Deck Stain Reviews Ratings
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Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

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New Smooth Wood
Staining a New Deck

New Smooth Wood

Over the past year, we have numerous questions asked on the site, but none was asked more than “What stain or prep is needed for my new deck”? There seems to be an opinion among homeowners that is okay to stain new wood right away or even before the deck is installed. This is incorrect for most wood types and stain brands.

In this article, we will cover the required prep and the waiting period needed before applying a stain for the first time.

New Smooth Decking

New smooth decking boards are not porous enough for most stains to be able to penetrate properly. This is mainly due to:

  • Mill glaze when cut
  • High moisture content
  • Chemicals in Pressure Treated Wood

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TWP 100 Wood Deck Stain
TWP 100 Wood Deck Stain Review

TWP 100 Stain Review

TWP 100 Series Ratings ScoreImportant Note:  This is our 3rd Review of TWP 100 Series.

See our other reviews of the TWP 100 Series here: TWP 100 Wood Stain Reviews

TWP 100 “Total Wood Preservative” Deck Stain protects and maintains all exterior wooden surfaces. TWP Wood Stain is a special blend of chemicals in a contractor grade formula that safeguards and protects exterior wooden surfaces.

TWP® 100 SERIES penetrates deeply into wood without excessive surface film build, highlighting existing grain patterns with amazing clarity and warmth and is specifically designed to provide protection against the four major causes of wood degradation: wood rot, water, sunlight & mildew.

TWP Exterior Wood Preservatives are the only wood and deck stains on the market that are registered as exterior wood preservatives by the EPA.

TWP Deck Stains – 100 Series Review

TWP 100 Series Wood Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 9

– We prepped the deck first with the Gemini Restore Kit and applied the TWP 120 Pecan color after a few days of drying. This deck was originally done with the TWP 101 Cedartone. The customer wanted to use the Pecan this time as it has a slight “brown” tone. The overall appearance was excellent.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– Same as the first time tested, The TWP Pecan 120 retained about 80% of the original color after 2 years of full exposure to the elements.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 9

– Very minor or no wearing of the TWP. TWP penetrates very well into the wood grain so this is normal and expected.

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TWP 1500 Review
TWP 1500 Series Deck Stain Review

TWP 1500 Review

TWP 1500 Stain RatingsImportant Note: This is our 2nd Review of TWP 1500 Series. Our first review of the TWP 1500 Stain was started in 2010 and completed in 2012.

See Here for First Review: TWP 1500 Series Review

TWP 1500 Series Preservative is an  Oil-Based EPA approved wood enhancing preservative that stops structural damage and exterior wood rot on treated or previously treated above ground wood surfaces such as fencing, decking, roof shakes, wood siding and log homes.

*Note: TWP 1500 and the TWP 100 are the only deck stains registered by the EPA as a wood preservative. The 1500 is compliant in all US states while the 100 Series is not.

TWP Deck Stains – 1500 Series Review

TWP 1500 Stain Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8.5

For the pine deck, we used the TWP 1530 Natural. This is not a “clear” but rather a traditional cedar color in our opinion. The manufacturer stated they made this color in the 1500 Series to match the color of the TWP 101 Cedartone. This allows for an easy switch from the 100 Series for consumers who are in a low voc state.

The wood grain was highlighted naturally with the 1530 Natural semi-transparent tint. The 1500 does not mask or film on top of the wood grain.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8.5

Excellent at preventing UV graying at the two-year mark.  For the vertical railings, the TWP 1500 lost very little of the color. For the horizontals, we saw close to 80% color retention.

Same results as last time and one of the better products for preventing color fading

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

The TWP 1500 penetrates deep into the wood reducing the chance of wearing. We find that the 1500 Scored well here for a low VOC oil based stain.

Note that when staining brand new wood with TWP, we have found that it is best to let the wood season in the elements for at least 3+ months. Once it is weathered, we prep with a deck cleaner and wood brightener to enhance the stain penetration. Only 1 coat of the TWP 1500 for new smooth wood.

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Defy Extreme Review
Defy Extreme Review

Defy Extreme Review

Important Note:  This is our 2nd Review of Defy Extreme Wood Stain. Our first review of the Defy Extreme Stain was started in 2009 and completed in 2011.  See Here for First Review: Defy Extreme Stain Review

DEFY Extreme Wood Stain is a synthetic-resin, semi-transparent wood stain formulated using state of the art Nano-Technology to create a level of durability that has simply not been available in a wood stain finish in the past. Extreme Wood Stain is the newest member of the DEFY line of wood products and their most innovative high-performance product yet.

*Note: Defy Extreme is replacing the Defy Epoxy after 2014. The main difference between the two is the Extreme contains zinc oxide nano particles. According to the manufacturer, this gives added UV protection and mold prevention.

