Best Deck Stains

A deck is one of the most important places in a house. However, when not maintained, the wood may be destroyed by weather, dust, and even sunlight.

Our Top Picks at a Glance:

Thanks to deck stains, we can now maintain the deck in its original state for a long time. They help protect against the following:

  • Sunlight – Sunlight changes the color of the wood, changes its shape, and dries, causing it to crack. Stains prevent sun rays from getting to the wood.
  • Moisture – Moisture causes wood to become soft and unstable. It also causes the growth of molds. Deck stain seals the wood from moisture, preserving it for a long time.
  • Cracking – Both sunlight and moisture could cause cracking. Unlike deck sealants, deck stains maintain the required amount of moisture and keep away sunlight from interfering with the natural drying process.

Below we’ve rounded up our 10 best deck stains based on on our in-depth research. Whether you’re looking for the best semi-transparent deck stains, oil-based or water-based, natural or synthetic, we’ve reviewed at least one in each category.


Best Deck Stain Reviews

1. Ready Seal 512 Deck Stain and Sealer

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

Key Features

  • It doesn’t require a primer; it gets its natural color in 14 days.
  • You can use a brush, roller, or spray to apply the stain.
  • It doesn’t require a wet line application.
  • It’s not temperature sensitive; you can apply at any time of the day.

The Ready Seal 512 preserves your wooden deck while maintaining its natural beauty. The grain and color remain visible after the stain is applied. This oil-based semitransparent stain doubles as a sealer too.

Why we like it

  • It doesn’t require multi-step application processes such as thinning and diluting.
  • It doesn’t leave streaks, laps, or runs.
  • It’s not temperature sensitive.
  • No multi-step application.

What we don’t like

  • There are issues where the colors delivered don’t match the colors advised. Some customers also complained about receiving a different shade from what they ordered.
  • It’s quite expensive, and you may end up using more than you intended to, or more than they indicate on the guide.

Our Verdict

The Ready Seal 512 doubles as a stain and as a sealer. It helps protect your deck from UV light, sunlight, and moisture. It also seals the wood pores. It’s easy to use, sand, and there’s no multi-step application process. Better yet, the natural color of the wood remains intact.

2. DEFY Extreme 1 Exterior Wood Stain

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Exterior Wood Stain, Crystal Clear

Key Features

  • It is water-based.
  • It’s crystal clear, allowing it to enhance the woods true color as well as protect it from sunlight.
  • The Zinc Nano-particle technology gives this stain an edge against UV light.
  • These nano-particles are also resistant to t5o mildew growth. This protects your deck from molds.

If you’d like to give your deck a great uplift, at a slightly higher cost, this stain is for you. It is a water-based deck stain that aims at enhancing the wood’s natural color as well as protecting it from sunlight, UV light, and moisture.

Why we like it

  • It is made of high quality and highly durable resins. This allows it to last longer than most products.
  • It’s easy to maintain.
  • It is mildew resistant; it doesn’t promote mold growth.
  • It’s very effective at repelling sunlight, protecting your deck from graying.

What we don’t like

  • Its lighter, causing you to use more than expected.

Our Verdict

For longevity and deck aesthetics, choose this deck stain. You may even think about abandoning oil-based deck stains after trying it. It’s highly durable, thanks to the high-quality resins. It’s easy to maintain and a great UV-light, sunlight and water repellant.

3. Minwax 70009444 Deck Stain

Minwax 70009444 Wood Finish Penetrating Stain, quart, Cherry

Key Features

  • It comes in 28 different colors.
  • It’s lighter than most brands.
  • It is oil-based.

Having a beautiful deck, and well-preserved wood doesn’t have to break the bank. The Minwax comes at a considerably lower price compared to other wood stains. However, don’t let this price fool you; this oil-based stain does a great job.

Why we like it

  • It can be used for aesthetic purposes.
  • It can also be used to restore the beauty of old and worn out wood.
  • It is ideal for staining other wooden items such as cabinets.
  • It is very affordable.

