This post was updated on January 30, 2023
Deck Stain Quality at Lowes Or Home Depot for 2023
Here at DeckStainHelp.com, we have worked hard to become the Internet’s number one reference for your deck stain opinions and reviews. Those who have ever bought deck stains at Lowes or Home Depot can attest to the quality of their products. In this article, we investigate why their products don’t stand up to the elements or the test of time. If you have used a deck stain purchased from Lowes or Home Depot, we would like to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment below and pictures of your projects if you have them.
Deck Stain Lowes
We would love to hear from you if you have used any of the Big Box Brand stains such as the Behr Premium Wood Stain. Pictures of your experience with deck stains from Lowes or Home Depot can be posted in the Comment Area below. Please specify the brand of decking stain that was used and a description that is positive or negative as it would be helpful for other consumers who are considering which stain brand to choose. The majority of comments below describe issues of peeling, application issues, and color problems with most of the stains that can be bought at Lowes and Home Depot.
Olympic Deck Stain Failures
Deck Stain Home Depot
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 regular 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.
Behr Deck Stain Failures
There are plenty of good deck stain products on the market and the key to finding a quality wood stain is looking in the right place, or better yet, knowing where NOT to look. As you know, many of the big box stores carry a wide variety of deck stains. It’s convenient, fairly priced, and you will notice they carry some well-known brands of deck stain such as Cabot and Olympic.
So it would seem the search for a quality deck stain is over that quick or is it? There is no doubt that some of the brands they sell are quality brands but the problem stems from where they are being sold. Manufacturers of products are forced to make a “cheaper version” of their once quality products before being stacked on the shelves of any big box store.
Big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot compete on price, so they literally tell any company wanting in the door that they have to make a cheaper version of their product to sell at a certain price point. This is known as the Wal-Mart Effect.
What this means for a deck stain company is that the formula has to be changed so it is cheaper to produce allowing them to sell at a lower price. The bottom line is when you buy a quality brand of deck stain at a big box store; you are not buying the same quality formula they have always been known for but rather a watered down version. That’s right! A cheaper, less effective formula of deck stain that does not perform or hold up as well as it should. It is the sad truth and it preys upon unsuspecting homeowners every year. You buy what you thought was a quality wood deck stain and a year after applying it, it begins to fail, leaving you confused, frustrated, and back to square one.
Let’s Look at the History of Deck Stains at the Big Box Stores:
Penofin: Entered the Home Depot market in the late 1990s and was almost put out of business. They came in with the same formula but was forced to either move their operations offshore to keep the same quality or pull the line. They did the right thing and pulled the line.
Cabot Stains: Before Valspar bought Cabot in 2005, Cabot was considered one of the bests. This stain was immediately introduced into the Big Box Stores but with a new modified formula. Cabot has to yet recover the quality it had pre-2005.
Flood: Great stain back in the 1990s. Put into Home Depot with a new formula. Same results as Cabot.
Sikkens: Entered Home Depot in select stores a few years ago. A completely different formula that is sold at the hardware and paint stores. Sikkens was removed from Home Depot as well in 2015/2016.
Behr Wood and Deck Stains: One of the worst stains ever made. Just research the many angry and unhappy consumers on the Internet who have posted reviews.
Don’t fall into the trap of buying deck stain at the big box stores regardless of the brand name. There is a good chance it is not the quality product that you think it is.
Have a Review of a Stain Bought at a Big Box Store? Please Post Below.
Deck Stain Help & Questions
Stain Reviews & Comparisons
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.
