The 10 Best Deck Stains of 2024

The 10 Best Deck Stains of 2024 to Protect Your Deck

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You can enjoy your backyard deck whether you are alone, relaxing with a book and a cold drink or with friends and family. Maintaining your deck and protecting it from the weather with deck stain will allow you to enjoy your deck many years into the future.

Michael Clarke is the founder of, a platform that helps homeowners hire and find service providers to help with home projects.

Winter can be a particularly brutal time for decks. Snow and rain penetrate the wood, freeze and cause the planks of the deck to split. Clarke warns that if you leave a deck untreated, it may crack or even collapse.

Clarke says that regular staining enhances your deck’s appearance and helps it to maintain its character.

Best Overall

Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood

ColorNatural Cedar
BrandReady Seal
Surface Recommendationwood
Materialoil based
Model NameReady Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood

The Stain

  • Requires no primer. When first applied, Ready Seal appears the darkest. It takes approximately 14 days for it to reach its true color. Ready Seal should not be applied to freshly painted or stained surfaces. Sealed surfaces inhibit penetration.
  • You can apply the product using a roller, sprayer or brush.
  • No back brushing required. Will not leave streaks, runs, or laps.
  • The product blends itself, and it can be used in any temperature range.
  • Spray application does not require any diluting or thinning.
  • PaintCare is subject to or includes a recycling fee for the following states: Connecticut, Vermont or CA.
  • No need to sand or stripe for reapplication
  • The “Goof Proof Application”
  • No laps or runs
  • No back brushing
  • Use at any temperature
  • PaintCare will be subject to or include a recycling fee in these states: CA. OR. CT. VT

Also read: 5 Tips for Maintaining Your Deck

Best Budget

Preserva Wood Oil Based Clear Penetrating Exterior Sealer and Stain

About this item

  • Penetrating finish and will not crack or peel
  • Low viscosity (thin) and easy to spray
  • Ultraviolet (UV) protection from special reflective pigments
  • Tinted to enhance the natural beauty of your wood
  • Environmentally responsible; low VOC
Preserva Wood Oil Based Clear Penetrating Exterior Sealer and Stain

This Preserva Wood stain & sealer will provide superior protection to your deck without breaking the bank. It is perfect for building a deck from scratch or updating a deck.

This organic oil-based finish will protect porous woods like cedar or fir. This clear stain will protect your deck from UV and moisture damage for years to come.

This stain is not only for decks; you can also use it to protect and finish fences and unpainted wooden siding. A gallon of stain can cover 400 square foot of smooth boards, or 200 square foot of rough fence slats.

You’ll need to remove any excess stain with a soft cloth as you apply it. This will create a smooth, even finish. This product is a blend of natural oils that creates a durable, rich-colored exterior with superior moisture resistance.

Coverage: 100-500 square feet, depending on smoothness of wood

Best Eco-Friendly

Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey Exterior Wood Penetrating Stain

  • This stain is non-toxic and cures in 48 hours. It has a neutral smell.


  • Use this product only on IPE or mahogany decking.

If you’re looking to make more sustainable choices for your outdoor area, the Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey Exterior Penetrating Wood Stain is the best environmentally-friendly deck stain. This stain is available in 14 different colors and eco-friendly.

Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey Exterior Wood Penetrating Stain

This stain is a great option if you’re sensitive to chemicals with strong smells or just want something non-toxic. This biodegradable stain is made in the USA using renewable resources. It has low VOCs and a neutral scent, which means it won’t irritate you as much as other stains. The product is also waterproof and resistant to mildew and mold.

The stain dries quickly. You can walk on it within 2-3 hours of the second application, and the stain is completely cured in 48 hours. Apply when the temperature is between 50degF to 80degF, and air humidity between 40% and 60%.

If you need to cover more than 300 square feet you can buy a 5-gallon pail or a quart of stain. The whey protein based stain can be used on decks as well as gardening beds and fences. This stain can be used on a wide range of woods. However, it should not be used on IPE or mahogany decking.

