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Thompson’s WaterSeal Finish Review 2.3/5 (54)

Thompson's WaterSeal

Thompson’s WaterSeal

Thompson’s® WaterSeal® Waterproofer Plus Clear Wood Protector is designed for all exterior wood and decking surfaces. This protection includes: Water repellency, prevents water damage, maintains natural wood grain, all while resisting mold growth. Thompson’s® WaterSeal® claim to fame is the ability to waterproof your exterior wood.

We tested the Thompson’s® WaterSeal® in the Clear finish.

Thompson’s® WaterSeal® Scores (1-10)

Appearance After Initial Stain Application: 8

– The Thompson’s® WaterSeal® Clear did not alter or change the appearance of the wood. After full drying, we tested the ability to repel water. Water did bead on top of the finish and did not absorb into the wood.

Preventing UV Graying at 2 Year Mark: 1

– As far as we can tell, Thompson’s® WaterSeal® does not prevent UV graying at all. This is a huge disappointment as preventing UV graying is the number one reason to stain your exterior wood and decking.

Wear/Tear and Peeling: 8

– Thompson’s® WaterSeal® penetrates deep into the wood. There was no peeling or wearing. We would have given it a 10 if the product still repelled water but it did not.

Cost Per Square Foot: 9

– Thompson’s® WaterSeal® is a very inexpensive product to purchase and coverage is exceptional. Unfortunately the saying “you get what your pay for” applies here as the Thompson’s® WaterSeal® offers no UV protection whatsoever.

Preventing Mold/Mildew/Algae: 1

– After 2 years the entire deck was covered in black mold. It seems that the oils used in Thompson’s® WaterSeal® feed and promotes the growth of mold spores.

Ease of Application: 9

– Since this is a clear product, Thompson’s® WaterSeal® applies extremely easy without the need to back wipe. Just apply with a pump sprayer or stain pad. This finish does not show overlap marks.

Color Shifting (darkening) after 2 Years: 7

– We would say that the Thompson’s® darkens in color since there was a good amount of mold growing in the finish.

Difficulty of Reapplication: 6

– A heavy cleaning would be needed to remove all the graying and mold from the surface.

Overall Score Thompson’s® WaterSeal® at 2 Year Period: 6.125

– Overall Thompson’s® WaterSeal® Clear Plus wood finish is a “clear” disappointment. Any finish that offers zero ability to prevent UV graying should not be considered for your deck or exterior wood.

Product Information:

Cost: $19.99 per Gallon
Stain Type: Clear Water Repellent
Available Colors: Clear
Application Temperature: 45-95 F
Coats Required: 1 coat for most scenarios
Coverage Per Gallon: 200-300 Square Feet
Application Tools: Sprayer, Pad, Brush, Roller
Dry Time: 48 Hours
Cleanup: Mineral Spirits
VOC Compliant: 250 Compliant in all States
More Info: Product Data
Manufacturer: Thompson’s

Test Deck Stats:

When Tested: May 2007
Deck Wood Type: Teak Decking
Deck Square Footage: 400 Square feet
UV Exposure: Full sun
How Many Years Tested: 2 Years
Stain Color Used: 

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

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

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173 responses to “Thompson’s WaterSeal Finish Review”

  1. Sean says:

    My name is Sean. I live in Westbury NY. I have a pressure treated wood deck that is at least 30 + years. It was always maintained by your products. But given its age I new it was time to rebuild. As I started the demo I noticed the bottom of the deck boards were in good condition. So I decided to flip and recut the old boards and only replace what I needed. I used your cleaning product when I was done. I was very happy with the results. I decided to let the wood dry and fade for a year. About a month ago I was in the homedepo in East meadow NY were I had the pleasure of meeting one of your sales reps. He introduced himself as Rick, and asked me if I had any questions. I proceeded to tell him my story. He seemed very interested. Then in a Boston accent he explained the difference in the various types of stains and clear. While we were talking I find out he is from the cape code area. Well after a great conversation about building and refurbishment of decks I had to leave to go make a call to the higher powers(my mother and my wife) . Well I won. I took a chance and brought Thompson water seal stain color maple. Your product was so simple and a pleasure to use. I would like to give Mr Rick from Boston and Thompson water seal a great round of applause. People come to the house and think all the wood is new. When I tell them what Boston Rick recommend and what I did there amazed. Thank you Thompson your vender Boston Rick. Sincerely Sean C. PS Boston Rick I hope your home project comes out as nice as mine if not better. THANK YOu

  2. Ken Ridge says:

    I have sent an email to Thompson's to verify a possible change in formula, but am posting this to make readers aware that it appears there has a been a change in in the formula for THOMPSON'S WATER SEAL Waterproofer PLUS Clear Wood Protector.