What we don’t like

  • It is very light. You may need to use more layers to get the desired results.

Our Verdict

This is priced very low, but its results match those of higher-priced products. Its light nature means you may have to use more, but that’s nothing compared to how much it costs. Whether you want to restore your worn out deck or want to stain your new deck, this stain works just fine.

4. Woodrich Timber Oil Deep Penetrating Deck Stain

Timber Oil Deep Penetrating Stain for Wood Decks, Wood Fences, Wood Siding, and Log Cabins - 1 Gallon Western Cedar - Woodrich Brand - Covers up to 150 Square Feet - 100% Guaranteed - Easy to Use

Key Features

  • It is oil-based.
  • It comes in three colors.
  • It’s semi-transparent.

If you’re up for a DIY challenge, this one’s a great choice. It’s easy to use and leaves your deck looking attractive. It penetrates deep to provide protection against UV light, sunlight and moisture.

Why we like it

  • You are allowed to test the colors before purchasing the stain.
  • It’s easy to apply and it doesn’t leave tracks.
  • You can apply it using a spray, brush, or any other method that’s more convenient for you.
  • Its semi-transparent nature allows you to highlight the natural color of the wood.

What we don’t like

  • It has a very strong smell. Some people find it unbearable after a few hours.

Our Verdict

This is ideal for when you decide to take a day off to stain your deck. It’s easy to apply with either a spray or a brush. It’s semi-transparent, highlighting the woods natural color. It comes in three shades and you can test the appearance before buying the stain.

5. Wolman F&P Deck Stain

RUST-OLEUM 14416 Wood Preservative, Browns

Key Features

  • Enhances and protects the exterior wood with Rust-Oleum Wolman finish and preservative.
  • Brings out wood’s natural grain while also providing long term water protection.
  • It prevents surface mold and mildew growth, plus any rot or decay.

This is a transparent, deep penetrating oil-based stain. It has a fungicidal preventive characteristic that enables it to protect the wood from rot and decay.

Why we like it

  • It is easy to apply.
  • It provides long term protection to water, UV light, and mold.
  • It can also bring the natural grain of the after when applied frequently.

What we don’t like

  • The long-term protection can damage the wood.
  • It mostly protects the exterior but not the interior part of the wood.

Our Verdict

Never think of any other deck stain in case of good exterior protection of the wood. As the name suggests, it is one of the easiest stains to apply and therefore try to get one and apply at you comfort.

6. Sikkens Cetol Dek Finish Deck Stain

Sikkens CETOL DEK FINISH- Natural #078 5 Gallons

Key Features

  • It is translucent.
  • Extremely for exterior decks.
  • It offers optimum protection for the wood.
  • It offers ultimate durability and a beautiful furniture-like appearance.

This is one of the most durable products on the market today. Its protection lasts up to 3 years when correctly applied and maintained.

Why we like it

  • It offers optimum protection to the wood.
  • It makes the wood ultimately durable.
  • It makes the wood more beautiful.
  • It is easy to apply and maintain for most people.

What we don’t like

  • It has two coat application which might be a bit complicated for the user to apply.
  • It is only effective when applied according to the instruction of the manufacturer.

Our Verdict

You can never go wrong with the sickens’ products. When applied correctly, you’re assured of three years of a beautiful and well-maintained deck.

7. Cabot Australian Timber Deck Stain

Cabot 140.0003458.007 Australian Timber Oil Stain, Gallon, Honey Teak

Key Features

  • It is semi-solid and siding stain.
  • Uniquely known for superior durability.
  • Ideal for use on decks, siding and fencing.
  • It is one coat application.

It is known mostly by its feature of penetrating deep in the wood. It is an oil-based stain that protects the wood for two to three years.

Why we like it

  • They are deep penetrating oil-based stain.
  • Provides long-lasting beauty of the wood’s texture.
  • It has a unique pigmented appearance.
  • Extremely durable and helps to protect the wood against the damage from the sun.

What we don’t like

  • This stain does not hold up to minimal foot traffic.
  • It is a one-coat application stain that seems to fade away faster.

