Best Deck Stain

Best Deck Stain for New and Old Wood

Deck stain is the ideal way for showing off the natural grain and beauty of wood. Choosing a high quality exterior wood stain is essential to protect your wood from the sun’s UV rays, wind, rain, snow and even mold and mildew. Exterior wood stains provide protection that can keep your wood deck, fence or siding looking great for years which is why it’s so important to use the best deck stain available.

The best exterior wood stains listed here will lighten your workload by lasting longer before needing to be reapplied. The most durable options are often the most expensive up front, but their longer life should save you money in the long run. The old saying “you get what you pay for” definitely applies when it comes to deck stain. 

Stains with the most recommendations are durable, low maintenance, water repellent and superior mildew and UV protection. Most of the top deck stains are transparent or semi-transparent. When choosing a stain, it’s helpful to know how much wood grain you’d like to show.

Stains come in 5 different sheen’s:

  • Clear: Clear finishes protect and beautify the wood. A clear stain will not provide as much UV protection as a stain that has been pigmented.
  • Translucent: Tinted wood finishes add sheer, nearly transparent color allowing the most wood grain and texture to show through.
  • Semi Transparent: Transparent stains contain the lightest pigmentation designed to accentuate natural wood grain and character.
  • Semi Solid: Extra pigment adds longevity. Wood grain is barely visible. It masks the wood grain but allows texture to show through. Semi-Solid Stains provide greater opacity while still highlighting the natural texture of wood and providing a deep-penetrating, flat finish.
  • Solid: Total coverage. It gives maximum protection. No wood grain visible.

 

It’s important to know that color results can vary depending on the type of wood, condition, age, preparation of the wood and application process. For best results, buy samples of different stain colors and test them in an inconspicuous area before staining the entire surface.  

Top 10 Best Deck Stain Options

3.9/5

Cabot’s Australian Timber Oil is a unique blend of linseed oil for maximum penetration, long-oil alkyds for durability and pure South American tung oil for color depth and water repellency. This product was originally formulated to protect dense tallowwood, cambara, and marbu from the extreme Australian exposure, hence why it’s called ‘Australian Timber Oil’. This is by far one of the best deck stains available.

This stain also contains translucent iron oxide pigments to ensure long lasting UV absorbing surface and to protect the color(s) from fading. I used Cabot’s Australian Timber Oil in the natural color on my own deck and I’m very pleased with the results. It was easy to apply and I love the natural color. The picture below is my personal deck. 


Product Information:

  • Coverage: 400 – 600 sq. ft. per gallon
  • Application Tools: Pad, Brush, Sprayer
  • Number of Coats: 1 Coat
  • Application Temperature: 45 to 95 F
  • Dry Time: 24 to 48 hours
  • Stain Type: Oil based and semi-transparent
  • Cleanup: Mineral Spirits
4.8/5

Natural Oak
Cedar
Mahogany
Natural

This is by far my personal favorite deck stain, and arguably the best deck stain available on the market. If you want your deck to look like indoor hardwood floors, this is the product you need. However, it is imperative that you follow the preparation and application procedures exactly as it states. You can find the application guide here. The first coat must be applied to all 6 sides of the wood. 

Product Information:

  • Coverage: 350-450 sq. ft. per gallon
  • Application Tools: Natural Bristle Brush
  • Number of Coats: 2 Coats
  • Application Temperature: 45 to 95 F
  • Dry to touch: 24 hours
  • Dry enough to walk on: 72 hours
  • Stain Type: Oil based and Transparent 
  • Cleanup: Mineral Spirits
4.4/5

TWP Stain

TWP stands for Total Wood Preservative. Their water resistant stain protects wood from warping, cracking and splitting while also protecting wood from freeze damage. TWP will stop wood graying, darkening and fading which can happen as a result of UV rays. This is an oil based semi transparent formula. It’s available in 8 different colors. I’m personally not a huge fan of the colors they offer because they’re not as vibrant as I prefer, but everyone has different opinions! Regardless of the colors, this is a superior stain that many pros prefer to use. 

Product Information:

  • Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft. per gallon
  • Application Tools: Sprayer, Pad, Brush, Roller
  • Number of Coats: 1 Coat
  • Application Temperature: 45 to 95 F
  • Dry Time: 4 to 8 hours
  • Stain Type: Oil based and semi-transparent 
  • Cleanup: Mineral Spirits
4.5/5

Sikkens Cetol SRD

Cetol SRD is a one coat, high-solids oil based stain. It’s specifically formulated for poorly ventilated decks, docks and decks where moisture is a problem.  SRD uses high transparency transoxide pigments to amplify the depth of color, clarity and substrate protection. The transparency of the stain does not take away from the powerful UV absorbers. In addition, Cetol SRD is water-repellent and mildew resistant. This is a one coat application and is available in 8 colors. 

Product Information:

  • Coverage: 200-300 sq. ft. per gallon
  • Application Tools: Sprayer, Natural Brush or Roller
  • Number of Coats: 1 Coat
  • Application Temperature: 50 to 95 F
  • Dry to touch: 2 to 4 hours
  • Dry enough to walk on: 24 hours
  • Stain Type: Oil based and Transparent 
  • Cleanup: Mineral Spirits

Penofin

3.5/5

Penofin for hardwood

Penofin wood stain is designed specifically to penetrate dense hardwoods such as mahogany, teak, Ipe, Brazilian Redwood, etc. Unlike solid wood stains that simply coat the surface creating a film, Penofin penetrates deep into the wood fibers while still allowing the wood the breath. It has a 99% UV protection Brazilian Rosewood Oil finish and is considered the best deck stain for dense hardwoods. 

Product Information:

  • Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft. per gallon
  • Application Tools: Sprayer, Pad, Brush, Roller
  • Number of Coats: 1 Coat
  • Application Temperature: 45 to 95 F
  • Dry Time: 4 to 8 hours
  • Stain Type: Oil based and semi-transparent 
  • Cleanup: Mineral Spirits

Final Recap:

The best exterior wood stains listed here will lighten your workload by lasting longer before needing to be reapplied. Make sure you use a stain that’s durable, low maintenance, water repellent and superior mildew and UV protection if you want the best results. 
 

Make sure to checkout my article on ‘Everything You Need to Know About Deck Stain’! This is an in depth article that explains how to prep your deck for stain, how to apply the stain, and how to maintain your deck during the years that you don’t re-stain. 

 

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