Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain Review  3.1/5 (16)

This post was updated on May 1, 2024

Penofin Red Label

Penofin Red Label

Penofin Red Label Reviews

Penofin continues to have issues with darkening or turning black on a vast majority of wood decks and exterior wood.

Penofin (PENetrating Oil FINish) Ultra Red Label wood and deck stain contains a Brazillian Rosewood Oil that allows the stain to penetrate deeply into the wood. Formulated for maximum protection for all types of exterior wood. Penofin Ultra Premium Red Label is perfect where rain, wind, snow or high elevations are encountered. Trans-oxide pigments offer 99% Ultra-Violet Radiation protection

Penofin Ultra Red Label Wood Stain Rating (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 9

– Penofin Ultra in the Western Red Cedar color has a beautiful appearance when dried. One of the best stains we have tested when it comes to penetration into the wood and highlighting the natural wood tones.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 7

– At the 2-year mark, the Penofin Ultra Premium stain did an adequate job of preventing UV graying. The high solids of the trans-oxide pigments absorbed the UV radiation, preventing the graying of the wood. About 70% of the color remained since the initial application.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– The Penofin Ultra had little to no peeling on the surface, We expected these results since the stain absorbed so well into the cedar wood. There was some wearing on about 5-10% of the decking surface mostly in the traffic areas.

Cost Per Square Foot: 7

– Penofin Ultra costs about $45 a gallon. This is on the high side of quality deck stains. The square footage was not what the manufacturer claimed of 200-300 feet. Square footage was closer to 150 sq. feet per gallon. We used 6 gallons for the 800-foot deck and trellis.

Preventing Mold/Mildew/Algae: 6

– The Penofin Ultra seemed to attract a decent amount of mold spores even though the deck was in full sun. The mold was only visible on the horizontal decking surface. On inspection. the mold was growing in the stain and could not be cleaned off with a wet towel.

Ease of Application: 8

– The Penofin Red Label applied very easily to the surface. We watched the stain absorb into the wood within a few minutes of application. We used a stain sprayer to apply then back wiped with an exterior stain pad. The final result was an even beautiful finish. One issue was the smell. Penofin has one of the worst odors of all deck stains tested.

Color Shifting (darkening) after 2 Years: 5

– Penofin scored the lowest in color shifting as the finished achieved a “brownish” color after the 2-year mark. This issue was only on the flooring while the vertical wood railings and trellis did not darken. A good deck cleaner should be able to revive the color when it is time to reapply.

Difficulty of Reapplication: 7

– Since Penofin had “darkened” in color we would suggest that the stain is removed with a stain stripper followed by a wood brightener. This would not be a difficult strip, though. Since Penofin penetrates so well, it will come off rather easily with a standard deck stripper.

Overall Score Penofin Ultra Premium at 2 Year Period: 7.14

– Penofin Ultra scores high in a few areas and most importantly has one of the best-finished looks of all stain tested. We were disappointed in the color-shifting after two years and the smell during the application. We would expect a high-quality stain to not darken in color. Our result though may not be the norm as Penofin products clearly have devoted customers who continue to use their products.

Penofin Wood Stain Photo Issues

Product Information:

Where To Buy: Select Stores or Online
Cost: $52.99 per Gallon, $259.99 per 5 Gallon Pail
Stain Type: Semi-Transparent – Rosewood Oil-Based
Available Colors: Clear, Cedar, Western Red Cedar, Sable, Chestnut, Sierra, Redwood, Bark, Hickory, Mission Brown
Application Temperature: 45-95 F
Coats Required: 1-2 Coats
Coverage Per Gallon: 200-300 sq. ft
Application Tools: Sprayer, Pad, Brush, Roller
Dry Time: 3-12 Hours
Cleanup: Mineral Spirits
VOC Compliant: 250 Compliant in All 50 States
More Info: Product Data
Manufacturer: Penofin

Test Deck Stats:

Deck Wood Type:  Cedar and Trellis
Deck Square Footage: 800
UV Exposure: Full Sun
How Many Years Tested: 2 Years
Stain Color Used: 
Western Red Cedar

*All products tested and results are from our experience. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take into consideration that results may differ due to different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, and natural weathering.

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.

Related Deck Stain Help Articles & Reviews

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2 years ago

I completed my deck cleaning/brightening and re-staining project. Here are the results. It took three gallons of Penofin Ultra Red Label Semi-transparent (Western Red Cedar). It looks good–now let’s see how well it holds up in harsh winter weather.

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2 years ago

This past weekend, I completed pressure washing the upper 2 X 6’s and 2X10 support beams of my 31 year old deck. Today I applied Oxalic Acid Brightner. I purchased Oxalic Acid in bulk, power form and mixed a two gallon batch for my garden sprayer. I used four gallons total—I did a second application of the Oxalic Acid on each section of the deck.The key to mixing Oxalic Acid is to use very hot water to mix with. this avoids any granules that will clog you sprayer. I used one cup of Oxalic powder to make the two gallons of mix. Initially boiled two quarts of water, then added the powder gradually into the hot water while stirring alot. I then added the remaining six quarts of water. The decking is cedar, everything else is pressure treated pine. I’ve used the Penofin Red Label Western Cedar product twice before. It looks great for a year then gradually get dull. Yearly cleaning is a must to get 2-3 years out of each application. Here are some pictures of the deck brightening I just completed today. I also took a further step in the brightening process. I neutralized the brightener with one cup of baking soda mixed into two gallons of water. The last picture shows the deck as it’s drying out. Once the deck’s dry, I’ll sand using 80 grit paper. After that the fun starts—applying the Penofin.