Defy Extreme Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

Defy Extreme Stain is a semi-transparent stain that seems closer to a transparent in that it does not mask the wood grain but rather highlights the natural tones. We used the Light Walnut color for our test deck. The Light Walnut is not a brown color but rather a reddish brown color. The customer was happy with the appearance but if you are looking for a brown, then try their newer Butternut.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 9

The Defy Extreme offers excellent resistance to UV fading. Testing over the two years showed very little color loss on the vertical railings. The horizontal flooring should very good color retention as well. The Extreme contains zinc oxide nano particles. These particles seem to offer an additional layer of UV filtering.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 7.5

For a semi-transparent water based decking stain, the Defy Extreme is excellent at diving deep into the wood grain. We have used and seen numerous water-based acrylic stains and the Defy Extreme penetrates the wood grain better than the others. Very close to the penetration abilities of an oil based stain. Some wearing around table chairs and wood knots was noticeable otherwise, the stain was very intact.

Take note that we do not use the Defy Extreme on brand new wood. If you want to use it on your new deck, it is best to wait a few months. The Extreme will penetrate better if you do.

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ArborCoat Stain Review
ArborCoat Stain Review

ArborCoat Stain Review

Important Note:  This is our 2nd Benjamin Moore Arborcoat. See our first review here: Benjamin Moore Arborcoat

ARBORCOAT Premium Exterior Stains offer a variety of opacities in an array of captivating colors that let you express your own unique style. These finishes are designed to enhance the appearance of your deck, siding, or outdoor wood furniture with outstanding color retention. All ARBORCOAT finishes are easy to apply and offer superior protection while enriching the texture and grain of exterior wood surfaces.

Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 5

– Similar to our first review, the Arborcoat after drying had a “plastic” unnatural look to the wood when done. The finished result was a film-forming stain, similar to a varnish.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark8

– The Arborcoat does well with UV protection. It has a high solid content, similar to a paint. We did use the top coat clear on this deck as well. Not sure if that actually helps with UV protection, but BM claims it does.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 3

– This product does not perform well on our tests. It is prone to peeling and wear. After 2 years much if not all of the flooring had peeling issues. Cracking, peeling and mold growth was evident throughout.

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Peeling Deck Varnish
Peeling Deck Varnish

Peeling Deck Varnish

Deck stains are meant as a protective finish for exterior wood. They contain special UV shielding pigments and mildewcides to ward off mold and mildew and to keep the wood from fading. Other sealers or clear finishes will not adhere well to a deck stain and may result in the topcoat failing prematurely. Most likely the clear sealer or polyurethane will end up peeling and flaking off the deck stain.

Unlike paint, stains and sealers are not necessarily designed to adhere to each other. Most are designed to penetrate into the wood or at least adhere to bare wood in the case of film forming stains. Applying a clear sealer over a deck stain is never a good idea. It really won’t help the deck stain or give any added protection more than the deck stain already is. Clear sealers have no pigment and therefore provide zero UV protection. The same goes for polyurethane.

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TWP 100 Wood Deck Stain
TWP 100 Series Deck Stain Review

TWP 100 Wood Deck Stain

TWP 100 Series Stain RatingImportant Note:  This is our 2nd Review of TWP 100 Series.

See our other reviews of the TWP 100 Series here: TWP 100 Wood Stain Reviews

TWP 100 Total Wood Preservative Deck Stain protects and maintains all exterior wooden surfaces. TWP Wood Stain is a special blend of chemicals in a contractor grade formula that safeguards and protects exterior wooden surfaces.

TWP 100 Wood Deck Sealers lock out water and moisture that causes wood to crack, split, and warp. Freeze damage is also prevented in cold climates.

TWP Stains are the only wood and deck stains on the market that are registered as exterior wood preservatives by the EPA.

TWP Stains – 100 Stain Review

TWP 100 Series Wood Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 9

– The TWP 100 Stain was applied to a very large deck surrounding a pool. The wood was about 1 year old at the time and was prepped with the Restore-A-Deck Cleaner and Brightener kit. The wood was a knotty cedar and the Cedartone 101 color gave a rich look that is typical of a cedar stain. Knots and grain were enhanced and the stain dried evenly for the 2 coats that were applied to the floor.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– Same as the first time tested, The TWP Cedartone 101 retained about 80% of the original color after 2 years of weathering.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– We found that the TWP did wear slightly in about 20% of the floor area. It was mostly in the high traffic areas that surrounded the pool. The upper level deck in the back had little to no wearing.

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Restore A Deck Kits

Restore A Deck Kits

Restore A Deck Kits

Important Note: This is our 2nd Review of the Restore A Deck Kits. See Here for First Review: Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener Kit

Restore A Deck cleaner is a specifically designed two-part system that is best used to clean and prep a wood deck prior to staining it. The Restore A Deck cleaner system consists of a wood cleaner that will remove dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and grayed wood fibers. Step 2 is a wood brightener that corrects the pH of the wood and brightens/lightens it up prior to applying a wood stain or sealer.

Restore-A-Deck comes in a powdered concentrated formula. Each 2 lb container makes 5 liquid gallons and can clean and brighten up to 1000 sq. feet. Simply pour each into a five-gallon container and add water to dissolve the powder concentrate.

The Restore a Deck Step 1 Cleaner contains an EPA registered ingredient that helps in the removal of mold, mildew, and algae.

