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A wooden deck is a welcome addition to any home, especially for the summer. Several types of wood are used in decks, although pressure-treated is often considered one of the most popular choices.
Pressure-treated wood undergoes a special treatment to increase its resistance to mold, water, and other types of decay. Lumber is placed in a pressure chamber to pressurize the wood to remove air from its structure. Then, chemicals are added via pressure to the internal structure of the wood. Once the process is complete, it is set to dry.
To ensure that the wood has been appropriately treated, you must stain pressure-treated wood. The type of stain you apply on your wooden deck is just as important as the wood used. But what is the best deck stain for pressure-treated wood? In this guide, we’ve reviewed and ranked the best products in the market, so you don’t have to.
A properly applied stain has several benefits that many homeowners miss. Staining your wooden deck will not only improve its look, but it’ll also increase its lifespan, preventing decay and damage by pests. Stains also make decks more resistant to water and help prevent leaks. Staining a deck is also easier than painting, as it doesn’t require sanding or priming.
What is the Best Stain Color for Pressure Treated Wood?
It’s a matter of preference, as different stain colors for pressure-treated wood have various benefits and downsides. However, with new pressure-treated wood decks, opting for a lighter tone is recommended because darker tones can be hard to remove, as this type of deck absorbs pigments better when it’s new.
On the other hand, older decks with imperfections and regular wear and tear can benefit from darker stains, as they’ll be better at hiding these faults.
You’ll find the best deck stains for this type of wood in the list below. Light or dark, they’ll protect your deck and give it a pop of color.
Top 10 Deck Stain for Pressure Treated Wood
We tested the top 10 best deck stains for pressure-treated wood available in the market, so you don’t have to. Check out our verdicts below and get ready to give your deck the brand new shine and longevity it deserves.
- Available in three types – solid, semi-transparent, and transparent.
- It comes in four tones – Natural redwood, oxford brown, honey gold, and cedar.
- One gallon can.
- It protects decks for up to six years.
- UV-blocking and waterproofing properties.
Olympic is considered one of the best stain brands. All of its stains are weather-ready, so they can be applied whenever you want, no matter the climate conditions.
The Olympic Stain Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer dries in eight hours and can be applied on damp decks, making it highly versatile. It also contains waterproofing properties to protect your wood from cracks and damage caused by water. It also has UV-blocking, which will help improve your deck’s lifespan.
A gallon of this stain will cover an area of approximately 250 to 350 square feet, equal to a standard deck. It comes in three types (solid, semi-transparent, and transparent), equally durable and resistant to the sun and water. Opting for the transparent variety is recommended if you wish to keep your deck’s grain visible.
- You can apply it all year round.
- Available in several varieties.
- Resistant to UV and water damage.
- Accurate color and tone.
- Enough product to cover a standard deck.
- High durability, lasting up to six years.
- It can wear out fast on horizontal boards.
- Hard to apply over an existing oil-based stain.
- Some users report the cedar tone is too yellow.
- Semi-transparent stain and sealant.
- Available in two tones – redwood and butternut.
- High UV resistance.
- One gallon package.
The DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain is a water-based stain for every type of exterior wood, including decks and pressure-treated wood. It dries in just four hours, making it one of the fastest drying stains, although it takes 24 hours to cure fully. It’s available in two exotic wood tones – redwood and butternut.
Its formula includes special zinc nanoparticles designed to disperse light throughout the stain, allowing for incredible UV protection. The DEFY Extreme wood stain is not waterproof, meaning water may seep through during heavy rains. Therefore, it may need to be reapplied more often.
The one-gallon quantity will cover a deck between 250 and 300 square feet. To achieve the best results, you should apply two coats. You should also apply a maintenance coat regularly to increase its durability.
Since it’s water-based, the DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain is low in VOC and complies with the current legislation.
- Water-based, low-VOC formula.
- Extreme UV protection thanks to zinc nanoparticles.
- Available in exotic wood tones that fit any deck.
- It dries extremely quickly, around four hours.
- Not the best water resistance.
- It could have better coverage.
- Requires frequent maintenance to keep it looking new.
- 100% acrylic-based semi-transparent stain.