Okay I purchased Valspar tinted transparent stain off the shelf at Lowes. The product was used on new pressure treated
built custom deck in 2018. All prep recommendations like cleaning, scrubbing and power washing before applying product even let deck cure 6 months before prepping to let new wood cure from pressure treating process. I noticed while trying to apply product it dried vary rapidly causing dark overlapping. I googled Valspar product to make sure I was
not doing something wrong like applying it in to hot or direct sunlight. Then I seen the multiple complaints reviews about the peeling problems people were having. Next after seeing this I called Valspar directly to talk to tech. I had already struggled with about 10 of 30 (20′ each deck boards). Questioned tech about product which they of course said people were not properly preparing deck and was told that you cannot second coat this product. So now I waited until cooler sunny summer day about 75 degree and waited til neck was in afternoon shade to see if that would help with it drying so fast. I applied product with brush by hand not with a roller to make sure I was getting sufficient amount of product. This actually helped waiting til warm shaded times product seemed to go on more evenly. But being 1/4 way though the deck surface when I called leery of what I had read, I finished the deck surface in about a week waiting for shaded hours. Well NOW I wished I would had stopped and ate the cost of 10 new boards. The product peeled just like everyone else had complained about. The deck was quite a bit more complex project with stone wrapped columns resting on top of the deck surface. I built this as a showpiece to last the next 20 years certainly outlasting me. The product failed within the 1st six months, as soon as winter turned to summer I began to see the nightmare. I have done more turn key construction projects than I can count in my lifetime, this as they say was not my 1st rodeo. So ending my rant, I can only say that I will never use another Valspar product as long as I still draw breath. Cant wait to hear from company rep now after talking to Lowes manager for at least a refund on product (like that’s gonna help a ton in the overall repair of a $7000 project.) because they cant refund on basis of crappy product. Maybe someday someone will start class action to recoop loses not this lip service where they are only responsible for product replacement cost and not labor to fix problem. I would be happy to except emails to get list of people affected by loses.
i was not happy with BEHR at all. i have used the paint products and happy with those over the past 18 yrs. the stain was terrible. i called and they sent a coupon for another replacement and it did the same thing. it did not last as it said and peeled within 2 yrs. not a good product at all.
Can you mix the stain with the sealer, make it a one coat
No. Deck stains are sealers as well so no need.
what about a good exterior wood sealer ?
None at the big box stores.
Sirs, your site is great. I really appreciate it. But do you have advice about stains for wooden fences? And best cleaners for fence? Thanks in advance.
The stains we suggest work great on fences and will last 2-3 times as long on vertical wood compared to deck floors. Look at these brands:
For the Cleaners, try Restore A Deck:
Cleaned& brightened my old stain penofin on redwokd fence buy it is really dark in most area is it the cleaner im using cabot cleaner& other brightner. I’m sanding 80 grit& using same cleaming out back deck (r.wood )also but 10yrs negleted grey weathered& hope doesnt get dark like fence b ut am using twp 1500 transperant stain making custom color 2ceddertone 1dar oak&1/2 redwood hope it turns out wish me luck
You should strip and brighten to remove the Penofing before switching stain brands.
I want to be a little skeptical but I’ve heard of this many times. It’s well documented, for example, that Walmart reduced Rubbermaid shelf space when Rubbermaid tried to increase its prices due to the increased cost of Rubbermaid’s raw materials.
However it seems that any intelligent company would realize that ultimately this practice of reducing quality would destroy their market? So my question to you is this. “One of the products that seems well respected is Sikkken, however Sikken sold their North America’s division to PPG. While some sites assure me the product is the same I noticed on PPG’s web site that some products are designated “Home Depot”. It seems that you are of the opinion that the “Home Depot” products are “watered down” but perhaps the products NOT sold through Home Depot may be fine?
(I hope this question and the links are ok to post as I think this information would be helpful to a lot of us.I wish there was a definitive way to test.)
Not sure if the versions are different or the same. We do know that Sikkens used to be a great stain but the formulas are not the same as they used to be since they have been bought and sold a couple of times.
This was a good article but why go through the process of describing all the “not to do’s” with buying deck stain from the box stores and NOT introduce -in the same read- a suggested alternative??? I was anticipating what you “experts” suggest in the way of a good quality better than box store choice…oh well.