Restore A Deck Cleaner and Brightener Scores (1-10)

Removal of Graying, Dirt, Grime: 9

The Restore-A-Deck Step 1 Deck Cleaner works wonders at removing dirt and graying. The active ingredient creates a slight foaming on the wood once applied. Once the graying and dirt has softened, we find it best to use a pressure washer at a low setting of 1500 PSI to “lightly wash” off the dirty slime.

Cost Per Square Foot: 10

Powdered deck prepping products are the way to go. Cheaper and more effective than bleach-based solutions. We have found that the Restore A Deck Kits are the best on the market today when it comes to price. The cost to clean and brighten an average 800 square foot deck is less than $.07 a foot.

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When to Stain a New KDAT Deck? Right away or wait?

Although pressure-treated lumber is protected against fungi and insects, regular maintenance is required to achieve optimal weather protection. Staining and occasionally refinishing the wood will ensure your wood project will be enjoyed for years to come.

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Best Deck Stain for Canada’s harsh climate.

Choosing a deck stain these days takes more things into consideration such as the environment. Many deck stain companies are being forced to comply with these tighter regulations or be forced out of business. Areas like Canada have stricter guidelines than other areas for shipping deck stain.

Obviously, Canada also has some pretty harsh weather that can wreak havoc on a deck stain. Long hard winters and large amounts of snowfall can deteriorate an unprotected deck in little time. So finding a VOC compliant deck stain that will hold up to Canadian winters can be a little tricky. To answer the common question “what is the best deck stain for Canada” we will take a look at a couple different brands.

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Peeling Solid Deck Stain

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 weather, it will enhance its beauty and keep it looking good for years to come.

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Is It Okay To Let The Wood Gray Naturally

Most homeowners know that untreated wood left to the elements will gray over time. This graying is due to the sun’s UV rays. When the wood is not treated with the proper wood stain, it turns a rustic looking gray.

Another enemy of exterior wood is moisture. This can cause the wood to warp, crack, splinter and eventually rot. To protect wood from water damage, a stain or sealer can be applied. When a stain with added color or toner is used it will not only protect the wood from water damage but also from sun graying. The added pigment of the toner helps block out the UV rays. When a sealer (clear stain) is used it will only provide water protection and no sun protection.

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How to Change From Water Based to Oil Based Exterior Decking Stain and Vice Versa

The longevity of a deck or other exterior wood structure depends highly on how well it is maintained. A wood surface left alone or neglected will not last long in the harsh environment. Wood needs to be sealed and protected from moisture, UV rays, mold, mildew and such contaminants that will cause rot and decay. The most common types of wood protectants are oil and water based.

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Defy Stain for Hardwoods Review

Defy Stain for Hardwoods Review

Defy Hardwood Stain RatingsImportant Note: This is our 2nd Review of Defy Deck Stain for Hardwoods. Our first review of the Defy Hardwood Stain was started in 2010 and completed in 2011.

See Here for First Review: Defy Hardwood Stain Review

DEFY Deck Stain for Hardwoods is formulated with smaller resins that penetrate hardwoods, or oily softwoods better. If you’re looking for the best stain for cedar decks in a water-based product, then look no further. DEFY Deck Stain for Hardwoods is a synthetic, semi-transparent deck sealer specifically formulated for use on Teak, IPE, Mahogany, Tigerwoods, and other exotic hardwoods.

Defy Hardwood Stain should also be considered for oil-rich woods such as Cedar and Redwood, offering better penetration for these wood types.

Important Note: Testing for Exotic Hardwood Deck Stains

Exotic hardwoods such as IPE are extremely dense and difficult to penetrate. These wood types, when stained will always fade faster the other woods such as Cedar, Redwood, and Pine. Testing will be changed to 1 year instead of 2 years for exotic hardwoods.

Defy Stain for Hardwood Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

For the IPE wood, the customer wanted a reddish brown color to enhance the grain. Best color for this is the Light Walnut. The Defy Hardwood did an excellent job of enhancing the grain. It did not film or “cover” the wood grain showing 100% of the natural color tones.

Preventing UV Graying at 1 Year Mark: 7

For Exotic wood stains, we only test for 1 year. The Defy Hardwood Stain retained about 70% of the original color after the full year. It had faded but no graying of the IPE was visible.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 7.5

The Defy Hardwood does a very good job of penetrating exotic woods. No filming was noticed when completed and the wearing was acceptable after the year. There was some visible wearing on the steps.

Make sure that if you use the Defy Hardwood on IPE that you apply only one coat. Too much stain and it will not absorb leading to an increased chance of wear/tear. We learned this from past experience when treating exotic hardwoods.

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Wood Fuzzies on Deck After Prepping? Why it happened and how to fix.

Before applying a deck stain or sealer you should prep the wood properly first. Prepping is the most important part to the deck stain’s longevity. When evaluating the prepping process you should look at two options. Does the wood need to be cleaned or does an old stain need to be removed?

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Log Cabin Stain
Log Cabin Stain

Log Cabin Stain

Best Exterior Wood Stains for a Log Cabin and Wood Framed Homes

There is no doubt that a log cabin is a thing of beauty in most any type of landscape. To keep a log cabin looking good and lasting for many years, maintenance is key. Log cabins can be very high maintenance and homeowners know all to well the tedious task of keeping it in good condition.

