Researching deck stain reviews can help you select the right stain product for your deck. Not every deck stain is created equal, however. Learn about the top deck stain products and which ones perform well.
Deck Stain Selection Guide
When you plan to stain your deck, it is important to first decide which products will give you the look that you strive to achieve. You also want a quality product that will be long lasting, and therefore prolong the life of your deck. Deck stains can last for three to five years if the deck is in good shape with a quality stain, although many people have their deck redone every two to four years for optimal protection. Reading deck stain reviews can help you find the right product for your project.
Deck Stain Basics and Performance
The first thing to understand is that deck stains are either oil-based or water-based. Many people prefer the water-based formula because the oil stains have a strong odor during the application and drying period. However, oil-based deck stains adhere to the wood better, do not peel (unlike water-based), offer greater protection and last longer.
It is also important to learn about the general types of deck stains available. Each one offers a different degree of protection for the deck:
- Transparent: A transparent or clear stain allows the wood grain pattern to completely show through. It is a beautiful look but it fades faster than other types of deck stain and usually needs to be redone in a year. If you use a transparent stain, be sure to add a UV protectant wood finish product to help the stain last longer.
- Semi-transparent: Semi-transparent stains offer more coverage than transparent types but still allow a lot of the beauty of the wood grain pattern to show through. The semi-transparent stain comes in a large selection of colors and lasts for about two years.
- Solid: Solid stain has more of a painted look and is available in a variety of colors. It covers the wood grain pattern completely but still shows the wood texture. This is the highest level of protection from the elements and should protect a deck for up to 5 years.
- Semi-solid: The semi-solid stains are a unique formula by Cabot Stains. It offers the deck a high level of protection from the elements but still allows some the wood grain pattern to show. They have received high reviews for both quality and durability.
Top 3 Deck Stain Reviews
Here are some reviews of the top deck stains available on the market.
Cabot Stains offers solid deck stains and multipurpose semi-solid deck and fence stain products in both water-based and oil-based formulations. The stains contain a heavy pigment for UV protection and come in many color options. Once dried, the stains are scruff resistant. The oil-based formulas only require one coat of stain for protection. The water-based formula stains need two coats for best results. Cabot includes Teflon in the formula for extra strong protection.
Consumer Reports.org reviewed Cabot Decking Stain 7406 and rated Cabot as the top deck stain. According to the consumer report, Cabot lives up to many of its claims. Customers found that Cabot produced the following results:
- Only one coat of stain was required.
- The stain lasted at least two years.
- The stain protected the deck from moisture, excess dirt and mildew.
- The stain color remained true to the original shade.
Home improvement expert Glen Haege recommends Cabot deck stains at his site, Master Handyman.com.
Behr Deck Stains
Behr PROCESS Corporation offers water-based and oil-based formula options in five different stains. The stains protect decks from weather and wear as well as prevent mildew and wood rot.
The Consumer Report.org site tested the Behr Deck Plus Deck, Fence and Siding opaque stain. Customers either found the Behr stain to be generally good or hated it. Customers noted the following:
- The stain required two coats for full coverage.
- The stain resisted cracking.
- The product prevented mildew.
- The stain remained its original color.
- The stain did not protect the deck from dirt well.
- The stain peeled off during the winter.
A number of contractors on Contractor Talk.com's forum reported problems with Behr stains not lasting long or allowing decks to decline.Master Handyman.com expert Glen Haege recommends Behr deck stains as one of the better stains at his site.
Wolman Deck Stains
Wolman Wood Care Products makes three types of deck stains - solid, semi-transparent and the transparent finish formula. Wolman's stains are noted for lasting long and preserving decks from environmental damage as well as being an excellent mildew and water repellant formula. Many online home improvement forums have recommended Wolman as an alternative to Behr and Cabot. However, some reviewers felt that Wolman didn't effectively protect decks from mildew or dirt.
Other Notable Deck Stains
Two other deck stain brands that are often recommended by home improvement experts are:
- Cuprinol: Consumers rated Cuprinol as on the same level of durability as Cabot.
- Sikkens: Many customers like Sikkens because their solid stain formulas, Rubbol DEK, produces an intense solid color that is longlasting.
Do some research on deck stain reviews and get an idea of what you want in a wood stain before purchasing one to find the right one for your deck.