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Deck Stain Reviews Ratings

Latest Consumer Magazine Reports on Decking Stains 4.4/5 (85)

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 uses 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 tests 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 Tests Appearance Only for Mildew, Cracking, Wearing, Color Change, Dirt

Consumers mainly tests only for appearance of the stain after a period of accelerated testing. They do not take in consideration many of the requirement that we look for such as: Ease of application, Cost per square foot, how difficult it is to reapply in the future, etc.

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” shows 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 customers deck. We encourage potential deck stain buyers to do a thorough research online prior to buying.

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Average Article Ratings Score

4.4/5 (85)

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223 responses to “Latest Consumer Magazine Reports on Decking Stains”

  1. Jane says:

    Are your reviews up to date for 2014? Just moved into this home. What is the best solid color stain to use on a previously stained deck (2009 solid color applied to deck) Thank you.

  2. plum gang says:

    Have a 14 year old deck of CCA pine that was treated years and years ago with a Behr product. The Behr product was supposed to be semi transparent but went on closer to a solid. The color was not what the chip showed and we were refunded all the purchase price which was a substantial amount on a 1500+ sq ft wraparound deck! The finish did not last. We need to retreat as the wood is showing cracks and is grey and doesn't repel water. I have been on Consumer Report's website and am here now as my own personal experience with Behr, there best buy, is less than positive.

  3. George G. says:

    Hi – I live in Mid Hudson Valley, NY — Pressure treated lumber deck. I just pressure washed, looks like new lumber! Gets little sun, so it's prone to having a mildew/mold problem. I want to put clear wood preservative on (not a STAIN). Have used TWP in past and that's where I'm aiming. What do you recommend? If Thompson's, which of their products do you suggest? Thanks for your time and attention!

  4. Tennessee says:

    Live in Chattanooga, TN. Have a 2 yr old pressure treated pine deck that has never been sealed. Deck faces east and receives sun until about 3pm. No mold or mildew. Quotes and recommendations from contractors vary widely and most want to use SW Deckscapes semi-transparent stain. So, now I am considering tackling this project myself. What stain would you recommend for my area?

  5. Steve says:

    Can't seem to find a local dealer in central massachusetts that sells Flood Solid deck stain. Called Flood and they told me ace hardware or true value would either carry or could order for me. Called some local stores and they did not carry nor would they order. I found one hardware store that will order for me but they cannot tint for me. Said i'd have to take it elsewhere. Could I order this and bring somewhere that does not have Flood tinting instructions? Doesn't seem like that would work but figured i'd ask. Any suggestions on where i can purchase/order online and get tinted to the color I want? Thanks!

  6. Rick says:

    Was told the Superdeck deck and dock was a good choice over the rustoleum, deckover, or rescue product? Has this been used or tested? I would really like to try on a cleaned deck that is on its last limbs anyway, but I dont want to be disappointed when i peel it off in sheets next year. Any info from anyone who knows about or have used the deck and deck and have had it down for over a year please let me know how it held up. Thanks

    • Bob says:

      Hi, 6 mos ago I put on two coats of deck and dock solid stain. It has been coming off and sheets since. What a nightmare. I have a grind it all the loose paint hoping it would hold then cleaned it in more pain started peeling. I am now in the process of stripping it

      • Bryan says:

        I have had no issue with the deck and dock elastomeric stain that they carry. Applied it on my deck about a year ago in an area of the house that receives a lot of heavy sun. I will say that I was told that prep was everything upon speaking with the manager. Sanding down and roughing up the surface as well as making sure there was no dust left behind before application. I used a roller and it has worked well thus far. Hope this helps.

    • Dan says:

      Make sure you buy enough to apply it at 100 ft.² per gallon. If you have product left over put it all on

  7. sue14 says:

    I live in Portland, OR where it rains a lot, but winters are relatively mild. I have a 300 sqft cedar deck ("Pro-Deck Tight Knot cedar deck boards and handrails") that was added to the house in 2008 by the prior owner, stained with Sikkens Brand (Cedar 077) semi-transparent. The stain is peeling.

    I would appreciate your advice re. stripper, brightener, semi-transparent stain to use based on your experience with cedar in similar conditions. Should I use the same stain or is there something better? Thanks in advance.

  8. sue14 says:

    What is an "average" per sqft charge when a cedar deck requires stripping, brightening and staining in the NW? The actual size of the deck is around 300 soft, but there are also rails and stairs from this first level deck with handrails. I need a base of comparison with quotes that I plan to get.