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Should you use a Deck Stain or Clear Deck Sealer?

To enhance the appearance of a wood deck and protect it from the elements the wood need to be treated with a deck stain or sealer. Both deck stains and deck sealers protect against moisture and water damage but there are some differences between the two.

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Peeling Solid Deck Stain
Removing a Solid Deck Stain

Peeling Solid Deck Stain

Help With Removing a Solid Deck Stain

Once a deck has been stained with a heavy pigmented or solid stain it can be hard to maintain. Solid deck stains are like paint in that they form a film on the wood surface to provide weather protection. Once it is time for maintenance, a cleaning and recoat are necessary. After several years the solid stain begins to buildup and has trouble adhering, thus it begins to peel and flake constantly.

To stop this negative effect from occurring, or to switch from one deck stain to another, it is best to remove the solid deck stain completely and start with bare wood again. But removing a solid deck stain takes patience and a little bit of work.

To remove a solid deck stain you need to use a deck stain remover. Stain strippers contain aggressive ingredients to help break through and soften tough to remove deck stains. Once the stain begins to emulsify it can then be pressure washed off.

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Why Deck Stains are Poor at the Big Box Stores?

As a homeowner, you know that regular maintenance can not only prolong the life of your property, it can also increase its curb appeal and value. Nothing is truer when it comes to the exterior surfaces of your home like a deck. Deck maintenance includes regularly cleaning and sealing the wood to protect it from the harsh elements. Doing so ensures a lasting surface that will provide years of use and value.

To perform proper deck maintenance it is crucial to use quality products including wood cleaners, brighteners, and especially deck stains. Deck restoration or maintenance can go wrong in a hurry if you use the wrong products. The biggest culprit to deck maintenance gone wrong is applying a cheap or inferior deck stain.

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Paraffin Oil Based Stains

Most deck stain manufacturers today use both synthetic and natural oils in their products. There are several types of oils that are used in oil based deck stains. Paraffin Oil is one of the more common types of oil used today.

Pros of Paraffin Oil Based Stains

Paraffin is an excellent penetrating oil. Deck stains containing paraffin oil penetrate deep into all wood types. It conditions the wood while preventing UV fading and water damage.

Paraffin oil penetrates so well that it is recommended for newer wood decks. The newer the wood the more dense it is. Some deck stains will not penetrate the newer dense wood and will remain on top of the surface. Paraffin deck stains are able to penetrate newer more dense wood for optimal absorption and outstanding protection.

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Deck Stain Stripping vs. Deck Cleaning

Knowing the difference between deck stain stripping and deck cleaning can be vital to your deck maintenance or restoration project. It’s important first to understand why cleaning a wood surface is necessary.

Besides the obvious of overall appearance and curb appeal, a wood deck should be cleaned and sealed every couple of years to prevent structural damage. Water and moisture wreak havoc on wood inviting mold and mildew which can lead to wood rot. The sun’s U.V. rays also damage wood fibers and turn them an unsightly gray. In colder climates freeze/thaw occurrences can warp, crack, and split boards ruining a deck in no time.

By cleaning the wood and protecting it with a quality wood stain, you are locking out moisture, blocking sun rays, and protecting the deck from the environment. This ensures a better overall appearance and a longer lasting wood structure.

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Defy Epoxy in Cedartone

Finding the right stain for your wooden deck is the key to getting lasting results. But with so many deck stain choices it can be a daunting task to say the least. To narrow down the search for the best deck stain you first need to understand what the different types of protection are.

Without getting into oil vs. water based debate or colors, tones, and opacity levels there are basically two different types or characteristics of a deck stain – film forming and penetrating. Both of these deck stain characteristics will provide adequate protection from the sun and lock out unwanted moisture. They both can also enhance the beauty of the wood and provide general overall protection from mold and mildew, freeze/thaw damage, and heavy foot traffic.

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Exterior wood and decks stains are all designed to protect and preserve your exterior wood from the elements. Decks stain brands differ though drastically in the ingredients, solids, etc. Deck stains also come in variety of types: Transparent, Semi-Transparent, and Semi-Solids that will determine the opacity of the stain when applying to the wood

In this article we will compare the deck stain brands that we have reviewed to give a better understanding of physical properties, application info, and any other useful data that can help you determine which stain to use.

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Defy Epoxy Wood Stain
Defy Epoxy Wood Stain

Defy Epoxy Wood Stain

Discontinued and Replaced with Defy Extreme Stain

Important Note:  This is Our 2nd Review of Defy Epoxy Fortified Wood Stain. Our first review of the Defy Epoxy Stain was started in 2007 and completed in 2009.  See Here for First Review: Defy Epoxy Stain Review

Defy Epoxy Wood Stain is a specially formulated semi-transparent exterior wood stain that helps resist water damage, UV fading, and fungi. Its VOC compliant epoxy resin penetrates wood pores to lock out moisture and provide excellent protection from the elements.

Defy Stains are one of the few water-based stains that actually seem to penetrate into the wood properly. This allows for better wearing.