    From viewing the MSDS information, it appears the "newer" formula (model 2180-) has a much higher percentage (close to 100%) of paraffin oil than the "older" formula (model 1180-). There also appears to be a noticeable difference in consistency, with the older formula have a more oily clearer appearance, and the new formula being thicker.

    At this point, I don't know how this might effect performance, but possibly DeckStainHelp can comment.

    • Rob says:

      Noticed a major difference in the old and new product. Sprayed 3/4 of my deck with old formula with no problem at all. Bought new product and can't spray at all. I can't say how "new" product will protect because I can't applied.

    • Wendy Barrios says:

      Started to attempt to spray our cedar siding on a 1920's home we just purchased a few months ago thank god it right away clogged the spayer as I quickly noticed it turned the cedar a dark color with a Metalic glitter on it I was horrified I'm so glad I started reading the reviews before continuing horrible situation avoided

    • Ken Ridge says:

      For what it's worth, I had the same problem with application. The "new" formula clogged my sprayer, so I used up the rest of the "old" formula with my hand held sprayer. I couldn't get the new, thicker, formula to work with my sprayer, so I brushed and rolled it on the remaining part of the deck and it soaked in well (I have pressure treated limber, seasoned for 3 years).

      Now, about 40 weeks later, with rain and snow over the winter, the new formula is still beading up like I put it on last month. It's definitely a different formula, and DeckStainHelp should consider re-evaluating this.

  3. mary says:

    Thompson water seal is turning to gel. IS THERE ANY WAY TO BRING IT BACK TO ORIGINAL TEXTURE?

  4. Joseph says:

    Worst water sealer I have ever used.. Water based water repellent? ? It repels itself and looks horrible

  5. Worried in NC says:

    We bought a new, stained wood, deck furniture set at a Mennonite farm store that makes high-end furniture and outbuildings. The store manager told us to apply Thompson's Water Seal Clear Multi-Surface Waterproofer to protect the set. I tried to spray it on and it beaded up and puddled so I brushed on a thin coat. That was five days ago and it is still tacky. I even brought a small bench inside to see if it would dry better in the house. No difference. I am concerned that the Thompson's product just ruined $450 worth of deck furniture!

  6. Mary says:

    Someone please help! I went to our local home Depot because we wanted to redo our deck it's not a stained deck but a painted one instead. We were told to purchase a certain type of paint and told to top it off with Thompsons waterproofing and clear wood protector once the paint had dried, omg what a mess it's still wet after 5 days and worse the parts that are somewhat dry are beyond slippery. We went back to home Depot and we were just told they made a mistake and that we need to repaint the deck again, that that is the only way to remove the slip. Is this true? Is there anything else we can do?

  7. Frank says:

    I've used Thompson's Plus Wood Protector on a pressure treated pine deck for the last 10-12 years (2 applications with same product). I mix 2 parts Tinted Natural Cedar with 1 part Clear to obtain color darkness I want (to make knots in wood less obvious without loosing grain look). I checked with manufacturer and they said that's OK as both are made with same formula. Deck exposure is partial sun (high noon). I typically reapply every 5 years (probably should do it every 4 years), or when deck appears to need it. I have never experienced any mold issues. Gradually looses it's color tint luster, but then no sealer lasts forever. I use a bio-deck cleaner with a pressure washer to lift out dirt that is absorbed into the wood over time. Never any issues with peeling, gumyness, it applies easily, good cleanup with pump sprayer and brush. It is water based product and drying time is a couple days. You need to let "new" wood to cure for 30 days before sealing. If you want a pristine looking deck that doesn't need periodic maintenance, then suggest you go with a composite deck. Otherwise from what I've read, full direct sun exposure needs sealer every year or 2, and partial sun (half day) every 4 years. My deck is original 1972ish, lived there for going on 20 years, and only replaced about 10-15% of 2×4 decking 4 years ago. Note that I live in Chicago area, and not in Arizona or Florida climate. Ahhh, the beauty of real wood.

