Top 10 Best Deck Stains of 2020 – Reviews

One of the easiest solutions to bring aging decks back to life is to use a deck stain on it. The best deck stain coatings will not only make the deck look better but it will also protect it against the onslaught of wind and rain. It’s a solution that’s economical, is easy to accomplish and provides lasting value. These types of stains, however, come in a variety of different types, so it’s not always easy for the consumer to determine which is the best deck stain available at any given time. And that’s why we’ve decided to deliver ten models that we think are the best products for bringing an old deck back to life or protecting a new one.

Best Deck Stains – Top List

10. Cabot Samuel Cedar DK Tone Stain (3002) 1-Gallon

This translucent oil stain is designed to go on smoothly and to penetrate the grains of the wood deeply. It’s manufactured using a proprietary blend of oil and resin that makes a natural finish for pare wood and protects the wood against the ravaging effects of sun and rain. It’s water-repellent and protects against warping, and also prevents mildew growth. This product can be used on a number of different wood varieties, but unfortunately is only designed for use on reconditioned or new wood and is not intended for restoring old decks. Even so, this product will provide about 400-square feet of coverage per gallon.


9. Tall Earth Wood Stain, Treatment & Preservative-5 Gallon Size

Tall Earth is a stain that has to be mixed with 5-gallons of water and then applied using a sprayer, brush or sponge. Once mixed, however, it provides a non-toxic stain that’s safe to use around pets and children and contains zero VOCs. This stain is designed to penetrate deeply into the fibers of the wood and changing it at a molecular level so that it will never fade. When dried, this product provides a nice aged-look finish that protects against mold, mildew, dry rot, and fungus, and also helps protect against the elements. It’s an Eco-friendly stain that is Earth-friendly.


8. Varathane Premium Dark Walnut Gel Stain (224493)-1 Quart

While this stain was originally designed to be used on vertical surfaces, it can also be used on decks and is formulated to be thicker than conventional oil-based stains. One quart covers an area of approximately 250-square feet and will dry to the touch in approximately 60-minutes. This product is designed to enhance the natural beauty of wood and to provide a deep, rich color. It isn’t just useful for decks, however. This formula can also be used on steel doors and fiberglass as well as window trim and wood furniture. Which makes it ideal to keep around the house for any number of different projects.


7. Penofin Deep Penetrating Oil For Exotic Hardwood Exterior

Designed to be used on a variety of hardwoods including teak, mahogany, Ipe, and Ironwood, this stain uses the penetrating power of Brazilian Rosewood Oil to protect the wood from the inside out. Once applied, it provides 99% UV protection and also protects the wood from mold and mildew. The surface coating of this stain is designed to resist cracking, peeling and bubbling and only has to be reapplied every three to six months. And since this product allows the wood to naturally breathe and highlights the wood’s innate beauty, it’s an ideal choice to be used on fine hardwood decks.


6. Penofin Ultra Premium Clear Stain (F3MCLGA)-1 Gallon

Providing a coverage of approximately 200-300 square feet per gallon, this stain was designed to meet the demands for a high-quality exterior wood finish. It’s formulated using Brazilian Rosewood Oil that soaks down into the fibers of the wood and protects it from the inside out. It not only provides 99% UV protection but also protects against various mold and mildew agents. This product is designed to be a viable choice for anyone looking to stain their deck, siding or fencing and is also an ideal choice for using on boat docks and gazebos as well. Which makes it a quality product for any type of wood staining.


5. General Finishes JQ Gel Stain-1 Quart

This gel stain is designed to produce an even appearance, even on difficult to stain woods such as pine or aspen, but does so without penetrating deeply into the wood grains the way that oil-based products do. This feature allows the stain to produce a nice look on the wood and is less affected by the condition of the wood than oil stains are affected. Ideal for decks as well as cabinetry, this stain gets the job done without a whole lot of hassle. It just produces a nice rich color that’s sure to last for quite some time and receive the compliments of those who see it.


4. Tall Earth Wood Stain, Preservative & Treatment (TWWAQT1G)-1 Gallon

Formulated to be Earth-friendly and to be non-toxic, this product is mixed with water to make a gallon of stain which can cover approximately 150 to 200-feet of decking. It provides a nice aged finish that is VOC-free and is safe to be used around children and pets. This makes it an ideal solution for staining decks in gardens or natural areas and can be used both outdoors and indoors. Once applied, it penetrates deep into the wood fiber and never needs to be reapplied again. It also adequately protects against weather and in most cases, no special surface preparation is required before applying.


