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9 Best Deck Stains Today [Reviews & Buyer’s Guide]

Hand with a brush varnishes wooden boards

Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.

Maintenance is vital to keep your home in pristine condition, but is it as easy as it sounds? 

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no need to spend a lot of money to look after your property. In fact, a fresh coat of paint is enough to give your house an attractive and vibrant appearance. Not to mention, it takes care of the imperfections and protects the furniture. 

Today we are looking at deck stains that will help you enjoy the comforts of the outdoors throughout the year. Applying an efficient deck stain helps you enjoy the natural appearance and texture of the wood while keeping it safe. 

Moreover, there are numerous color options to choose from that make your home eye-catching. To know more about this fantastic product, you can read our reviews of the nine best options available out there. 

Top Deck Stains 

Our Top PickOur Top Pickhstcstbl-table__imageReady Seal 512
  • Multiple shades
  • Various sizes
  • No back brushing
hstcstbl-table__imageKilz L832111
  • 250 square feet coverage
  • Weatherproof
  • Acrylic-based formula
hstcstbl-table__imageGeneral Finishes WBQT
  • Low VOC
  • No odor
  • Non-combustible
hstcstbl-table__imageSaverSystems 300519
  • VOC less than 50g/L
  • Semi-transparent shade
  • Five different colors
hstcstbl-table__imageCabot 140.0003459.007
  • Waterproof
  • UV-resistant
  • Oil-based formula
hstcstbl-table__imageDefy 300158
  • Water-based formula
  • Contains resins
  • Zinc nano-particle technology
hstcstbl-table__imageThompsons Waterseal 042851-16
  • Waterproof
  • Contains advanced polymers
  • UV-resistant
hstcstbl-table__imageStorm System 291114
  • Oil-based formula
  • UV-resistant
  • Semi-transparent
hstcstbl-table__imageAmteco Division Of Gemini Industrie TWP-1501-1
  • Cedar tone color
  • Weatherproof
  • Total wood preservative

outdoor patio deck and chair

  1. Ready Seal 512

Consumers looking for an exterior wood sealer will love the performance of the Ready Seal 512. It delivers a natural coat on wood, ensuring that the texture and feel of the surface remain intact. Therefore, you can use it for maintenance or decorative purposes without any hassle.

Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain...
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first...
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods...
  • Requires no back brushing and will nerver leave runs, laps,...
  • Requires no wet-line application, the product will blend...

Why Did We Like It? 

It is one of the top choices for customers, thanks to its easy application and vivid colors. Speaking of colors, you won’t need to apply a primer to paint the deck, which ensures that the first coat is dark and vibrant. But within 14 days, the color will change to the desired shade. 

Consumers can use this paint with a roller, brush, or sprayer without compromising on the solution’s consistency. Moreover, we have found no need for back-brushing as it does not leave drip marks. Meaning, the floor gets an even coating, and the solution mixes with the surface at any temperature. 

Furthermore, thanks to its easy-to-maintain nature, you won’t have to reapply it before sanding or stripping the paint. Neither does it require much preparation, making it highly sought-after on the market. 

411eTKQs40S. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

Upon opening the container, users found a watery solution, which was surprising because the paint does not leave drip marks. However, its low viscosity creates a mess, and you need to cover all furniture to avoid staining them. Also, it would be best to wear gloves to keep your hands clean. 

  • Easy to spray
  • No drip marks
  • Vivid colors
  • Consistent coat
  • Biodegradable
  • Watery
  • Messy
  1. Kilz L832111

Kilz is a well-known brand in the painting community, thanks to its reliable and user-friendly products. Unsurprisingly, the latest deck stain delivers fantastic coverage and uses an acrylic-based formula for a high-quality finish. You can rest assured that it will meet most of your DIY needs, making it a worthy investment.

KILZ L832111 Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain,...
  • A good exterior wood stain offers long-lasting protection,...
  • Our 100% Acrylic formula protects wood from rain, snow and...
  • Use on properly prepared new to moderately weathered and...
  • This semi-transparent stain provides a mildew-resistant...

Why Did We Like It? 

This semi-transparent exterior wood stain delivers durability, protecting the surface from water and mildew. As a result, the texture, appearance, and quality of the wood remain unaffected despite the changing weather conditions. 

The secret behind its long-lasting performance is its 100% acrylic formula that can resist extreme temperature conditions be it sun, snow, or rain. Moreover, it comes with a guarantee of three to five years, ensuring that consumers get nothing but the best output. 

