Deck Stain Quality at Lowes Or Home Depot 4.6/5 (71)

by Deck Stain Help

Updated February 2020

Deck Stain Quality at Lowes Or Home Depot for 20120

Here at DeckStainHelp.com, we have worked hard to become the Internet’s number one reference for your deck stain opinions and unbiased 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.

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.

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.


Please Rate This. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

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Anna E.
Anna E.

Then who makes good deck paint and where is it sold?

MDC
MDC

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?

Mshul
Mshul

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!

vyoma
vyoma

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.

Preston Lane
Preston Lane

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.

Loretta
Loretta

What is the best solid stain for a deck

Zulfi
Zulfi

Where can we buy TWP 1500, Defy or Armstrong Clark in Toronto Canada

John
John

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?

Thank you.

David Waterhouse
David Waterhouse

Which Armstrong Clark wood stain can I bring into Canada?

Barb
Barb

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.

Barb
Barb

Previously stained and clear finish, all water based. Sun worn, some peeling. Looking to see some wood grain at finish.

DaveT
DaveT

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?

Jenny
Jenny

So, which stains do you recommend and where do you purchase them?

Jennifer Poole
Jennifer Poole

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.

Betty
Betty

Does anyone have expetience or comments regarding Sherwin Williams solid deck stains?

Liz
Liz

Used Valspar semi-transparent precolored on new cedar log. Much darker than sample. Any way to lighten it up?

Kimberly
Kimberly

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!

Carmen
Carmen

If I was to redo my deck stain-I would like to spray it on with tank sprayer-can this be done?

Shelly Tinsley
Shelly Tinsley

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?

carol wagener
carol wagener

I am in Grants Pass Oregon does anybody close by carry Sikkens stains?

Linda
Linda

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

Suzanne
Suzanne

Anyone tried the valspar deck stains replacing Olympic at Lowe’s?

CrisG
CrisG

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.
1.Upstate NY
2.Partial Shade
3.Pressure Treated Pine
4.Yes
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’

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CrisG
CrisG

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.

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Joel
Joel

If not Lowes or Home Depot then where do you get good stain/finish?

Maria
Maria

Not sure how old my deck is. Needs an upgrade. Do not know previous stain use.Thinking of using red wood stain
State: Maryland
Deck is exposed to sun and snow
Currently grey color
Do I need to sand and what stain color/type is best

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Elvera Pierce
Elvera Pierce

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.

Chris
Chris

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?

Bill
Bill

What stain should I use on a pressure treated dock in Annapolis Maryland?

Neal
Neal

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.

Sean
Sean

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.

Ken
Ken

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….

Rocky
Rocky

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.

Slab55
Slab55

You recomend TWP 1500. Are you saying if I purchase it at Wal Mart the quality is not as good?

David Ward
David Ward

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?

Kathy
Kathy

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..

Donna Rumbaugh
Donna Rumbaugh

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.

Judith Genovese
Judith Genovese

How doesthis affect paint on a tin roof or if deck is over a concrete sidewalk?

Suzanne
Suzanne

Tried Cabot Australian Timber Apollo a few years back after properly cleaning our deck and letting it dry. It peeled within 7 months. So did my did my Aunt's deck. We actually contacted Cabot and were refunded for 4-5 cans after sending in pictures. We weren't reimbursed for all the stain that we bought and used.
Very disappointed since we have a very large deck.

Ann Rhoads
Ann Rhoads

Cabot oil base semi solid is now weird. One thin coat took week to dry !!

Andrea
Andrea

HELP!!!!! We recently installed a new cedar deck. We stained it with a 3 in 1 semi-transparent cedar stain that we purchased at Home Depot. It turned out HORRIBLE!!! The color is not anything close to what we were expecting, and as a matter of fact, it's ORANGE! I re-sanded the entire deck, but can not get all of the awful color off. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

R. Y.
R. Y.

Glad I seen this article, guess that's why the stain on my parents deck
didn't last no time.

Sandi
Sandi

I bought the premium semi transparent deck stain. A 5 gal pail for $166. Not cheap!! I've been staining for years so I know how to apply. It's peeling!! Literally peeling!! I've never had this problem. Wish I had read this. I picked this up at Home Depor. Been using for years and never had a problem. This year omg. I'm so angry. I have huge decks. I'm going to call them but I'm sure they'll blame me somehow. What stains have not changed their formula for the EPA? I couldnt find a decent paint for my exterior door last year. This is ridiculous. Greed or EPA stupidity??!! Behr should have at least tested their new formula before selling. This is going to cost a fortune to sand and redo. I'm furious.

Marilyn
Marilyn

This information was very helpful to me as I was considering buying the Behr deck over at a big box store but this info certainly changed my mind. I will go to a more reputable store like Home Hardware.

