Best Clear Deck Sealer for Wood Decks in 2024 4.5/5 (153)

This post was updated on April 30, 2024

Best Clear Deck Sealer for Wood Decks in 2024: Expert Reviewed

Here at DeckStainHelp.com, we are proud of the fact that we are the Internet’s number one reference for your deck stain opinions and reviews. We thank you for your continued support. Clear deck sealers continue to be a great option for protecting your wood deck from water damage, but unfortunately, do not provide any protection against UV rays and graying/wood darkening. If you have used clear deck sealers, we would like to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment below and pictures of your completed projects if you have them.

Best Clear Deck Sealer for Wood Decks in 2024

Ready to find the best deck sealer for your patio? Take a closer look at our top picks for clear wood deck sealers, and leave any questions you might have in the comments below.

  • Defy Extreme Clear: This clear deck stain is a favorite of ours. It’s also one of the best wood deck sealers on the market because its penetrating formula soaks deeply into wooden boards and leverages zinc oxide to protect against moisture, mold, mildew, pests, and UV damage.
  • Armstrong-Clark Transparent Wood Stain: Armstrong-Clark’s clear deck stain defends against moisture and sunlight to keep your deck in tip-top shape all year. The penetrating sealant offers enhanced longevity and is well-suited to areas that receive heavy rain or snowfall.
  • TWP 100 Series Clear Stain: TWP’s 100 Series Clear Stain goes on easily, requires minimal maintenance, and helps protect and preserve your wooden deck boards from moisture damage. The penetrating product absorbs deeply into your deck, sealing the wood pores and protecting the boards in even the coldest climates.
  • TWP 1500 Series Clear Stain and Preservative: Another excellent TWP product, the 1500 Series Clear Stain and Preservative is an EPA-registered wood preservative that works hard to protect your deck from UV damage, mold, mildew, and moisture. At the same time, it slows drawing and minimizes the risk of cracking or warping, even in colder areas. 

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 to keep 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.

How to Choose the Right Clear Deck Sealer

Finding the best sealer for a deck isn’t always easy, especially if you want a clear product that will still protect your wooden boards. Consider the following questions when choosing your clear deck stain: 

  • What type of deck do you have, and where is it located? The best clear deck sealer for you may depend on whether your deck sits poolside, near the ocean, or high in the mountains with lots of snow and rain.
  • What kind of weather is your deck exposed to? The best product for your needs may vary depending on the weather your area experiences most frequently.
  • What’s your budget? Prices can vary, but it’s critical to do your research and find the best deck seal for your needs rather than picking the least expensive option. You may spend slightly more upfront, but you could save on maintenance costs over time.

Application Tips for Clear Deck Sealers

Ready to start sealing your deck? Check out these tips before getting started for the best results. 

  • Don’t stain a new deck right away. If your deck is brand new, wait at least 30 days before applying a stain or sealant. Otherwise, the boards won’t absorb the stain. 
  • Make sure you know what type of product you’re using. Deck sealant, stain, and paint may all sound the same, but they’re actually three different products offering varying degrees of UV production, preservation, and pigmentation. 
  • Take the time to prep your deck before staining it. Sweep your deck, repair any loose or damaged boards, and give the wooden surface a good scrub before applying stain to ensure the wood absorbs the product properly.
  • Check the weather before applying stain. Finally, make sure you apply your stain on a dry, sunny day when the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Damp weather, high temperatures, or lots of wind can negatively impact the application and may result in the need for recoating.

Longevity and Durability of Clear Sealers

Even the best deck sealer will need reapplication at some point. However, clear deck stains and sealant may require more frequent maintenance and recoating to keep your wooden boards safe and protected from UV, moisture, and pests.

As a general rule of thumb, plan to reapply a clear stain once a year.

Eco-Friendly and Non-Toxic Options

Looking for an eco-friendly, non-toxic clear deck stain? You’re in luck! There are several products available from trustworthy brands like ECOS. You may also consider natural oils, such as teak, linseed, or walnut oil, though these may require more frequent reapplication.

