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Best Deck Stain and Sealer: It is Easy!

The 7 types of deck treatments and the best deck stain and sealer in each category. First, some basics you will need to know, then the list, then we get dirty.
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My advice: be conservative: choose the best deck stain you can afford. On my own deck, I used ECO Wood Treatment: it is once-per-lifetime of the deck. But if you go with a traditional stain, the key point is low maintenance and it is what you will get with the best deck stain and sealer.

I tell all my customers: semi-transparent stains are low-maintenance, even though it may not protect as long as thicker stains, there is never any scraping—just a quick pressure wash at most, then re-staining. A product called “#1 Deck Stain”, from DEFY, is actually pretty decent and has a lot of good feedback. Very good price and easy to clean up. Definitely one of the best deck stains on the market.


What types of quality deck stain are available?

Jump below to the list: best deck stain and sealer. (Also, check out our page all about deck supplies/prep tools etc.)

  • Once-in-a-lifetime deck preservative: This is what I used on my deck: Eco Wood Treatment and sealer. Here you can click on the one-gallon mix (above is the 5-gallon mix).  This saves you money because it’s once-per-lifetime of the deck. Low effort, low cost, great protection. Safe chemicals alter the wood so that it can not rot. Really, there is no downside, except only 5 colors are possible. Just cannot say enough good things about my deck with this treatment. See our post dedicated to just this product.
  • Deck sealers: A deck sealer offers water protection (until it ages), but will not protect from sun damage: it will not prevent the color underneath from graying. My recommendation is Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Translucent. NEVER use Thompson’s Water Sealer on your deck: it lasts about a day. Arborcoat gives great UV protection in a clear deck sealer.
  • Transparent stain: Same as the next one down on the list, just fewer “solids” in the solution. This is not for color, just protection: Ben Moore Arborcoat is what we recommend.
  • Semi-transparent stain: Now you’re talking. Next to EcoWood, this is the next best deck stain: low effort, low maintenance, medium protection. This a semi-transparent in four color choices. The container image is at the top of this page: click up there to see the colors and more.
  • Semi-solid stain: Simply a transition between the one above and the one below on this list. Shows some wood grain.
  • Solid (opaque) stain: Almost exactly the same as paint. We cover this in our post on the best deck paint. Solid deck stain and sealer can hide many imperfections but hides the grain of the wood. Downside? Scraping in 5 years. Or 10 at most. I don’t like the name, “#1”. Rah rah. But it is one of the best deck stain products today.
  • Restore deck paint: BIG WARNING… Most of these do not work and are now or have been sued in class actions. If your deck is in horrible shape, this might help delay the installation of a new deck.  They always lose. LO-OO-S-er products! There was one possible product—a three-step process from Anvil, but now it is no longer available. All 3 big makers, (Olympic, RustOleum, and Behr) are in class action law-suits up the Wazoo. The RustOleum product is shown after 6 months on one guy’s deck.
    Deck restore after 6 months
    Deck restore after 6 months

    Some companies claim they can restore a deck, but deck restoration is often not possible. We have a post on restore products good and bad in our Paint or Stain a Deck.

  • Replacement. There, I said it. My advice here is that if you can afford it, go with a new deck and treat it as soon as the lumber cures. I have recently learned that composite decking such as Trex is not as good as wood. It bends. If you use it, make your supports very close together.

Colors

Remember that semi-transparent deck stains will allow the wood grain to show through, while deck stains with more solids are more opaque and cover the grain more fully.

The exact same stain will be a different color on different woods

When deciding what is the best deck stain and sealer for you, choose a small hidden piece of wood from your deck and remove it. Take it to your local paint store and ask to see the different samples applied to it. If that can’t happen, buy or ask for some free deck stain samples. Stores sometimes have mistake-tinted stains for reduced prices, but you usually have to ask.