There are numerous suggested alternative deck stain articles on this website. Over 100 “best” deck stain type articles and deck stain review articles.
I failed to read on further within the site. Apologies. I would be curious to know what suggestions you have for length of time before staining treated lumber in a humid/hot climate like Houston, TX and which of the highly recommended products you’d recommend (TXP or the AC)? I’d like to add that my preference would be to have more of a solid appearing coverage rather than the semi-transparent look. Is there a product that you recommend that has all of the protections and qualities of say a TXP or AC?
After reading this site, I’m very leary of wasting money on the Valspar Solid One-Step product they have.
Thanks in advance!
See our article on solid stains: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/what-are-the-best-solid-color-deck-stains/
Just sent a thank you for the article. Do have a question. I would like to fill the screw holes in the deck with wood putty. Is this a good idea? If so should I wait till time to stain? Any recommendations of type of putty? Thanks again.
Wood putty does not work for outside wood nor will it “stain” to blend. https://www.deckstainhelp.com/wood-filler-for-decks/
So if not buying wood stain at a big box store where do you suggest buying it, and how do you know you’re getting a good product? I have a pergola that I’m trying to buy a wood stain for that has a grey color tone.??
Look at one of these brands: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/the-5-best-deck-stain-reviews-and-ratings/
Check with them directly on how to buy at either a store or online.
I have a piece of outdoor furniture that I intend to stain. It’s oak wood and has been sanded. I’m in Arizona and this piece will be exposed to direct sun so am looking for good UV protection. There is obviously a myriad of stain options however, any advice on oil based versus water based would be helpful..
Thanks in advance..
Use one of these brands. https://www.deckstainhelp.com/best-semi-transparent-deck-stain-reviews-2020/
I had a new cypress deck built last year. Cabot was recommended. Its been less than a year and the stain is chipping, has mold all over it and turning grey. I need to re-do this deck and not sure what brand of stain to use so I don’t have to re-stain this deck every few months because it looks like its 20 years old and not taken care of. So confused what to do at this point
Send pictures of current condition.
We have a brand new cypress deck – quite large. What clear sealant would you recommend?
A clear sealer will not provide UV protection from graying. It must be tinted for UV protection. See this for new wood tips: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/staining-a-new-deck/
We don’t mind the deck graying. Gray would actually match the landscape and exterior of the house better than anything. We just want to best protect the wood.
Look at using TWP 1500 in Clear.
Just stained a barn with Cabot solid stain so far so good but now I’m nervous about it. I have another bigger barn that needs stain what kind should I use? Was thinking about using a solid stain.
Look at using one of these brands of solid stains: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/what-are-the-best-solid-color-deck-stains/
Used honey teak Australian oil last weekend. Very satisfied.
I used Cabot on a refurbished deck 6 months ago and it looks like I stained it 5 years ago.I can’t believe I will have to restain my deck already… very dissatisfied with Cabot.
Cabot has not been the same since they sold the company years ago and changed the formula.
Then who makes good deck paint and where is it sold?
See here: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/the-5-best-deck-stain-reviews-and-ratings/
And here for solid stains: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/what-are-the-best-solid-color-deck-stains/
As for where to buy, check with the manufacturers directly.
Wow this is disheartening. My pre 2005 Cabot stain Dune Gray was a workhorse and looking to refinish my 22 year old deck. Yes it lasted that long. It’s now 2019. I just got back from Lowe’s and Ace and the Cabot representation is almost non existent. The color swatches aren’t the same as online. I’m looking to do semi solid and a brown. I left empty handed. I am online researching because I’m wondering if I have to find something else. Now after reading this article idk if I want to pursue Cabot if their formula has changed and is inferior now. I don’t mind spending $$$$. You get what you pay for. Why are we all about price nowadays and not quality?
