This post was updated on January 18, 2023
What is the Best Semi-Solid Deck Stain?
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We have been using deck stains now for 25+ years and reviewing them on DeckStainHelp.com since 2012. In the past 5+ years, we have used more and more of the semi-solid stains and colors. The major reason is that the higher the solid content, the better the UV protection from fading. One caveat, the semi-solid stains need to be fully penetrating and unfortunately, that is not the case for many brands.
Semi-Solid wood and deck stains allow the wood grain to show slightly and if they truly soak into the wood grain, reapplying is much easier down the road. One issue is that not all semi-solid stains are penetrating but rather film on top of the wood like paint. Stains that film on top of the wood will have a tendency to peel and will be harder to re-coat or remove down the road and will be prone to peeling and wearing. We have found that the only decent Semi-Solid Wood and Deck stains are the oil-based versions as they will penetrate into the wood grain as long as you prep properly and do not over apply. Stay away from any of the Semi-Solid Water-Based Stains as they will be prone to peeling and are much harder to apply. This would include the Semi-Solids from Behr, Cabot, Olympic, Pittsburgh Paints, Valspar, etc.
The Best Semi-Solid Deck Stains are
- TWP Semi-Solid Pro-Series Semi-Solid Stain
- Armstrong Clark Semi-Solid Stain
See below for more information on each brand.
Note: Our Top Semi-Solid stains are all penetrating when prepped properly and applied properly. Do not skip the prep steps or over-apply, as this will lead to failure of the deck stain at a much faster rate!
TWP Semi-Solid Pro-Series – Best Overall Wood Deck Stain Brand
TWPStain.com Website: TWP Semi-Solid Pro-Series
Pros: Penetrating Semi-Solid Oil-Based. Full Curing Wood and Deck Stain. 30 Custom made semi-solid colors. Easy to apply. Excellent mildew resistance. Clean and re-coat as needed for maintenance. Based on the TWP 100 Series that has been around for 25+ years.
Cons: Newer to market so might be hard to find. Only available in 35 States.
Consumer Star Ratings:
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a scale of 1-10): 8.5
See Review Article Here: TWP Semi-Solid Pro-Series Review
Armstrong Semi-Solid Clark – Easiest to Apply Semi-Solid Deck Stain
ArmstrongClarkStain.com Website: Armstrong Clark Semi-Solid
Pros: Very easy to apply. Paraffin and Curing Oil Blend. Full Curing Stain. Allowed in all 50 States and Canada. Able to clean and re-coat as needed for maintenance.
Cons: It can take a few days or longer to fully cure. Only 5 semi-solid colors.
Consumer Star Ratings:
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a scale of 1-10): 8.5
See Review Article Here: Armstrong Clark Semi-Solid Stain Review
Semi-Solid Deck Stain Photos
Semi-Solid Deck Stain Review Video – DeckStainHelp.com
Questions as to what brand of semi-solid stain you should use?
Please ask below, we are here to help!
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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.
TWP Pro-Series Semi-Solid Stain Review
Been looking for a semi solid black oil based stain to finish only the vertical parts of our deck, as the floor is already composite. Can anyone recommend one that would be worth using?
Sorry but we do not know of any black semi-solid colors. Closest would be a dark brown. Espresso by Armstrong Clark.
We live in Houston, Texas–about 2 ½ years ago we used TWP 101 Cedartone Natural on our treated pine deck that is partly shaded and partly in full sun. The shaded area still looks great, but the sun exposed areas look dry and weathered–clearly it is now time to redo. A few of the boards have rotted through, and we have had them replaced with new treated pine.
1. Would there be an advantage to using your new product–Semi Solid Stain rather than the Series 100 since wood takes a beating in the Houston heat and sun? Would it be more durable?
2. If so–hopefully–we wouldn’t have to strip, just power wash, clean/brighten–is that correct????
3. The new wood repaired areas were added early in November 2021, and we will probably wait until at least March before beginning this project to give the new wood time to weather. Is there anything else we should do in order that these replaced areas blend in color-wise with the older decking?
4. What would we do about the shaded area that still looks good? This area runs continuous with the area that is exposed to sun?
5. Also with this new product–is it recommended to do the wet on wet application or will it even necessary to do a second coat since we originally used your product?
6. If we decide to go with the Semi Solid Stain what color most closely matches Cedartone Natural?
1. You will have better UV protection with the semi-solid.
2. Strip and brighten for prep.
3. Just clean and brighen the new wood.
4. Strip and brighten all wood.
5. Most likely just need one coat with the semi-solid colors.
6. Nothing matches the 101. Best to get some samples from them to test.
Two more questions:
As stated above we live in Houston, TX–would using the semi-solid be
better than the Pro for our situation?
2. If we go with the Semi-solid–what are the maintenance requierments?
Do we still have to strip and brighten for future coats or is cleaning
and brightening sufficient?
1. It is a label change for what we have been told.
Semi-solid colors will give longer UV protection.
2. Clean and recoat as needed.
Hello, Does your Semi-solid Pro-Series come in White?
The stain brands above do not come in white semi-solid colors.
Is there a good semi solid deck stain that will adequately stain ipe?
Being a hardwood I’m concerned it will film on top as you mention and become a problem?
We would not suggest a semi-solid for IPE.
Hello, We want to stain a 300ft, 8ft high ( with lattice and stringers on top ) cedar/redwood privacy fence, and were thinking about going with the semi-solid stain because we don’t want to have to renew the stain every couple of years. I just spoke with an associate at Armstrong who said the semi-solid stain is good up to only 2 years. I thought that the solid pigment in the stain would keep the fence looking good for longer than that. I know a lot depends on variables in location and climate, but do you have an opinion on the longevity of semi-solid stains for fencing? We were hoping to not have to redo the stain for at least 5 years. Or can you recommend another stain that may last longer. Thanks.
On a fence, you will get twice as long as a deck. 3-5 years is normal. Nothing will guarantee five years though.
Out deck is 20 yrs old. Once we sanded it down to the wood and used a semi solid deck stain from Cabot. It last 2 yrs, but by year three it needed more work. We replace boards that are in bad shape every other year. The next time we stained it we used a solid color acrylic deck stain by Cabot. It lasted 2 yrs before needing more stain. We are not interested in totally sanding it down again. What is the best solid deck stain and prep. We will probably be replacing the entire deck within the next 2-3 yrs.
Use the Restore A Deck Solid stain. Prep by pressure washing off any loose stain: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/restore-a-deck-solid-color-stain-review/