Doug
Doug

So where would you recommend a person to buy stain?

Deck Rescue
Deck Rescue

Keep in mind that more stringent EPA regulations with each passing year also caused coatings' manufacturers to change their formulas. More often than not, these changes were for the worse. Definitely agree with what you are saying, but curious how much of this diminished quality had as much (or more) to due with government regulation vs. profitability.

Dave Hydock, President & Founder
Deck Rescue, LLC / Deck Rescue Franchising, LLC

Eric
Eric

Did research on the web and learned quickly that my local Home Depot was selling junk. I bought TWP 100 Prairie Gray. I misdiagnosed how much stain was left on deck from previous owner. I didn't want to wait for Restore A Deck to come via the brown Santa Claus (UPS man) so I purchased with hesitation some gel like stripper made by Behr. What a huge mistake. It was brush or roller application and hose off. I failed to wear long sleeves and quickly found a few small alkaline chemical burns on my right forearm. I promptly flushed my arm with water and poured some soda (citric acid) on my arm to neutralize. Cleaned my equipment and then ordered RAD. Don't waste your time at the depot. Order or locally buy the stuff recommended on this site the first time. I found out the hard way. And yes I used proper protective equipment to include long sleeves and clear lenses on my old Oakleys when stripping with RAD.

Bob
Bob

How did the Restore a Deck work for you that you ordered on-line. Was it a pain to mix as a powder? What type of stain did it have to remove?

Bob

a man
a man

I am about to refinish a house for a man and I am leaning toward cetol 1 and cetol 23 plus as a top coat in a three coat system. The results I got in the past were second to none. I hope this line is still as good as it used to be.

Dave
Dave

I think this whole deck cleaning or stripping, and staining a deck every two to three years is crazy. But I understand it may be a reality. What about products like Restore? Do they last 10 years? What do you do then, a little cleaning and sanding, then re-coat? Who wants to use harsh chemicals to strip? I like the idea of Rhino Shield, but my budget is tight.

I have a multi-level deck with Trex decking and wood railings and frame. I just had my deck reinforced last fall, so there is some new wood and the railing tops were replaced. My deck gets a lot of sun, so I need to get it coated to protect it. I used a Cabot oil based cedar semi-trans stain on it 6 years ago. It looked pretty good at first, but in a year it turned a matt chalk surface. There are a couple of wooden posts that must have received more stain and they seem to have a paint like layer.

I tried cleaning a section, trex decking and railings that had a little mold with Krud Kutter. I liked this cleaning option because, from what I learned, it does not contain bleach. I followed the directions and it didn't do much, so I increased the strength to close to full. It was pretty good, but I still see some faint mold spots. Is that ok?

I'd like to find a one coat stain that will last. I don't like the idea of having to strip my deck every two years and re-stain. I have stripped a lot of furniture, but stripping a deck, that sounds like it will require a lot of harsh chemicals. What is that process like? That's why I'm considering the Restore type product. I'd rather avoid the stripping.

At this point Im pretty confused on what to use to avoid failure.

Carmelo
Carmelo

Dave,
When the deck installer came to do our railings and spindles, we switched to vinyl balusters (white) and switched out the wooden ones. The top and bottom rails were switched to Trax. They did not make a simple solution for installing the vinyl, so we ripped down some trex to 1x1x1 so they would fit into the hollow core of the vinyl baluster, and then screwed them onto the bottom and top rail.
Much happier now that all we stain is the deck floor. And it looks much nicer. We had Lighted Landings supply the vinyl balusters for much cheaper as we are familiar with them.

Debbie
Debbie

Do not use restore I did on two decks. Bad mistake with in one year of doing it. The product failed and I wrote them a e-mail with photos of a proper preparation before hand. They tried to say I did not prepare it right but I had back up proof. Still waiting on a response back from them.

Now looking for a semi deck stain that will,last.

Admm
Admm

Lowes in the Philadelphia market no longer sells Cabot. I previously purchased Cabot from them around
2006/7 & went back this year to find they no longer do. I do wish Lowes & Cabots
would remove each other off their websites as a distributor.

I found Cabot at an independent hardware store in the burbs instead. If it ever stops raining
we can restain.

Mike Horton
Mike Horton

I live in Burnaby BC and am considering purchasing the SIKKENS SRD 077 semi trans stain for my new cedar fence. I was told by a retailer that a new version of this stain is now available. I know nothing about the old version of this stain, but does anyone know about the new version verses the old version. I am to understand that this stain requires only one coat. True or false.

Paul
Paul

The new version is junk – totally different than the original. My refinishing project was a disaster. Now stripping my deck and starting over!