Coverage: 300 square feet

Also read: Best Waterproof Paints For Wood 

Best Solid

DEFY Solid Color Wood Stain Sealer - Deck Paint and Sealer for Decks, Fences, Siding, Outdoor Wood Furniture, & All Exterior Wood Types

Surface RecommendationWood, Decks, Fence, Siding
Model NameTP-SOLID
DEFY Solid Color Wood Stain Sealer - Deck Paint and Sealer for Decks

The Stain

  • Opaque Paint-Like Finish – This opaque stain is great for old & new decks, or decks with a mix of old and new boards. It hides the grain and creates a uniform finish.
  • Maximum UV Resistance – Formulated with zinc nano-particles that block harmful UV rays that cause fading, graying and color loss on wood decks, fences and siding. It’s like sunscreen for your wood.
  • Long Lasting Color and Protection – Made with durable acrylic resins, DEFY Solid Stain is the longest lasting DEFY stain available. Unlike an oil based deck stain, this DEFY sealer will last for years.
  • One Day Deck Stain – Clean in the morning, and stain in the afternoon. This solid stain deck sealer can be applied to wood as soon as the wood becomes visibly dry.
  • Easy Water-Based Cleanup – This water-based solid deck stain is easy to use, and easy to clean up with soap and water. No messy solvents or paint thinner needed.

Best Semi-Transparent

#1 Deck Wood Deck Paint and Sealer - Advanced Solid Color Deck Stain for Decks, Fences, Siding - 1 Gallon (Simply White)

ColorSimply White
Surface RecommendationWood, Decks, Fence, Furniture, Siding
Size1 Gallon
#1 Deck Wood Deck Paint and Sealer

The Stain

  • The Opaque Finish completely hides the wood grain and provides maximum protection against fading & graying caused by damaging UV rays
  • It acts as both a stain and sealer for your wood – use over existing, solid color wood stains (that have still good adhesion).
  • Available in six beautiful, solid color finishes that dry to a flat, natural looking finish
  • Low VOCs, Low Odor Stain Water-Based Cleaner
  • You can use it on any horizontal or vertical wood surface, including pressure treated lumber, pine, cedar, fir, redwood, mahogany, and more.

Best Clear

Cabot Wood Protector Exterior Wood Stain Clear

  • This clear stain not only enhances the beauty and durability of the wood, but also provides a strong defense against the weather.


  • It is not recommended if you want to hide any imperfections on the wood planks.
Cabot Wood Protector Exterior Wood Stain Clear

Cabot Clear Wood Protector will not alter the appearance of your deck, but rather keep it natural. It will penetrate deeply into the planks and create a superior waterproof protection.

Cabot is resistant to mildew and algae. This clear exterior wood stain absorbs easily into the wood, unlike other clear stains that are wax-based.

Cabot’s clear stain is an excellent choice for those who are looking to finish their deck for the very first time. Cleaning is simple with soap and water. It is also an effective way to protect hard surfaces such as concrete, brick and stone in your garden.

Coverage: 250 square feet per gallon

Best Oil-Based

Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Sealant and Stain in a 1-gallon Can

  • This stain can be used on any type of decking.


  • If the manufacturer states that wood cannot have more than 12 percent moisture, make sure to dry your deck thoroughly before you apply it.
Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Sealant and Stain in a 1-gallon Can

This sealer/stain is absorbed into the wood fibers to protect your deck, or any other wood surface, from cracking, peeling and chipping. It is easy to use because the product absorbs quickly and evenly into the wood.

The oil base does not contain linseed, vegetable or other oils that are known to cause algae and fungus growth in wood. It dries quickly, and is ready to go out in the rain within minutes. The result is a flat finish.

You don’t need to worry about the temperature when staining your deck. The stain can be applied from 0degF up to 100degF. Ready Seal can be used on both soft and hard woods.

Stain should not be applied to wood with a moisture content greater than 12%. Deck maintenance is a breeze when you don’t have to sand or strip the wood before applying a new coat.

Coverage: 185 square feet per gallon

Best Water-Based

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

  • It is environmentally friendly because it uses a water-based formulation.


  • This stain cannot be applied over an existing stain. You will need to remove any existing stain before applying this product. This stain is absorbed by the wood, so it will not cover as well as other stains.
DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

The Defy Extreme semi-transparent exterior wood stain is an eco-friendly product that contains low volatile organic compound (VOC). This water-based stain, which is 100% VOC compliant and creates a protective layer on the wood, makes it an excellent choice for decks, fences, siding and furniture.

If your deck has an existing layer of stain, you’ll need to strip it before applying Defy. You’ll need to remove any existing stain from your deck before you can apply Defy.

Zinc is used in this water-based stain to protect your deck against UV and sun damage. This stain will keep your deck’s color longer (no premature fade) and you can use it for another season or two without having to add another coat.

The manufacturer recommends that you use Defy wood brightener before applying the maintenance coat to increase the wood’s ability to absorb the stain. This will also restore the deck surface.