Here is a nice article, sponsored by Minwax, explaining how the stain combines with the wood. Below you see 5 types of wood getting the same exact stain: before and after. You can see that some sections of the samples were treated with a condition for better penetration (photos from Minwax).

Different types of wood with exactly the same stain

Surface graying from the sun (UV) exposure

The best deck stain and sealer will protect the wood better if it contains some solids (resins etc) to cover and block the sun. The more solids in your deck stain, the better your protection. So this is a factor that you have to balance with your desire to have a low-maintenance deck.

big deck stained using good sealer and stain

Makers of today’s best deck stain and sealer

Olympic, Behr and so on have decent products but we don’t recommend them these days. We don’t like the fact that some of them have false advertising (as in ‘one-coat’ paints etc). We only go with the big boys on the block, Benjamin Moore, and so on, and we do not get paid to say this. Avoid Thompson’s unless you like spending money and having little protection (it looks good and protects for a year at most even if applied gentle climates). You should hear the stories I have heard.

How long should the best deck stain and sealer last?

For water-based stains with fewer solids (semi-transparent etc), perhaps every two to three years, depending on where you live. For oil-based semi-transparent stains, expect to re-coat in three to five years, perhaps.

Thicker solid stains of both types will last longer.

More solids, more opacity, longer lifespan. (But more scraping later!)

Remember

Shake well just before opening as the solids settle out fast. The store will shake a non-rusty can for you even if you have opened it, but you then need to either use it right away or shake by hand. It’s best to just shake it by hand on the spot. See my short video of how a professional painter shakes paint. (Don’t shake clear coats—it makes bubbles! Stir it Mr.Bond.)

The list: best deck stain and sealer

Tip: Thining of spraying it? Greenlight. Read about the best paint air and airless DIY sprayers. I researched garden sprayers for spraying stain: this is the way to go for light stains, not opaque. In this post, I selected sprayers that can handle cleary, transparent and semi-transparent stains. The low-cost sprayers cannot do it all. These are life-long quality stain applicators: just keep them clean as I explain in that post.

Everyone would like a product that looks great and lasts a long time, but you have to choose between the look you want and the labor you are prepared to do (or pay for).

In my 35+ years as a painter, I’ve done tons of decks, literally. I’ve also been looking around the internet at the state of affairs of these big stain and paint makers. It’s not pretty. Many products succumb to the elements very quickly and you have wasted your money AND you have to do it all over again!

There are too many categories and it confuses me too: but here are the basic categories:

  • One-time products. I put Eco-Wood Treatment on my deck last year. I’m lazy and hate to spend money, and I like gray decks. At the time I was told they only offer gray, but now I see they have 5 colors. I have written a lot about these products, but there is too much to say, so I have put everything in a new post on Spray Wood Stain. It’s a powder you mix with water and can spray from any garden sprayer. You get a tint bottle with it and can use all of it or not. I really recommend that everyone consider this option carefully.

  • Best deck sealer. A deck stain alone, however, will not protect from sun (UV) damage. This can also cause the natural oils in the wood to become dry and crack. The best deck sealer I know of is the Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Translucent. It has the best UV protection out there. In any case, please never use Thompson’s Water Seal. It is simply paraffin wax dissolved in mineral spirits. Send your money to starving children: this will have the same deck protection as this so-called deck sealer.

  • Transparent deck stain. Almost the same as semi-transparent, but just has fewer solids in the solution and will need re-coating more often. Here, there are no options for deck colors. Ben Moore Arborcoat Clear to the rescue. It does need reapplication every so many years depending on your climate, but the prep is just a quick power washing and wait for the wood to dry. Nice.

  • Semi-transparent stain. This is in our opinion the best deck stain and sealer (after Eco Wood). I always try to protect my customer’s wallet and this is what I recommend. There is next to zero prep when re-doing (just a quick pressure wash), but on the other hand, you do have to do it more often. The look has some color, but not as much as the stains below in this list. We like DEFY’s Semi-transparent for both the walking surfaces and for railings too. Very good price and easy to refresh every few years. It’s water-borne so easy to clean up: just an excellent product.

