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How To Choose The Best Deck Stain

Are you thinking of staining your deck? If you’ve just got a brand-new deck, staining your deck can preserve its color and maintain its longevity. Exposure to the sun, ice, and other harsh weather conditions can result in your deck deteriorating over time. Using a deck stain can help prevent sun rays from penetrating the wood. It can also repel moisture and prevent the wood from growing mold or becoming soft. Another great benefit of staining your deck is preventing it from cracking. 

Best Deck Stain

With numerous deck stains available in the market, however, it can be challenging to select the right one – especially if it’s your first time staining a deck. Here, we’ll give you some background on the different types of deck stains available, what to consider when purchasing your deck stain, a short guide on how to stain your deck, and end off with 5 of the best solid deck stains in the market to get you started. 

Different Types of Deck Stains 

There are different types of deck stains – clear, solid, semi-solid, and semi-transparent. 

Clear Deck Stains

These are known as deck water sealer and won’t add any color to the wood. They do, however, penetrate the wood and protect it from various elements. They’re also water-repellent and will prevent UV rays from affecting the quality of the wood. With clear deck stains, you’ll need to reapply it once a year. 

Related: How to Build a Deck Frame

Solid Deck Stains

These are referred to as opaque stains and are usually applied to the top of the deck surface to cover the grain. It can easily be confused for paint because it looks similar, but solid deck stains have ingredients to protect the wood. While they’re great at hiding discoloration, solid deck stains are usually more prone to cracking, chipping, and peeling. 

Semi-Solid Deck Stains

These are a little more transparent than solid stains and are suitable for high-traffic areas. In terms of durability, it’s quite similar to its solid deck stain counterpart. 

Semi-Transparent Deck Stains

These will impart some color to the deck but will also keep the grain pattern visible. They’re most commonly used for external deck staining as it’ll soak into the wood and last longer than clear stains. It’s also less likely to peel off the deck surface, but you will need to reapply when it loses its color. Semi-transparent deck stains are more suited to railings. 

Deck Stain vs. Sealer 

While both deck stains and sealers protect and preserve wood, they aren’t the same product. Sealers are clear and transparent, while deck stains usually have pigment or tone that adds some color. In many instances, individuals will use a sealer or a translucent stain on top of a semi-transparent one to avoid their decks from changing color. 

What are the Different Bases of Stains? 

There are two different bases of stains – oil-based and water-based stains. Oil-based stains are excellent at repelling water and conditioning the wood. They can also withstand various elements, are more durable, and require less maintenance. However, its downfall is that they’re flammable when wet and can take up to 2 days to dry. Once dried, however, they produce a richer color than their water-based counterparts. 

Related: Be Sure to Get the Best Deck Cleaner for Your Patio

For water-based stains, they tend to maintain the color of the deck well and dry quickly. It also doesn’t have as strong of an odor and isn’t as flammable. Since they don’t emit volatile organic compounds (VOC), they’re also environmentally friendly. However, the downfall of water-based stains is that they don’t penetrate as deeply as oil-based stains. 

What to Consider

There are three things you need to consider when purchasing deck stains – durability, price, and the amount of effort required for cleaning. In terms of durability, various stains come with different ingredients – resulting in various thickness levels. While some stains can last for several years, others would need a recoating every year. 

Deck stains come in different price points for price, so you’d need to figure out what works with your budget. However, if you buy a cheaper deck stain, you may need to apply a second coating as it won’t cover as much area. If you can, try to purchase a more expensive deck stain as they last longer and have both a better coverage and finish. 

Finally, for your convenience, it’d also be best to purchase deck stains that are easy to clean and require only water and soap. If not, you’ll have to buy additional cleaning materials or sand before applying the stain. 

How to Stain a Deck – Step by Step Guide

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  • First, you’d want to sweep your deck thoroughly. If it’s dirty, you’d want to wash it as well. Though if you decide to clean your deck, you’ve got to wait for it to dry.
  • Then, you’d need to take some sandpaper to smooth the wood and get it ready for absorbing the stain. 
  • Before you stain your wood, it’s good to invest in a pair of knee pads since you’ll be on your hands and knees most of the time. 
  • You’d then want to sand the deck floor thoroughly before using a leaf blower to remove all of the sawdust from your deck floor. 
  • After that, it’s time to stain! You’d need a brush to help you with the staining, and you should select a brush with natural fibers. 
  • While staining, you’d want to do it one board, at a time to avoid any overlap. 
  • After you’re done applying, allow it to dry for at least 48 hours. 

Top 5 Best Deck Stains

Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to stain your deck, here are five different deck stains that you can select to help you with the project. 