I am re staining my gazebo. I have power washed it and the wood looks good. I plan on using the Valspar All in One cleaner next. If the wood still looks usable do I have to sand before staining? Also I am torn between using Valspar wood stain or going to Benjamin Moore and using their stain. Is there a big difference between the two or should I save some money and use Valspar. Seems like Valspar is the most recommended Lowes or Home Depot brand. Thanks!
Valspar and BM both make poor deck stains. We wouldn’t use either. Try one of these: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/the-5-best-deck-stain-reviews-and-ratings/
Yes i agree. Do not buy valspar solid stain it is junk. It messed my deck up.
None on the internet gives a clean review.. it would be nice if someone ranked these stains for each type of application or requirement type.
Just applied valspar solid deck stain.
It went on well. Covered good, and could be applied on damp wood.
I gave 2 full coats to qty 12 , 12 ft new pressure treated boards.
Hoping to get 8 years with no damage.
This deck is in full sun.
Nothing lasts 8 years. Maybe 2-3 at most.
What is the best solid stain for a deck
Where can we buy TWP 1500, Defy or Armstrong Clark in Toronto Canada
You cannot. You can have it shipped but the TWP 1500 is not allowed in Canada.
I need to stain a fence that has been cleaned. I was looking at Armstrong cedar tone transparent or cedar semi-transparent. I am in Northern Virginia (4 seasons), but gets humid during the summer. Advice?
the AC would work great. Use the semi-transparent for better UV protection.
Which Armstrong Clark wood stain can I bring into Canada?
All of the AC is allowed in Canada.
Looking for a one coat exterior stain for wood doors, what do you recommend? Hoping there is something that last more than 1 year. Northern
Utah, 4 season weather.
Previously stained and clear finish, all water based. Sun worn, some peeling. Looking to see some wood grain at finish.
Door coatings are not the same as deck coatings. Sorry.
I have a treated lumber deck that was stained with Sherwin-Williams semi-transparent stain (redwood tint),
just 2 years ago, in central PA (fairly harsh winters and a lot of sun exposure),
it needs restained, what stain do you recommend if I want to keep a similar color and what prep process?
Strip and brighten for prep and try TWP 1500 Series or Armstrong Csalrk wood stains.
So, which stains do you recommend and where do you purchase them?
I recently painted my back porch steps with Behr Semi transparent stain and paint. Needles to say, a month later and it’s peeling!!! A MONTH! I’m so mad. I did purchase at Lowe’s also. I’m so glad that I haven’t had time to do the front porch yet because now I know not to use that brand again. Her I thought buying it from a box store was a good idea too.
Does anyone have expetience or comments regarding Sherwin Williams solid deck stains?
We do not like them or any SW deck stains.
Used Valspar semi-transparent precolored on new cedar log. Much darker than sample. Any way to lighten it up?
Strip it all off and start over is the only way.
I have 505 linear feet of horizontal, new, cedar, 6′ privacy fence (6×6) sections to stain. Installed in January, seasoned and ready to go! In the past I had a small paint company, which I used oil stain from Porter Paints usually semi-transparent and sometimes Cabot from the lumber yard depending on the wood, customer etc. Now, I’ve never been more confused as to what stain to buy. As a homeowner with no discount and a very tight budget, yet I know very well you get what you pay for. Labor Day weekend the box stores yelling $10 gal rebates…. Is everything they stock garbage? I need recommendations please! I want cherryish tones? Brownish red color. We have Sherwin Williams & PPG nearby. Oh my other issue, I brushed & rolled back in the day. Rolling a fence this big & horizontal makes my sides sore just thinking about it. I’ve looked at a Graco magnum x5 sprayer. Something under $300. I’d love advise on this too. I live in hot & humid gulf coast Alabama. Thank you in advance!
Best to use a product like the TWP for this. Much better than anything you will find at a Big Box Store or SW. PPG does sell the TWP in some locations. We use pump sprayers for allying the TWP. No need for the Graco.