Below this option, there is nothing that I hesitate to recommend to any customer as these products all start to involve more maintenance (but I have to admit, they look better!)

  • Semi-solid deck stain. This product comes in between transparent and solid deck stains. More protection than a transparent stain, and less than opaque stain. If you go this route, give a look for Cabot Semi-Solid. There are not many choices out there as most folks go semi-transparent or full solid (and paint). This Cabot is oil-based and offers moderate UV protection. Cabot Stains: since 1877 !

  • Solid (opaque) deck stain. Opacity is the degree to which you can see the natural grain of the wood. They peel over time and require much labor to keep in good condition. The “#1” from DEFY has perfect ratings as of this writing. Opaque is the only product to use if you want to stain over paint. There is little difference between this deck stain vs deck paint. Comes in 5 colors.

    Luke, these are not the droids you are looking for:

  • Deck Restore Products. Super thick paint, but most do not last and some make things worse for your wood. Even the great Sherwin-Williams is in hot water here. Some will have “4x” or “10x” on the label: this means it is 4 or 10 times the thickness of paint. This is supposed to fill cracks and “restore”.However, please read about some lawsuits involving Rust-Oleum Deck Restore, and Olympic Rescue It, and Behr DeckOver, and others.

Sample many stains

If you cannot take some small piece of wood to your local store, you can ask for free samples (they often have open cans for this if you ask) or you can buy a few small cans. Apply the deck stains in an out of the way areas with different amounts of light (and be sure to look at it at night if you have lighting on your deck).

What deck stains last the longest and why deck stain jobs go bad

  1. More solids in opaque stains last the longest, and less so as stains become more transparent.
  2. Jobs go bad because of too much stain: do it once–don’t re-coat
  3. Decks are not cleaned well with water pressure
  4. People stain or paint when damp
  5. Before staining ‘pressure-treated’ wood (the green/brown stuff) read about it in How to Stain a Deck.
  6. People fail to allow all new wood to weather for some months
  7. You should not apply even the best deck stain and sealer in direct sunlight

Final tips: How to stain a deck… a summary of our other post

We explain this in How to Stain a Deck, but just to summarize:

The most difficult job I do as a painter is scraping and sanding old paint. This includes ‘solid stains’ which are essentially paint: they crack and peel with age.

For more transparent stains, the only prep for re-treatment is a light washing using our #1 prep tool: a pressure washer. They last for-ever.

We save an enormous amount of time by spraying the stain with a low-pressure insecticide sprayer. We take our time and protect non-decking with plastic sheets and tape and paper. This saves a large amount of time: no cleaning overspray in the end: that’s a drag. Read the list of deck tools, and just pick what you need.

With any applicator (and a 9-inch roller is also good here), we always have a quality brush handy to push the material; into the grooves and corners. A soft spray lets the wood soak up the stain, and if there are any puddles, you push them around with your brush.

 

Related: 

Spray Wood Stain – Zero-Maintenance Deck Stain Treatment

How to Stain a Deck Quickly, the Right Way

How to Paint a Deck With One Big Timesaving Tip

Best Deck Paint (with a Big Word of Caution)

Paint or Stain Deck? (bonus: Deck Restore Products That Don’t Work)

Be sure to have all the painter tools that you need


Good luck. Contact me with any questions in the comments below!

Deck Prep Tools (See more in our Everything Deck Page)

    

 

Deck Tools

              

 

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49 thoughts on “Best Deck Stain and Sealer: It is Easy!”

