Latest Consumer Magazine Reports on Decking Stains  4.3/5 (179)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

2024 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.

Consumer Reports Ratings for Deck Stains

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.

Who is Consumer Reports and Why Deck Stain Reviews

The Consumer Reports is the publication of the Consumer’s Union. Many consumers use the publication when making a buying decision. After all, it publishes the ratings of other consumers who have bought the same products. So it would seem a logical place to gather buying information right? Well maybe not. The Consumer Reports publication has long been accused of biased ratings.

This is especially true in the car industry. You can find countless articles of Consumer Reports being falsely suggestive in some of their ratings. Unfair testing and biased ratings seem to be common. More than a dozen large companies, from car manufacturers to electronic companies have sued Consumer Reports over the years. It almost seems like, for whatever reason, they tend to sway the results of tests and ratings.

The same can be said for wood deck stains. Most of the Consumer Reports claim Behr as the number one stain followed by Thompsons Water Seal. But ironically most any professional in the deck staining industry will tell you these stains are inferior and they do not use them. Behr has been in many lawsuits with homeowners over the premature failure of their deck stains. In fact, Consumers’ own “user ratings” show that homeowners who have used Behr Stains gave it a 1 Star out of 5!

Both of these deck stain brands are sold at the big box stores, which would suggest these are the most common brands of stain consumers buy. But this doesn’t necessarily mean these stains are the best. We have tested both of these brands and many other stains. Our results for Behr Deck Stain or Thompsons Water Seal are definitely not at the top of our list. We are happy to share those results with our readers. See our deck stain reviews for more information.

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

author avatar
Scott Paul ~ Restoring Wood & Decks Since 1993 Owner
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.

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carrie
carrie
2 years ago

I have a mahogany deck and I have already prepped it and wanted to buy armstrong clark, but no one carries it without special order. I wanted to stain the deck today, where can I buy quality stin froma a local dealer , im in NW ct

Maryanne
Maryanne
3 years ago

We have a 10 year old pier near Madison, Wisconsin, that we have stained with Ready Seal semi stain. The color fades by the end of summer. Boards are in good shape. We are thinking of using a sold
stain. Any recommendations? Thank you.

David Glosson Glosson
David Glosson Glosson
3 years ago

Your opinion of the Behr’s Deckover.

L Allan
L Allan
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

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
4 years ago
Reply to  Ron

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
5 years ago

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
4 years ago
Reply to  Brian Burke

Do not use it.

Ricardo
Ricardo
4 years ago
Reply to  Brian Burke

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
5 years ago

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!

Lynne
Lynne
5 years ago

Thank you! Is there a stripper or cleaner you recommend?

Lynne
Lynne
5 years ago

Thank you. I will take a few pics this week to share what the current condition is of our deck. Is there a particular brand of stripper we should use or is the Restore A Deck cleaner And brighter sufficient?

Lynne
Lynne
5 years ago

Thank you. Could you please recommend a particular brand of stripper or should we use the RestoreADeck cleaner & brighter? I will post pics of the decks current condition next week.

Lynne
Lynne
5 years ago

Thank you!

Linda
Linda
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

Have you tested CIL stains ? Thanks

Thomas Elliott
Thomas Elliott
5 years ago

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

Thomas Elliott
Thomas Elliott
5 years ago

Thank you for taking the time to help me find answers for my deck project. You have been very helpful

Chris
Chris
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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?

evefc
evefc
5 years ago

What if he uses a solid Olympic stain which would cover both the areas which are still showing prior stain and the areas which are no longer coated with stain?

evefc
evefc
5 years ago

Ok Thank you. Should the solid stain be oil based since the existing stain was oil based? Or will water based work?

evefc
evefc
5 years ago

Promise las question, Should the new solid stain be oil based since the old existing semi-transparent was oil based?

Kenneth
Kenneth
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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

Mark
Mark
5 years ago

..Thank you. I always strip, pressure wash and then brighten prior to next application. The redwood is almost completely select grade with a bit of sap wood here and there. I realize that a semi transparent stain might last a bit longer but I’m concerned it might darken it up too much as I prefer that the natural grain shows thru that’s why I always have used a transparent stain in past.
What is your experience and if it was your place would you use AC or TWP? If TWP which product, 100 or 1500?
Thanks again.

Paul
Paul
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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

wwalker01
wwalker01
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
6 years ago

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.

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