Restore an aging deck or finish off your newly constructed deck with a high-quality deck stain. By staining your deck, you can highlight the natural beauty of the wood underneath or give it a whole new tint to update your outdoor aesthetic. Many modern deck stains penetrate deep for long-lasting looks and protection. If you want your deck to hold strong against the elements, and look good doing it, you’re going to want to treat it with a coat or two of deck stain.
We looked at dozens of deck stains and have identified the best available on the market today. While reviewing these deck stains we considered factors such as wood penetration, long-term durability, and color options in choosing our top picks. While our top picks certainly stand out from the crowd, we know that there are other products out there that will better fit the needs of some homeowners which is why we’ve also compiled a long list of other great deck stains for you to browse.
After considering all of the available options we chose the SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain as our overall top pick. This stain achieves a natural-looking finish while also containing the protective properties of a top-tier deck sealant. It’s the all-around best buy.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Deck Stains
|Best Deck Stain Overall||SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain||4.5|
|Best Oil-Based Deck Stain||Storm Protector Stain and Sealer||4.5|
|Best Budget Deck Stain||KILZ Waterproofing Wood Stain||4.4|
|Best Solid-Color Deck Stain||SaverSystems #1 Deck Solid Color Wood Stain||4.5|
|Best Transparent Deck Stain||Cabot Wood Toned Deck Stain||4.4|
*Ratings are current at the time of publication and can change
Best Deck Stain Overall: SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain
The SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain is the ideal choice for softwood and pressure-treated decks, especially for homeowners who want the natural grain of their wood to show through the stain. It works for hardwoods as well, though more frequent upkeep will be required. This is a semi-transparent stain that leaves a natural matte finish to showcase your beautiful deck, rather than completely covering it up.
The water-based formula is easy to clean with soap and water. After some time when natural fading does occur, you will be able to easily clean your deck and apply a single coat of SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain to revitalize your deck’s appearance. This stain can even be applied to damp wood, reducing the time needed between cleaning and application.
This deck stain produces extremely few volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it relatively odorless and friendly to the environment. There are a handful of natural wood tints to choose from to help you dial in the exact tone you want to see in your deck. This stain will prevent natural fading and graying of your deck’s wood, and it will also protect it from exposure to the elements.
SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain Key Features:
- Water-based low VOC formula
- Best used on softwoods
- Semi-transparent finish allows the wood to show through
- Multiple color and size options available
Best Oil-Based Beck Stain: Storm Protector Stain and Sealer
Oil-based stains like this Storm Protector Stain and Sealer penetrates wood and other composite deck materials more deeply than do their water-based counterparts. This allows for the Storm Protector Stain and Sealer to work well with any wood species, including smooth hardwoods like mahogany. The semi-transparent finish adds a touch of color to your deck while enabling its natural wood grain to show through.
Because of its supreme penetration, you can confidently apply this oil-based deck stain without worries of lapping and dripping. It has been combined with a sealant formulation to enhance its durability and protective capabilities. This is a stain and sealer, meaning that it will breathe life into the wood of your deck and coat it in a tough protective layer. The stain and wood will both be protected from UV damage, water, ice, abrasions, and fungi.
You’ll be impressed with the longevity and durability of this stain. There are multiple color options available, and each gallon will cover approximately 175 square feet of deck wood. This will be an extremely easy stain for novice DIY homeowners, yet it is a high-quality option for experienced handypersons as well.
Storm Protector Stain and Sealer Key Features:
- Oil-based stain and sealer
- Works well with any wood species
- Utilizes trans-oxide pigmentation
- Protects against UV rays, water, and mildew
Best Budget Deck Stain: KILZ Waterproofing Wood Stain
Best used on new to moderately worn decks, the KILZ Waterproofing Wood Stain is a great value deck stain at a budget-friendly price. This water-based acrylic stain applies smoothly. A single gallon can cover up to 250 square feet on the first coat, and it can cover up to 500 square feet on the second coat. You’re getting a lot of coverage for the money. This stain leaves behind a warm, semi-transparent redwood finish.
More than a simple coat of color, this deck stain also protects wood from the elements. The acrylic formula has been designed to bead up water on its surface to prevent it from absorbing into the wood. It also protects against harmful UV rays and resists the growth of mold and mildew. This stain can be brushed or sprayed onto the surface, and its long-term protection is warrantied for up to at least three years before requiring reapplication. Value like that is hard to beat.
