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Deck Stain Brand Comparison 3.9/5 (11)

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.

Armstrong Clark Behr Premium Wood Stain Benjamin Moore Arbor Coat Cabot Australian Timber Oil Defy Extreme
Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Water Based Acrylic Filming Staining Water Based Acrylic Filming Staining Oil Based Penetrating Stain Water Based Penetrating Stain
Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid Semi-Transparent Semi-Solid Semi-Transparent Semi-Transparent
1-2 Coats 2 Coats 1 Coat Base, 1 Top Coat 1 Coat 1-2 Coats wet on wet
200-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 100-200 Sq. Feet Per Gallon
Paint Thinner Cleanup Water Cleanup Water Cleanup Paint Thinner Cleanup Water Cleanup
4-12 Hours Drying 4 Hours Drying 4 Hours Drying 4-24 Hours Drying 1-4 Hours Drying
Compliant All States Compliant All States Compliant All States Compliant All States Compliant All States

Defy Epoxy  IPE Oil Flood CWF-Oil  Messmers  One Time
Water Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain
Semi-Transparent Semi-Transparent Semi-Transparent Transparent and Semi-Transparent Semi-Transparent (100% Solids)
1-2 Coats wet on wet  1 Coat  2 Coats  1-2 Coats  1-2 Coats
100-200 Sq. Feet Per Gallon  250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon  150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon  150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon  300 Sq. Feet Per Gallon
Water Cleanup  Paint Thinner Cleanup  Paint Thinner Cleanup  Paint Thinner Cleanup  Paint Thinner Cleanup
1-4 Hours Drying  4-8 Hours Drying  4-24 Hours Drying  4-12 Hours Drying  12-72 Hours Drying
Compliant All States  Compliant All States  Compliant All States  Compliant All States  Compliant All States


Penofin Ready Seal
SW Deckscapes
Sikkens SRD
Super Deck
Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain and Water Based Filming Oil Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain
Transparent and Semi-Transparent Transparent and Semi-Transparent Semi-Transparent Semi-Transparent Transparent and Semi-Transparent
1-2 Coats 2 Coats 1-2 Coats 1-2 Coats 1-2 Coats
200-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 75-150 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-300 Sq. Feet Per Gallon
Paint Thinner Cleanup Paint Thinner Cleanup Water Cleanup or Paint Thinne Paint Thinner Cleanup Paint Thinner Cleanup
4-24 Hours Drying 4-48 Hours Drying 4-24 Hours Drying 4-24 Hours Drying 4-48 Hours Drying
Compliant All States Compliant All States Compliant All States Compliant All States Compliant All States

Synta Deck Restore
Thompsons TWP Stains
Wolman Durastain
Water Based Acrylic Filming Staining Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Oil-Based Penetrating Stain Water Based Acrylic Filming Staining
Solid Stain Transparent Semi-Transparent Semi-Solid
2 Coats 1-2 Coats 1-2 Coats wet on wet 1-2 Coats
50-100 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 150-250 Sq. Feet Per Gallon 100-200 Sq. Feet Per Gallon
Water Cleanup Paint Thinner Cleanup Paint Thinner Cleanup Water Cleanup
4-12 Hours Drying 4 Hours Drying 4-24 Hours Drying 2-8 Hours Drying
Compliant All States Compliant All States *1500 Compliant All States –
*100 is compliant in only 33 States
Compliant All States

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64 responses to “Deck Stain Brand Comparison”

  1. Bill, we really do not review solid stains. Just the synta product. When we use solids stains (which is rarely) we like the Flood brand. It seems to penetrate better. As contractors we like the grain to show and that is why we do not rate solids or use them for clients.

  2. wjmooney says:

    I'm looking for a quality solid or semi solid stain but there doesn't seem to be much on this website. Is this because they haven't been reviewed or there is nothing really out there?

    • All solid stains peel and this site is geared towards natural looking stains that show the wood grain. Armstrong Clark makes an excellent semi-solid stain.

      • wjmooney says:

        Thanks. I'm actually looking to just paint the fence a solid white and the deck with a semi transparent. Armstrong doesn't offer white. So if I want to use white, I'd be looking at repainting after a few years?

      • wjmooney says:

        I should have clarified, I only want to paint the fence white and the deck with a semi transparent stain. Armstrong doesn't have white. Since it a solid color would be only the fence, is there any chance there would be less peeling?

  3. Deb says:

    I live in southern Maryland and have an older pressure treated wood deck that has never been stained or treated. The VOC restrictions in Maryland limit my options. I'm currently considering the TWP 1500 and Deft Extreme stain/sealers. What is your recommendation for a deck stain/sealer?

  4. Tom says:

    I have a large full exposed red cedar deck on the south side of my home. It is 5 years old. I have tried 3 times to get decent performance from semi and soild stains. No luck. Sun just bruns them up in a year. My deck gets baked all summer. I live in ND and the winter doesnt help. I have gotten my wife to agree to let me use a transparent oil based stain and she will live with the color and grain as it comes through and I get to deal with restaing in a coupel years..I hope. My idea is at least it wont look like crap and will just fade down. I am, sadly, very well veresed in the sanding and prep involved. Any sugestions? I am leaning towards parafin oil.

