Latest Consumer Magazine Reports on Decking Stains 4.3/5 (159)

by Deck Stain Help

Updated February 2020

2020 Latest Consumer Magazine Reports on Decking Stains

Consumer Reports Deck Stain Ratings

Consumer Reports Deck Stain Ratings

Please read this article and post any questions you have in the comment area below.

Latest Consumer Magazine Reports on Decking Stains is out again this year and we have been getting some questions as to why our ratings differ so much compared to their highest rated products. We have compiled a list of reasons why we believe our reviews and ratings are more realistic and honest examples of how a deck stain actually performs.

Contractor Restoration

Reviews and articles are posted from our experience as contractors who specialize in exterior wood restoration. We are experienced in the trade of prepping and applying a stain to an exterior deck.

Real-World Testing vs. Individual Board Testing

The stains are tested on actual decks with normal exposure to weather and traffic. Consumers use a test on an individual board that sees no traffic or use. This board is not exposed to normal everyday “real world” conditions.
Brands Tested: Big Box Store Brands vs All Stain Brands

We test all available brands and versions. Consumers test mainly big box store brands such as Behr, Sherwin William, Cabots, etc. Many of the best wood stains are not available at these stores but rather in high-end paint stores, lumber yards, or online.

Consumers Test Appearance Only for Mildew, Cracking, Wearing, Color Change, Dirt

Consumers mainly test only for the appearance of the stain after a period of accelerated testing. They do not take into consideration many of the requirements that we look for.

  • Ease of application
  • Cost per square foot
  • Difficulty in reapplying in the future

Free vs. paid subscription

Our help articles, reviews, and ratings are free for all to read and post their own experience when working with a particular stain. Consumers is a paid subscription that requires a monthly or yearly fee to access.

Overall Ratings On The Web

Our help articles, ratings, and reviews for decking finishes are consistent with real-world experiences across the Internet. For example, Consumers rates Behr Stains “Best” while we gave it the worst deck stain rating of any brand tested. In our opinion, this is absolutely ridiculous. A quick search online for “Behr deck stain failure” will produce a substantial amount of unhappy and mad customers. In fact, Consumers own “user ratings” show that homeowners who have used Behr Stains gave it a 1 Star out of 5! We have never met an experienced contractor who would use Behr on a customer’s deck. We encourage potential deck stain buyers to do thorough research online prior to buying.

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

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L Allan
L Allan

I have a new deck. Replaced deck boards with 2×6. Pine treated and klin dried. Deck is in NC and gets full sun. Old boards cracked and started breaking after 10 years.
Deck is about 2’ from ground.
What do you recommend. I prefer oil based products. Just seem to last longer. I am not worried about appearances just making the wood last. Should I paint the under side. I have used Sikkens products in past and TWP on other projects. I have also used SW porch and floor.
Thoughts on if I need to clean wood or sand and your recommendation for stain or paint.

Dawn Bruce
Dawn Bruce

Hi,found “flood” finally at Dunn and Edwards. Can’t wait to apply it I’ll post before and after pictures. Thanks, the advice really helped

Dawn Bruce
Dawn Bruce

Hi,what is the best tintable water base or semi solid stain that I can pick up at Lowe’s or home Depot? I live in California mountains. Snowy winter. Deck is partially shaded. I’ve already done all prep but don’t have time to order product online. Thanks

Sherri R Simpson
Sherri R Simpson

I used Sherwin Williams Superdeck semi-transparent stain and it began peeling within 6 months. It looks awful and they will not fix the problem. They claim it is due to wood delamination (water has infiltrated the wood causing it to expand more than the paint can expand).

Ron
Ron

Living in NE Ohio I’ve used Olympic Maximum Semi-transparent Caramel on my deck for over 20 years. Admittedly I’ve neglected the deck for a couple of years. I’d like to change to a solid stain. I’ve considered big box SW since my son in law can get a deal on the stain. It’s an exposed deck receiving direct sunlight intermittently throughout the day as there are also trees covering portions of it. I’ve done exhaustive research and have info overload until I ran across your site. I’m looking for an unbiased recommendation before the deck season starts and the rain finally stops. Thank you

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Ricardo
Ricardo

After looking at your deck, I will recommend Sherwin Williams Super Deck “Deck&Dock” .

I can see the peeling starts right on the cracks, that is created by moisture sitting there for months. The deck and dock stain is a “Thick” stain that you have to apply it with a 1/2 inch roller and make sure it “fills in” the cracks. so there will not be more cracks creating peeling. I apply only one heavy coat and it last 4 years. the main key here is to sand the floor (60 grid) before staining. check our site customrenovationsus.com

Brian Burke
Brian Burke

We would like any comments, positive or negative, about Superdeck Deck & Dock Elastomeric Coating for decks. This is touted to “flex” with weather changes. We have tried several different brands but they all peel within a year.

