10 Best Rated Deck Stains

Protect a Deck With Deck Stain

Before you commit to purchasing a stain for your deck, learn more about deck stain ratings. While there is no official, over-arcing rating system, there are a variety of publications and websites that offer their advice on which is the best. Here is a list of ten of the best products on the market.

Top 10 Deck Stain Ratings

Based on a search of professional contractor, home improvement, woodworking and do it yourself forums and websites such as PaintSource.net, DoItYourself.com, Sawmill Creek.org and DeckStainGuide.com, the top criteria consumers and professionals are concerned with when it comes to deck stains include:

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

Deck owners often join home improvement type forums, looking for recommendations on deck stains. Stains with the most recommendations are low maintenance, long lasting stains with great mildew and UV protection. The top stains are opaque or semi-transparent. Maintenance, performance and durability are dependent on each other because the ease of maintaining a great-looking deck really depends on how well the stain seals and protects the wood and how long this protection will last. Obviously, homeowners want the product to work well; however, many are also very concerned with not having to reapply the treatment every year, due to how labor-intensive applying the stain can be. Most homeowners are willing to pay substantially more for a deck stain as long as the extra cost results in longer protection. Subjects such as whether the stains are oil-based or water-based, contain natural or synthetic resins and environmental issues were not brought up when consumers asked for recommendations.

The following top 10 deck stains are rated from one to five stars, based on the consumer criteria identified above.

1. Sikkens Cetol Dek Finish

Sikkens Cetol Dek Finish receives shining reviews across the board. It boasts excellent performance and durability, with protection lasting up to two to three years when applied and maintained as directed by the manufacturer. Sikkens products have the most recommendations from consumers and professionals who have used them, which is why Sikkens appears at the top.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

2. Cabot Decking Stain 1480

Cabot Decking Stain 1480 made the top of the list at Consumer Reports and shows up as a recommendation often in forums. It is a deep penetrating, linseed oil-based stain that should protect the wood for two to three years.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

3. Sikkens Cetol SRD

Specially formulated for poorly ventilated decks, docks and low to the ground decks where moisture is a problem, Sikkens Cetol SRD has exceptional performance and durability. It offers easy maintenance with two to three years of protection from a one coat application.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

4. Cabot Semi-Transparent Deck and Siding Stain 6300

Another highly recommended stain by consumers and professionals, as well as by Consumer Reports, Cabot Semi-Transparent Deck and Siding Stain 6300 is a deep penetrating stain with high performance, lasting two to three years, depending on weather conditions. Only one coat is needed.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

5. Wolman Durastain

A semi-transparent stain that came in 3rd place in the 2005 July issue of Consumer Reports, Wolman Durastain is ideal for decks exposed to intense sun with protection lasting two to three years.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

6. DEFY Epoxy Fortified Wood Stain

While it isn't recommended as often as Cabot or Sikkens, DEFY Epoxy Fortified Wood Stain still shows up often enough as a recommendation from both consumers and professionals. This product has good performance and durability; however two coats are needed on the first application.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

7. Superdeck Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

Several deck owners stated in forum threads that Superdeck Semi-Transparent Deck Stain was highly recommended by hardware store owners who did not even carry the product. The stain is often used by contractors; however, do-it-yourself homeowners were not as familiar with the product. It is an oil-based stain with a recommended one coat application.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

8. Wolman F&P

Wolman F&P is occasionally mentioned or recommended on home improvement forums. It is a transparent, deep penetrating oil-based stain with a fungicidal preservative to protect wood from rot and decay.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

9. Penofin Red Label

Penofin Red Label was occasionally mentioned in the forums. It offers UV protection from transoxide pigments and contains a high grade mildewcide.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

10. Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Stain

Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Stain is occasionally recommended and is a deep penetrating, acrylic-based stain. Although the manufacturer claims it will protect wood from the elements for up to six years, a more realistic estimate would be one to two years.

  • Recommendations
  • Maintenance
  • Performance
  • Durability

Deck Stain Information Resources

You may want to do a bit more research for selecting a stain for your deck project. The following resources can help you educate yourself on the pros and cons of oil-based and water-based deck stains:

  • Consumer Reports- One of the most reliable testing centers in the country, Consumer Reports rated nine popular deck stains, based on how each brand and type performed on a testing deck built for this purpose. However, to view the results, you must pay $26 for a yearly subscription or about $6 for monthly access.
  • DeckStainGuide- While this website doesn't offer a comprehensive rating system, it does provide reviews that are updated nearly daily. There is also a forum where do-it-yourselfers can discuss and evaluate their experience with different types of stains.
  • PaintSource.net,- Here you can find valuable information on the type of lumber used to build decks and the different types of protective coatings that need to be applied from professional painters and contractors.
  • Your local hardware store- Go to your local hardware store and ask the manager of the paint and stain section for his or her recommendation. You'll be able to explain your specific situation, and it helps to bring photos of your deck or even a sample of the wood.

Value

When it comes to exterior wood stains and sealants, the old saying "you get what you pay for" does appear to apply. The extra money spent on a quality stain can save you time, money and a lot of extra work in the long run. The longest lasting protection most deck owners experience from a good stain is two to three years. Less expensive stains usually need to be re-applied every year. A deck is a substantial investment in your home and is worth an extra investment to protect it.

10 Best Rated Deck Stains