Moving on, you can use it on most exterior surfaces like decks, shingles, railing, and fences. And, thanks to its 250 square feet coverage, you won’t need to buy multiple containers. In addition, the second coat covers 500 square feet, evenly spreading over any material to deliver a vibrant appearance. 

51Qpjbr5vEL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

Compared to the Ready Seal model, this unit has more viscosity, which gives it a rubbery consistency. But, thanks to its wide coverage, you won’t have to invest much effort in painting. That said, consumers will have to dilute the paint and work fast so that it does not set prematurely. 

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Covers 500 square feet in the second coat
  • Waterproof
  • Prevents mildew growth
  • Rubbery texture
  • Needs diluting
  1. General Finishes WBQT

Our next recommendation is this model from General Finishes, as it features a potent formula ideal for painting various wooden surfaces. But especially pleasing is its eco-friendly design, ensuring that there are no harmful ingredients. No wonder it is one of the top choices for customers.

General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain, 1 Quart, Black
  • High-quality pigments produce rich, dark colors; Can be...
  • Indoor use only; Formulated to provide workability similar...
  • Low odor, low VOC, water cleanup and noncombustible
  • Create custom colors by intermixing GF Water Based Wood...

Why Did We Like It? 

We found that this product is available in three different sizes, depending on your requirements. But irrespective of your choice, its premium-quality color pigments deliver rich, dark shades. Moreover, you will find several colors to choose from, and all of them are suitable for indoor use. 

You can apply the coat using a spray gun or by hand without compromising on quality. What’s more, the engineers have developed a formula similar to oil-based stains, which has several benefits. For instance, the low VOC content makes it safe, eliminating harmful odors for your family’s well-being. 

Another advantage of its unique formula is the fact that it’s non-combustible, allowing you to clean the surface with water. Speaking of water, you can create custom shades by mixing different stains, topcoats, and paints with water to make your home stand out. 

51tarpQjyaL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

The instructions are difficult to understand, and first-time users may have trouble getting the desired results. We suggest that you take time to understand the procedure to make sure that the paint does not peel after one coat. Other than that, it is important to sand the surface before repainting. 

  • Dark shades
  • Customizable colors
  • Available in different sizes
  • Easy to clean
  • User-friendly application
  • Poor instructions
  • May require sanding
  1. SaverSystems 300519

Most models ensure that the grainy texture of the wood remains intact, but SaverSystems takes it a step further by delivering a matte finish. It is easy to use, and this water-based formula works well on damp surfaces, meaning you can keep your property in top shape.

#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks,...
  • BOTH A DECK STAIN & DECK SEALANT IN ONE - #1 Deck Stain Is a...

Why Did We Like It? 

The SaverSystems 300519 offers reliability, thanks to its durable formula and eye-catching shades. Unsurprisingly, you can use it on various materials, including redwood, cedar, pin, and other softwoods; however, you will have to apply multiple coats for hardwood maintenance. 

But that is not a hassle due to its 2-in-1 deck and sealant formula, helping seal and stain the surface with aplomb. Long story short, it gives the wood a vibrant appearance and seals all openings to prevent water from seeping inside. Hence, it delivers consistent output throughout the year, despite the changing conditions. 

Now, you can choose from its five different semi-transparent shades that dry quickly to provide a consistent texture. It delivers a natural finish and has VOC content lesser than 50g/L, thereby making it eco-friendly. 

41qYQ9Sm3LL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

You will need to apply multiple coats of paint depending on the type of wood and coverage area. So, it would be best to keep extra containers in hand. What’s more, do not expect to see immediate results as the stain changes color over a few weeks before acquiring the desired shade. 

  • Low maintenance
  • Eco-friendly
  • 2-in-1 deck and sealant
  • Waterproof
  • Consistent coat
  • Requires multiple coats
  • Takes time to stain
  1. Cabot 140.0003459.007

When it comes to durability, few products can match the performance of the Cabot 140.0003459.007. You will find that it features an oil-based formula that strongly adheres to the surface, protecting it from extreme weather conditions. Hence, it has received largely positive reviews from potential buyers. 

Cabot 140.0003459.007 Australian Timber Oil Stain, Gallon,...
  • Penetrating, clear, exterior oil ~ Water-repellent and...
  • For hardwood decks and outdoor furniture ~ Protects against...
  • Dries to a flat, translucent-toned finish
  • Oil-based, clean up with mineral spirits. Mahogany Flame -...

Why Did We Like It? 

If you are looking for a product that can withstand extreme temperature conditions, it would be best to try this model from Cabot. It features an oil-based formula that delivers a clear coat, ideal for vividly coloring various surfaces. Moreover, it is extremely durable, thanks to its waterproof and UV-resistant properties. 