  1. Brad,
    Lots of good info. thnx
    I have a TK cedar deck in north central WA where temps get to 100 in summer and 15 in winter with 8-10″ of snow for a couple months.
    I currently have SW superdeck semi-trans that was light tan at application. It’s now pretty dark gray from the UV. It was machine, pre-stained before install 3 years ago and after a year, it peeled on most knots.
    I’m now ready to restain, but am going to change color to a driftwood. Do you think the Superdeck is the best way to go? The painter is suggesting sanding the wood, but I would think that would seal the grain and allow the oil to penetrate? Thoughts?
    thnx, bob

    • Hi. Three years is certainly short for a deck, but it does sound lilke the elements there are intense. You are right that the UV takes a big toll. Whatever you end up doing, make sure that it’s high quality: the up front costs are a savings in the end…you should get 5 years at least.
      I used a ‘once in a lifetime’ product that is designed for un-treated wood, or aged pressure treated wood that was never stained. I’m wondering if you might like that… you would then need to sand down the surface you can reach and apply…but then it’s really nothing more for many years. The makers say ‘lifetime’ but that you may want to recoat periodically. I will do mine again someday, but it’s just a garden sprayer and some masking paper/tape. If it’s an option, just search this site for “zero” and you will find the zero maintenaince product. But anyway, I digress with this. It’s just my favorite as I hate doing decks!

      Ask other painters what they think…old guys, at least in the biz for 20-30 years. And also, paint store managers deal with many decks so give them a call…surprisingly helpful.
      The Superdeck is certainly a quality product, so yes it’s an option. Remember the more opaque you get…it’s more like paint and will peel. I always preferred transparent or semi-transparent as you have almost no prep when time to re-do. (You always have to pressure wash and let dry–a must).
      I hope this helps. Get more opinions! Let us know.
      -b

  2. Question: I plan to use a dark gray Semi Solid Arborcoat for my deck floor and top rails. For my vertical surfaces, I want to go with a white Arborcoat… should I also use a Semi-Solid ?

    • Hi. Thanks for sending your photo by email. I see that you already have a semi- or opaque solid stain on the deck, so yes, you have to stay with that. You need coverage. A semi-transparent in gray or white will likely not cover the brown you now have. You could buy a tester can and see, but once you go dark you never go back…pardon my stupid humor. Be aware that opaque or `full solid`stain is just like paint and you will be scraping the cracks in some years… no way around it. Good luck!
      –Brad

  3. Brad, thanks for all the helpful info. I am considering using the ECO Wood Treatment that you used on your deck. My deck is rough cut pine, about 11 years old. I’ve tried various sealers (Cabot, Wolman, etc.) and find they don’t last. My main issue is mold that turns parts of the surface green over the winter (upstate NY). I can clean that up with “Stain Solver” bleach and scrubbing. But I would like a treatment that prevents it. Will ECO Wood Treatment do that?

    • Hi. I was in upstate NY for a few years: never saw so much snow. Daily. But then the awesome spring…ah. Well, I conferred with the ECO rep. He replied right away. He agreed that the prodcut will stop the “green” mold, but we both are concerned that you have already put a sealant of some kind deep into the wood, so we cannot predict the outcome. The key point is to pressure wash it very well to remove all you can, as deep as you can. Before it dries, perhaps use a light bleach solution with a garden sprayer… you must wear a respirator as bleach is deadly, something many people don’t know.

      For these tools:the pressure washer is here

      The respirator is here

      and the garden sprayer is here (towards the bottom) if you don’t want to use a small pump bottle for the bleach.

      Needless to say, let the wood become BONE dry before the ECO is sprayed (use same garden sprayer, but run water thru the tip when done… will stay like new.

      Having said that, I also cannot see how the ECO will hurt it. It’s a natural compound and if you try and it still grows mold, you can go over it the following year with the traditional stains etc.
      Good luck… please remind me of all this next year if it works …or not. Hope it does!!
      –brad

  4. Hi Brad, I live in Manitoba Canada- long, cold winters with lots of snow and very hot summers. We have 3000 square feet of pressure treated (green) deck- it was been stained with Olympic Toner every year for last 6 years. I would like to change things up and go with Semi Translucent Stain. I am open to Sherman Williams Deckscape and Olympic Maximum. My question, do you suggest I clean the deck with cleaner, then strip the toner and then put new semi translucent stain down? I have gotten so much different advice on what to do- it is making my head spin. Well obviously, I do not feel like spraying cleaner, waiting a day for it to dry, then stripping entire deck, then waiting again for 48 hours and then putting new stain down. The only reason I don’t feel like doing another round of toner is I would like to get a couple years break from doing this.