  8. Randy says:

    Our deck gets full afternoon sun, and this is just an OK product, not great. It lasts about 1.5 years then the wood darkens and the mold comes back. You definitely have to power wash because a deck cleaner won't get it clean enough.

    • PlanetGreen PwrWsh says:

      You have to strip and remove the Thompsons even after cleaning the graying. If not you will be left a milky looking finish on the wood. Once this stuff is applied its a you know what to remove.

  9. Duane says:

    Full sun. Spent 20,000.00 for new deck after the six month mark the deck was in full gray..

  10. Cindy says:

    This is the first time I've ever felt compelled to write an online complaint, but I am so disappointed with this product, that I shall add my name to the list here. Sadly, I found this review page AFTER using the waterseal. I followed the directions exactly–and even viewed their youtube video to make sure I applied it properly. Three days later we still have an oily deck. I contacted the company and was told that I must have used "a slight bit too much." Now they "recommend cleaning the deck with a degreaser." I hope others check this site BEFORE investing in Thompson's.

  11. Big Wyll says:

    I have a six month old deck that I am going to stain for the first time. After 4 months in the hottest summer ever a few boards warped very badly. I have tried a few sample cans from the local hardward store on the warped boards that were removed. I decided that Thompsons clear water seal gave me the look I was looking for. All the other stains tested were semi transparent but the tint removied the natural look of the wood. Even the clear stain had a tint to it. I later learned that the tint is for UV protection. My question is, what product should I use that will give me a true clear finish and protect from mold? Also, does applying a second coat of Thompsons offer better protection against mold? I asked this because I tried both one coat and a second on separate boards.

    • Bill, look at a different brand as Thompson\’s does not do so well with mold. If you want a true clear (no uv protection) and good mold prevention, then you would want the Defy Extreme Clear.

  12. Deborah Veach says:

    Stained back porch and front deck this year in May with Nutmeg Brown solid……it is terrible…both have pealed so badly we are now in September having to re-do both of them….this product is terrible especially for $24.99 a gallon and we used 5 gallons.would NOT recommend to anyone…and neither one had been previously stained or painted the front de k was seasoned wood approx 4 years and the back porch approx 2 years so that is not the issue….Very,Very, dissatisfied and unhappy!

  13. e. p says:

    used this product before, i have to use it every year because the water beading doesnt work after that. power washed my de cks have 2 decks , the wood looked great the grain looked awsome put thompsons clear on and it did not bring the grain out looks darker and has a milkey finish where the roller streaks were what other product can i use over itto bring the grain back out and maybe a little shine to it help

  14. Mike says:

    Used Thompson Harvest Gold on old weathered graying privacy fence, looks great, easily applied and used less than most stains stated their product would take. Used Thompson Sequoia Red on a new deck, six weeks old, easily applied, looks great and dries quickly. Thompson wood protector with stain is one of the best, easiest products I have used on wood products and I have worked with wood for 40 plus years.

  15. Carolyn says:

    I ratededs graying and wear and tear at 2 because I have only a short time experience with this stain, but I made this rating because I am sooooooo unhappy with the color. I used the semi-transparent cedar tint, and I now have an ORANGE deck. It is repelling water, and that is good, but the color is absolutely horrible. I hope it wears off, but even if it does, that color will be stuck in all those out-of-the-traffic-pattern, out-of-the-sun places for a long time. I have a beautiful natural cedar ceiling on my deck with a hideous ORANGE pine floor and railing. We did allow the wood to cure before applying the Thompson's.

  16. David Bryan says:

    Should I seal my wood before I build my gate or deck?