Although you can use it indoors, you will enjoy the best results on hardwood surfaces like hardwood. That is why it has the edge over other models in a similar price range and offers long-lasting protection despite the changing weather conditions. 

In addition, its instructions are easy to understand, ensuring that the finished coat has a translucent appearance. Also, it dries flat so that you get a consistent coat throughout the furniture and deck. 

Meanwhile, cleaning it is easy for which you will need mineral spirits. Simply use the spirits to shine the desired area, and the deck will be as good as new.

51 Aaj 5wNL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

We recommend applying multiple coats to ensure that the vibrant and consistent color of the wood is visible. Furthermore, customers have reported that yearly maintenance is crucial to maintain the premium-quality texture of the deck. Hence, it would help to reapply one coat for sealing imperfections. 

  • Easy to clean
  • Suitable for outdoor use
  • Long-lasting protection
  • Weatherproof
  • Translucent finish
  • May need multiple coats
  • Yearly maintenance
  1. Defy 300158

Innovation and performance go hand-in-hand when it comes to the Defy 300158, thanks to its zinc nano-particle technology which makes it stand out. You will enjoy the natural wooden appearance coupled with a matte finish, thereby delivering much-needed durability. To know more, you can read the following section.

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain,...
  • EASY TO MAINTAIN – When it’s time to do a maintenance...

Why Did We Like It? 

This water-based formula is most suitable for staining decks, as its transparent finish allows the wood to shine through. Plus, its natural matte finish delivers a fantastic feel, ideal for painting decks, fences, and furniture. Unsurprisingly, consumers can enjoy the natural wooden texture, coupled with extra protection and premium-quality colors for a vibrant appearance. 

We found that the designers have used zinc nano-particle technology to shield the wood from external elements like sun, snow, and rain. These particles act as an umbrella and bind with the stain to reflect the harmful UV rays. Hence, you won’t have to worry about color loss or graying. 

Other than that, the engineers have used resins, ensuring that it lasts longer than other products. This also makes it low maintenance, reducing the need for sanding or stripping the paint. You can use a wood brightener before applying another coat of this deck stain.

41jobWUue4L. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

You need to work on damp woods, ensuring that the stain seeps into the surface to seal all openings. Hence, do not work directly under the sun as the mixture will dry faster without spreading evenly across the surface. Apart from that, it tends to get messy, so make sure to cover all surrounding areas. 

  • Easy maintenance
  • Reflects UV rays
  • Waterproof
  • Transparent finish
  • Retains natural wooden appearance
  • Dries too fast
  • Cleaning takes time
  1. Thompsons Waterseal 042851-16

Consumers who are constantly troubled by fading decks and mold growth will find that the Thompsons Waterseal 042851-16 ticks all the right boxes. It is highly waterproof but also protects the wood even under direct sunlight from UV rays. So, you can read our review below before rushing to the store.

THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 Semi-Transparent...
  • Prevents Water Damage
  • Advanced Polymers Provide Fade Resistant Color
  • Coating Resists Mildew and UV Damage
  • Applies to Freshly Cleaned Damp or Dry Wood

Why Did We Like It? 

If you live in an area that receives high rainfall, it would be best to opt for this model from Thompsons Waterseal. As its name suggests, the engineers have specially designed it to keep water from seeping into the deck. Hence, the integrity and texture of the wood remain safe even when exposed to heavy downpours. 

What’s more, it contains advanced polymers that keep the color from fading, delivering long-lasting performance. In addition, wet wood is susceptible to mold and mildew growth which this formula helps prevent. On top of that, the consistent coat protects the wood from harmful UV rays in extreme heat. 

We found that it is easy to use, and consumers can apply the first coat on both damp and dry woods without any hassle. However, remember to clean the surface of impurities to get a vivid coloration. 

51ePn0blAEL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

We were a bit disappointed to find that the color may vary from the description on the company website. Now, in case it fails to deliver an authentic wooden texture, you will have to contact customer service to handle the issue. Furthermore, the porous siding is a letdown.

  • Long-lasting performance
  • Suitable for both damp and dry wood
  • Consistent coat
  • Fade-resistant
  • Prevents mold and mildew growth
  • Color may vary
  • Porous siding
  1. Storm System 291114

The Storm System 291114 is an attractive 2-in-1 formula that delivers a semi-transparent coat to highlight the texture of the surface. Moreover, it is oil-based and has the necessary durability to withstand changing weather conditions, making it low maintenance. Naturally, it is a common occurrence on buyers’ wish lists.

Why Did We Like It? 