Kubi
Kubi

Do not use it.

Ricardo
Ricardo

I have used it over 50 times and it is the best product for “old wood”. it fills in the cracks and prevent rotten wood. whe it is dry the stain is like a rubber coat that moves with the wood if it gets cold or hot.

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Lynne
Lynne

Looking to restore a PT wood deck at a lake property in Michigan. Was previously painted by last owners and peeled off in the first two years after we arrived. Deck is in PT sun/shade damp area with high traffic pattern to main entrance of the cottage. Have removed most of the previous treatment/paint/stain with power washer. Still a few small areas which could not be removed, even with belt sander. Looking for suggestions on what to use as pre-treat/cleaner/stripper and then what product to use for a solid to semi-solid stain application. Looks like every product under the sun has been mentioned here, with no clear winner. Please advise. Thank you in advance for your help!

Linda
Linda

Another question–you highly recommend TWP versus Behr and Super Deck appears to be getting a lot of bad reviews. I am talking about a vertical surface-new red cedar fence. TWP doesn’t have the variety of colors I want. Do you have another recommendation?

Byron
Byron

Have you tested CIL stains ? Thanks

Thomas Elliott
Thomas Elliott

Which is the best water-based semitransparent stain available at brick-and-mortar stores?

Chris
Chris

I am restaining some cedar siding. How does TWP 100 compare with Ready Seal Semitransparent stain as far as longevity, looks and ease of application?. Both are oil based and have good reviews.

Thank you.

SUSAN a WILHELM
SUSAN a WILHELM

My contractor wants to use boodge on our new redwood deck. What do you think? And how long might I expect this product to last?

Michael Lang
Michael Lang

I’m building a shed with plywood and I’d like to use deck stain. Based on your reviews, I’m leaning towards the Defy Extreme. Any reason not to use this on plywood? How would you prep plywood for deck stain. I would think that using the cleaners, brighteners and then power washing would cause the plywood to swell, warp and possibly de-laminate. I know this is a deck site, but I’m hoping for advice before I spend money and time and screw up new plywood.

evefc
evefc

My new contractor power washed deck and fence but much of the old semi-transparent oil based Cabot stain remains. It was originally applied in 2011 by an inexperienced contractor who over applied 2 thick coats and have been unable to removed via power washing several times since then. It does not peel but adheres firmly. The new contractor said he will now sand it lightly to allow new Olympic semi-transaparent to stick to the old surface, although he knows the old stain will remain. Isn’t this a problem since some areas currently still show stain while others do not? Won’t the areas that still hold stain appear darker after new stain is applied?

Kenneth
Kenneth

Looking to stain a pressure treated fence that has been built for about 9 months. Live in central North Carolina. I owould like to use a semi transparent stain because I like to see some wood grain. What would be your product recommendation? I would like a product that would last a few years.

Mark
Mark

My home is sided with redwood lapped material. Has never been painted. Has always been treated with a transparent oil based sealer. Every 4 years I have it completely pressure washed, cleaned and brightened prior to application of new sealer. The house is 32 years old and is very well maintained. The first years when it was new I had used CWF which back then seemed to be a good product until formula was changed. I then switched to Penofin and again once formula changed I then switched to Superdeck. Again I prep the house very well. It takes about 5 days to do it right.
I’m about to do it again this year prior to winter setting in. After reading several reviews about superdeck im second guessing myself. Read a lot on Armstrong Clark product. What is your opinion. Again I usually use a transparent stain as I like the way the natural grain of the redwood shows through. Thanks

Paul
Paul

Wow what a review. Obviously you haven’t talked to any good painters lately.
First of all this is stain we’re talking about here, watered down color that offers a water sealant protective coat. Anyone can make that happen. It’s about experience and application, if you ask a real professional painter… I don’t know anyone like that but I digress…
I have just completed 3 decks/stair cases with a Behr semi solid that had been tinted to our liking and it looks amazing. It’s on my friends house and we had no shortage of money to work with. Normally I would have used sherwin Williams where I can also get Cabot products if I wanted but again, we’re talking about stain here.

ed kent
ed kent

Put down Restore on wood deck Aug. 2011. A very little chipping two years ago. a lot more now. Is this the same product sold by original co. or by Rustoleum. There is a web site syntadeckrestore.com on can.

