Tap to Read ➤

Deck Stain Comparison to Help You Find the Best One

Rajib Singha Sep 24, 2018
Humidity and sunlight are the major causes for a deck to rot, split, warp and fade. You can keep your deck in shape and in a fresh-look throughout the year, by applying a deck stain. Here are some reviews on the best deck stains you can avail from the market.
A deck stain is used to make the deck abrasion resistant. For protecting the deck against water and the UV rays from the sun, a deck stain is usually preferred. The longevity of the stain is the deciding factor to choose the best deck stain.
However, it also depends on the material and the desired look of the wood. The color of the deck stain decides the look for your deck. A deck stain that comprise a deeper color lasts longer and maintains a prolonged fresh look on the deck. Proper preparation of the wood deck also prolongs the life of a deck stain.

Clear or Transparent Deck Stain

As the name suggests, transparent or clear deck stains allow visibility of the wood. This is because, the application of this deck stain allow the grain and texture of the wood to show through. This type of stain is not on the preferred list as it requires refinishing annually.
The stain does not offer a wide variety of colors. Clear stain with special UV blocking chemicals are better, as they do not have any extra pigment. Before buying a clear deck stain, it is necessary that you go through the product details on the label. Clear stain has a shorter life span.

Solid or Opaque Deck Stain

Solid deck stain provides full coverage of the grain and the texture is not prominent but visible. This type of deck stain looks more like a paint and can last for more than four years. Solid deck stain is not efficient enough to withstand the wear and tear resulting from people walking over the deck.
When applied on horizontal surfaces, it is prone to more damage by direct sunlight. Unlike others, solid stain is subjected to peeling and cracking, than fading. Thus, this stain works better for vertical standings like posts or vertical sidings. They have a durability of around four years. Weathering of stain and the color also determines its long life.

Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

The effect of a semi-transparent deck stain lies in between a clear and a solid stain. It has a well-defined color that gives a tint to the wood, and allows the grain and texture to be visible. The protection of the wood from UV is higher if the quantity of the tint in the stain is high.
The look that this stain provides is similar to that of an interior wiping stain. It is low on maintenance and requires reapplication after two years. It is available in a variety of colors and lasts for about two years or more. Semi-transparent deck stain does not peel like the solid stains and have a longer life span than clear stains.
All deck stains are either water-based or oil-based. There are certain advantages and disadvantages of both the types.

Oil-based Stain


Oil-based stain has always been chosen for a traditional way to stain a deck. Due to its penetration effect on wood, it helps the wood deck to maintain its natural look, with a richer essence. Oil-based stain are less likely to peel, and have a decent life span.


One major drawback of oil-based deck stain is that it is composed of natural resin. Without any addition of algaecides and mildewcides to this type of stain, possible growth of algae and mildew may occur. As oil-based stains are made up of natural resin, they provide a breeding ground for such parasites.
Presence of such toxic agents is no way in favor of a healthy surrounding at your home and especially if kids are around. It has a negative impact on the environment. Thus, if the toxins are not applied then it favors infestations by parasites. On the other hand, application of toxins have a negative impact on the environment.

Water-based Stains


A great alternative to an oil-based stain is a water-based deck stain. It does not provide breeding grounds for algae and the like. It does not require addition of any types of algaecides and mildewcides and is hence Eco-friendly. Water-based deck stains dry faster and are easier to be cleaned than oil-based stains. They have a durability of 7 to 8 years.


Water-based stains have a minor set back of hiding the natural look of wood. But considering the environment, this point is too small to be considered.

Some Popular Deck Stain Brands

  • Behr
  • Armstrong Clark
  • Benjamin Moore
  • Cabot
  • Flood
  • Messmers
  • Olympic
  • Sherwin-Williams
  • Timber Oil
  • Valspar
  • Woman
The best deck stain is obviously the one that provides a great look to your deck, lasts longer, is low on maintenance, and has minimal health hazards. Choose a deck stain that suits every bit of your desire for a beautiful wood deck. 
However, before deciding upon any type of stain, always consider your and your family's health. Maintenance and durability takes a second place when it comes to your health and the environment.