Defy Epoxy Wood Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

– Defy Epoxy in Cedartone is a rich caramel color. Typical of most cedar stain colors, the Defy Epoxy highlighted the wood grain with a golden/orangish tone. It was a little more on the orange side than other brands. We personally like their Natural Pine color better but used the Cedartone at the customer’s request.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– UV discoloration after 2 years had faded at about 20% of the original color. The color actually looked better (less orange) then it did when first applied.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– We noticed a little wearing of the deck in the high traffic areas and around the table. The majority of the deck had the stain intact.

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Armstrong Clark Wood Stain

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain ReviewArmstrong Clark Wood Stain is an oil-based stain backed by  5 generations of experience in the exterior wood stain industry. Armstrong Clark is offered in 3 different versions: Trans parents, Semi-Transparent, and Semi-Solid Colors.

Armstrong Clark Wood Stains are composed of drying and non-drying oils that separate during the application process. The drying oils cure and protect the exposed surface of the wood from natural weathering and UV radiation while the non-drying oils condition the interior of the wood by lubricating the wood cellular structure.

Armstrong Clark Stain Review

Armstrong Clark Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

– The Armstrong Clark showed a rich deep enhanced color after application. The natural grain of the wood showed throughout the deck surface. The Mountain Cedar color was a “tannish” cedar color.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– The Armstrong Clark Wood Stain in the Mountain Cedar offered better than average UV protection. When using a semi-solid stain we expected to achieve excellent UV protection and the Mountain Cedar delivered. We would expect that the semi-transparent and transparent colors to offer slightly less UV protection due to the lesser amount of solids.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– Armstrong Clark Wood Stain had little to no peeling. The only wearing of the stain was on the steps. This most likely was the result of the homeowner’s dogs.

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SW Deckscapes Oil Review
SW Deckscapes Oil Review

SW Deckscapes Oil Review

Long-lasting penetrating oil-based formula protects the beauty of wood with a rich semi-transparent stain. Scuff-resistant formula with maximum UV protection that resists fading.
Waterproofs to prevent moisture damage.

Note: This is a test in the Sherwin Williams Deckscapes Oil Based Formula. This formula tested better than their water based version. See Here for Water Based Review: SW Deckscapes Review

Sherwin Williams DeckScapes Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 7.5

– Sherwin Williams DeckScapes in the oil formula penetrated much better then their waterborne version. Application of the stain was decent and the color of the Cedar bark was a brown cedar. After drying a day, the stain looked blotchy in appearance. We applied a light second coat to even out the look.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 7

– 2 years later the Sherwin Williams DeckScapes lost about 30% of its original color.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 7

– The Oil based version of the Deckscapes is definitely an improvement over the water version. The oil penetrates deep into the wood. This resulted in average wear and tear for our test deck.

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Behr Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Wood Stain
Behr Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Wood Stain

Behr Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Wood Stain

Important Note:  This is our 2nd Review of Behr Exterior Weatherproofing Wood and Deck Stains. The first review was completed in 2010.

See Here for 2010: Behr Deck Stain Review

BEHR’s best semi-transparent product, this advanced 100% acrylic formula penetrates deep into wood to deliver complete protection from the elements for up to 6 years on decks and 8 years on fences and siding. The silicone-fortified formula delivers excellent protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. BEHR PREMIUM® Semi-Transparent Wood Stain is available in 60 custom colors that add beauty while allowing the natural wood grain to show through. The alkyd/acrylic formula combines the benefits of an oil-based finish and the convenient clean up of a water-based product.

Behr Premium Weatherproofing Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 2

– The application of the Behr Premium Weatherproofing Stain was a repeat from our first test.  We found that the Behr does not penetrate into the wood like the product claims it should. It dries on top of the surface like a paint. It had the look of a semi-solid with much of the wood grain masked by the pigment. The Cedar color on the deck made it look like a pumpkin.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– The one positive about the Behr is that it has excellent UV protection in the areas where the stain had not failed. Unfortunately, this was only half of the deck floor and most of the railings.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 1

– The cedar porch was “Behr” of stain on more than half of the flooring. The stain had peeled or worn in large uneven patches. Vertical rails did not have any issues.

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Olympic Maximum Stain + Sealant in One
Olympic Maximum Stain + Sealant in One

Olympic Maximum Stain + Sealant in One

Note: This review is for the Olympic Maximum Stain + Sealant in One. This is their newer water based version. For the Oil Based review see: Olympic Maximum Stain Review

OLYMPIC MAXIMUM Deck, Fence & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain provides a subtle color that allows wood’s natural grain and texture to show through. Core-shell hybrid resin technology provides deep stain penetration, waterproofing, and UV defense to strengthen, protect and condition wood fibers, ensuring the wood’s natural beauty lasts.

Recommended for use on properly prepared exterior wood, including decks, fences, siding, railings, outdoor furniture, and other wood surfaces.

Olympic Maximum Stain + Sealant in One Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 6

– The Olympic Maximum Stain + Sealant in One is a water based acrylic oil hybrid. What that really means is that it is a waterborne stain. This stain applies like the majority of watered based stains in that it is a film-forming stain the does not penetrate into the wood deeply. The appearance of the Cedar natural tone on the deck was a mild orange color. We applied evenly but the final look was uneven as some of the stain dried into the wood and some did not.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– After 2 years the Olympic Maximum in the water based version did a fairly decent job with only about 30% fading

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 5

– This stain had worn about 50% on the surface and handrails. Not a very good showing here.