    • Hi. I’m afraid that changing products is not the best idea. You can do it, but then, I would not go back to Olympic Toner afterwards. I’m surprised that you treat it ever year. Seems more than necessary, but I”m sure your deck is in good shape. The pressure treated deck alone is good: I had a piece of green wood under a deck post as a ‘shim’. After 20 years (wet northeast) it was still FINE! So, go ahead and switch. Yes you should have a pressure washer (the Sun Joe on this page is tops and not that expensive). Do wash, let dry, then apply your new product. I don’t see a need for stripping Olympic Toner. It will come out with pressure and what does not come out is ok. You may not get a nice stained look like it was new wood, but that’s to be expected. Again, 5 years between treatments even where you live should be fine. Just a big tip: please read the post on Zero-Upkeep treatments. I put it on my deck and I’m very happy. Never need to do it again, or not for many years, and it’s not toxic or expensive: all natural. I think your deck will qualify if you clean it very well. Good luck!

  5. Good morning!! I was reading your tips and I think I will go with staining my deck, instead of painting over it. Recently bought a house with an outdoor deck. It has been painted over, with what seems , cheap paint. We’ve been here a year, and it began coming off about 4 months ago. Any suggestions? Thank you

    • Hi. Link at bottom has it all: Depending on the size and how much time and energy you have, go electric, like Bob Dylan. Only like Dylan you will get booed by your neighbors, not the folkie nuts. But seriously, first get a good pressure washer and you will take off 95% of the old paint with that I would guess. It does for us. Warning: chips fly for dozens of yards so lots and lots of drop cloths to keep it out of your grass etc. Then, pick up an angle grinder and the paint removal disc. It’s not as loud as a circular saw. You may need adapter nuts kit, depending on what you buy/have. Don’t get high speed as it melts paint and gums up your discs. Also, a scraper and good metal file. I just recorded a video showing how to sharpen: do that every 5 minutes or so of scraping to save your arms. In the link below, look under “Peeling deck”. Then, when removed all you can, wash again, let dry, then the easy fun part is staining. This post has all the above mentioned. Send before and after pics if you think your experience will be helpful to others: it helps to have a team behind you. I’m in. Good luck!

  6. Hi Brad,

    Just wanted to confirm that the EcoWood product will provide lasting protection to my deck in the same way that a more conventional stain and sealer should do- but better, more durable and longer lasting.

    The other product I was thinking of was Sikkens SRD. What do you think of that?

    Really appreciate your advice.
    Have a good day,
    Helena

    • Yes that Sikkens is known for log homes etc. The Eco Wood people explained to me that it is some permanent chemical reaction and it only needs one application. The color may fade, but the protection, they say, is permanent. I opted for no color which turned my deck a gray weathered look… which we like.
      To me it’s a no brainer as I really dislike doing decks! and it’s easy to apply… a good garden sprayer is best..there is one on our site if you search it.
      Good luck!
      b

    • Hi. If you are asking about a labor price, I’m not taking any deck work anymore. If you just want to figure the quality of stain you need, figure 400 sq ft per gallon unless you are spraying in which case more like 300 is right. It really depends. The best stain calculator is here, but you don’t have to use their stain. Good luck!