Clear Deck Sealer Performance in Various Climates

As mentioned above, the type of weather your area experiences can be a determining factor when selecting the best deck seal for your project. 

For instance, if you typically receive heavy rain and snowfall or live in an area with high humidity, the TWP 100 Series or TWP 1500 Series clear sealants may be the best bet for your deck. On the other hand, if you live in an arid, sunny region, the Defy Extreme Clear sealant may better protect your wooden deck boards.

Comparing Clear Deck Sealer Brands and Prices

The cost of clear deck sealant can vary widely. However, most of the products in this list cost between $50 and $60 for a 1-gallon container.

Ultimately, quality is the most important factor to consider. Plus, spending a bit more upfront on a quality product may save you more money and headaches down the road.

Common Issues with Clear Deck Sealers and How to Solve Them

Some of the most common issues with clear deck sealers include UV damage and wear and tear over time. Other problems may include moisture damage, discoloration, or even brush or roller streaks in the stain.

If you’re dealing with brush or roller streaks, you’ll likely see them fade over time. However, wear and tear, UV damage, and rot may require touch-ups or reapplication to prevent further damage.

FAQs About Clear Deck Sealers

Read on for more about clear deck sealers.

How often should I reapply a clear deck sealer?

As a general rule of thumb, plan to reapply a clear deck sealer once yearly to protect your deck boards. 

Can clear sealers be used on all types of wood?

Yes, you can typically use a clear sealer on all types of wood. Keep in mind you will need to remove any existing stain or sealer before applying a new coat.

What are the best conditions for applying a clear sealer?

For best results when applying a clear sealer, keep an eye out for two to three days of clear weather, dry with temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do clear sealers impact the wood’s natural color and grain?

As their name suggests, clear sealers are transparent and allow the wood’s natural color and grain to show through without altering it. Instead, they simply help protect the deck boards from UV, moisture, and pest damage. 

What is the difference between water-based and oil-based clear sealers?

Oil-based sealers generally penetrate more deeply into wooden deck boards, resulting in enhanced protection and preservation. That said, water- or silicon-based sealers can also defend your deck against the elements, though they may require additional care and regular reapplication.

How should I prepare my deck before applying a clear sealer?

For best results, make sure your deck is clean, dry, and clear of any furniture or decor before applying a clear sealer. If needed, you may also use a scrub brush or pressure washer and deck cleaner to remove dirt, grime, and old stain or sealers. 

Are there clear sealers that also provide UV protection?

While clear sealers don’t offer as much UV protection as semi-transparent or solid stains, there are several products on the market that can help protect your wooden deck from UV damage.

Can I apply a clear sealer over an old stain or paint?

In most cases, you’ll need to remove old stain or paint before applying a clear sealer. If not, the old stain may show through the clear sealer and may even impact the sealant’s ability to penetrate into the wood. 

What are the safety precautions to take when applying a sealer?

When applying any type of stain or sealant, make sure you wear long pants and sleeves to avoid skin irritation from splatters, along with proper protective gear, including gloves, goggles, and a mask. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes, too.

How to handle sealer runoff and spills during application

In most cases, you can handle small spills by blotting up the sealer and using soap and water to rinse off excess. If you’re facing a larger spill, you may need to use a deck stain cleaner to remove the unwanted sealant.

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

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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Steve Cain
Steve Cain
6 months ago

We just built a potting bench from treated pine fence panels. My wife painted some flowers on it, and we want to apply a clear sealer over the entire bench, including over the painted areas, What would you recommend for this project? Photo attached.

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Steve Cain
Steve Cain
6 months ago

Thanks a lot for the information, Scott! We really appreciate it. I didn’t even consider that we wouldn’t be able to apply sealer over the paint, but it certainly makes sense now.

Steven Saulnier
Steven Saulnier
9 months ago

Best clear deck preserver. Deck is in direct sun. Sanding old satin off.

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Carol Whitcomb
Carol Whitcomb
1 year ago

We are installing a brand new pressure treated cedar looking deck. I read where you said it needs to have a tint to prevent it from graying( which I did not know) thank you! Can I seal right away or do I have to wait, and recommendations for what to use. I want to keep the color as long as I can.