Roger Harris
Roger Harris

How does Pittsburgh clear deck sealer rate compared to Cabot clear and Olympic clear

wwalker01
wwalker01

11 year old deck, never been coated but kept clean. 3/4 under cover with some graying and some mildew. located in western NC, 2000 ft elevation. we want to coat it and use the best product out there. my research sez to use an oil based semi-stain after we clean it good. What do you recommend?

piw8620
piw8620

Has anyone used TWP on bambo privacy fencing. I live in South Florida which is very humid. I want to put up an economical privacy fence (to improve a chain link fence), but don’t want to find it mildewed immediately.

David Jordan
David Jordan

I live in Michigan. I have a 750 sq.ft. pressure treated deck. About six years ago I applied Restore Deck coating and was the worst decision ever made. Peeled off after two years, reapplied restore to the bare spots and same problem the following year. Used the best stripper I could find to get back to bare wood with no results. Finally sanded the entire deck with belt sander to get about 90 per cent up. Whats the BEST S stain or paint to put down now. My next step is tear out and replace with composit deck.

clint
clint

Why do you have to lay the fabric on plywood surfaces and it is not on wood planks or concrete? i can see the seems being done …. but the entire deck

Joe
Joe

Many of your responses to people who are looking to change stain manufacturers state that you first need to use a stripper to remove the old stain and then follow up with a brightener. I have used Mesmers transparent stain for many years, but would like to use TWP 1500 just because it gets high ratings. It has been about 5 years since I last stained the house and the old stain is dry (of course). Since it’s house siding with a lot of vertical surface, with high areas, there is a tremendous amount of work involved in stripping, brightening and then staining. Why do I need all this prep? What will happen if I don’t prep and just apply the TWP over the Mesmers? BTW, thanks for all you do, you must be a busy guy replying to all of us neophyte amateurs who ask silly questions.

Alyssa Hoop
Alyssa Hoop

We are looking to add to our deck and then try to restore some existing wood. I have read some reviews on SuperDeck and Dock… what is the best pain that I can get?

Roger
Roger

What is the best wood sealer

Rob
Rob

I don’t usually participate in these discussions, but I have to say something after the disappointment and discusted feeling this product has given me. I’m experiencing the exact same thing that everyone is complaining about. It looks the same if not worse than the pictures that were posted below.
I spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on beautiful cedar. I did an amazing job and thought the deck looked great. It’s now been almost two years and the deck now looks dirty and blackened. It looks like black mold in growing in the stain itself.
I am embarrassed to show it to anyone who knows how much time and money I spent on it!
As the others have said, the stain did not spread evenly, it felt tacky and slippery for weeks and just seemed to trap dirt and get darker as time went on. The deck was sanded and prepped properly. It’s in the open and after reading the responses from the “pros”, I don’t care what their explanations are, there is no reason for it to look the way it does after less than two years!
I am now faced with having to strip, sand and start over! Not sure what I will do with the full and expensive can of Duckback I have remaining, but you can bet that it will never be used!
This year I have replaced the front steps and used a different stain on the cedar. Already I can see and feel a difference. The Olympic stain I used spread more evenly, feels dry after 2 days and is not slippery like the Duckback.
Most stores in Canada no longer carry this product because of the new enviromental laws – 2 yrs too late for me but thank god! If it’s still available in the US – Do Not Buy It!

Jody Voight
Jody Voight

Contractor is planning to refinish our logsiding with Boodge Weatherguard. Does anyone have experience with this oil based stain?

Trey
Trey

I’ve got a 10 month old cedar deck. Never been stained. I plan on cleaning using a brightening & cleaning product before I stain. My deck faces south-west. I live in MN. I’m leaning towards twp 101 but Armstrong Clark is on my radar as well… which of these two stains will perform best? Is there a better oil based semi-trans option? I want the best of the best.

Michael
Michael

I just had steps, hand railings and posts installed which are tight knot cedar about 3 weeks ago. We want to use the best product available to keep the original color of the wood. We live in Union, WA surrounded by saltwater and evergreen trees. Some of the areas do not get very much sun. What is recommended and how to apply. The railings are stainless steel and decking Timber Tech. Thank you.

Neil Jonas
Neil Jonas

how do you rate Thompson Waterseal

Michael
Michael

What Brand Solid Stain should we use for a New Deck?? I think I made a mistake…
I am about to stain a 1 year old deck on our new home for the first time. I went to Sherwin Williams today. I was told that the Deck and Dock Coating would be a great choice if I wanted to spend a little extra money. The benefit being I would not have to touch the deck floor for 6-10 years and not have to touch the railings for 10-15 years. Seamed like a lofty goal but sounded good to me.