  7. Hi, Brad…I just shelled out $2500 for a contractor to pressure wash and stain (one coat) my fence and deck with Sherwin Williams SuperDeck oil-based transparent tinted Canyon Brown).
    – There is no beading on either the deck or fence. Will I have to apply a waterproofing product?
    – He also informed me that the fence (pressure treated installed two years ago) soaked up so much stain that he’s out $500 for additional product.
    – The stain was applied in full sun at about 94 degrees. Is this going to affect the performance?
    – When and what should I apply for good maintenance?

    • Hi. Oh, boy, sounds like trouble. I really cannot comment as I cannot see the problem in person, but the fact that the wood soaks up the product is normal: of course it will. But because it is not beading up water, like you see in Thompson’s commercials (by the way Thompsons lasts about 1 year…I always talk people out of it), it does not mean your product is not protecting your wood. Don’t know about the heat: could complicate things. Email SW for that question, but the answer may be that you warranty if voided. Cannot comment on that painter’s demand for more money: if he gave you a price for labor only and you have to buy the stain/paint etc, yes, you owe that , but if he gave you one price for all, it’s his problem… this is my guess without knowing the details. On the last question: yes, products like this need reapplication every so often to protect the wood. That’s why I went with the once-in-a-lifetime stain.
      https://www.bradthepainter.com/spray-wood-stain/
      It may be too late for you to use it, but email the company if you want to ask: they are great. Good luck.

  8. Hi Brad,

    I am trying to avoid toxic finishes and found this candidate: Cedar-Seal VOC-Free Non-Toxic Clear Satin made by AgriLife. It’s supposed to be as effective as conventional options but completely safe with zero harmful ingredients.

    What do you think?

    • Is this for a deck outside? If so, that would certainly be ok..from a quick read of the label I see exterior and interior… but I’d wonder. Before you pull that trigger, have a read about Zero Maintenance stain: once per lifetime except that for color, you may need to re-apply.
      If unsure, buy a 1 gallon mix and test some spots.

      • Thanks, Brad. Yes, it is for an outdoor application. I looked at Zero Maintenance stain and it seems to check most of the boxes. From what I can tell, the Silver version basically produces instant weathering, so you immediately get the same look as if you had used a sealer with no stain and let nature take its course.

        BTW, thank you for sharing your expertise with us engaged amateurs. I know how much work goes into creating and maintaining a website and providing thoughtful responses to comments so quickly. Your effort is much appreciated!

  9. Hi – we have a one year old pressure treated wood deck – built Sept pf 2018. Now that it’s weathered we’d like to just clear coat it because we like the look/color of the wood when it’s wet – and a clear coat basically gives that look (we tried a couple on pieces of unused deck wood that was left). Q is: Is there any clear coat product that will prevent the wood from turning gray? That’s what we’d like to prevent. Don’t want to paint or stain, just clear coat. If there isn’t a product like that, is there one you would recommend that we can just pressure wash and redo, that will last a few years? A friend has a friend who says he just pressure washes and clear coats every 2-3 years and his deck doesn’t turn gray, but they don’t know what product he uses. It’s all so confusing looking at all the options out there. Don’t want to do anything to the wood that would be bad for it, but how does one know without trying something and then finding out later it’s the wrong thing to use? Any help would be appreciated.

    • BTW, in trying 6 different stains and clear coats, we really liked Thompson’s because it’s the only one that beaded up in a rainstorm – the others didn’t – but in reading your comments about it not lasting even a year in instances, now we don’t know WHAT to use!

    • I replied to your 2nd comment first… Just as a PS, there is no product in the universe that will keep it looking new forever. Just not possible. Impermanence rules us! You friend has a good idea. My suggestion is to let go of trying to keep it from turning gray. Embrace gray! Or go color. Above all, avoid re-doing very often. Unless you enjoy this kind of work… Also, finally, pressure treated wood is good alone for many years.