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We have compiled a full list of all of the manufacturers websites who make exterior wood and deck stains, cleaners, brightener, strippers, etc.

The list is for all brands that we have currently tested and reviewed:

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Armstrong Clark Hardwood Stain Reviews

Armstrong Clark Hardwood Stain

Armstrong Clark Hardwood StainA high solids pigmented finish made from heavy and light bodied oils specially formulated for application on unpainted hardwoods. Heavy bodied oils provide water repellency. Extra pigments provide enhanced color retention on hardwoods. Light bodied oils combined with solvent penetrate into the wood. Armstrong’s Semi-Transparent Hardwood Finishes repel water, retain color longer and reduce the frequency of re-coats on maintenance intensive hardwoods.

Important Note: Testing for Exotic Hardwood Deck Stains

Exotic hardwoods such as IPE are extremely dense and difficult to penetrate. These wood types when stained, will always fade faster the other woods such as Cedar, Redwood, and Pine. Testing will be changed to 1 year instead of 2 years for exotic hardwoods.

Armstrong Clark Hardwood Stain

Armstrong Clark Hardwood Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 9

– The Armstrong Clark in the Mahogany color had a very rich look on our IPE test deck. We applied one coat at the Mahogany color enhanced the natural colors of the IPE with a reddish brown color. The stain did not film on the surface but absorbed into the wood.

Preventing UV Graying at 1 Year Mark: 8

– We found the the Armstrong Clark in Mahogany outperformed all other Hardwood deck stains when it comes to color retention on Ipe. Many of the stains we tested had lost the color within 8 months while the Armstrong still had a decent amount of color. See picture below for a sample board that we tested.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 9

– Armstrong Clark Hardwood stain did not peel on our test deck. A small amount of wearing was noticeable around the door. Armstrong penetrates very well into IPE wood.

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Defy Hardwood Deck Stain

Defy Hardwood Stain Review Defy Hardwood Deck Stain was developed to penetrate dense exotic woods such as IPE, Tigerwood, Camura, Teak, and Mahogany. The Defy Hardwood Stain contains synthetic resins that absorb into the wood leaving a natural semi-transparent finish. Defy Hardwood is a “green” friendly finish that blocks out water and provides long lasting protection from weather damage.

Defy Hardwood Stain should also be considered for oil-rich woods such as Cedar and Redwood, offering better penetration for these wood types.

Important Note: Testing for Exotic Hardwood Deck Stains

Exotic hardwoods such as IPE are extremely dense and difficult to penetrate. These wood types when stained, will always fade faster the other woods such as Cedar, Redwood, and Pine. Testing will be changed to 1 year instead of 2 years for exotic hardwoods.

Defy Hardwood Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

– We choose the Defy Hardwood in the Light Walnut color to enhance the natural brownish/red tones of the IPE decking. The IPE looked stunning when the stained was applied but dried a little lighter. Overall a very rich look to the IPE as expected.

Preventing UV Graying at 1 Year Mark: 8

– As mentioned previously we only test exotic hardwoods for 1 year. Defy Hardwood Stain was one of a few stains that lasted the full 12 months on the IPE wood. About 80% of the original color was left on the IPE.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– Being that IPE is extremely dense we expected some wearing of the Defy Hardwood Stain. Overall the Defy did well and smalls amounts of wearing were visible throughout the IPE on the flooring and steps.

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Messmers Hardwood Decking Stain
Messmers Hardwood Decking Stain

Messmers Hardwood Decking Stain

Messmers UV Plus for Hardwoods Stain ReviewMessmers UV Plus for Hardwoods was developed to penetrate and protect exotic hardwoods. This stain will help preserve and protect hardwoods from UV fading and water absorption. The two colors available will restore the wood’s natural color tones.

Messmers UV Plus for Hardwoods was the first stain specifically designed for difficult to penetrate exotic woods.

Important Note: Testing for Exotic Hardwood Deck Stains

Exotic hardwoods such as IPE are extremely dense and difficult to penetrate. These wood types when stained, will always fade faster the other woods such as Cedar, Redwood, and Pine. Testing will be changed to 1 year instead of 2 years for exotic hardwoods.

Messmers UV Plus for Hardwoods Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 9

– The Red Mahogany color was used for the IPE test deck. We choose this color since the manufacturer said it would last a little longer than the Natural tint. The stained appearance when dry was a beautiful color of reddish brown tones throughout our IPE.

Preventing UV Graying at 1 Year Mark: 7

– As mentioned previously we only test exotic hardwoods for 1 year. Messmers retained 70% of its original color after one year in the full sun areas and close to 80% in the shaded areas. Overall good results for an IPE deck.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 9

– The Messmers Hardwood stain exhibited little to no peeling on the wood. The stain faded evenly without any wear patterns.