Thank you.

R D
R D
1 year ago

We paid to have our deck stained last year; it appeared he applied too much. We complained and he “washed” the deck using a mild detergent and it didn’t help. He basically blamed us for the previous old stain that had already been pressure washed off. Walking on the deck, the stain still rubs off onto our shoes, so we nor guests can walk in and out. Looking for an idea that will seal the current floor stain so we can walk on it without tracking it back into the house. We hope to build a new deck in a couple of years, but would love to be able to walk on it again until then….. Ideas?

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

I have pine decking that I stained with a “Hunter” grey colour. What should I use to maintain protection without adding more stain, which will darken the colour?

Robert
Robert
1 year ago

I have a Mahogany porch floor that I sealed with Messmer’s UV Plus natural finish last year. I never liked the fact that is was flat/no sheen. They no not offer or recommend a satin or gloss finish because they peal and are slippery. I am ok risking this to a point for the better look. Is there a product I can put over the finish that I have that will give it more of a wet look?

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Kathy
Kathy
1 year ago

We used Rust-Oleum 10x deck restorer . It is peeling in some places after one year and we keep reapplying. The finish is very chalky and and any dirt sticks to it. The walk through areas are muddy and don’t rinse off. Can we apply a sealer to the paint that would help resist the dirt?

Matt
Matt
1 year ago

We have a new covered, screened, porch with a T&G larch floor in northern NY. We see all kinds of weather -30 with snow to 90 and humid Looking for a clear to very light stain with UV protection and good on bare feet. We love the natural color and dont want it to gray but dont want to add a lot of color. Any help you could give would be appreciated. thank you

Ken
Ken
1 year ago

We have an Ipe deck and cypress barn doors. We want to protect them from water damage, however we do want them to weather and turn gray. Your site says that clear sealers will accomplish this. Can you recommend the best sealers for this job?
Thanks, Ken

Olivia
Olivia
2 years ago

Hello,
The more I read the comments the more confused I get…and have spent hours trying to figure this out.. BUT…grateful to have found your site! We have a 1000 sq ft deck (oh my) and a patio cover that get sun the whole day. I sealed it last year with Super Deck which seems to have barely done anything. After reading reviews it seems the $20/gal vs $60/gal gets the same comments…that I will have to re-do this in a year. I have learned here I to pick a stain so that is new but helpful. I got a LOT of staining to do. So first I need to pressure wash the deck? Then stain it and then seal it?????? Thank you!!! From a mom of three that can’t spend any more time reading about deck sealers lol.

Jim C
Jim C
2 years ago

I have a cedar tinted at factory pressure treated wood deck which is three years old and ready for its first sealer treatment.

I would like to use a clear stain, but I have read that clear stains lacks pigment to prevent sun (UV) rays from long term damage to wood. Since my wood deck already has a stain should I still use a tinted semi transparent stain or would a clear stain be OK?

Curtis
Curtis
2 years ago

I have left over Defy Extreme stain that is probably 5 years old. I stirred the product and it still appears good. I have sanded the deck and plan to use this if age is not an issue. Does the Defy Extreme product lose its effectiveness over time?

Thanks

Circler666
Circler666
2 years ago

What’s the best option sealer or stain ? If the wood is iroko and there is snow for a few months of the year, then rain then high temperature 20-30c dry months with sun most of the day?

Garlan
Garlan
2 years ago

want to seal exterior glu lams

Roetje
Roetje
2 years ago

Hat is the best wood sealer (no pigment) to let wood grey naturally while resisting water?

Michelle
Michelle
3 years ago

We are almost done sanding off the Behr deck over we put on a few years ago. I was planning to use clear sealer (Thompson’s water seal), but read your article about its lack of UV protection. If I use a semi transparent stain, I would prefer a lighter color, but does a darker color provide better UV protection?

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Cate P
Cate P
3 years ago

What are your recommended deck sealer brands?

Cate P
Cate P
3 years ago
Reply to  Cate P

What about for a dock? Sorry I miss wrote my initial question. Thx!