  10. Thanks for the reply. One more Q (hopefully): If we choose a stain – a light color, not dark – will that prevent the wood from graying? Or will the wood still start graying even with a stain on it so that we’d still have to power wash and restain every one to however many years? So even with a stain of any color on it, the wood will always go to gray unless maintained. In essence, it doesn’t matter what we do to it – stain, not stain, just use a clear coat – maintenance is key. Our deck isn’t just a deck, it has pillars and pergola tops, so maintenance would be an issue – the less the better. BTW, is there a way to attach pictures here? How would I do that? Thanks again for your help. Really appreciated.

  11. dear sir, i just replaced the floor in my utility trailer [ 8×10 ] wiith pressure treated lumber—also added some side boards and a tail gate but they are just normal pine boards—it has been about a month and i am almost finished with it [i am 65 and i got sick in the middle ]—my quetion is i do not want to do this again—what do you think i should use to protect the wood—it sets outside when not in use—thank you for your time and have a great day

    • Hi. The non-pressure treated wood will be fine. I have some under the earth for 20 years, and it’s fine and it’s a wet area.
      The sides etc, ..my advice is what I used on my deck: once in a lifetime natural stain.

      Read this

      Write again if you have questions but it’s all in that post.

  12. Dear Brad—thank you for this info. You’ve convinced me: I want to treat my new red cedar deck just as you did your deck. I’m happy to embrace silver, and my deck is already well on its way. It was built late last summer and weathered the Metro Detroit winter without treatment. Now the cedar is gray, I suppose with decay, and has some green surface spots looking like algae more than mold. In this case, should I use a chemical deck wash (I’ve used Sherwin Williams) before applying Eco Wood Preservative?

  13. Hi Brad! need your expertise here.
    Let’s say I’m a brand new baby, and have no clue how to do any of this. 🙂
    I have a cabin in Utah at 10,020 ft. We purchased this last Oct of 2018. The previous owner passed away in June of 2016, so I’m not certain when the last time the wood was treated.
    We were unable to get to the cabin because of the record snowfall right close to 30 feet.
    No bull, it was over the roof, single storey “A” frame, onlt the smoke stack was poking out.
    Once the melt off occurred in June 2019, we were able to finally visit.
    We have a small deck with wood seating in the front (about 7 by 12′)
    The back has a deck approx 30 x 20′ and numerous hand built chars around the fire pit.
    Both decks have railing.
    I Have have a good pressure washer, good wood, (just starting too peel), no big cracks, but want to avoid the enevitable of rebuilding.
    I have a newer belt sander, and a smaller ‘mouse-type’ sander for tight spots.
    grits are 50 to 120.
    Could I just wash and sand mostly the faces of wood? Or does that compromise the sides?
    I prefer less work of resanding seal and staining, I do not mind the gray if a once seal.
    I read the one coat permanant article, I like it thank you!
    I’m not certain of the wood, but I think it was all purchased at Home D 2×6 in the lumber isle.
    aside from the prep, your opinoin on sealant is most appreciated, coloring does not matter.
    Great info on your site!
    I would like to send before and afters to you.
    Please advise my friend!

    • Without seeing it in person, I’d say it’s fine to sand, wash (in that order) and re-coat or treat for the first time. Just sanding one side is not a problem. You did not mention how the wood was treated before, or if it was. If it has no sealer, look into the Eco Wood stain that I used on my deck…search this site for ‘zero’… as in zero maintenance. Even at that altitude, you’ll never do it again…until you replace the wood. Nothing will stop old wood from dying.

  14. Hi Brad,

    Thanks for all the info! We recently used the EcoWood treatment on our newly installed deck. It was installed last year and we let the treated wood cure, then did the treatment a couple of months ago. I’m concerned that there is no beading at all on the surface and water seems to be soaking into the wood. Since we just spent a ton replacing the deck, and plan to sell the house in a year or two, I’d hate to have to replace it again before we move. Does the EcoWood treatment really protect the wood? It just doesn’t look like it. Is there any way to really tell if its working? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi. That sounds perfectly normal. This is not the kind of oily sealer that beads water. I think you are just fine where you are. I know it does not look like much, it just stains it to a weathered look unless you use the tints they offer (I did not). I’ll forward your question to the rep I have worked with in understanding this product and if he has any sort of different opinion than what I just wrote, I’ll email you.
      Best wishes on your sale.
      b

