The Best Deck Stains 2022

Applying deck stain to old or faded wood decking is an easy restoration project that transforms your home. You have the choice of a solid, semi-transparent and transparent stains, which all provide a different finish to the deck.

The best deck stain is the Semi Transparent DEFY Extreme, which is a water based formulation and comes in 7 different stain colors with the choice of 1 or 5 gallon tin.

An oil based (alkyd) or water based (latex acrylic) are the two formulations of deck stains with some people having a preference to a certain type. Both provide excellent durability and protect against harsh weather conditions.

See also  Water Based vs Oil Based Stains

Table of Contents

Best Deck Stain And Sealer

Deck StainFormulationFinish
DEFY ExtremeWater BasedSemi Transparent
Sikkens Cetol DEK FinishOil BasedTransparent
Rust-Oleum RocksolidWater BasedSolid
Ready Seal 512Oil BasedSemi Transparent
KILZ StainWater BasedSemi Transparent

Deck stains are exposed to cold and wet weather during the winter. When decking becomes wet, it absorbs the moisture and swells up but when it heats up, it will dry and shrink to its original form. The movement during this transition causes the cracks and breakdown of the decking.

During the summer, the decking is exposed to UV rays and heat, which causes faded and the fibers of the decking to detach. For both winter and summer protection, a top rated deck stain is required for moisture and UV blocking.

Staining your wood decking is a straight forward job and instantly provides a complete transformation. Below is a list of the best deck stains that provide excellent protection during the winter and summer season.

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

The DEFY Extreme is a water based deck stain that uses transparent nano particles to provide a durable protection against UV rays and other harsh elements. It provides a natural matte finish, which allows the grain of the decking to show through and can also be used on fences, siding, playsets and much more.

Unlike many of the alternatives, once it comes round the maintaining the deck, you can simply apply a wood brightner without the need of sanding or stripping the deck. DEFY claim that their semi transparent deck stain will be able to last a season or two longer than any other competitor product.

The durability of this deck stain comes from the high quality resins and zinc nano particles, which prevent premature fading/color loss and mildew growth.

Overall, the DEFY Extreme is the best semi transparent deck stain you can buy due to the excellent quality that lasts and the ease of maintenance. Application is as simply as stripping the wood, applying brightener and then the deck stain.

Check it Out

Sikkens Cetol DEK Finish Transparent Deck Stain

Many homeowners prefer the natural look and feel of decking with all the grains being visible. The Cetol DEK wood finish is an oil based fully transparent deck stain, which can also be used for lattice, railing and benches.

It a premium high performance deck stain that provides a translucent satin finish for exterior decks. The oil based formulation gives the stain maximum protection and it is recommended that you provide at least two coats for durability.

A transparent deck stain is very desirable for many homeowners but there isn’t as much variety compared to a solid or semi-transparent stain. The Cetol DEK wood is the best transparent deck stain that is highly durable and provides the natural wood deck look and feel.

Check it Out

Rust-Oleum 319751 Solid Deck Stain

Solid deck stain will completely hide the wood grains and is very similar to wood deck paint. They also provide a higher protection against UV rays due to the large amount of pigment into the wood but it is still prone to peeling as it does not penetrate well.

Rust Oleum is a large brand known for heavy duty paints in both the home improvement and automotive sectors. The Rocksolid solid deck stain uses advanced technology to restore deck with superior water resistance and waterproof qualities.

Rust Oleum offer a huge range of 60 different color stains, which means finding your exact color choice is highly likely. As it completely hides the wood grains, this solid deck stain is deal for resurfacing lightly worn decks as its twice as thick than most paints.

Overall, the water based Rust Oleum Rocksolid is the best sold deck stain for restoring lightly worn decks and dries within 24 hours. You don’t even need to strip or sand your existing deck as you simply clean, apply primer and then the stain.

Check it Out

Ready Seal 512 Deck Stain and Sealer

The Ready Seal 512 is one of the most popular deck stain and sealer product available and can be applied wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry with no lapping and at any temperature. There is 9 different color stains to choose from and each provide UV blocking, water proofing and mildew resistant qualities.

It is an all in one stain, which is oil based and provide a semi transparent stain and sealer that penetrates deeply into the wood. It can also be used on a range of different applications from fencing, decking, gazebos and patio covers.

Overall, it is the best deck stain and sealer for the money as it provides excellent coverage, which is easy to apply. The all in one solution saves the extra cost and time to apply, which is a great bonus for many homeowners.

Check it Out

KILZ Waterproofing Wood Deck Stain

KILZ offer a range of deck stain (and deck paints) for a range of finishes. It is a semi-transparent deck stain that provides a long lasting protection and is a water based formulation that comes with a 3 year warranty on decks.