Our Verdict

If you want to enhance the beauty of your wood, then this is the right option for you. Being oil-based, it is a natural repellant. It’s also easy to apply.

8. Cabot Semi-Transparent Deck and Siding Stain 6300

Key Features

  • It is one coat.
  • Not mostly intended for interior surfaces.
  • Oil-based.
  • Has light pigment that maintains the grain of the wood.

This is another product that we would recommend to both homeowners and contractors. It is known to penetrate deep in the wood. It’s effective for up to two to three years, depending on weather conditions.

Why we like it

  • it won’t crack the wood when properly used.
  • Only need one coat.
  • Extremely easy to apply.
  • It is also a water repellent and protect the wood against UV lights.

What we don’t like

  • It is only effective depending on the weather conditions of a place.
  • It only for exterior but not interior and therefore not reliable.

Our Verdict

If you are really concerned about your wood, then this should be only your option. It is 100% crack-resistant. Also, consider the fact that it protects the wood from UV light. This must be one of your options in case you want to protect your wood from blisters.

9. Penofin Red Label Deck Stain

Penofin F3MCLGA Clear Red Label Gallon

Key Features

  • Has uncompromising and high-quality protection.
  • It has extra protection features against molds.
  • Oil-based.

For maximum protection against UV light, this is the ideal deck stain.

Why we like it

  • It has increased the trans oxide pigments for up to 99% to protect the wood against UV lights.
  • Its pigment doesn’t fade off or wash off.

What we don’t like

  • Must be kept away from direct heat or flame otherwise can cause damage.
  • It must be used before the wood is soaked in water.

Our Verdict

If you are looking for a stain that protects your wood from extreme UV light, then this is the right option. Use this for quality protection of your wood.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Deck Stain

Stain vs. Sealer

These two products are quite similar in compositing and application. They both help protect the wood from sunlight, moisture and UVF light. However, sealers are a bit transparent, enhancing the color of the wood. Wood stains come in different shades. Some are semitransparent, while others give your deck a completely different color.

Oil-based vs. Water-based Deck Stains

Deck stains work by penetrating deep into the wood. Oil-based varieties have been with us since stains were invented; while water-based ones are a new entry.

Oil-based Stains

  • Naturally, oil doesn’t mix with water. This allows the stain to protect the wood from water effectively.
  • Oil-based take longer to dry.
  • Oil-based are quite flammable. You need to avoid smoking as you apply these stains.
  • They are relatively cheap compared to water-based stains.

Water-based They are more expensive

  • They dry within hours of application.
  • They are safer to use; they’re not flammable, and the smells aren’t so strong.

Opacity of Deck Stains

Besides giving your deck a nice color, a deck stain should also hide the wood grain and protect your deck for a longer time before reapplying. There are four types of opacities:

  • Toner – This one’s the clearest, similar to that of a sealer. It doesn’t change the color of the deck, but it offers protection against other damaging factors. It takes one year before reapplying.
  • Semitransparent – It changes the color of the deck slightly. Woodgrain will still be visible. It takes two years to reapply.
  • Semi-opaque – This wood stain changes the color of the deck and hides most of the wood grain. It takes about four years to reapply.
  • Opaque – It gives your deck a complete color overhaul and hides all of the wood grain. It’s the densest stain.


The best deck stain should prevent mildew growth and protect your deck from sunlight and UV light.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Long does a Deck Stain Take to Dry?

This depends on the type and the weather. Water-based varieties take up to 3 hours on a cloudy day and at least 2 hours on a hot day. Oil-based ones take more than 24 hours to dry.

How Long does it Take Before I Can Reapply the Deck Stain?

A good quality product should take 3-4 years before reapplying.

Final Thoughts

The ReadySeal 512 is our top pick for a lot of reasons. For starters, it is semi-transparent, allowing the natural color of the wood to shine. It’s easy to apply and protects your deck from UV light, sunlight and moisture. Better yet, it doubles as a sealer. If you’re stuck between choosing a stain and a sealer, you can take one that does both.

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