If I was to redo my deck stain-I would like to spray it on with tank sprayer-can this be done?
Depends on the stain brand and type you are going to use?
Is the TWP the top brand? And in the First and third best of the 4. The Tsp 1500 series was 3. It is now sold at LOWES.
Single girl from Mississippi is confused?
TWP is what we use on a daily basis and our go-to stain for many of our deck restoration projects.
The TWP 1500 is NOT sold at Lowes.
I am in Grants Pass Oregon does anybody close by carry Sikkens stains?
Hi there, we built a new deck in 2016, more than ready to stain now. Do we really ave to sand the deck or is washing it with the wood cleaner and pressure washer sufficient? Also, not sure where to get the Armstrong Clark in northern BC, any feedback on C.I.L. Stain? Found at Home Depot, they did seem to definitely recommend over the Behr
Never used the CIL so no feedback from us. Anything is better than Behr.
Anyone tried the valspar deck stains replacing Olympic at Lowe’s?
We have not.
(New house) We just finished staining two 8×8 decks and left a larger deck for last. We are using Valspar Canyon brown transparent. It applied easily, looks fantastic, and last night’s rain is beading and puddling. I can’t vouch for long term – but we are very pleased
We are looking at using Valspar Canyon Brown transparent on our cedar fence. I was trying to find a pic online of how dark the color is. You used it on the steps in this pic? I’ll admit its darker than I expected but is beautiful!
We are in the process of stripping a deck that was treated with Sikkens cetol SRD natural oak (005), a product that has been discontinued. A contractor was hired by our insurance company. The horizontal surfaces are being sanded. The vertical surfaces are being left as the are. A couple of questions:
1) after sanding they are going to stain. Should a brighter be applied prior to the stain
2) we are trying to match the stain for the horizontal surfaces to the existing verticals and having some trouble with this. Semi transparent water based stains are too dense. We want the best product the will last the longest and one that we can reapply when needed easily. Any suggestions.
I have included pictures.
3.Pressure Treated Pine
5. Repair of damaged deck
6. Sikkens cetol SRD natural oak (005)
Contractor brought stain Olympic (limited access in our area to recommended products and he wants to use Olympic) Maximum stain and sealant in one. Wrong color and too dense. I would greatly appreciate your help as this has been a very frustrating process and want to make it easier next time around. Thank you.
FYI – deck is 60’x 15’
1. It would help to open the grain of the wood.
2. TWP 1500 or Armstrong Clark.
Might want to get some samples to test.
Purchasing Olympic stain from a paint store. Is it a good quality stain that will last and be realitively easy to reapply when needed? Deck is being redone by a professional.
Nope. This product has issues with peeling and wearing making recoating harder.
Having used the Maximum on both a swing set (4×4 yellow pine) and a deck (2×6 yellow pine) in South Mississippi, it performed about as expected. Waterproofing lasted about 4 years, color faded after 18 months or so. Didn’t have any peeling, and I sanded the entire surface to re-coat
If not Lowes or Home Depot then where do you get good stain/finish?
Contact the manufacturers of the better brands for help locating. Could be independent paint stores, lumber yards, etc.
Not sure how old my deck is. Needs an upgrade. Do not know previous stain use.Thinking of using red wood stain
Deck is exposed to sun and snow
Currently grey color
Do I need to sand and what stain color/type is best
That is a solid stain on the deck now. Use another solid stain. Try the Flood Solid Stains.
We have a large wrap around deck, pressure treated, in Canada. We tried one Behr product after another, moving from semi-transparent to a solid stain. We were fastidious about stripping and cleaning the deck as per instructions. In every case, the work was intensive and tiring and the product failed withing the year. Behr would always supply another product but of course the time, energy and labor where ours to bear. The last time they said that we should try deck-over. The reviews are abysmal and our experience taught us not to go through all that frustration a third time. We are now having to sand the deck and are treating it with restore 1 and restore 2 and am then using Armstrong Clark’s penetrating stain as per your advice. We appreciate all the information you present on your site and have appreciate the help we have received from you. You are correct in saying that Behr makes a terrible deck stain product.
i have a hardwood deck in Cape May, NJ. I want to clean it and seal with a protector that will bring the natural color of the wood (mahagony or teak I think). I’ve heard that Sikkens is really good. I cannot find the Sikkens deck cleaner products in the USA. Any advice on a good quality cleaner and sealer?