KILZ Waterproofing Wood Stain Key Features:
- Water-based acrylic formula
- Covers up to 250 square feet on the first coat
- Provides waterproofing, UV protection, and mildew resistance
- Three-year durability warranty
Best Solid-Color Deck Stain: SaverSystems #1 Deck Solid Color Wood Stain
The SaverSystems #1 Deck Solid Color Wood Stain is a water-based full-color stain that takes the best properties of both water and oil-based stains to create this fantastic product. It’s environmentally friendly, low on VOCs, and cleans up easily with soap and water, yet it has the all-weather protection and abrasive durability to match that of a top-tier oil-based stain. Put that all together, add in a heavy splash of color, and you’ve got a superb deck stain.
The real reason you would want to go with this solid color wood stain, though, is because of its solid color finish. This stain covers decking material like a fresh coat of paint. There are six color options to choose from, all of which completely saturate the wood and leave no trace of grain to be seen. This stain can be applied directly onto clean, bare wood, or it can be applied over an existing layer of stain.
Its durability is top notch, as is its all-weather protection. You’ll find that feet and patio furniture will not easily scuff up this stain. If you’re looking for a solid color stain that will hold up well to the rigors of regular use and foul weather, look no further than this offering from SaverSystems.
SaverSystems #1 Deck Solid Color Wood Stain Key Features:
- Water-based low VOC formula
- Works on any wood or composite deck surface
- Six color options available
- Completely hides the wood grain
Best Transparent Deck Stain: Cabot Wood Toned Deck Stain
When you’ve spent the extra cash to purchase exceptionally high-quality wood for your deck, you’re going to want to show it off. Cabot Wood Toned Deck Stain is a translucent natural wood deck stain that will accentuate the beauty of your mahogany, cedar, pine, or any exotic woods that you choose for your decking. It’ll provide a clear coat that dries flat for a natural look that highlights your wood’s best attributes.
As an oil-based stain, this formula will penetrate deeply, even into hardwoods, to ensure maximum vibrancy and protection. Its water-repellent nature will cause water droplets to bead up on your deck’s surface, rather than soak in, and it’ll also help protect your wood against abrasions and the growth of damaging fungi. This formula has a low VOC profile, meaning that it is safe for your children and pets to play on, and it is relatively harmless to the surrounding environment.
CABOT Wood Toned Deck Stain Key Features:
- Oil and resin-based translucent formula
- Natural wood finish
- Water repellant
- Low volatile organic compounds
Who Should Buy Deck Stain
Every homeowner with a wooden or composite deck should regularly stain and seal their deck to make it looks its best and ensure that it will last for many years to come. Anyone who owns a deck should buy deck stain. If you have owned your deck for a number of years and haven’t restained it or touched it up in quite a long time, it’s probably due for some TLC.
If you’re a new homeowner and are unsure how long it has been since the deck has been stained, simply look for signs of wear and color fade. Look at high traffic areas where feet will scuff up the surface for any signs of abrasive wear. Likewise, look at where the sun often shines for evidence of UV damage, and look at the dark corners to see if mold, mildew, or rot is secretly ruining your deck. If any of these symptoms of neglect plague your deck, it’s time to clean and stain it.
To help get you ready for your deck stain process, you may also want to check out The Best Pressure Washers and The Best Telescoping Ladders.
Important Features to Consider
There are a few important considerations to think through before purchasing a deck stain.
- Oil-based vs. water-based. Choosing between an oil-based or water-based deck stain is one of the most important decisions you will make in purchasing a deck stain. Each type has its own inherent advantages and disadvantages, and we explained those in further detail in our FAQ below.
- Color. Do you want a clear coat that will protect and enhance the natural beauty of your wood, or would you rather add or completely cover the deck with a specific color? There are stains that will add a subtle hint of color to your deck, and there are those that will saturate it like a coat of paint.
- Transparency. Along with color comes the choice of transparency. There are solid-color stains that are essentially opaque, semi-transparent stains that make the stain the star of the show while still letting the wood grain come through, transparent stains that provide that subtle touch of color that can give old wood new life, and fully transparent stains that will highlight the wood’s natural look.
- Sealant properties. Most modern stains are also sealants as well. A sealant is what will protect your wood, and the stain, from damaging UV rays, harsh weather, abrasions, and mildew. If you want your stain to last a long time, even in heavy traffic areas, you’ll want to purchase a stain with sealant properties or separately purchase a sealant to apply over your stain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are oil or water-based deck stains better?
Each type of stain has its benefits. Whichever style you choose will depend upon your preferences.