3. Defy Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain-1 Gallon

This semi-transparent wood stain is designed to penetrate wood and uses nanotechnology to give it an unprecedented level of durability. It contains zinc oxide particles that reflect UV rays to protect the wood but is invisible to the naked eye, protecting the wood in very much the same way that sun blockers protect human skin. This stain is available in a number of semi-transparent colors including butternut, driftwood fray, natural pine, light walnut, and cedar, so there’s bound to be a color to match the deck’s wood and personal preferences of the person applying it.


2. Ready Seal Stain 512-5 Gallon

While many stain products require the application of a separate sealer but that isn’t the case with this product. That’s because this product is formulated to both be a stain and a sealer, all in one product. When first applied, this product goes on dark but eventually reaches its true color in approximately two weeks. This product can be applied to decks almost any time of the year using a brush, sprayer or a roller. It comes in a variety of different colors which include natural cedar, mahogany, dark walnut and golden pine and once dry protect the deck against sun, wind, and rain.


1. Ready Seal 112 Exterior Stain & Sealer-1 Gallon

Available in a number of different stains, including dark walnut, redwood, light oak and pecan, this product is ideal for just about any deck. It can be applied without using a primer and an additional sealant isn’t required because that’s already built into this product. Users can apply this stain using a brush, sprayer or roller in just about any temperature range imaginable, except for when the temperature is extremely hot or cold. Once dried, this product produces a beautiful color that also serves to protect the deck from mold, mildew and weather conditions including sun, rain, and wind.


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Deck Stain Buying Guide

If you have recently had a deck built on the back of your home or the deck you currently have needs a little bit of renovation, then you are probably going to want to take some time to shop for a deck stain for it. A stain that’s not only going to protect the wood for many years to come, but also will ensure that your deck looks as good as possible. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy prospect because there are dozens of different stains currently available and not surprisingly, all of them claim to be the best.

Even though most stain manufacturers like to claim their product is the best, the truth of the matter is that there are only a few brands of stain that are going to last longer than a year, so it’s important to not only choose a reputable brand but also choose the correct stain for your deck. Although we can’t help you with the first part of that scenario, we can help you choose the right stain for your application. Let’s take a few moments to examine some of the types of stain currently available and how to choose the right one.

Choose A Deck Stain Type

When it comes to deck stains, the consumer has 3 different options. There are opaque stains, semi-transparent stains, and clear coat stains. Since each of these types has a different characteristic, it’s important to examine each one separately to determine which one might be best for your needs.

Solid Stains

Solid stains, also known as opaque stains, are designed to be the longest lasting stains available. Good quality solid stains will last up to 3-years and the best quality ones can last 5-years or more. They’re able to withstand a variety of weather conditions and have a fine look to them. Unfortunately, they also tend to hide the grain of the wood in much the same way that paint does. However, this is what makes them particularly good for pine decks. After all, being able to see the wood’s grain isn’t a priority with a pine deck the same way it is for an oak deck.

Another problem that opaque stains have is that they may begin to peel—especially if the deck was treated properly or the consumer tried to lay one coat of stain over another coat. Of course, this is less likely if a high-quality stain is purchased in the first place, and the deck surface is properly prepared according to the stain’s manufacturer’s instructions.

Semi-Transparent Stains

As the name of this stain suggests, it allows the beauty of the wood’s grain to shine through. This makes it a really good choice for flashy or exotic woods. It’s good for decks made with the standard Red Cedar but is also good for exotic wood types including Tigerwood, Burmese Blackwood, Black Locust or Muninga Wood. This stain really allows those wood grains to show through, and that makes the decks look really good. Unfortunately, while this stain makes the wood look better, it’s not as durable as an opaque stain. At the best, users can expect the best semi-transparent stain to last 3 to 4-years at most, with many of the lesser quality ones lasting only 1 to 2-years. Therefore, the consumer really needs to weigh looks against durability and decide what they want more.

Clear Sealers

Although clear sealers are good for allowing the grain of the wood to shine through, they don’t offer even as much protection as semi-transparent stains. A lot of consumers with decks built from high-quality exotic woods will choose this type of stain because it highlights the look of their wood’s natural beauty, but it doesn’t protect very well, so frequent reapplication will be necessary. It’s also important to choose a clear sealer that contains UV blocking additives in it to avoid the sun bleaching out the color of the wood.

The Final Word

As you can see, it isn’t that difficult to find the best deck stain available, if you’re willing to understand all of the variables. The best place to start is always with the particular type of wood your deck is made out of and then factoring in whether you favor looks over durability or vice-versa. Once you’ve determined all of those things, then you can choose the right deck stain for your deck. A stain that will enhance the look of your deck and keep it protected.