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Penofin Blue Label Stain Review
Penofin Blue Label Stain Review

Penofin Blue Label Stain Review

Penofin (PENetrating Oil FINish) Blue Label preserves and protects exterior wood. Using trans-oxide pigments, Penofin Blue label retains the wood’s natural colors while penetrating deep into the wood fibers. Use Penofin Blue Label on fences, decks, and unfinished exterior wood siding.

Note: For this test, we used the Penofin Blue label on a vertical fence in Texas.

Penofin Blue Label Wood Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 9

– Penofin stains always present some of the most natural looking wood. The Cedar color used highlighted the grain without adding too much orange or yellow tones. Penetration into the fence was excellent.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 7

– After 22 months we evaluated the Penofin Blue Label on the fence. Color retention was decent as the Blue Label had only lost about 30% of it’s original Cedar color.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 9

– Excellent penetration into the wood means very little peeling. The Penofin Blue Label deserves a high score for this. Very small amount of wearing was only visible on the horizontal parts (cross beams) of the fence.

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Defy Wood Deck Cleaner
Defy Wood Deck Cleaner

Defy Wood Deck Cleaner

Defy Wood Deck Cleaner ReviewDefy Wood Deck Cleaner is a safe alternative to chlorine bleach based cleaners. Defy Wood Cleaner is highly effective at removing general dirt, grime, and UV graying while restoring the wood’s natural color tones. Environmentally safe, powdered, oxygen based concentrate that makes 5 liquid gallons per container.

Defy Wood Cleaner should be used with the Defy Wood Brightener for maximum preparation.

Defy Wood Deck Cleaner Scores (1-10)

Removal of Graying, Dirt, Grime: 8

– The Defy Wood Cleaner did an excellent job at prepping the wood by removing all of the dirt and mold. The test deck had not been maintained in 6  years so the graying of the wood cells was extensive. The Defy Cleaner did a better than average job at softening these grayed wood cells so that a stiff scrubbing removed them from the deck surface.

Cost Per Square Foot: 10

– How can you complain about spending only $20 to clean a 750 square foot deck. That is $.03 a square foot. A bargain compared to liquid packaged cleaners.

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Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Review
Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Review

Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Review

Important Note:  This is Our 1st Review of ArborCoat DeckStain. Our second review was completed in 2015. Please see here: Benjamin Moore ArborCoat Review 2016

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 needs to be applied. Available in a range of colors, this wood and deck stain can help you protect and beautify your outdoor furniture, deck, and siding.

We tested the Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat for only 1 year as it was introduced for Spring 2010. We used the semi-transparent version to be consistent with other field tests.

Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 3

– The Arborcoat after drying had a “plastic” unnatural look to the wood when done. 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 our test deck in Michigan.

Preventing UV Graying at 1 Year Mark: 10

– We only tested for 1 year but the Benjamin Moore Arborcoat did very well with preventing UV graying. The nano-technology seemed to fully repeal the graying effect. We noticed no color change after 1 year.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 1

– We got a call from the homeowner in the Spring of 2011 to look at the deck. On inspection, we were extremely disappointed. The Arbrocoat had peeled significantly on the brand new pine deck. Patches of the finish had peeled off the wood in strips. You could peel back with your fingers large sections of stain. The product did not seem to have penetrated into the wood at all.

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Messmers UV Plus Wood Deck Stain
Messmers UV Plus Wood Deck Stain

Messmers UV Plus Wood Deck Stain

Messmers UV Plus Wood Stain has been manufactured for over 20 years in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. Using a combination of natural oils (linseed) and synthetic oils, Messmers will protect exterior wood with 8 different transparent and semi-transparent colors. The trans-oxides will absorb the UV while preventing oxidation/graying.

Messmers UV Plus Wood Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

– We choose the Natural color as the manufacturer said it was the most popular. It enhanced the wood grain “naturally” without adding to much pigment or “orange” tones to our redwood decking. The knots of the redwood did dry a little lighter in color compared to the rich tones of the grain.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 6

– Messmers scored lowest in preventing UV graying. About 60% of the original color was left after the 2 plus years. The decking surface was just starting to turn gray. Being that the Natural color we used was light in tint, we would assume that a darker color/tint would achieve better results for UV protection.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 9

– The UV Plus did excellent for wear/tear. This finished absorbed deeply into the wood grain. A small amount of worn areas were noticeable around the perimeter of the home from water dripping along the roof edge.

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Defy Epoxy Wood Stain
Defy Epoxy Wood Stain

Defy Epoxy Wood Stain

Discontinued and Replaced with Defy Extreme Stain

Defy Epoxy Fortified Wood Stain is a MPI “green” certified exterior stain that protects wood from the damaging effects of weather. The “Epoxy” is not like a traditional epoxy that goes on a garage floor but rather a synthetic epoxy resin that penetrates deep into the pores of the wood. This epoxy resin hardens inside the wood creating a weather-proof barrier that prevents water damage and UV graying.

Defy Epoxy Wood Stain can be used on all types of unfinished exterior fencing, decking, and wood structures/homes.