Oil-based deck stains penetrate wood moor deeply, are easier to apply, and generally last longer. Novice DIY homeowners will find oil-based stains easier to work with. They will provide a natural-looking finish that shows off the wood underneath. Oil-bases deck stains are more difficult to clean up if a spill or accident happens, however, and they have strong odors that take some time to fade. Oil-based stains release more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air and are comparatively more harmful to the environment.
By contrast, water-based stains cover the deck with stronger colors that will not fade quickly. Water-based deck stains are easy to clean with soap and water, they have relatively little VOCs or odor, and they are much more friendly to the environment. They tend to wear down faster, however and will need touch-ups or reapplication more often than their oil-based counterparts. Water-based stains may also flake and chip over time whereas oil-based stains will not.
Should you pressure wash a deck before staining?
Yes, or at the very least you should give it a good scrubbing. Cleaning your deck is a vital step in the staining process. A clean deck will allow for the stain formula to seep into its nooks and crannies and ensure that the stain contacts the deck surface at all points. Pressure washing is one of the best ways to clean your deck prior to staining it, and you should also consider purchasing a deck cleaner to make sure that the wood is as clean as possible.
Is it better to stain or seal a deck?
While it is not necessary to seal a deck, it is highly recommended. Staining a deck will give it the color you seek, but sealing it will ensure that the color remains for years to come and that the wood will be protected as well. Many stains these days are also sealants. You’ll find that most stains, including many of those on our list, advertise protection from the weather, wear, and UV damage — that is because the stain has been infused with sealant properties. If you do choose a stain that does little more than bring out the color of the wood, you’ll also want to consider picking up a sealant as well.
Can I use a roller to stain a deck?
You absolutely can use a roller to stain a deck, but it may not be the best tool to do so. Paint rollers are not designed to hold much less viscous deck stains, and so you will find yourself dipping into the pan very often. Deck stain sprayers and mops are much more efficient at spreading the stain across the entirety of a deck, while stain brushes are better for edges and other delicate areas.
Other Deck Stains We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other deck stains. Even though they didn’t make our five best deck stain list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for revitalizing and protecting your deck. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Oil-Based Deck Stain
The ABR X-100 Natural Seal is an oil-based water-repelling stain that applies easily and finishes with a wet, transparent look. It is a full seal deck stain that protects your wood from all forms of bad weather as well as mold and mildew.
- Covers up to 300 square feet per gallon
- Mixed with ultraviolet inhibitors
- Contains anti-fungal properties
A lightly pigmented stain designed for long-lasting durability, the Cabot Semi-Solid Deck Stain is an all-around great choice. This linseed oil stain will enrich your wooden deck with one easy-to-apply coat.
- One coat application
- Semi-solid appearance
- Scuff and fade resistant
For a premium, full coverage solid color stain, look no further than the Cabot Solid Color Stain. This oil-based stain is quite durable. It’ll cover up to 500 square feet per gallon and dries to a low-luster finish.
- Covers up to 500 square feet per gallon
- Solid redwood color stain
- Resists scuffing, oil, and grease
DeckWise Ipe Oil is best used on exotic hardwoods such as ipe, cumura, and tigerwood. This stain penetrates deep to enhance the natural grain of these woods. It will protect your hardwood deck from water and UV damage.
- Low VOC formula
- Covers up to 300 square feet per gallon
- Repels waters and provides UV protection
The deep Navajo red color of this Olympic Maximum Stain does more than make your deck look good, it also protects it from everything under the sun, including the sun itself. This stain is also a protective sealant that’ll do well to keep your deck in tip-top-shape for at least 10 years with one application.
- 10-year water damage and graying protection
- Contains proprietary Scuff Guard Technology
- Mildew Resistant
Sashco Transformation Hybrid Deck Stain
Originally designed for log cabins and the extreme weather that they are often subjected to, the Sashco Transformation Hybrid Deck Stain is at once both incredibly durable yet also quite malleable. It uses a hybrid oil and water mixture that is easy to apply and penetrates wood deeply.
- Oil in water hybrid formula
- Multiple colors and sizes to choose from
- Matte finish that won’t peel
WOCA Denmark Wood Oil is another hybrid formula combining water with plant-based oil. As a result, it provides the durability and penetration of an oil stain, but is easy to apply and clean up like a water-based stain.
- Environmentally-friendly plant-based formula
- Can be applied to nearly any species of wood
- Mold, mildew, and fungus-resistant
Woodrich Timber Oil Deep Penetrating Stain
Woodrich Timber Oil Deep Penetrating Stain is quickly soaked up by wood decks of all types. Its deep penetrating formula is not likely to drip or lap due to its quick absorption. The transparent oxide finish highlights the natural beauty of your wood.