- Warranty up to three years for deck applications.
- Waterproof and UV-proof.
- One gallon can.
If you’re into DIY deck staining, you’ve probably heard of Kilz. Its products offer incredible value for money, and this semi-transparent waterproofing wood stain is no exception. With a warranty of up to three years for decks, it’s resistant to any condition you put it up against, including snow, sun, and rain.
It’s made with an acrylic base, meaning it’s thicker than other stains. It’ll require a dilution for an easy application, but it benefits from excellent coverage. A gallon is enough for 250 square feet of the first coat and another 500 feet for a second coat.
This stain truly shines in the waterproofing and UV resistance departments. Its acrylic formula will help keep your deck looking brand new for years to come. And since it’s thicker, you won’t need to reapply it as frequently as other stains.
- The acrylic-based formula is highly resistant to weather conditions.
- It has excellent waterproofing and UV-proofing properties.
- It has excellent coverage – up to 750 square feet with two coats.
- It requires less maintenance than other comparable stains.
- Great value for money.
- Only available in a redwood tone.
- It may require dilution as it’s thicker than other stains.
- There is a long preparation period of up to three days to clean, dry, and apply.
- Available in five tones – Cedar, dark walnut, gray, light walnut, and natural.
- Comes in one or 2.5-gallon packages.
- Semi-transparent stain and sealer.
- UV and water-resistant.
- LOW in VOCs.
SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain is a two-in-one solution, working as a stain and sealer. Due to its water-based nature, it’s easy to apply. Cleaning is also effortless, as you’ll only require soap and water.
One of the best things about this wood stain is its versatility. Since it’s available in five tones, choosing one that better fits your deck’s style is easy. It also has anti-UV and waterproof properties to ensure the longevity of your deck.
It’s excellent value for money, especially when it comes to water-based stains. On the flip side, it has a less-than-optimal coverage of about 100 square feet per gallon. A standard-sized deck will require around three gallons. Luckily, it’s also available in a 2.5-gallon package, which should be enough for most cases.
- The water-based formula contains few VOCs.
- Highly versatile as it’s available in many wood tones.
- It only requires soap and water to clean.
- Easy to apply, even on damp wood.
- Good value for money.
- Poor coverage – one gallon required for every 100 square feet.
- Some tones can seem dull or not uniform when applied on pressure-treated decks.
- The warranty only covers manufacturer defects.
- Semi-solid deck stain.
- Available in six tones – Cordovan brown, driftwood gray, mission brown, new cedar, new redwood, and redwood.
- Quarter-gallon or one-gallon cans.
- Low-VOC formula.
- Resistant to water and fading.
Cabot Semi-Solid Deck & Siding Low VOC stain is excellent for older pressure-treated wooden decks with mismatched or replaced boards due to its higher opacity. Thanks to the higher levels of pigment, the result is often a rich tone, although it’s also available in lighter wood tones.
Its acrylic-based formula contains very few traces of VOCs, making it extremely safe to handle. Acrylic stains are also known for their excellent coverage – a gallon should be enough for most decks. It’s also very resistant to UV and water damage, making your pressure-treated wooden deck look fresh for longer.
- It only requires one coat.
- It is available in several wood tones.
- It is available in a quarter-gallon can for touch-ups.
- It has incredible resistance to water and corrosion.
- Great for older and dull-looking decks.
- The acrylic-based formula offers great coverage.
- It is priced higher than other options.
- It requires frequent maintenance for the best results.
- The colors can feel inaccurate.
- It is a semi-transparent waterproofing stain.
- Available in two tones – acorn brown and chestnut brown.
- Guaranteed results for up to five years.
- Water and UV-proof.
- Available in one-gallon cans.
Thompson’s is one of the most recognizable stain manufacturers in the industry, and for a good reason. The company produces high-quality stains and sealers, including the Thompson’s Water Seal Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain.
Due to its UV and waterproofing capabilities, its dual-purpose formula makes it an excellent product for pressure-treated wood decks subject to extensive water and sun exposure. It contains advanced polymers to increase its resistance, preventing fade over the years.