  17. Sarlin Construction says:

    We applied this on a new deck, 5 months after it was built. With the first heavy rain it mildewed. I called Thompsons and they seemed to feel this was normal. I now am going to remove the Thompsons product, they are sending me the remover but labor is at my expense. I am sorry I ever used their product and as a home builder I will not use anything from them or Sherwin Williams, the parent company again.

  18. Cable says:

    waited 2 months after installing brand new t-111 to put the thompsons clear down around the summer the wood in some areas were graying….sprayed the gray and mold off with a power washer and applied more thompsons again, 3 months later the gray is back and its even worse…i would paint the t-111 instead of using thompsons

  19. john says:

    mold? some are saying thompsons are paraffin/wax based for beading. they do not say so nor do they say the product inhibits mold. some say paraffin some say not promote mold growth. at any rate: it is unreliable to attribute thompsons performace to paraffin: whatever the secret ingredients i would think thompsons does NOT contain paraffin or contains only small concocted ammounts of; subject to change and not revealed.

    • Ken says:

      john, the only sure way to verify what's in a product is to check the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which is a legally required document. The MSDS for Thompson's NEW formula (no, 2180) shows two types of paraffinic oil, having a total of 83% of the total.

      It's worth noting that there are several different kinds of Thompson's products out there, so you need to check the label, as the formula and performance very widely.

  20. Anthony says:

    Started flaking off after 3 months waste of many hours and money! What a joke of a product! Don't buy!

  21. Sergio Ronzani says:

    My son sprayed it on his cedar siding and flaked the next day. Called the company and they don't stand behind it, told my husband he must have done it wrong, but I see from other comments, many people are having the same issue.

  22. Dee says:

    Omg! Stop! Don't use the Thompson multi surface waterproofing sealer. Horrible, horrible, horrible. I just had someone power wash my wooden fence and use the sealer. The results were horrendously. It became tacky and blotchy with a white film that created a thick coating in some areas. It puddled at the base of the fence ending up in the soil. Unfortunately, my guy was unaware that they had changed the formula and it was no longer clear and loose. Wished I would have read these reviews prior to the job. Now my poor guy has to do everything over again.

  23. Tom says:

    Do not buy, black mildew and discoloration. Now have a major fix project. Dissapointed.

  24. AngelWings says:

    We just replaced our aged deck and wanted to seal it with Thompson's waterseal. I had an old plastic hospital pan that I poured the sealer in. We purchased the 5 gallon and transferred it into 1 gallon water jugs we had saved up. This is a long process. I started in the morning, we had a breeze here in Florida but at about lunch time it got hot. I had purchased Mineral spirits to clean the pad out with, followed by a soapy wash. Around 3 pm, I started back to finish the other half of our 40 to 50 sq ft deck. I sure am hoping that some of the results stated here won't happen to me. I put it down thin but made sure it got into the wood. Hope this helps someone!

  25. Beverly Madden says:

    STOP! DON'T USE! Thompson's WaterSeal is the very worst ever. I have a huge deck which is 5 years old. I had waterproofed each spring with Home Hardware sealer and deck shed water and remained it's original natural color. Last year Thompson's was on sale and I sealed my deck with this product. It was a nightmare, the next day the entire deck was black…and almost felt greasy. It looked absolutely terrible and I was constantly asked "OMG! What did you do to your deck?" I wrote to Thompson with my problem and to this date they have not had the courtesy to reply. This spring the little grandsons were playing on the deck with their trucks…we looked down and both had black hands, cheeks and their clothes were filthy…all from the deck finish. Now I am working at removing it with a power washer and scraper and it will take weeks and is one soupy mess. RUN…FROM THIS PRODUCT !!!

  26. Becky Gilmore says:

    I used Thompson deck sealer (accord color) last fall around October 2015. I pressure washed the deck, waited a week, then applied the sealer. This spring 2016 the color sealer is peeling??? What causes the peeling already??? I am going to have to redo the deck again.

  27. S. Rae says:

    The worst product I have ever used. Did all our decks last summer with the Thompson Seal with Stain. The stain colour has come off all over. Now we have to redo everything. Complete waste of money and effort. I would NEVER use this product again. Garbage!