There is only 3 different color of stains to choose from, which is far less than the alternatives but they are the most popular stains (cedar, chocolate brown and redwood). KILZ are a huge paint brand but the brand name does come at a premium because it is one of the most expensive deck stains you can buy.

If this deck stain was much cheaper, it would be rated much higher but overall, it is still an excellent deck stain with good warranties. However, the DEFY Extreme would be the more popular choice compared with this deck stain.

Check it Out

Deck Stain Buying Guide

To construct a deck, a lot of effort, time, and resources are consumed. However, most of the work is usually at the finishing. This is because deck staining involves much more than simply applying a gallon of stain onto a deck.

To get it right, it is important for you to understand what the task involves, the different types of stains available, and ways to choose the most suitable deck stain for your deck. As there are numerous types of deck stains, it is necessary that you undertake thorough research to identify the most appropriate stain to match your needs.

The type of wood used on your deck will determine the best stain for it. For decks constructed from rare types of wood such as mahogany, cherry, maple, and aged pine, they hardly require any staining as their natural appearance is exceptional.

As each individual has their personal preferences, this should also act as a guide in determining the kind of stain to use. You desired kind of finish will also help you in selecting the type of stain to use as there are those who prefer an opaque finish while others prefer a clear one.

When looking for a deck stain, it is also essential for one to identify that there are water-based and oil-based stain types. As each of these has their unique characteristics, you need to identify their advantages and disadvantages to determine which category is more favorable for you.

staining wood decking

Water-Based Deck Stains

As homeowners are increasingly using environmental-friendly products for the maintenance of their property, water-based deck stains have become more commonly used. Their popularity has also increased as many localities are continuously prohibiting the use of volatile organic compounds. These kinds of stains also tend to have better adherence to previously stained or painted surfaces.


  • Retain their color better than oil-based stains.
  • Breathable, thus do not retain moisture. This enables them to become mold resistant as well as highly mildew.
  • Quick drying effect
  • Easy to clean and wash using soap and water
  • Non-flammable
  • Few odors


  • Quite difficult to apply
  • Low penetrating power

Oil-Based Deck Stains

These types of stains have been in the market for around three decades, thus the oldest type as compared to the water-based. They have a high penetrating power and contain most of the natural and synthetic oils such as linseed oil, tung oil, and paraffin oil.


  • Provides excellent protection to the wood as it easily penetrates through its pores
  • Quicker and easier to apply
  • Easy to maintain


  • Not eco-friendly as they contain a strong odor that takes a long time to dissipate
  • Requires more time to dry as compared to water-based deck stains

deck stain finishes

Deck stains can also be divided into four categories. These categories include:

Semi-Transparent Deck Stains

This type of stains put some tint onto the deck as they also facilitate the visibility of the grain to a certain extent. They have a high soaking ability into wood, meaning that they have a long lasting ability than a majority of clear deck stain types. They also provide good protection to the applied wood.

For high-end wood types such as redwood and cedar, they are an excellent choice. They may not have the capability to last infinitely, but they do have a high penetrating power. When proper selection is made, it can last for over two years without having to be applied. As these stains contain good ingredients, the likelihood of the deck peeling off is minimal.

These types of deck stains are available in both oil and water-based versions. In this category, however, the oil-based stains are deemed to perform better than the water-based types.

Transparent Deck Stains

These are the most utilized stains since majority of the people prefer when the natural grain of the wood on their decks is visible. Most of the clear stains do not contain any pigments or oils. However, most of them will contain a wood preservative and water repellent compound that protect the lumber.

In terms of application, these stains are the easiest to apply. On the flipside, annual reapplication is essential since they easily oxidize and change in color after a few months.

Semi-Solid Deck Stains

This kind of stains only allows a small amount of wood grain to show. This is because their pigmentation is quite high. These stains are manufactured as either oil or water based. However, they are manufactured by very few companies.

They are highly advantageous as they provide excellent UV protection for the deck. For this category, the oil-based stains are better performing when compared to the water-based type.

Solid Deck Stains

Amongst the four different types of stains, the solid deck stains have the ability to last for the longest time. If you select a high-quality brand for this type of stain, you do not have to reapply the product for around three years or more.

This stain is an excellent choice if your aim is to make a bold statement without being concerned about the visibility of the grain of the wood of your deck. These stains work like paint as they sit at the top of the wood rather than penetrating into it. They are highly recommended for covering discoloration, flaws, and inconsistencies on the deck. They also add some warmth to the outdoor space.

There is a wide range of solid deck stain colors to choose from in the market. Therefore, it is quite easy to choose a stain color that will perfectly match your taste, as well as your home.