After reading the online reviews on this product, I feel like I just wasted $400 on this product. It would appear that I should just throw it out! Pealing, flaking off, washing off, and just poor quality is all I see. I have not yet applied this to my deck. Does anyone know what is the BEST of the BEST to use? We are painting the railings and spindles true white, and the floor boards, deck face and stairs, a medium brown color to match our brick on the home. The deck has been on the home for a year and we just power washed the with purple power deck and house wash, then high pressure washed it with water. Prep looks good. Now what??? I thought to switch to CABOT Stain but someone tell me what will last the longest and did I really make a mistake with this Deck and Dock product? Deck is in perfect shape and does not need a restore. I just figured why wait. Protect it now with a great finish like Deck and Dock. Now I am scared to death to have to be refinishing the deck 6 months from now due to a crappy product.

What do I do. What is the BEST Stain or Paint for my railings and deck boards. Thanks for Reading !!

Michael…. Concerned Home Owner.

Hilary
Hilary

I am a professional painter and we used super deck on 3 huge decks, it was failing after 5 months. It’s garbage. I now use Sansin deck stain it’s really expensive but it looks good on a deck I did 2 years ago. Most stains only last 2-3 years, possible a little more depending on how much weather (sun, rain and snow) they get. If you got what Sherwin Williams calls an off the shelf color (of super deck) you can take it back.

Amy
Amy

Duckback Superdeck paint has ruined my decks & the decks of family members that have used it. Sherwin Williams will not stand behind the product even though it is warrantied if you follow all their requirements. The decks bubbled, peeled, & ended up rotted. After only 3-4 years!!! I am now looking at replacing 2 decks!! If the deck is under roof, you are okay. If its not covered, oh boy! My railing has totally fallen apart!! I’ve had family use this product & ended up with the same results.

Trish
Trish

Do you answer questions about cedar fence finishes? We have a new (one month) cedar fence in Pacific Northwest, rainy winters, sun exposure one side, cedar trees above. We’ve had lots of dry weather and I would like to use a semi-transparent stain and finish soon. Could you please suggest a product. Sikkens SRD has been recommended. Is this a one step process or more? Is a spray finish with back brushing a reasonable approach? Thank you.

Tom C Kelley
Tom C Kelley

I have subscribed to Consumer R for over 30 years. Do I have access to exterior deck and steps reviews without the blind charging. I should hope so.

Sherrie
Sherrie

I live near the Mississippi in Minnesota, wet and humid summers, with sometimes harsh winters. Need to cover 610 square feet of deck, railings, and fence. Pressure treated lumber, 1 year of drying. Want something that will NOT peel, penetrate down into wood well, has a honey coloring to it, and protects well. What deck stain would be the best? Don’t want to have to maintain yearly if I don’t have to. Midwest weather can be harsh on decks. Best advise? we also have not been able to get more than 2 days of full sun, without rain this summer.

Paula Morris
Paula Morris

1. Maryland, northwest of Washington DC ( more snow and colder temperatures than DC & tidal areas
2. Covered porch with some filtered &
direct sunlight on south and west
3. Oak
4. No mold issues
5. Never stained or finished
6. Previous coating: about 40 years of dirt
I recently power washed our porch and was amazed to see what a lovely red color it was when it was wet. I would like to achieve that appearance, but I have been reading that transparent coatings do not have as good of a UV protection. Despite the long overhangs the wood is visibly worn on the edges where it receives afternoon direct sunlight, as well as more snow and rain. I am not interested in creating a maintenance issue, as evidenced by the fact that this is the first time that the deck has received any attention other than an occasional broom or hose ( we have been living here 17 years) . The porch is very rustic, so paint and pigmented stains are out of the question, but I would consider a transparent stain if the life of the coating would be prolonged. You can see in the photos of the deck where I did not consistently remove all of the dirt and grime. Should I power wash those areas or do you recommend a particular cleaner? I did not power wash the walls, but the damage from the dryer vent is very visible in the photo. Should that receive the same application as the deck? I was considering Penofin Ultra until I saw your reviews about graying. Would their marine product last longer? Am I being unrealistic in hoping to find the right product to bring out the beautiful color of the wood without a lot of maintenance?
1st photo: dark wood on right is what it looked like prior to the power wash; the rest shows damage from weathering.
2nd photo: shows areas I missed with the power washer.
3rd photo: damage on wall from dryer vent

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jane
jane

how is sikkens proluxe translucent wood finishes

mya
mya

How do Cabot Oil deck stains review as to performance?