Coverage: 200-300 square feet per gallon

The Best Winter Wear

Olympic Maximum Exterior Stain in Solid Color and Sealant All-in-One

  • This stain can be applied even when the wood is wet.


  • Test a small area to see if it soaks into the deck and dries. You’ll need to remove it first if not.
Olympic Maximum Exterior Stain in Solid Color and Sealant All-in-One

It’s not difficult to stain a deck, but you have to be careful about the weather. Olympic Maximum is the answer to this problem. It can be used for any exterior wood project such as a deck, siding, furniture, or fence.

The weather-ready formula can be used at temperatures as low as 35 degrees or as high as 120degF. This semi-transparent wood stain can be applied to all types of wood whether it is old or new or treated or not. Apply one coat and your deck, or any other wood surface will be ready for rain in just eight hours.

This stain-sealant is UV-protective and can withstand heavy foot traffic. It is also waterproof, creating a seal which resists water, mold, mildew and other damage.

It’s easy to clean with soap and water. Olympic offers a 10-year warranty on decks, and a 25-year guarantee on fences and siding.

Coverage: 500 square feet

Deck Stains: What you need to know before buying


Stain, unlike paint, allows you to view the grain and texture of wood. The opacity of the stain is how much or how little it covers. Clear stain is a colorless product that can be used to protect wood while revealing its natural beauty.

Best Deck Stains

Clarke suggests that transparent stains are best for expensive hardwoods such as IPE or mahogany. These have rich textures and grains that you don’t want to hide with an opaque stain. You can add some color to your deck by using a semi-transparent finish. This will allow you to see the grain and still have some color.

Semi-solid stains are more opaque and offer a richer color. They also hide the wood grain. This is an option to consider for old decks, or if you want to hide imperfections in the wood. Solid stain has the highest level of opaqueness. The color will be rich and dark, but the grain won’t show through.


Stains are available in different colors depending on the brand. Clarke advises that you should choose a deck colour that matches the trim of your house.

This will make your deck stand out and give it a more unified feel.

Condition Of Decks

You’ll want to consider the condition and age of your deck as well as what kind of stain you used in the past. Clarke advises that if you have an old deck and don’t want to spend the time to apply new stain frequently, it is best to choose a more costly stain.

The type of wood used in its construction will determine the deck stain that you choose. Solid and semi-solid stains work better on pine, cedar and other soft woods. They are also more affordable.

Temperature Restrictions

Deck stains can be affected by weather conditions that are too hot (above a 90degF temperature) or too cool (below a 40degF temperature). The temperature range is wide, between 40degF and 90degF. But humidity is more important than the temperature. The lower the level of humidity, the faster your stain coat will cure and dry.

Cure Time vs. Cure Time

Read the label of the deck stain to find out how long the manufacturer recommends it will take to dry. Remember that a deck which is dry when touched is not likely ready for walking on.

The stain may not be fully cured if the deck is dry but ready to walk on.

Answers to Your Questions

What is the best decking stain?

This is because it offers the best protection and quality against the natural elements. We also like the Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey exterior penetrating wood stain because it is non-toxic, made of renewable resources, and has a high level of protection against natural elements.

Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey Exterior Wood Penetrating Stain

Enjoying Our Review? Also read: The Best Finish for Walnut Table Tops

What is the best temperature to stain a deck at?

If you are staining your deck, it shouldn’t get too hot or cold. Otherwise, the stain will take longer to dry and cure. The ideal temperature range is between 50-80degF. However, some stain manufacturers claim that you can still stain your deck when it reaches 90degF.

Plan to stain the deck when the weather forecast is not calling for rain or high humidity. Clarke recommends allowing 72 hours for a fully cured deck, even if it says otherwise on the label (some stain cans say they’re ready in four hours).

Clarke stresses that timing is crucial when staining your deck. This is especially true because some deck stains have a long drying time. Deck stain must cure before it is ready to be used. This is different from paint which can be used as soon as it dries to the touch.

Clarke suggests that homeowners who live in areas where there is a high probability of rain and humidity should choose a stain with a fast curing time. This information should be prominently displayed on the label.

What is the best stain to use?

You should apply another oil-based stain to your deck if it has already been treated. Water-based stains are less dense than oil-based stains, so they will peel off if you apply them on top.

If you choose to change the stain type, you will have to sand the deck down, adding a lot of work to your project.

Some regions do not allow the sale of oil-based stains. This is because oil-based paints or stains can release high levels volatile organic compounds as they dry.

Clarke says that California has very strict standards for oil-based stains.

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