  9. Lisa says:

    I'm trying to figure out which deck restore type paint is the best. I have read good and bad reviews for all of them. I have an older deck that I want to bring back to life but I don't want to tear it down this year it's just not in the budget and I have been reading about Rustoleum and Behr and Rock Solid and I am wondering if anyone has had personal experience with any of them or recommends one over the other

    • Irene says:

      Hi Lisa!
      Do not use Rustoleum 10x. It will peel off within months. Where it doesn't peel it's almost impossible to get off. Apparently there is a class action against them for it.
      We're still trying to find something to redo our deck from that disaster.

  10. JBT says:

    Four year old pressure treated pine, coastal Maryland (black mold) but deck is in full sun (faces directly southwest, gets the hottest part of the day at 110° heat index unless it's rainy season where black mold will form immediately).
    I bought my dream house with my dream deck….but the floor was gray (railings are pvc). I discovered Minwax stain and Thompson's (ugh) in the shed. No wonder it was so much work! Powerlessness with deck cleaner, sanded with floor answer, powerwashed again with Oxalic Acid, now it's bare wood and looks amazing. I want to keep it looking great (most important criteria: NO MOLD and NOT GRAY). I actually purchased the SW Deckscapes Semi Transparent in White Birch (I got a light color to reflect the heat rather than absorb, my last deck I painted in Behr Wood Chip after prepping the same way (yeah yeah, don't laugh, I sold the house last July after three years of kids, dogs, dropping bbq on it, stupid hot summers, and even Snowpacalypse, it looked like I painted it yesterday. Maybe I'm just that good of a painter, but I truly had zero problems with the Behr solid.). At any rate, after this much work, on a fairly new deck, on my Forever House, I don't want to cock it up. Recommendations? Maryland. Full sun. On the bay. Mold issues. Light semi transparent color that doesn't gray (best UV protection). And no VOC concerns because I can get whatever (frequent interstate travel). Please help a DIY girl out!

  11. Olga says:

    I appreciate the info on this website. Could you please clarify something that was mentioned in this thread: do manufacturers of all reviewed products pay you? I would like to understand how objective/biased these reviews are. Is there a disclaimer on this site explaining who "supports" you? Thanks.

  12. Olga says:

    Thanks for the quick reply. Would you mind sharing the approach you use to derive ratings? Is there a number of contractors that need to review a specific product before you publish results? Is there a number of actual restorations and related experiences before you rate a product? What I can see (as I am looking for products for my deck) is that every contractor that gave me an estimate has his "pet" product which is "great" for where I live and for my deck (both the same for all of them). They do get discounts from the manufacturer of the product that they use. I asked about your top rated product and NONE of the 4 Angie's highly rated contractors heard about it…..How many contractors used and rated your top product and in how many restorations vs. the bottom product? Thanks in advance,

    • We have restored over 10,000 decks with the top products. We have seen numerous failures with the bottom products. Many 100\’s. We will not use them ever again as they are so poor to apply and fix down the road.

    • Kirk says:

      Angies is a JOKE! I would question anyone who follows this ridiculous ripoff site.

  13. Joe Stock says:

    I have used F & P finish and preservative about 6 yrs. ago with good results .Has the formulation changed due to EPA requirements ? Is it still a good product ? F& P is a Wolman oil product .

  14. sue14 says:


    I posted a new question a day or two ago and I cannot locate it anywhere… I tried searching for my login ID but didn't help. Are some posted questions occasionally not published/answered for certain reasons? Thanks

  15. Brooke says:

    I did actually look up Consumer ratings as was confused for the reasons you addressed above. Although I continue to subscribe, I'm often surprised by their ratings vs their actual subscribers' experience/reviews. There is a pattern of disconnect between the two.

  16. Azsue says:

    Flagstaff, AZ , 7000' elevation
    redwood, non pressure treated
    south facing, full sun
    4 years old
    Sun just did its thing on the finish. Sikkens tinted

  17. Wm Garrett says:

    I agree about Behr Stains….absolutely ruined my cedar log home…turning black within a year. AND almost impossible to remove and redo without destroying wood.

  18. David Hoeppner says:

    I don't know where my first submission went, but I can't find it. Here it is again.

    why do your reviews say nothing about Hemp Shield Deck Stains? A friend started using this 1 year ago, and I can't find any independent reviews. Only on Hemp Shield websites.