Sharon Callahan
Sharon Callahan

What is the hottest external temperature that De k and Dock should be applied?

S.G.
S.G.

Can I apply a semi-solid stain like Armstrong or other over a solid stain without removing all of the solid stain or will only solid stain work if not completely removing first?

jim bartel
jim bartel

what deck paints or stains are the best

keithl
keithl

Just had our deck done with SuperDeck Deck & Dock Elastomeric Coating and this stuff is horrible. goes on poorly and the finish looks different as the thickness varies. Was talked into it by the painters we hired and will never do that again. Awful stuff.

Frank
Frank

Can you elaborate on went on poorly? This is still a one direction product. No longer elastomeric either. I have had excellent results out of the reformulated deck and dock. Smoother and a finer anti skid built in.

keithl
keithl

The finish looks inconsistent. Parts were shiny with an almost sheen look and parts were gritty and dull looking. Not sure what you mean by a one direction product? Of course some of my opinion could be based on the way the professional painters applied it, but they are the ones that recommended it. From a distance the deck looks great, but on the deck it just does not look right. Also due to the thickness of the product it did not do a good job covering/filling small cracks in the surface boards. They pretty much had to to the deck a second time because coverage was so poor and I could see the old color all over the place.

Frank
Frank

It says it is a 1 to 2 coat process depending on condition of the wood. Prefill large cracks with a squeeze bottle before initial application. One direction means when rolling you don’t go back and forth. Push forward lift up and go forward again so product doesn’t pull back and have inconsistency problems. I will get some pictures of several houses I have done.

keithl
keithl

Then maybe the painters did not follow directions.

Elvera Pierce
Elvera Pierce

We have used Behr semi transparent deck stain–which failed, followed with Behr solid stain–which failed. We now have a credit for Behr products. Do I risk the Behr premium penetrating oil wood finish. We are very detailed in our deck preparations, following instructions to the letter. Does anyone have experience with the penetrating oil?? Thank-you.

Nicholas
Nicholas

Thanks for this,I was looking at CR rating and was about to buy the Behr at a Home Depot but the person working there knew absolutely nothing and gave me little confidence. Your site is terrific. Have you ever heard of a product called Eco-Safe Wood Treatment (sounds too good to be true) or "Outlast". Can't find much information about either of them.

David Lee
David Lee

Used Behr DECKOVER last year on my condo deck. It has peeled in many places and when I powerwash the deck it comes up in small sheets. I think the problem is that the paint is not flexible enough for the wood during the shrink-swell process. I used another Behr paint for the wood fence and it is doing great. So I am now in the process of repainting the deck with the paint I used on the fence with the hope of having better results.

Doug C
Doug C

I used Deckover and hated it – very poor adhesion. CR recommended the Behr basic deck paint over both the premium and Deckover. I’m goign back to that.

daniel
daniel

What do you know about Thompson's deck products?

daniel
daniel

how long will that take? Should I wait now or will it take hours or days to see a reply? thanks

SLJ
SLJ

Olympic Rescue It versus Sherwin Williams Superdeck thoughts?

Would you add sand?

Sunny
Sunny

My shed has a sloped ramp that gets slippery when wet. Can I sprinkle a little sand on it after applying waterproof stain?

Lee
Lee

I need to restain a fence and a deck (different colors) and am considering what to use. Previously I had used Cabots thinking it was the best, but after reading your reviews, am considering using TWP, Defy, or Armstrong Clark (or reusing Cabots). Location: Seattle, lots of clouds, rain, and 3 months of sun.

Deck: Cedar 1×4's laid on edge w/ 1/4" spacers between them. I used Cabots Deck Stain, oil based. At home I mixed cans 50/50 of their Sandstone & Spanish Moss colors. Have restained it every 3 years … this will be the 3rd application. Cabots seems to have worked ok, but its pretty worn this 3rd year.

Fence: Cedar 4 years old. I used Cabots Semi Transparent Deck & Siding Stain. This will be the first restain on it. Am considering using semi transparent again, or trying semi-solid.

Questions:
Would using TWP, Defy, or Armstrong Clark by ok, or should I stick with Cabots?I'm presuming we might be able to get a somewhat similar color in all cases
Are there any special considerations should make about using the different stains over the Cabots?.

carl
carl

Where can I buy Twp stains in Ohio butler cty

Charlie
Charlie

Don't see any statement about your relationship with manufacturers of deck stain products. Can you provide detailed explanation? For instance, Consumer Reports does not have any connection whatsoever with any manufacturers or sources, and is very clear about their objectivity in testing and reporting.

Can you say the same?