Note for 2018: This is the first version of our most popular article on DeckStainHelp.com. We help by guiding consumers in finding a high quality and low maintenance deck stain based on a series of questions. This article alone had had over 15,000 Q&A questions and 400 Star Rating/Reviews to date. We have updated this article by including some answers to our most popular questions.
Please visit our updated article here: The Best Deck Stains?
What is the Best Deck Stain?
This is the most popular question that deck owners have. Unfortunately, there is not a “best” deck stain out there. There are products that are better than others, but there is not one that will outperform every other stain.
A better way to approach this common question is to ask, “what is the best stain for my deck and it’s environment”? Just because a deck stain performs well in the Northeast part of the country does not mean it will perform well in the high altitudes of Arizona. There are also VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) Laws the come into effect for different parts of the country. This may limit what is available in your state. For example, TWP 100 Series cannot be used in 17 states that have a low VOC content of 250.
To understand a deck stain and its potential longevity, we should first look at the main reasons deck stains fail:
- UV rays from the sun will damage the wood resulting in degradation of the wood cell structure. This will break down the stain while causing the wood to oxidize (turn gray).
- Water, snow, and ice will cause damage to the wood by breaking down the exposed cellular structure.
- Freeze/thaw will expand and contract the wood resulting in the stain “bond” with the wood cells to fail.
- Mold, mildew, and algae will leave the wood unsightly/dirty and can result in rotting.
- High traffic areas will leave “wearing” patterns.
- The previous stain used was of low quality or applied poorly.
- The Stain was not applied properly or the wood was not prepped properly prior to application. Bad prep is the number one reason stains prematurely fail!