- Covers up to 150 square feet per gallon
- Contains colorizing trans-oxide pigments
- Unlikely to drip or lap
Zar Semi-Transparent Deck Stain
Those looking for a rich finish will like the look of the Zar Semi-Transparent Deck Stain. While this dark tint stain does show off your wood’s natural beauty, it darkens in the overall aesthetic and leaves it with a gloss finish for a protective and luscious shine.
- Contains bio-renewable oils and latex resins
- Finishes with a glossy sheen
- Mildew and mold resistant
Waster-Based Deck Stain
When you purchase any amount of Coronado Maxum Deck Stain, you can call the distributor to choose the exact custom color you desire. No matter your hue, the durable acrylic formula will stand up well to wear and harsh weather, and it will be easy to apply.
- Choose a custom color
- Covers up to 450 square feet per gallon
- Durable acrylic formula
There’s no easier deck stain to apply than Deck Restoration Plus. This transparent oxide formula can be applied no matter if the wood is dry, damp, or sopping wet. It’ll provide a protective layer that’ll bead up water and fend off mildew.
- Contains trans-oxide pigments
- Protects against water, UV rays, and mildew
- Can be applied when the deck is dry or wet
DEFY Extreme Stain for Hardwoods
Formulated to penetrate smooth hardwoods like redwood and mahogany, DEFY Extreme Stain for Hardwoods contains small resin particles that penetrate deeply into the smallest pores and crevices.
- Designed specifically for smooth hardwoods
- Semi-transparent finish with multiple color options
- Eco-friendly low VOC formula
DEFY Semi-Transparent 40 Deck Stain
Taking environmentally conscious design to the next level, the DEFT Semi-Transparent 40 Deck Stain is even more eco-friendly due to its exceptionally low VOC formula. By using nano-technology to create synthetic resins, this formula penetrates deep into hardwood and provides long-lasting protection.
- Contains synthetic resins using nano-technology
- Semi-transparent finish with multiple color options
- Eco-friendly extremely low VOC formula
Consider the Duckback Superdeck Stain to either be a brilliant white finish for your deck, or a versatile base that can be tinted to the exact color of your desire. It’s a durable solid-color stain that is guaranteed to hold up for at least 5 years before needing another application.
- Brilliant white solid color finish
- Can be tinted to a variety of colors
- 5-year guaranteed durability
Using nanotechnology to penetrate wood at the cellular level, Seal-Once Marine Wood Stain protects your deck from the inside out. This formula has been specifically designed to repel saltwater, freshwater, and all other marine elements.
- Designed to hold up well against both freshwater and saltwater
- Low VOC and non-toxic formula
- Clear finish that can be painted or stained after application
Seal-Once Penetrating Wood Sealer
You can cover up to 350 square feet of deck with one gallon of Seal-Once Penetrating Wood Sealer. There are 11 different tints to choose from, including a clear matte finish, so that you can highlight the natural colors of your deck no matter its makeup.
- Multiple color tints to choose from
- Low VOC and non-toxic formula
- Protects against water, mold, scuffs, and UV rays
Budget Deck Stain
Cabot Deck Correct is the right solution for badly worn and weathered decks. It’s a deep penetrating formula that will fill cracks and cover potential splinters so that you can feel comfortable walking barefoot on your deck again.
- Oil-based formula
- Designed for weathered and worn decks
- Polycarbonate ever beads penetrate deep into woods surface
A simple stain and sealant, the Olympic Neutral Deck Stain provides protection against water, UV rays, abrasions, mold, and mildew while leaving a semi-transparent finish to highlight your wood’s natural beauty.
- Oil-based formula
- Neutral, semi-transparent finish
- Can be mixed with other Olympic stains for colorization
Thompson’s WaterSeal provides reliable water protection for your deck surface. It is guaranteed to last at least three years before requiring reapplication. This specific product provides a transparent finish, but there are multiple color options available as well.
- Several fade-resistant color options
- Can be applied to damp or dry wood
- Protects against water, mildew, and UV rays
An acrylic oil-based stain, the Woodsman Oil Deck Stain is a budget-friendly option for those who want the excellent protection of an oil stain with a semi-transparent finish that will show off your wood’s inherent properties.
- Acrylic core-shell oil Alkyd technology
- Trans-oxide pigmentation
- Semi-transparent finish