Restore A Deck Prep Kits. Stain with TWP 1500 or Armstrong Clark.
What stain should I use on a pressure treated dock in Annapolis Maryland?
Try the Armstrong Clark or Defy Extreme Stains.
I have been selling paint for 15 years, and power washing and sealing decks also, over 200 times, I’ve worked at 3 big box stores and for PPG. The key to buying good deck stain is simple. Buy OIL based deck sealer/stain! Sikken brand is great, Cabot and Olympic/PPG Timeless modified hybrid oil sealer is good. Any LATEX deck sealer (all solid deck sealers are now latex) does not penetrate or bond well to wood, and soon it will start peeling off. Flood-CWF used to be good 12 years ago because it was oil based back then, but they converted it over to latex.
Has anybody tried PPG Timeless deck stain? It is a new line at Home Depot this year. I needed to stain my fence, and it came down to TWP or PPG. I liked that PPG was one coat, and I liked the PPG color a little bit better. I am part way through my project, and so far so good. I know the true test will be how it holds up in MN harsh winter/summer climate. If it works well on my fence, I will probably do the same finish when I re-do my deck next year.
PPG deck stains are not close to the quality of the TWP.
I have been a contractor in San Diego for 25 years…have tried all kinds of stains…Behr being one of the worst, Thompsons water seal being the absolute worst for water and sun protection. I found a somewhat local supplier for TWP and have used it ever since…have turned a lot of people on to it. It is by far the best for appearance, longevity and looks….
Ok I understand deck stain manufactures are being forced to sell a lesser quality product to be able to sell there product in the Big Box stores. How can I know I will be getting the real good stuff @ the local builders supply stores? I am interested in buying Defy wood stain.
Defy Extreme has not had any formulation changes. It is also not sold in any Big Box stores.
You recomend TWP 1500. Are you saying if I purchase it at Wal Mart the quality is not as good?
Walmart does not sell TWP nor does any big box stores.
Second time I’ve posted this. Let’s keep it honest on here please. Great stuff, can be bought lots of places
We do not allow links to other sites and no, Walmart does not carry TWP. What you are seeing is a third party vendor selling on the Walmart site, not Walmart stocking or selling TWP. According to TWP manufacturing, these vendors are not authorized TWP dealers.
I have a large deck constructed of Cumaru wood and about 75% of it is covered. It’s about 6 years old and I don’t think any finish was ever put on it. What would you suggest?
For exotic hardwoods, try the Armstrong Clark in Amber color or Defy Hardwood stains.
I used Penofin rose oil deck stain in 1998….bought out what I could since it was going out of business. GREAT stain. Lasted, penetrated, great water resistance, no mildew or mold…. Penofin is back. Is it still as good?? I made the mistake of having someone else do my deck and select the finish…He used a water base and it was awful. My deck aged more in the past 3 years with this stuff on it than it had in the previous 15 years. Trying to find a stain as good as I had…Help!
Thanks so much..
We are not fans of Penofin as it darkens or turns black in color in many instances. We would suggest TWP or Armstrong Clark.
Last spring I purchased Arbour Coat from Hirshfield’s Benjiman Moore. I powerwashed and cleaned my deck and applied according to instructions. By fall, the finish was wearing off and dull. By the next spring the deck looked like it was 7 years old. The company would not stand behind the product and I will end up sanding, stripping, and re-doing it all over again this year. Very poor product! Thought I was doing the right thing by not shopping at a big box store.