3 years ago

I have used red label Penofin on mahogany decking in New Hampshire with very good results for more than 10 years. One deck has morning sun and the other has sun all afternoon. In the winter our decks often have snow and ice on them. Leaves, pine needles, and condensation dripping from the roof can be on the deck. I have never had a mold and mildew problem from the product. Washing the decks with Penofin cleaner is an important step before reapplication. Using the brightener makes the reapplication easier and makes the finished deck look better. I use a wide stain brush to apply it and a t shirt or old cotton socks to wipe off the excess.
The mahogany decking on a covered porch looks minimally aged, I’ve treated it with Penofin red only a couple of times in 10 years.

4 years ago

Has anyone used Penofin Premium Red Label Transparent on redwood siding? I am restoring the redwood siding on our 55 year old house in southern NY. It is a very thin (1/4” thick) vertical siding. For the past 25 years we had used Flood CWF-UV oil transparent. In the last 5 years the west facing siding especially has gotten very black. The south is very dry. The north side is in the best shape. I guess not much UV rays get it and it has some tree protection from the weather.

We never knew you could and should actually wash the house first with water and maybe use a brightener so maybe that is why it got so black, or maybe it’s just extractive staining. Or maybe the Flood product needs to be stripped between applications.

The first 25 years the house was treated every few years with Woodlife. I thought the product disappeared but I’ve seen it again.

After reading these reviews I’m concerned about Penofin turning black and am looking for advice on a best penetrating clear transparent finish. We’d like to see the variability of the wood. It’s probably a sapwood clear or B grade mix of vertical and flat grain and is saw textured so it cannot be sanded. Penofin seemed like the perfect product for redwood, but now I’m questioning it.

I am also concerned that the stripper I used was too harsh for the wood. The Penofin company told me their stripper would not be strong enough to remove the Flood CWF-UV and I should use a stronger one. Penofin’s stripper is a potassium hydroxide stripper and I used a sodium hydroxide one. It caused a lot of raised wood fibers, which I guess is referred to as furring, or wood fuzzies. I’m not sure I can do anything about it now. I do dilute the products, but I think I will either dilute much more or try the weaker potassium hydroxide stripper for the next section I work on.

This forum is awesome, and I realize it’s focus is decks. I look forward to getting some advice on Penofin vs Armstrong Clark or any other penetrating clear finish. I also would love advice on the stripping.

5 years ago

Same problem for me just north of Seattle. Have refinished a new cedar deck twice in for years, and it’s only again. Used proofing cleaner and brightener and it now looks splotchy. That was the last straw. An planning to strip it, sand lightly, brighten, and refinish with something else. Any tips for a stripper and a new finish? Does this sound like the best plan?

Donna Haworth
Donna Haworth
5 years ago

We are having a big problem with all the cedar we used the Penofin Ultra on. About 800 feet of hand milled cedar 2×10’s for fascia and trim for 38 exterior windows. We are not even finished building and the wood looks awful, all spotty, streaky dark patches growing all over. What a mess. Based on the ingredients we had recommended this product to a friend whom installed a long cedar fence a year ago and now it is totally black on top and black streaks down the panels. We are in BC, Canada. This is really disappointing. The product should be discontinued.

Donna Haworth
Donna Haworth
5 years ago

Why, does anyone know what is the problem with this product, why don’t they address it, is it specific climate related, hence should not be sold in certain areas ???

Donna Haworth
Donna Haworth
5 years ago

Well, it looks like my supplier will be one less store for them to sell the product in anyways.

6 years ago

I agree with some of these reviews. I applied this to 2 Adirondack chairs that I fashioned from western red cedar. Boy, did they look fantastic immediately after the Penofin Ultra went on! Alas, it went dark in several months. I would have been smarter to let them age naturally in sunlight and go light gray. Instead, very black and unappealing to sit upon. I went with B. Moore’s Arborcoat Waterborne Translucent for my house clapboards two years ago. A goofy orange as it goes on, but soaks in and protects in a most natural way. Recommend that product instead.

Donat O\'Brien
Donat O\'Brien
6 years ago

Do not use this product. Its that simple. It will ruin your deck colour. I followed the instructions on application as well as how to prepare a new and old cedar wood.
This product does not hold its colour. You will notice the darkening within a month . Ottawa Ontario Canada

Jeffrey Hest
Jeffrey Hest
8 years ago

I was "sold" on Penofin, especially after I had completed extensive research. I could not be more disappointed, period. The cost was very high, and the outcome was a large deck that was nearly as black as coal. When applied I ensure it was not applied to heavily, and it dried thoroughly in about 12 hours. I was amazed at the difference when I moved a large flower pot, supported by feet so it did not sit directly on the wood, that underneath the flower pot was what the entire deck should have looked like, it was lovely. But the remainder of my 1500 sq. ft. deck was essentially ruined. Now I have to strip the deck again, sand it, brighten it and reapply another brand, likely TWP. Penofin you have let me down! I live about 50 miles south of their headquaters in Healdsburg, CA, northern Sonoma County, CA.

9 years ago

I have a large deck. We went with trex flooring and decided to apply red label cedar color to the railing and sides. After two years my railing is now black.. Will never buy again. Very disappointed NOT to mention very costly! In process of trying to remove the black stain that was supose to be cedar in color. Home located in southeast Michigan.

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