If you’re looking for longevity, consider opting for the chestnut brown variant. Its darker tone is more resistant to water, mildew, and the sun. Thompson claims it can last up to five years and only requires one coat. A can will cover an area between 150 and 400 square feet.
- It only requires a single coat.
- It is formulated to resist water and UV damage.
- Very easy to prepare and apply.
- Low opacity is excellent to show off your deck’s grain.
- It doesn’t offer the greatest coverage.
- There are many reports of cans arriving damaged.
- Water-based stain.
- Available in over 20 colors.
- Comes in 8 or 32 oz cans.
- It offers coverage up to 200 square feet.
The SamaN Interior One Step Wood Seal, Stain, and Varnish product is popular due to its versatility. You can apply this water-based stain in many situations, indoors and outdoors. You won’t have any issues using it on your pressure-treated wooden deck.
Furthermore, it’s available in more than 20 colors, ranging from classic tones like chestnut and walnut to modern twists such as coffee, cocoa, and chalk. It’s excellent for those looking to create a two-tone deck.
Thanks to a low VOC formula, this stain color for pressure-treated wood is considered safe for children, pets, and the environment. It’s odorless and extremely easy to apply. You only need one coat without any preparation required. However, it doesn’t offer the best UV and water resistance around.
It also comes in 32 or 8 oz cans, so you may have to grab a few. Still, it has a coverage of about 200 square feet per 32 oz can.
- One-step application.
- Great for indoor or covered decks.
- Odorless and safe for children and pets.
- It offers excellent coverage – Up to 800 square feet per gallon.
- Some tones are too light compared to the color pictured.
- The cost per gallon is higher than other comparable stains.
- Poor water and UV resistance.
- Oil-based semi-transparent stain and sealer.
- Six tones available – Golden oak, cedar tone, hickory, pacific redwood, black walnut, and sienna.
- One gallon can.
- Resistant to all weather conditions.
Oil-based alternatives such as Storm System Storm Protector Penetrating Sealer are usually more affordable but still have plenty of benefits. This semi-transparent stain was designed to prioritize your deck’s protection, making it resistant to all weather conditions.
It’s available in several wood tones that will improve your deck’s look right off the bat. The hickory variant is one of the most popular, thanks to its vivid color. The stain is incredibly thick, which helps provide outstanding results on any pressure-treated wood deck. Nonetheless, you’ll have to mix it often when applying it.
Oil-based stains like this one have a few drawbacks: the coverage isn’t excellent, so you’ll have to buy two or three gallons to stain a modestly-sized deck. It also takes longer to dry, so be wary of the current weather conditions before applying.
- Rich colors.
- Excellent value for money.
- A deep penetrating formula that offers excellent sun and water resistance.
- Great at keeping the grain visible.
- High longevity.
- Oil-based stains can be harder to apply and mix.
- The coverage is only 100 to 175 square feet per gallon.
- Longer drying period.
- Water-based semi-transparent stain and sealer.
- Available in nine colors.
- One gallon can.
- Very low VOC levels.
- Water and UV resistant.
Wood stain technology has come a long way, and the SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane is here to prove it. It comes in several colors: redwood, cedar, coastal gray, light brown, brown, bronze cedar, mahogany, and black.
This semi-transparent stain is infused with polyurethane particles to enhance its penetrating potential, making your deck last longer. It’s highly resistant to water, mold, and UV lighting and can be applied to high-traffic areas.
Seal-Once’s Nano+Poly stains have minimal amounts of VOCs and are odorless, which means they’re safe to use around children, pets, and vegetation. However, they don’t offer the best coverage, especially for a water-based stain. Additionally, it may take longer to apply since it requires two coats.
- It quickly dries in just four hours.
- Safe for pets and children due to its low-VOC formula.
- Infused with polyurethane for added resistance.
- Good range of color options.
- It is designed to penetrate wood deeply.
- Pricier than most water-based stains.
- It has limited coverage of between 150 and 300 square feet.
- It has to be applied in two coats.
- Oil-based semi-transparent stain.
- Available in one or five-gallon cans.
- It comes in 10 colors.
- Resistant to water and UV.
Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer is an oil-based, semi-transparent stain and sealer that’s incredibly easy to apply. Thanks to its UV and waterproofing capabilities, it keeps your deck looking as good as new.