  5. Joce says:

    Living in Ottawa, Canada. I have a recent red cedar deck (2 months old, will be 3 months when I will stain it). I'm looking for something that will keep maximum wood grain visibility. Deck is only exposed to full sun for the 1st half of the day, a part of the deck never really sees full sun (lots of trees surrounding the deck). Am I better to go transparent or semi-transparent to preserve the grain of my cedar deck? And which product would be better for it? Was looking at Armstrong Clark or Defy Extreme (but no transparent by Defy, if transparent is better for wood grain preservation). What's you opinion?


  6. Gene says:

    I live in Lafayette, California
    I have a redwood deck that is comprised of three seperate deck areas with a total area of approximately 400 square feet. The decks also include redwood benches and handrails that is approximately 20 years old and last stained approximately 5 years ago with Duckback Superdeck. The deck is in partial sun and shade. Many years ago I had a cabin with cedar siding in the mountains at elevation approximately 6100 feet. The cabin was finished with Penofin.
    What stain material would give me the best and most natural looking finish. Without any other input I would likely use Penofin again, even though it might not last much beyond a year or two.

  7. Befree says:

    I live near Republic, WA at 3700 feet elevation. My house has T111 with 5 or six rows of lapped cedar horizontally on the bottom. Since I live in the woods I left the wood tones on all of this and used a Behr trasnparent (I thought it was oil based) on it about 7 years ago. It is now in terrible condition where exposed to the light most of the day. I can buy Cabot oil stain locally or I find a real bargain on new Flood oil stain on Craigslist–15 gal for $200, but I want this to last. Is one better than the other? Or should I simply go to Sikkens for the extra cost?

    • Of the three you mentioned I would use the Sikkens. Cabot used to be a good stain until recent formula changes and I would not trusts anything on craigs list. Try to find TWP locally.

  8. Terry says:

    Live in SW Fla and just had a new boat dock put in 3 months ago with pressure-treated deck boards. They advised let dry for 3-6 months before staining. Looking for the best stain to hold up on p-t boards in harsh sun/salty conditions. Thanks.

  9. Gretchen says:

    Have a deck on our lake house in Ohio. Used a solid stain a couple of years go, and it has peeled and looks like we didn't even stain it in some areas. What would you suggest we use to stain it this summer? We want it to hold up well in the sunlight. It receives all day sun. Thanks for your help!

    • Once solid stained you will need to stay with a solid stain unless you want to remove it all by sanding. Issue is that solids will continue to peel every year to two. No solid stain can be applied over your current solid and fix the underlying issue of the old coating.

  10. Bob says:

    I built a cedar deck about 3 weeks ago about 200 sq. ft. My question is how long should I let the wood season before staining it, is 3 to 4 months ok or should it be longer ? also what brand of semi-transparent stain would recommend ? I live in Post Falls, Idaho which is about 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington if that matters. Thanks for your help.

  11. Sam says:

    No star rating at the end. Why?

  12. Donald Sutcliffe says:

    I have a cedar deck that I applied a semi transparent stain (Sherwin Williams 3505 Yankee Barn) in 2007. After exposure to weather and large hail the coating has flaked off in the sun exposed area. Where it is protected by a roof, the stain is in perfect condition but attracts dust.
    1. How can I clean the dust off of the stain and keep it off? I have used car wash soap with a brush and it will not remove the dust. I am thinking about using dishwater detergent and a brush. I think the stain problem is dust static charge that keeps the dust attached to the stain surface.
    2. What type and brand of stain do you recommend that I might apply over the current Sherwin Williams 3505 that might eliminate the dirt/dust problem.

    • 1. You cannot keep dust from coming back. Try cleaning with a deck cleaner.
      2. You cannot apply a different brand of stain on top of the SW without removing it first. It will not penetrate into the wood or adhere.

  13. Marge Boas says:

    We have powere washed our 25 year old deck and had someone replace the severely cracked boards with new pine deck in boards. The new wood is yellow looking and much lighter than the old decking. I would like to use s Behr semi transparent stain as the side rails are still a beautiful wood tone matching Behr's Red Cedar stain color. My dilemma is how do I match the new boards to the old for a uniform color? I have tried a few of the gray colors as a first coat on the new wood to try and "gray it up" and then use the same overall color on top of everything but so far no match. Should I give up my dream of all semi transparent and do the deck in solid stain and rails and posts in semi transparent? A timely response is appreciated!

    • First of all you should read the reviews on the Behr. They are not good. New wood and older would will not blend well with a semi-transparent stain. They will look better with a semi-solid. Prep all wood well with a cleaner and wood brightener and try the Armstrong Clark in a semi-solid color.