Just like everything has its flaws, solid deck stains are susceptible to chipping, cracking, and peeling. Some of them build up to form an ugly film.

types of deck stain

Factors To Consider

The deck stain that you decide to purchase and use on your deck will affect not only its appearance but also its durability. However, with the different types of stains available in the market, you have enough options to choose from. Below are features that you need to consider to make a perfect stain selection.


Deck stains are available in various colors, just like paint. For this reason, it is easy to choose a stain that complements and enhances the appearance of your home. One of the best ways to help you identify a stain that will best match your deck is choosing something that blends with the colors in your yard. You can also consider the colors in the exterior of your home. When you do this, the stain will easily blend with the surrounding environment, resulting in a magnificent appearance.

Additionally, you will not have to make frequent stain color changes or any changes at all as it will remain relevant over a long time. For those who prefer obtaining a natural look, you could select a stain color that matches the color of your wood.

Before taking the next step of purchasing the stain color that you deem fit for your deck, select a small section of the deck and apply some of the stain on it. This will make it easier for you to determine whether it is the most suitable for the deck or not.

Coverage Area

In most cases, deck stain is cheaper than paint as the level of coverage is different. For deck stains, you will need to reapply it once in a while to keep it looking fresh and presentable. Each brand has its specific formulation; thus the coverage area of the stains will vary. To determine the quality of a stain, it is important that you identify how much a gallon of the product can cover. The more a gallon of the product can cover, the better it is.

Nevertheless, you should never have to compromise the quality of the stain for its high coverage capabilities. Be cautious enough to consider a variety of factors before choosing a stain based on a few impressive characteristics.


Regardless of your preferred type of stain, the best types are quite costly. Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure that you get the best value for your money. If a deck stain is going for a high price, ensure that it is a high-end product that provides good coverage. Ensure that you keep away from extremely cheap brands as their quality is low.


When choosing a deck stain, you need to identify the different types available, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. Your stain of choice should not only be determined by your preferences but also the wood type of your deck. Below are different types of stains available to choose from.

Guidelines for Preparing a Deck for Staining

With the right information, preparing a deck stain is not a tough task at all. First, you need to have properly cleaned the deck before you can begin staining. The floor needs to be swept, free from any debris such as leaves and dust.

You need to have a mild detergent that contains an anti-grease compound to break away fatty and oily products on the deck. Let the detergent sit in the deck for around 15 minutes, and then wash it off using a garden hose or pressured water. Once the deck is completely clean, allow it to dry.

In case there are any imperfections, you can use a sander to remove any traces of residual paint or polish bumps left on the deck. Once this is done, sweep the deck to ensure that it is clean and clear.

Again, use your pressure washer, preferably with a 45-degree tip, and make sure that is at least 8 inches away from the deck. Turn it on and allow the water to clean your deck.

Lastly, allow it to dry and look for any remaining residual imperfections. If any, ensure that you scrub them out. Remember to carry out the scrubbing in the direction of the wood vein as you do not want to destroy the wood on your deck in any manner. Once this is complete, your deck is set for staining.

Tips for Deck Staining

Using a brush, apply a stain sealer to the side and into the cracks of the wood. Wipe off the excess for it to look even. You can use a clean rag to achieve this.

When staining, it is necessary that you have many rags with you as you will be required to wipe off the excess constantly. Therefore, ensure that you are well equipped with many rags for this reason.

The wood grain direction will help you determine how to carry out the staining. You are required to stain along the direction of the wood grain and not across. If this is ignored, the results obtained are unprofessional and unimpressive.

Rags that are used to wipe oil-based stains need to be immediately disposed as they are highly flammable. Before disposing them, ensure that they are completely dry as wood stain is toxic. Additionally, always ensure to use rubber gloves when staining.

If you have a large deck area that requires staining, you could invite a friend or a professional to assist you. You do not want to strain yourself as this task can be quite hectic.

Rather than kneeling down during staining, you should consider using a pole sweeper. It makes the task way easier, and you will enjoy staining your deck.


Staining is one of the most recommended ways to finish a wooden deck. This is because it provides a highly appealing look, thus enhancing the appearance of the entire area.

When you are out shopping for a convenient deck stain, you will come across so many options. Therefore, you ought to have attained a proper understanding of the different types of stains available, their benefits, as well as the limitations of each of the available options. This will enable you to have an easier selection process, thus spending little time looking for the best product to match your specifications.

After choosing your stain of choice, do not forget to try it out on a section of your deck as you need to make sure that it will give the desired appearance. It could have a different color on the wood; thus it is important for you to first give it a try to ensure that the result is not disappointing.

Leave a Comment