck last year with arbor coat transparent stain. It is uneven and I want to fix things. Do I need to strip it all and sand? If yes, what kind of stripping do I need and what grit sand paper? Or can I just restain over the top? Do I need to clean it first and if yes with what?

Mark Lena
Mark Lena
4 years ago

What is the the best type of stain to use on PT decking, semitransparent, etc

Steve Di
Steve Di
4 years ago

Worst Product EVER!. Completely ruined the cedar wood. Had to replace all this.Product didn’t last 2 year. Never again.

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John Blake
John Blake
4 years ago

Before buying any Benjamin Moore product, take a look at the photos of my deck. This is how it is 9 months after receiving two coats of Benjamin Moore stain. The customer service and concern from Benjamin Moore and the local supplier was as bad as the stain.
John Blake Ontario.

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Rich
Rich
4 years ago

Bottom Line…..buy something else. (especially if you are located in the Northeast)
We had our house painted July 2020 including our front and back decks. The paint company recommended Benjamin Moore. The decks were done with Arborcoat solid color stain……..It was disappointing to notice that by November every time it rained the the stain bubbled……..and the front steps……40-50% has peeled off. I have never in my 25 years at this house…..ever seen that happen…….I used other brands of solid deck stain and never had that happen.
The deck was pressure washed a week prior to staining……..
This was the first…..and most likely the last time I will hire someone to stain the decks…….I have read about this issue in other posts and BM reimbursed or provided more product, but I am assuming we’re out the labor cost……what good
does that do?
Other posts mention prep…….I can tell you from experience……prep didn’t make much difference over the years that I have done the work myself…….whether I did 2 days of prep (wash, scrape, dry) or 2 hours of prep…….I usually get 2 years before I add another coat. And heavy traffic areas? 1 year…..

Jason J Guimond
Jason J Guimond
3 years ago
Reply to  Rich

Your timeline doesn’t add up. It’s currently July 2020. November 2020 is still a few months away. Evidence of time travel… I think so. 🙂

Cathi B
Cathi B
4 years ago

can you use this on the exterior wall of a house?

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