It’s available in a wide range of rich wood colors, such as natural cedar, mission brown, light oak, redwood, pecan, natural oak, mahogany, golden pine, dark walnut, and burnt hickory. As oil-based stains are generally darker, this product will lighten over time, reaching its actual color two weeks after application.
Since it’s oil-based, removing it requires using thinners to remove it. Also, it doesn’t benefit from the best coverage or drying time. Ready Seal claims one gallon is enough for an area up to 185 square feet, drying in 72 hours. Even though it’s low-VOC compliant, it can emit fumes for as much as three weeks after application.
- Available in multiple rich tones.
- You can get a five-gallon can for larger projects.
- Staining and sealing properties.
- Extremely resistant to water and UV rays.
- It takes up to 72 hours to dry fully.
- You can only remove it with thinners.
- Not the best coverage, as expected from oil-based stains.
Buying Guide – Deck Stain for Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure-treated wood is one of the most durable types of wood on the market, but you can improve its lifespan significantly by applying a stain. Since decks are subject to many environmental conditions, you’ll have to rely on the best stains in the markets to ensure your deck’s ultimate protection. A stain will also help your deck look brand new all year round.
But choosing the correct stain for your situation can be tricky. You should look out for several criteria when making your choices, such as the base, type of stain, climate, condition of the wood, volatile organic compounds (VOC) presence, waterproofing capabilities, quality, and quantity. See why each parameter is important and how it can influence your decision below:
Most stains are available in two types – oil or water-based. They have some similarities, like the stain colors for pressure-treated wood and the way they’re applied. Yet, they have some key differences homeowners should be aware of.
Oil-based stains help repel water due to their hydrophobic nature and will penetrate the grain more, which helps prevent it from rotting. But they’re harder to apply, require solvents to remove, and are more prone to release VOCs.
On the other hand, water-based stains are extremely easy to remove and dry in a couple of hours. They’re also better for the environment as they release fewer pollutants. Unfortunately, water-based stains don’t penetrate the wood and are more costly.
Solid stains are very similar to paint, and they’re often used to hide the wood’s grain, especially when there’s damage or imperfections. You can also use them on previously stained decks. One of the best benefits of solid stains is that they offer excellent protection due to their higher density.
Semi-solid stains don’t cover the wood grain as much as solid stains, but they’re still helpful in hiding imperfections. They help the wood retain some texture, creating a more pleasant look. Semi-solid stains are also dense.
Semi-transparent stains are used to hide minor imperfections but leave the grain visible. They’re available in several wood tonalities, so they’re great for new decks or lighter decks stained with lighter options.
Toners are one of the most transparent types of stain. They contain small amounts of pigment, which helps wood keep a natural look. However, you must reapply it more often to keep its properties.
Clear stains are more commonly used in new decks as they lack pigmentation. They’re a great option to keep your deck looking new and natural. Still, they offer a decent amount of water protection.
The climate of the area you reside in can also affect your choice of stain. Wet environments require stains with sealing properties to avoid water damage. Repelling moisture is also essential, so it would be best to consider using a sealing stain if you live in a place with high humidity. In any case, you must reapply often.
A stain with UV protection is crucial in hotter climates. Denser stains are better at protecting your deck from sunlight damage. Make sure you use a lighter tone, as it’ll help keep your deck cooler in the sun.
Condition of the wood
Choosing a stain also requires assessing the current condition of your wooden deck. Your deck’s age and damage are crucial regarding this decision, as it affects the type of stain better suited for your project.
For new wooden decks, it’s recommended to use a transparent or clear stain to achieve a natural look and help preserve it.
If your deck has seen better days or was never treated with a stain, it’s best to use a semi-transparent or transparent stain, as it’ll help keep your wood looking as good as new. In case you have already replaced some boards of your deck, sometimes the best option is to use a semi-solid stain to create a uniform look.
If your deck is damaged or shows extensive wear, your best bet is to rely on a solid stain. Since they’re similar to paint, they’ll help you cover most of the damage, making your deck look new. They’ll also make it last longer due to their protective and waterproofing capabilities.