Up next is this 2-in-1 oil-based stain and sealer, which is highly popular among prospective buyers. Thanks to its semi-transparent formula, each coat of paint will highlight the natural beauty of the wood while offering protection. So, it promises to be a valuable investment and delivers an eye-catching appearance. 

But how does it work? Despite developing a robust formula, the designers have ensured that it seeps into the surface for a consistent coating. This keeps the wood safe against external elements like extreme heat and rain, ensuring that the color does not fade.

Now, for applying the coat, consumers can use a brush, spray, or roller without any hassle because it does not leave drip marks. Instead, you get an even texture throughout the surface. As a result, you can use it with different materials like redwood, pinewood, and spruce without compromising on quality. 

What Could’ve Been Better? 

It might seem silly, but most users have complained that it is challenging to open the can. The lid forms a tight fit, and you need to carefully pry it open to avoid spillage. Moreover, make sure to apply multiple coats of paint and let the color set for 24 hours. 

  • Consistent texture
  • Versatile
  • Long-lasting performance
  • Wood fence protector
  • Trans-oxide pigmentation
  • Requires multiple coats
  • Challenging to open the can
  1. Amteco Division Of Gemini Industrie TWP-1501-1

Thanks to its unique color, this product has ticked the right boxes, which gives it the edge over other deck stains. In addition, it prevents the wood from deteriorating and protects the furniture from fungus attacks, mold, and mildew. Understandably, it has received a positive response from prospective buyers.

  • Smooth, even coverage
  • Model Number: TWP-1501-1
  • Item Package Dimension: 14.0" L x 14.0" W x 9.0" H
  • Item Package Weight: 7.5 lb

Why Did We Like It?

The Amteco Division Of Gemini Industrie TWP-1501-1 has a unique cedar tone coloration that helps maintain the wood’s natural appearance. Just one coat of this product is enough to deliver a smooth and even coat on various surfaces, be it pine, fir, cedar, or spruce. Moreover, it offers exceptional protection to maintain the wood’s quality. 

Speaking of protection, thanks to its total wood preservative properties, it prevents damage and deterioration when exposed to external elements. For instance, even in rain, sun, or snow, you won’t have to worry about the wood wearing out. In addition, it prevents mold and mildew growth and seeps deep into the wood to seal all openings. 

Apart from that, it has low VOC content, meeting the health and safety standards to keep your family, plants, and pets safe. Naturally, there is no harmful odor either, making it suitable for long working hours. 

511qwn d9lL. SL500

What Could’ve Been Better? 

It takes time to prepare the surface, ensuring that the stain adheres strongly to the wood. Hence, you may have to smoothen the material by sanding while also removing impurities. Other than that, you will get the best results when using a brush rather than a spray. 

  • Durable
  • Prevents mold and mildew growth
  • Low VOC
  • No harmful odor
  • Maintains quality
  • Preparation is a hassle
  • Unsuitable for sprayers

Painting wooden patio deck with protective varnish

Deck Stain Buyer’s Guide

Let’s now proceed to the buyer’s guide, where we will discuss the nitty-gritty of choosing deck stains. You can note these points to pick the best model between two similar products. 

  1. Durability

Deck stains must be durable to withstand all weather conditions. It would be best to look for brands that offer water, acrylic, or oil-based formulas to ensure that it strongly adheres to the surface. This will prevent rain, sun, or snow from damaging the wood or fading the color. 

  1. Price

Price is often the deciding factor for prospective buyers because no one wants to spend their savings on an expensive product, especially if it is unreliable. That said, deck stains from the top brands usually cost more because they use quality ingredients that deliver long-lasting performance. Meaning you need to have a flexible budget. 

  1. Versatility

You must be able to use the deck stain on different woods like cedar, pine, fir, and other hard or softwoods. In addition, the color on the website must match the color of the deck after applying the final coat; needless to say, it must be versatile. 

paintbrush and gloves put on wood table.


Are you confident about choosing a deck stain suitable for your needs? 

If you are still unsure, there is no need to worry as we have decided to highlight our favorite models in different categories. After looking at all the nine options, we felt that the Ready Seal 512 stands out, thanks to its biodegradable compounds, vivid colors, and user-friendly application. 

Apart from that, the Kilz L832111 delivers fantastic coverage with its acrylic-based formula protecting the deck even in extreme weather conditions. That said, there are other great products available out there, and you can refer to the buyer’s guide to be well-informed before making the purchase. 

We will leave you with this tip: work on a cloudy day and make sure that the wood is damp. This will allow the stain to deliver an even coating. 

Take care until we meet again. Bye!

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