    • For one reason we have never used it and cannot review correctly. A review from us takes at least 2 years to test. You can start you own review if you would like in our forum.

    • Den says:

      I tried hemp shield on a retaining wall, bench, railings and stairs in California. Failed big time. I was very excited to try the product because it was environmentally friendly etc etc. it was new but dry redwood. By the middle of winter the wood had black spots all over it. I had the hemp shield rep over and he said he's never seen anything like it. Blamed it on the wood. I had all the material sanded off and the wood looked beautiful once we got the awful hemp shield product off. They're refunding me for the product but not for the additional labor costs I've incurred to remedy the situation. Sad. I do not recommend hemp shield.

    • Blaise Pabon says:

      Hi David,
      I have had mixed results with HempShield (applied Clear to Redwood). On new redwood it develops black splotches over time and does nothing to prevent cracks. However, on old, distressed redwood (a play structure with 10 years of neglect) it seems to help hold the wood together. I'm t 2,800' in the Santa Cruz mountains, where it alternates between cold/wet and hot/dry.
      I really want this stuff to work, so I'm going to give it another chance on our (new) chicken coop (untreated new redwood).

  19. Tom Andi says:

    Built a new, south-facing, mostly shaded, front porch on a four square in Chicago last November. Ipe deck with cedar railings. We want to make the railings white with limited grain showing through, but don't want to do paint or solid stain because we really hate the look of peeling when it starts to wear. Problem is, the only semi solid stain that comes in white is Cabot, which gets very poor reviews. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • No. If you want it white that means it has to be custom mixed/tinted and that means it will be a filming stain like a solid color. These will peel but not as much on vertical railings.

  20. Linda says:

    have you ever used behr premium wood coating called deckover

  21. Willie Cline says:

    Do NOT use Cabot stain products UNLESS YOU WANT TO RE-DO it in a year! I spent $500 buying 20 gallons of their product 2 years ago. I followed ALL of their instructions on prepping, as I wanted it to last! After a year, the stain started peeling up on every Horizontal surface!! Now, after 2 years, I have to COMPLETELY powerwash the decks again, purchase the deck cleaner…AGAIN and spend countless hours re-staining 2 large decks. Their response…"Customer service will be in touch." After getting in touch, they want me to send in a sample of the peeling stain, so they can "analyze" it with a chemist (which we ALL know they will just tell me it was installed improperly). DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY ON THIS INFERIOR PRODUCT!!! ‪#‎Cabotwoodstain‬ ‪#‎cabotwoodcare‬

  22. Doug says:

    Living in Vancouver BC have a roof top deck that is pressure treated lumber and is a year old without treatment. Gets full sun ( in the 4-5 months that we get sun) then rain over winter. Want to keep as much of the natural wood grain as possible, purchased Thompson's Clear, but then read your reviews. As we live in a marine environment am concerned about chemicals leaching into salmon streams. Also, want as much protection without a lot of colour. In an apartment building, not our deck and don't want to spend a lot of money on a 600 sf deck, as we may move in a few years. Thanks

  23. Kamcg says:

    Has anyone used Benjamin Moore super deck elastomeric coating? My issue is eliminating splinters on an older deck

  24. Kamcg says:

    Has anyone used Benjamin Moore superdeck elastomeric coating. Our issue is trying to eliminate splinters on an older deck

  25. Dennis says:

    what can be used to restore color and seal a 5year old Trex deck. Trex people are no help

  26. GHDave says:

    What do you think about using TWP301 as a topcoat over TWP101 on a brand new deck made of Alaskan Yellow Cedar in Gig Harbor, WA – our climate is extremely wet for 7 months and then very dry for 5 months, I call it our drown & drought climate.
    I'm a boat guy and I love the glossy wood look but from my online reading I don't dare use my favorite gloss varnish (Pettit Captains 2067) on a house deck.
    I've also considered using several applications of a penetrating epoxy to stabilize and permanently bond the surface and then varnish it – but again all my reading says putting a film coating on a deck is a bad idea.
    What's your recommendations? Thanks!

  27. Liz says:

    Has anyone used behr deck over paint for their deck?