Defy Epoxy Wood Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

– Defy Epoxy in the Light Walnut color added a rich semi-transparent look to the natural grain. The Light Walnut color was a medium brown with a slight hint of red. Our 300 foot deck attained a nice “mahogany” look to it after drying.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 9

– We tested the Defy Epoxy for 2.5 years. When evaluating the deck we would say that 90% of the original color remained on the vertical railings and 80% remained on the horizontal flooring.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 7.5

– The Defy Epoxy did well on 75% of the deck when it comes to wearing/peeling. There were zero issues with the verticals but there was some wear/tear on the flooring. It is noted that this deck is used for everyday access into the home. This is acceptable in our opinion and other related stains have shown wearing in high traffic areas.

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Behr Deck Stain Review
Behr Deck Stain Review

Behr Deck Stain Review

BEHR’s Premium semi-transparent wood stain offers a 100% acrylic formula that penetrates into the wood to deliver complete protection from the elements on decks, fences, and siding. The silicone-fortified formula protects from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Behr’s Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain is available in 83 custom colors allowing the natural wood grain to show through.

Behr Wood Deck Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 2

– Behr’s Premium Deck Stain is a 100% acrylic stain which means it is a water based product. We found that the stain does not penetrate into the wood as promised in its description. The product had the look of a semi-solid stain, not a semi-transparent stain. 80-90% of the wood grain was masked by the heavy pigment. A good way to describe the finished appearance is to compare Behr Deck Stain to a watered down paint. The Cedar color we choose was much darker/redder than other brands.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 8

– Behr Deck Stain performed well in the areas where the stain was still on the surface of the deck after the 2 years of testing.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 1

– The worst that we have ever tested! The Behr Deck Stain had peeled on 80% of the decking surface. This stain seemed to offer little to no protection on the flooring after the 2 years. The railings did hold up much better.

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One Time Wood Stain
One Time Stain Review 2016

One Time Stain Review 2016

One Time® Wood Stain is a 100% solid stain that can be used on all types of unfinished exterior wood.  One Time® Wood Deck Stain is a proprietary acrylate resin blend that protects by penetrating into the wood cells and cross-linking into the wood. One Time® contains no solvent or water to evaporate and cures in the full UV rays of the sun.

The manufacturer claims a 7 Year Warranty on UV Fading, Water Damage, and Natural Weathering.

One Time® Wood Stain Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 5

– One Time Wood Stain had a decent look to the finished wood. Very rich in color. We did not appreciate the drying problems that the One Time displayed. This caused a slick/sticky appearance.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 6

– One Time® faded considerably in the full sun areas. About 40% of the original color had remained. The shaded part of the deck still had stain left but unfortunately had darkened considerably.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 9

– One Time® Stain showed little to no peeling or wearing. This is the only claim by the manufacturer that actually lived up to its warranty.

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Hello and welcome to DeckStainHelp.com!

This site was designed to help with the difficult task of restoring your exterior wood deck.  We will go over all the needed steps to restore to your wood. Tips will include how to properly prep your deck, removing of a failed stain or sealer, brightening your wood, and which deck stain is best. You will be able to ask questions on each article and we will even have a deck restore forum for more detailed advice!

In addition, DeckStainHelp.com will have a review section for all the top brands of stains and cleaners.

Thank you for visiting and we hope our information will help!

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Who is Deck Stain Help and why do you offer help, reviews, and tips for restoring exterior wood?

We have been getting this question for some time now and we would like to explain ourselves for a better understanding as to what we do, who we are, and why we do it.

Who answers the questions and writes the reviews?: All reviews and comment answers are from our experiences as wood restoration contractors.

Why do we offer our reviews?: To help consumers research alternatives to normal big box store brands, give our experience and opinions on the top products (poor products as well) while helping consumers with restoration questions for their particular project.

Where to find products?: We do not sell products directly from this site. You will find links to the manufacturers and related sites for each product reviewed. Keep in mind that most products we review are available in select stores throughout the USA. Best to contact the manufacturers directly for help with this.

Are you paid by the manufacturers?: No, we have not been paid by any manufacturer to promote a product.

Are you affiliated with anyone?: The concept of this site was started years ago by an independent wood restoration site and experienced wood restoration contractors.  The contractors use and reviews brands and write articles from their past experiences. We reserve the right to protect ourselves by editing any potentially damaging comments. See DeckStainHelp.com Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Contributors

Are your reviews biased?: Yes and no. As contractors in the business and many 1000’s of decks restored, we have strong opinions on what works and does not work so it is hard not to be biased sometimes. Fortunately, we realize not all products work the same based on your particular environment and location, so we do try to vary our comment suggestions. You will see that many of our opinions and reviews are shared by contractors on other wood restoration forums and by individual homeowners on this site. See For an Example: Behr Deck Stain Review

Can we contact you directly?: Please place all product questions and comments on the site.

Summary:

We understand that not everyone is going to agree with our site and reviews and we respect that. We do allow consumers to post their own comments for each product review. We allow both good and bad comments on product reviews from consumers who have actually used the products. We will censor comments that contain vulgar language, contain links to sites, or come directly from a manufacturer.

Our advice and reviews are not 100% accurate for all scenarios. We do strive to help people though and feel we are offering a substantial amount of free help and advice. If you do not agree with our advice or site then please visit another help site.

 

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take in consideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.

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