Older wood stains emit dangerous amounts of VOC into the atmosphere. Newer regulations require stains to meet environmental standards to ensure they’re not as hazardous as they once were.
Still, oil-based stains will emit more chemicals than water-based options. Nowadays, most stains, even those that release trace amounts of VOC, are considered safe. Nonetheless, it’s recommended to use a mask when applying oil-based stains. If you have concerns about your family and pets’ safety, consider choosing a water-based stain.
Ensuring your stain has waterproofing properties is essential when you live in a humid or rainy environment. In these cases, your best option is to choose a toner or sealer, as these usually are better at waterproofing.
But keep in mind that some semi-transparent and semi-solid alternatives are also great at repelling water. Additionally, consider choosing an oil-based stain, as these are often better at preventing water and moisture damage.
Stains must always contain high-quality formulations and pigments. A higher-quality stain will excel in preserving your deck while requiring less maintenance to keep it looking new for more extended periods.
Most high-quality stains are made with 100% iron oxide pigments that are extremely resistant to fading and UV lighting.
Even though they have a minimal amount of pigment, high-quality toners and sealers are specially designed to offer incredible protection against the elements. These stains are formulated to prevent your deck from decaying.
Most stains come in a wide variety of sizes and quantities. Nonetheless, purchasing stains in larger quantities can help lower the price per gallon while ensuring you have enough to work with. Additionally, pressure-treated wooden decks need a higher amount of stain so the wood can absorb it.
It’s always best to buy more than what you need. This way, you’ll have leftovers if you need to reapply the stain in the future or finish any missing spots. Remember that certain areas, such as the corners, require more staining.
How to Stain Pressure Treated Wood
Water and oil-based stains are applied in the same fashion. Here’s how you should proceed to stain a pressure-treated wood deck:
- Clean and scrub – You must clean every type of wood before you can apply a new stain. Cleaning and scrubbing will help remove dirt and dust and allow the new stain to penetrate the wood better.
- Use a brightener – A wood brightener is specially formulated to unblock the wood, improving the stain’s penetration.
- Mix your chosen stain – Since they use different chemicals, stains must be thoroughly mixed before application.
- Start staining – The way you apply a wood stain depends on the deck’s size. For smaller decks, a brush is usually enough. For other cases, it’s recommended to use a spraying gun.
The duration of the stain’s protective effect and look will depend on its type. Sealers and toners must be reapplied once every one or two years; semi-transparent stains can be reapplied every three years. Semi-solid and solid stains can last between four to seven years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check out what other DIY enthusiasts are asking about pressure-treated wood stains:
This question depends mainly on the current condition of your pressure-treated wood deck. If your deck is new, consider using a sealer or toner to keep its natural look. However, a semi-solid stain will work wonders if you have an older or damaged deck.
Either way, a semi-transparent stain is often considered a solid choice for pressure-treated wood.
Pressure-treated wood is resistant to mold, bugs, and water. Still, it requires a fair amount of maintenance to improve its lifespan. Paint doesn’t offer the same protection as stains, so the latter is always a better option for decks. A stain will keep your deck looking new while protecting it from different hazards.
One of the great things about stains is their versatility. You’ll be able to find many stains designed to mimic popular types of wood, such as cedar.
The amount and tone of the pigment used will define the stain’s color. Cedar tones are usually found in semi-transparent stains, although semi-solid alternatives exist.
A pressure-treated wood deck takes between four and eight weeks to dry fully. Applying a stain to wet wood will affect its protective properties and result in an uneven finish.
After it’s dry, clean it with soap and water and let it dry for another 24 hours before staining. Keep in mind that oil-based and water-based stains have different drying times.
Stains are a versatile product that can give your deck new life. Whether in a humid climate or hot environment, these products will help you prioritize the durability and lifespan of your deck by improving its resistance to external factors. As a bonus, they’ll make your deck look beautiful, turning it into a conversation piece. It’s essential to consider your deck’s condition and features before choosing a suitable type of stain. Either way, no matter your choice, you’ll be left with quality products that compete for the best deck stain for pressure-treated wood.
Joseph is known for solving huge problems with simple DIY tricks. Now retired, he writes for ThatPainter.com to educate people on how to get their paint job just right.