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Clear Deck Sealers 4.7/5 (15)

Clear Deck Sealers and Stains for Exterior Wood

It is no secret that protecting a wood deck with a water repellent sealer is vital to its integrity and lifespan. Clear deck sealers leave the wood looking natural which may appeal to the deck owner. Without a doubt, a natural looking wood deck is a thing of beauty.

Deck sealers do give adequate water protection by locking out moisture. This is important to the wood’s lifespan. When water is absorbed into the wood it swells and when it dries up it shrinks. This continuous swelling and shrinking eventually begins to crack, split, and warp the wood. A clear wood sealer will stop this water damage from happening.Another enemy to a wood deck is the sun. Harsh UV rays turn the wood fibers gray and also cause warping and splitting of the wood. The problem with clear deck sealers is that they lack the pigment to protect against sun damage. So although a clear deck sealer will give a deck great water protection it will not protect against sun damage.

This is without a doubt a huge disadvantage when using clear deck sealers. The best way to keep a natural look and give the wood deck both water and sun protection is to use a semi-transparent deck stain in a natural color. The wood grain is still allowed to show through and with only a little bit of tone or color a wood deck can still look very natural, yet the deck stain has enough pigment to give adequate sun protection.

Clear deck sealers can be very appealing to deck owners looking for water protection and keeping that “natural look” they are wanting. This comes at a risk to the wood deck because of the lack of sun protection. If you are looking for a natural looking deck with both water and sun protection consider using a semi-transparent deck stain as opposed to a clear deck sealer.

Have A Question on the Best Clear Deck Sealer? Ask Below in Comment Area!

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50 responses to “Clear Deck Sealers”

  1. Karla says:

    Do I have to wait to apply a stain or sealer or can this be before assembling the deck?

  2. Carrie says:

    Can you use a sealer under or over a solid stain to protect against water damage and if so, do you have any recommendations for solid stains and sealers?

  3. rob wilkes says:

    I need a product recommendation for use on a new redwood deck, at 8500 feet (lots of UV), with snow, ice, in a very dry climate. Help!

  4. John says:

    Please list the top rated sealers and their ingredients.

    • Ingredients? That is trade secrets of the manufacturers and we do not have any knowledge on that. We have already rated all the best stains for you to see the top ones. Click reviews above.

  5. Ron Hough says:

    I am putting up a red cedar fence 100 feet long and I have a huge maple and a huge oak tree in my back yard.
    I want to keep the natural color of the wood what would you recommend we also have cold winters in inside of fence faces

    Ron Hough

  6. Greg says:

    What is the best clear deck sealer at a reasonable price?

  7. Tom says:

    Solid stains always peel on my deck….would a semi transparent stain solve this?

  8. David romero says:

    What is the best water sealant for pressure treated wood deck

  9. Dbbie says:

    What is the best clear stain for pressure treated wood deck 15 years old ,just power washes. Dont' really want color last time it tuned deck too too dark.

  10. Matt says:

    We live in Florida and just used Olympic semitransparent stain on our new pressure treated wood deck. I want to add an additional sealant to give it a sheen and extra protection from the elements. What would you suggest? I am looking to do it this weekend so preferably something I can purchase at Lowes or Ace Hardware.

  11. Don says:

    What is the best sealer for an épée deck at the Jersy Shore that was just treated with Teak Oil

  12. Mary Alice says:

    I would like to know the best clear deck sealer I can purchase I am going to be putting it on for the 1st time we just built deck last year. Also what is the best cleaner to bring it back to the natural wood not the gray color? I also need to know where to purchase it in my area.

  13. Kristin says:

    I just power washed and sanded my deck. The prior owners didn't stain it for 5 years. It's getting cold in NY so I'm afraid to stain it. Can I use a clear water seal now with the cooler weather (45-60 degrees) just to protect it for the winter then stain it in the spring? If so recommendations.

  14. Louis Goldsmith says:

    My new deck is almost complete. When done can I put a semi-transparent desk stain on it then or do you have to wait? Where can I get this kind of stain?

  15. Colleen says:

    I have stained the railing on our new patio with a light colored water-based stain. I have puttied to holes where the screws were used and then sanded them down. I would like to seal it now with a clear stain. What type of stain would you recommend?

  16. Kim says:

    My deck was cleaned and stained last summer. I am looking for a clear sealer, used Thompson sealer and wasn't impressed. Any recommendation for a better quality dealer ?

  17. Sharon says:

    I had a new deck installed last year. We sealed it with Olympic Maximum clear waterproof sealant
    ( it does have a toner – it doesn't mention on can but it gave the wood a slight color) says 3 yr warranty. The deck does not repel water any more 1 year- what can I use to seal deck. I plan on power washing deck as is starting to show signs of water darkening. What can we use?

  18. Betsy Minehan says:

    What about Sikkens one coat for an entry floor that is mostly covered? Will it protect the wood from water and foot traffic?

  19. Ben Bryant says:

    I'm using reclaimed boards that have been previously stained by tar. The staining is fairly inconsistent creating a large variance in color. We really like the way the wood looks as it is. So after some wire brushing & light sanding we want to seal it with something truly clear. I don't want any sort of toner or color that may change it. What would you suggest to seal & protect it as well as seal in the odor of the tar?

    • You cannot seal over top of a deck stain. Will not work. Also using a wire brush could have negative impacts. If any part of the wire metal is left in the wood, it will rust and turn black when it rains on it. A wood brightener will remove the rust issue, but will also change the color of the wood some.

  20. Russ says:

    Do you have a Rating for Deck sealers that are Crystal clear?

  21. Keith says:

    My cedar deck is fully stripped and cleaned and looks very light when dry, but the color really pops when wet. What will it look like after the Defy Extreme clear is applied (and dried)? Will it have a wet look, or will it revert back to the dry looks once the Defy cures? Thanks.

  22. Rena says:

    I live in Missouri and have a 3yr old untreated deck that is 1/2 totally covered, and 1/2 that is full sun. I know the full sun part will need to be treated probably twice as often as the full shade part, but I don't want there to be a obvious "line" or color difference. I thought if I went with a clear sealant hopefully it wouldn't be as obvious. Is there a brand or something you can recommend?

    • It will show a difference when using clear. Exposed wood will gray will covered will not.

      • Rena says:

        If clear will show a difference, is there something that wouldn't show the difference as much? I just read on your site it's better to use a tinted sealer in direct sun? Is there one you can recommend that would maybe blend with the shaded deck older sealer better since I will be re-doing the sunny part more often? I have a very large 1 level deck, so re-doing the entire deck each time to avoid the color difference is something I would like to avoid.

        • Are these two different decks? You cannot just do half a deck, it will show.

          • Rena says:

            No, it is 1 very large continuous deck with 1/2 getting absolutely no sun, and the other 1/2 receiving constant sun. So you're saying I will have to re-do the entire deck even though only the sun part needs re-sealed and the shade part looks like I just sealed it? I realize it will show using a tinted sealer, that's why I had asked about using a clear.

          • Yes you will need to do all the flooring. You cannot stop and start in the middle of a continuous deck when prepping and staining. It will never blend and look bad.

  23. glenda conley says:

    when do I stai a new deck

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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.