  28. Andrew Kenton says:

    I tried to find the post from the person that contacted a manufacturer to substantiate the "different/cheaper formula" to be sold in large box stores and thought that they would really ask the manufacturer that type of question…really? Anyways, I was trying to find Armstrong Clark in my local area, Colorado, and nothing. So I tried looking at TWP. According to their website…I thought this was worth repeating:

    Big Box Stores

    TWP is not and never will be sold into a Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, etc. To do this, TWP would either have to change it's formula or move operations off shore to be competitive with the "big box" brands sold there.

    Sounds familiar…

  29. jim says:

    I'm DISGUSTED with the product. I did everything right and after 8 months its mostly all peeling. I did 5 decks and now I have to SCRAPE 5 decks. All that work for nothing. The product SUCKS!

  30. Ross says:

    We have used Thompson's Water Seal Wood Protector for the boat dock for years. Most of it is full sun and we have to stain it every 2 years. In the past we have always used oil-based. This year the 5 gallon can label looked exactly the same, so we assumed it was oil-based, but it is a water based "wood protector". Would it provide adequate protection? We tested a vertical wall area and it seems to be a semi-transparent, color (Honey Gold) stain. I understand that VOC regulations may dictate your answer, but is there a better product available for preserving and protecting the wood?

  31. high-end-painting says:

    I’m a pro painter and restore historic home. I been in the for years. Since I was 10yrs old I helped my father on his construction site and was exposed to all the trades. After graduating college major in bussines. I started my painting company. In all my years of painting I never came across a paint that failed misserably like the super deck n dock elestomeric. Did everything step by step how to prepare a deck before applying the product. It failed. Lasted 4months than it just peeled up. If it rain than the sun come out it would bubble up. Than it would just peel away as you walk on deck and it would stick to boots or shoes. I put a water hose no presuure and just would come off. Totally embarassing. I called up sw reps they took samples of deck chips and paints so they can get it tested. 2 months later got results back. They told me product was watered down and I applied it to thin. They said it (sw) it should be 12mills I called around to other Benjamin Moore stores that carry the ssme product talked to they reps and told me they never heard of such thing. Deck is under 1k sq ft I used 11gs first applied it with 3/4napp roller than second coat I used 9gs with very little left. (Pint) please if you are going to use this product I would be very careful. I’m in the middle of battling sw to correct the deck since the rep talk me and my client into using super deck elestomeric solid. Stay away or get it in writting a warranty from them cause they will find a way to pass the blame onto the contractor. As of rt now deck needs to be completly sanded to remove all paint. Beware homeowners and contractors

    • DYIer says:

      Thanks for the insight. I am very leery about using these products until there are better reports. I've been reading poor results on all products. Not sure what is going on. Like to have some sort of pretest on deck material before coating it with a resurface product.

  32. Pat says:

    I had my deck replace everything was great patio set was on the deck for 9-12 months no problem, then I had my deck sealed with the TWP 100 OMG my patio set left black marks all over — I had them redo the sealing process. I was upset the people who sealed the deck was not happy — my contractor who did my deck was — all he could say was OMG.
    I am in the mid-west lots and lots of rain this year, however we did have some dry days.

    I am afraid to put my patio set back on–I've never never had this problem before — I've had decks sealed and patio set for 40 years without a problem what is up???

    • Is the patio set metal? If so then it is starting to rust and that leaves black marks in wood.

    • Coatings Chemist says:

      Another possiblity, if your patio set has rubber feet, is an incompatibility between the rubber and the oils in the TWP. The oils may be attacking the rubber, and/or the plasticizers in the rubber may be migrating into the oils of the TWP.

  33. Sue says:

    Hi, we have a new pine pressure treated14x16 platform deck that was built around an apple tree. We waited a year and are ready to clean and stain it and want to keep it as natural looking as we can. We are also worried about tree stuff falling on to the deck after it's stained and still wet. Any suggestions?

  34. Charlie says:

    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?

  35. carl says:

    Where can I buy Twp stains in Ohio butler cty

  36. Lee says:

    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.

    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?.

    • If you switch brands, you will need to strip off all the Cabot first. If you decide to go this route, try the Restore A Deck Stripper and a pressure washer to remove. Brighten the wood when done. Stain with any of those three stains.

  37. SLJ says:

    Olympic Rescue It versus Sherwin Williams Superdeck thoughts?

    Would you add sand?

  38. daniel says:

    What do you know about Thompson's deck products?

  39. David Lee says:

    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.

  40. Nicholas says:

    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.

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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.