This post was updated on April 7, 2022
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
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.
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.
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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.