  28. Terrance Riley says:

    If there is a lawsuit PLEASE sign me up. Why are you still selling Thompson's WaterSeal? This is a bad product . Take it off the market. Home Depot should be ashamed to even sell it. Enough said it is a bad,bad product.

  29. Susie Jobe says:

    Beware of the aerosol can! I had a new can of the Thompson Water Sealant that exploded when I removed the cap. The nozzle popped off and it released the sealant everywhere including my face. Thankfully I avoided a bad chemical burn because of wearing glasses. A small amount got in my eye and I washed it out and called my eye doctor who said he needed to check eye. Luckily I only needed antibiotic drops. This was an unexpected medical bill.

  30. Jeff Hall says:

    This is the worst product available. I followed the instructions to the tee and after 6 months, my deck looks like shit! Never again will I waste my labor and money on this crap. Now I have to purchase chemicals to remove and retreat, who pays for this?

  31. Judy says:

    Seven months after applying (after a Canadian winter, and full sun fall), this stuff is peeling off our deck in strips. It's so bad that Thompson's refunded us (though only about 1/4 of what we paid). All directions were followed. TERRIBLE product!

  32. Jennifer says:

    This product lines ones amazing when we put it on and after its first winter, the snow melted and the deck was splotchy and ruined. Huge disappointment!
    We have to strip the deck and start over which is more time consuming than we ever dreamed of investing.

  33. pam says:

    I have used this product for 3 years and this year's use was a complete disaster. The sealant is much thicker than the 2 previous years and it would not dispense from the sprayer. I contacted Thompson's twice via email and no response. Today, I called and spoke with a representative. He stated that the product had changed due to new EPA guidelines and that the sealant probably would not have dispensed from the sprayer that I have used in the past. He suggested that I purchase a Groundwork sprayer from Tractor Supply. If the Thompson's representative could recommend the proper equipment for the new, thicker formula over the phone, wouldn't it have been a good idea to print this recommendation on the container of the "new and improved" product. I have wasted $150.00 and many hours of labor applying a product that Thompson's knew would not dispense from a commonly used sprayer. Who knows if using a different sprayer would have worked anyway. Sounds to me like the company is using the sprayer theory as a means to avoid their "Satisfaction Guarantee" warranty. Don't buy this product. It is awful. Try Olympic.

  34. Gail says:

    This is the worst thing we could have done to our deck. We spent lots of $$ replacing all of the deck boards only to have applied – or tried to apply this product. It dried too fast – you can't do a second coat – it looke terrible – I wish I could get it off. NEVER put this on your deck. Wish we knew. It is the worst!!!

  35. Lorian Rathwell says:

    Do not recommend this product – makes my deck look terrible and blotchy the application is not easy as advertised to apply. WORST THING ever done to my deck.

  36. Jeff Wilson says:

    Treated our picnic table about 2 months ago. It looked great. But it's already developing black discoloration (mold?) in the wood grain on the table top and benchs. The underside still looks like the day we sealed it.

  37. jean says:

    i need help… I put redwood stain on a redwood picnic table and seats and to protect it I used Thompson water seal on it .. 5 days and still not dry, and oily feeling. what can I do or will it dry?? I used spray can of it and light coat…

  38. David Hammond says:

    Hi I my name is Dave Hammond. I have been a carpenter for 20 years. I have used Thompson's in the past and had good results with it. Last year I had to build my 86 year old grandfather a ramp so he could get in and out of his home using his Walker or power chair. He live in southern Louisiana and it is very damp. When I built the ramp I lightly sanded using air to dust off boards and applied Thompson's to the boards prior to installing. I used a regular pump style sprayer to apply it and paid close attention to cut ends and bruising in sealer to insure proper coverage. I used kiln dried SPF finish grade 2×6 as deck boards. After I screwed down boards I again coated the ramp and followed with a brush. About a year later I noticed my grandfathers Walker wheel sink threw one of the boards. But because we were having a bad storm and the rain just would not stop. I decided not to tear it apart until the rain stopped. Maybe you saw on the news all the damage and flooding we had down here in southern la. So any way I contacted Thompson's and after a series of emails and pics I was told that I would get some product to replace the bad batch I had gotten. I figure fair enough no one is perfect and I considered the solution acceptable. I was then asked for a batch number on the can I had purchased a year ago. I did still have the can with about 3 gallons left but the can had rusted over the batch code. I took pics of the can and emailed them to Thompson's and told them I was unable to read the number because or the rusted can. I was then sent a email saying that the rot was not rot but mildew and was told that the would advise me on how to clean it up. I responded by telling them that it was in fact rot I just wasn't going to rip it apart in the rain with no end in site until it was going to stop raining. I was then told good luck with my project and that I was indeed rite about the rotten boards. Thanks. I am very disappointed in how I was led to believe I would get some help and then just dropped like they didn't care. This is the first time I've ever had a problem with Thompson's and never thought that this was how problems were resolved. I will say this that the way I was treated it very well may be the last time I have a problem with thompsons. Because I am seriously debating ever using their products again.