John Mammon
John Mammon
3 years ago

What brand do you recommend for a new deck that will maintain the natural look of the wood while waterproofing and protecting from sun damage

Steven Goldstein
Steven Goldstein
3 years ago

Can a clear sealer be used over a semi transparent stain? Is it recommended?

David Colombino
David Colombino
3 years ago

I have a black butt deck that’s gone grey naturally I’m wanting a product that will seal and protect the grey?

Jeff Cross
Jeff Cross
3 years ago

I understand that a clear treatment has less UV protection. Although I am trying to get the full TRUE colors of the hand selected cedar boards used on the deck. I have tried 2 different ‘clear’ wood protectors. Both left the wood YELLOW😳. Cedar has beautiful reds and whites which is what I want. I am willing to treat the deck every season to help protect it from the sun. Would that be enough to protect it so we can go ahead with a true ‘clear’ seal?

Karen
Karen
3 years ago

Want to stain/seal cedar porches. What is the best product for uv protection and preserving the beauty of the wood.

craig martin
craig martin
3 years ago

I am putting new redwood 2 x2 on the top of of a deck overhang. The structure is painted white (just finished) but The redwood I have is so beautiful I want to just use natural clear on it. What is my best choice

John
John
3 years ago

Hi there, I’m doing a cedar T&G cabin restoration and I’m looking for a clear coat that will not darken the wood. My client had a mold problem due to no ventilation, humid climate & no circulation. My plan is to run A/C ducting along the peak of the ceiling and add fans to correct the problem and prevent it from happening again. My clients love the look of the natural cedar, they want to keep this look but every transparent product I’ve tested so far darkens it. She also wants a gloss on the ceilings and flat on the walls which is basically asking for the impossible to have a variation in the colors but keep the natural Cedar look. Does anyone have any experience using a clear or water based transparent product that has had success with this? Any suggestions would be sincerely appreciated!

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Denise Dougherty
Denise Dougherty
3 years ago

my deck is painted – can I put a sealer ontop of this to make the paint last longer?

DEBORAH SAUNDERS
DEBORAH SAUNDERS
3 years ago

why not?

DEBORAH SAUNDERS
DEBORAH SAUNDERS
3 years ago

Thanks. Not the answer I was hoping for though! We have our deck “stained” with a Valspar product 2 months ago and it is molding/mildewing badly. I was hoping a sealer would help. Valspar says there is nothing they can do and that it is normal. Also not the answer I was looking for!

DEBORAH SAUNDERS
DEBORAH SAUNDERS
3 years ago

Thanks. I guess it’s just something we are going to have to live with.

Harrison ned
Harrison ned
3 years ago

Can a severe weather wood be sanded after a darker sealer was applied

Samantha Brite
Samantha Brite
3 years ago

I installed pine soffit ceilings in my porch area. The pine is untreated and will see very little sun and little to no direct moisture being that it is a ceiling. However, I would like to seal the ceiling to make it last as long as possible. I also want to prevent the pine from yellowing if I can. I live in South Texas so we experience mild winters and extremely humid summers. Any recommendations?

tammyjenkins
tammyjenkins
3 years ago

what do you recommend for a clear oil based deck sealer? I have a cedar deck and made the mistake of using a semi-transparent stain on it. I plan to strip the stain and likely sand. I do not mind having to reapply an oil sealer on a regular basis. I want to avoid the constant stripping

tammyjenkins
tammyjenkins
3 years ago

no. I think I want to apply a penetrating oil that will protect the deck. I am in Minnesota so high intensity UV light is less of a problem than in other parts of the country, Nevertheless, i would like UV protection. I thought an oil would save me from the extensive maintenance that I encountered with a semi- transparent stain that peeled in 2 years. I thought that an oil would require yearly reapplication-but the preparation would be just good cleaning (vs stripping and sanding) The more I read, the more confused I get. your help is appreciated.

Matthew Gipson
Matthew Gipson
3 years ago
Reply to  tammyjenkins

What would I use on a new cedar deck far as a clear tinted sealer? Not looking to stain it currently

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