  14. Theresa says:

    I have a 12 x 25 deck that was built last fall. Part of it is covered. We are getting ready to stain it for the first time. I want to keep it natural in color and was going to go with a transparent stain. I was in Home Depot and looked at Behr Premium. My husband purchased a deck cleaner before we stain. After all my reading, now sure I want to go with Behr in a transparent stain. I live in the hills of Pennsylvania and get lots of snow and cold weather. Your thoughts?

  15. Susan says:

    I live in Massachusetts. My 20 year old pressure treated deck is in full sun and endures cruel winters. It was last cleaned and stained 4 years ago with a semi transparent oil product. It has worn off the flooring and a small amount still seems to be tinting the balusters. We just had it pressure washed and it's ready for stain. From my analysis, I think we should use an oil based product and we prefer the look of semi transparent. It seems TWP 1500 and Armstrong Clark are the top 2 choices, which would be best?

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Our reverse board and batten barn has just been painted with Thompsons (over an 8 year old semi transparent CWR-very faded on the sunny sides.) Would like to add an "over coat" with oil base to warm up the finish. Much read about Armstrong but not available here. Suggestions welcome.

  17. Nathan says:

    Hi, I have a new PT pine deck completed in October 2015. I'm ready to clean and stain. It gets partial sun (depending on time of day) and gets rain as well. I live in Atlanta, GA. I'd prefer a waterborne stain, but open to be sold on oil-based as well. What product do you think is best for quality and LONGEVITY? Longevity is obviously key.

    Thank you!

  18. Barry says:


    We have a 700 sq ft deck that extends out over salt water in the state of Washington. 3 years ago we applied "inwood" water based stain. The problem with it was that when it got wet, it became very slippery. So I have pressure washed it off and am about to apply a new stain, most likely an oil based, semi transparent. Looking at Penofin Red label, Messmers, Deft, and Cabots or. So my questions: 1. Should we do any more surface prep (the wood looks like new wood having pressure washed it); 2. Is one of these products superior to all the others?

  19. David says:

    We live coastal San Diego and have a trellis that we are going to stain with semi solid. We have termites dry-wood and subterranean. So it gets full sun and ocean air….thoughts on brand of stain?

  20. Mike says:

    I just completed my 560 sq ft PT deck. I finished the framing and decking last summer and the stairs and railing three weeks ago. The decking has faded already. I live in eastern PA so the deck gets snow and it has no sun cover. We would prefer a solution that would allow us to see the wood grain but protection is also important.


  21. Patti says:

    I have a very old deck. We recently replaced quite a few boards. The store told us to get Arborcoat (Not sure who it is made by). Is that a good brand? We were thinking of semi-transparent or semi-solid. Can you give me the pros and cons of each? Thank you.

  22. Susan says:

    Do you have a review of Behr Premium Transparent Penetrating Oil wood finish? It seems to be a new product, which is supposed to have UV protection, waterproofing, mildew resistance. Thanks

  23. Derek Z says:

    I'm looking for an oil-based semi-transparent stain to apply to green pressure treated plywood. It's for the roof deck of a converted school bus, so I expect it will endure lots of UV, foot traffic, and all types of weather.

    Which brand would you recommend?

  24. Mike says:

    I just sanded my 20 year old deck with an angle grinder using Diamabrush attachment. It did a good job it removed an old failing finish completely. Should i use an oil stain or water based? Do i need to clean, brighten or power wash the freshly sanded wood. Should i use a solid stain or semi solid? I am liking the Defy Extreme what are your expert thoughts? Thank you.

  25. David says:

    I have a 23 year old treated pine deck that has several coats of oil[-base stain. Last year we were advised that a latex stain would do fine over oil, but it has peeled and has scraped off where furniture has been moved. We have power washed and used Sherwin Williams deck stain and sealer removal, but still have lots of small pieces of the latex on as well as the underlying oil stain. What can I use that will adhere to both the oil and latex that remain on the deck?

  26. Susan says:

    I live in Long Island, NY. We have a large redwood deck with steps going up a hill. The deck and steps are about 32 years old with a western exposure that gets a lot of sun in most areas. We replaced a few damaged boards last year. We used a Cabot's semi-solid stain for many years, but then the formula changed and the deck would turn black in areas within a few months. We just had the deck power washed. Should we also use a cleanser & brightener? Then, what kind of stain do you recommend? Semi solid or solid? TWP or Sikkens or Armstrong Clark? Thanks.

  27. Alan says:

    Just installed a new massaranduba floating deck in NJ. Locally I can only find Cabot and Benjamin Moore being sold. Is there a preferred stain for this type of wood (ie Messmers or IPE OIL?) Is it worth ordering through amazon and waiting a week or just get it sealed as soon as possible with Benjamin Moore. I've wiped it down should a cleaner also be used prior to sealing?

  28. Tonyc says:

    I am about to put down a new Batu deck, 750 sq ft in the hills of Connecticut. I have heard that SuperDeck is good. I want a penetrating oil, nothing with a film. Please offer your recommendation and how long between re coat. Every 2 years? 3 years? I plan to use hidden fasteners in a groove. Does the groove need to be treated too? Should I buy it prefinished or put it down unfinished and finish later? It's getting cold in CT!!

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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.