1. Australian Timber Oil, Quart, Natural

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This timber oil is excellent for decks, railings, and sidings; it’s made with a unique blend of oils specially formulated to protect various wood pieces. It’ll penetrate into dense, resin-rich woods, is durable, water-repellent, and also has plenty of color-depth. Other great features of this timber oil include its translucent iron oxide pigments that provide a rich color and dimension and being able to protect exotic wood surfaces. 

Plenty of customers have given this product rave reviews and mentioned that it coats perfectly, lasts longer, and delivers fantastic results. Customers also like the variety of color choices and how it comes with detailed instructions. One customer mentioned that the fumes are relatively strong as a tip, so you’d want to either get a mask or paint in a well-ventilated area.

Pros:

  • Great for exotic wood surfaces 
  • Durable and water-repellent 
  • Comes in a range of different colors 
  • Provides a rich color 

Cons:

  • Has relatively strong fumes

2. Thompson’s TH.042841-16 Waterseal Waterproffing Stain

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Another great deck stain, this particular formula is semi-transparent, so while it does have some pigment, it’ll still show wood texture and grain. In terms of features, it’s water-repellent, and the coating also resists both mildew and UV-damage. The advanced polymers will provide fade-resistant color, and you can add this to either freshly cleaned damp or dry wood. One coat can last for four years on the deck and about six years for fences and sidings. 

Those who have purchased this particular deck stain mentioned that it works well and can withstand various weather conditions. Others have also said that it offers good coverage and comes at a low price. It’s also easy to use and goes on similar to paint since it does color the wood.

Pros:

  • Semi-transparent – has some color 
  • Water-repellent 
  • Resists both mildew and UV-damage 
  • Fade-resistant color 

Cons:

  • Some have mentioned that the formula is a little runny

3. Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood

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This deck stain comes in many colors and can be applied with either a sprayer, roller, or brush. No primer is required when you use this deck stain, and it’ll reach its true color in about two weeks. No back brushing is necessary, and it’ll also never leave runs, laps, or streaks. The product will seamlessly blend into the wood and can be applied in any seasonality. 

The stain itself is oil-based and enhances the texture and grain of the wood. The formula will penetrate deeply into the wood while protecting it from UV rays, mold, and mildew. It has some pretty good reviews from customers, and they mentioned that the deck stain goes on quick, really soaks in, and can be applied effortlessly with a brush or roller.

Pros:

  • Easy application 
  • No back brushing is required 
  • Can be applied in any seasonality 
  • Penetrates deeply into the wood 

Cons:

  • Color fades quicker than some of the other deck stains

4. Olympic Stain 79603 Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer

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If you’re looking for an excellent deck stain, this Olympic Maximum deck stain has you covered. It contains both the stain and sealant to protect and beautify in one easy step. You can also use it in various weathers, and it provides enhanced waterproofing protection and will protect the wood against UV rays. 

Those that have purchased this product mentioned that it stirs easily, goes on well, and has fantastic coverage. It’s recommended to brush the deck stain on as it’s neater, and individuals love how it’s long-lasting, durable, and covers well.

Pros:

  • Contains both stain and sealant 
  • Suited to various weather conditions 
  • Enhanced waterproofing protection 
  • Protects against UV rays 

Cons:

  • The color’s a little lighter than expected 

5. SEAL-ONCE NANO+POLY Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane

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Last on the list is this premium wood sealer that’s water-based and comes with advanced penetrating nanotechnology. It doesn’t have any toxic chemicals and will enhance and extend your wood’s natural life. It can also protect against water damage for up to 10 years on vertical surfaces and six years on horizontal surfaces.

Since it’s low VOC, it’s safe for pets and plants, and you can easily clean it up with soap and water. Upon application, it’ll prevent mildew, decay, mold, and won’t peel. There are also 11 different color tints, so you’re able to pick the one that best suits your needs. Customers said that this deck stain has excellent water-resistant, is safe for marine life, and has zero odor. They also like that it dries quickly and is easy to apply.

Pros:

  • Advanced penetrating nanotechnology 
  • No toxic chemicals 
  • Low VOC 
  • 11 different color tints 

Cons:

  • Some mentioned that the color’s a little off 

The Bottom Line

We hope you’ve got a better idea of deck stains and which ones you’d like to purchase for your home. When it comes to buying your deck stain, make sure that you consider the colors, the degree of opacity that you’d like, and the wood type you’re staining. Once you’ve narrowed all of that down, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to purchase. Just in case, you can also test out the deck stain on the wood that you’d like to coat, so you’ve got a better idea of how everything will turn out before painting the whole thing.