  39. Ollie says:

    As soon as you pour the cedar tone, semitransparent stain in your can, you will want to return it to the store for a full refund. Why? Because it looks like Pepto-Bismol. Seriously,,, a sickening pinkish salmon color. I applied it to a small section of new railing as a test. Looked just as bad on the railing as in the can. Took pics, found receipt, and was ready to go back to Homer D for refund. But, I decided to wait until it dried to see if it looked any better. Gave it about 30 minutes and went back to check it out. Indeed, it looked a lot better. More of an actual cedar color than pink, I called my wife out to inspect it, and she agreed that it looked OK, So, I applied it to the 150 sq. ft of deck that I cleaned and the new railing that had been installed. Not bad to apply. You have to be careful to brush it out so as not to leave overlap marks. We'll see how it looks 24 hours later.
    Is it the best-looking cedar tone stain ever? No, but it beats Behr's solid cedar deck stain by a mile. That stuff turned my deck into what looked like "pumpkin" color. Looked awful. So far this looks 100% better.

  40. Curt says:

    Stay far, far away from this product…I'm a Cedar decking distributor who specializes in premium Cedar decking. This is the last product you should use. It offers little to no UV protection, stick with a natural oil biased product like Messmers or Sikens. I would also recommend a satin finish, or non-film biased product…this will prevent peeling and the need to sand every 2-3 years when re-application. The beading of Thompsons water seal is cause by wax in the product, which actually burns off very quickly and offers little protection to the wood.

  41. Colleen says:

    We have used Thompson's Water Sealer on our deck, breezeway, and porch since building our house in 2007 and it's worked well for us. We live in Vermont, where we suffer from sever weather pretty much all year long – wind, rain, freezing rain, ice, snow, sleet, heat, and humidity. Due to where we live we apply Thompson's Water Sealer every spring and fall.

    As for mildew and graying, that's regular maintained annually with a pressure washer and solution. It's normal. We actually wanted our deck to look aged and therefore did not get the one that prevented graying, but those too are available.

  42. John Nichols says:

    We used your deck sealer on a picnic table and a $7,500 gazebo and the decking around it. The new picnic table rotted the same year and the gazebo is rotting all over. We tried to strip it off and it didn't work. The salesman at Menards said it would work on the table and gazebo. Very unhappy customer.

  43. Noel Perkins says:

    I Live in Lone Oak TX. this product did not last 9 mo. before molding well never used again!

  44. Kevin says:

    This product didn't even last 2yrs on my deck. It was a complete waste of time and money. Now I have to pressure wash and start over.

  45. Verns says:

    Put thompdon clear water seal can i use a darker seal over it now

  46. Melissa says:

    I used Thompsons transparent stain and waterproofer on a large front porch, stairs and covered back porch. It looked nice, but was super slippery. The day following application, I stepped out my front door onto a rubber backed rug and it slid out from under me, along with my feet!! I called and they said it could be too much product applied, wash it with a brush and it will help. It seemed to help, but always worried about someone falling down and getting hurt as we have a full flight of stairs to our front door. On exposed wood, where it gets walked on, the product has worn off after one year. It does get full sun and rain and we are in a salt air humid environment. But, I am definitely looking for another product as applying it every year as it needs, seems excessive.

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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.