      • Thanks Brad,

        Sounds good. I would love to know how that product really works. What is it that “preserves” the wood? I know they say its a mineral/chemical process, but that is so vague. Just curious. How long have you had it on your deck without re-applying? We used the “silvery patina” with a pump sprayer. It went on easy enough. I have a couple of other locations where I’m thinking of using it. Just want to be sure it’s going to work. Thanks again for your help.

  15. Hi Brad – I have a Q I haven’t seen asked anywhere: What is the purpose of “sealing” a wood deck? In the case of of pressure treated pine wood (or I guess cedar or any other kind of “treated” wood, natural or not) the wood has preservatives embedded in it, supposedly to prevent rot/decay/bugs/water absorption, etc. So why put a sealer on it?

    I understand if someone wants to paint it, which would protect the sun from getting to it, but a transparent (clear coat) or semi-transparent stain wouldn’t do that, so what’s the purpose of doing it at all? Especially since none of it would prevent the wood from graying. Isn’t the purpose of the preservatives to protect the wood? What’s the benefit of a clear coat or semi-transparent coat, other than having color in the semi-transparent situation?

    Thanks very much for your help and insight.

  16. Having a “discussion” with husband about “sealing” our pressure treated deck. Re: your comment: Also, finally, pressure treated wood is good alone for many years. He thinks it needs to be “sealed” (clear coat). Since we can’t stop the graying anyway (using a clear coat) I say since the wood has preservatives in it, we don’t need to do anything else to it. It’s not like the clear coat would do anything different, like prevent splinters, it’s used to prevent water absorption, which is what the preservatives do, so sealing it is redundant.

    Could you please state your opinion as to whether a pressure treated wood deck needs to have anything done to it, so we can stop “discussing” this issue? Thanks very much.

  17. We have a house in Catskills NY and the deck starts to peel every year. We cannot put gutters on the house because of snow. It starts peeling where the overhang from the house drips on the deck. Any where the rain drives hard on the deck it starts to peel. I think we have been told to use the wrong product. What do you recommend so we do not have to stain it every year?

    • Hi. Any deck taking that kind of punishment; it’s going to be hard. If you have applied a solid deck stain, which is basically exterior paint, you just keep re-applying or strip it all and use a stain that does not peel. If you used a semi-transparent, which still ‘peels’ but not as much because it has far less solids in the stain, it’s the same thing…but you can pressure wash most of it off, sand the rest and apply a lifetime protectant from rot. The color would take a back seat boy howdy don’t you make me stop this car!
      But really, the Eco Wood on this page, if you can strip down past any sealant/stain you have already, is the way to go: no more maintenance. but again, the color thing…

  18. Hi Brad – First, can you tell me, since I can’t find any explanation, why a water based deck product is harder to apply and remove than an oil based one? I’ve read where the water based stains, whether clear or semi-transparent or solid, show overlap marks, need to be sanded off, peels and have more problems with mildew, etc. Whereas the oil based, from what we seem to be reading, can be power washed off, soaks into the wood better, and doesn’t seem to have the issues water based ones do. It would seem that the oil would have to be sanded off and the water one could be power washed, but not what we’re reading. Can you give your opinion on that?

    Also, we were ready to go with Ben Moore Arborcoat until reading some more about it. Another site says Benjamin Moore Arborcoat isn’t good, that BM knows there’s issues with it but continues to sell it. Even Consumer Reports gives it a one star out of 5. Other sites have the same review. Seems no matter WHAT kind of deck cover is contemplated, there’s always some review that says it’s bad. What’s a person to do????

    • Hi again. It’s hard to say why the water-based stain builds up on the overlap, but it may be that it starts to dry faster than oil, and builds up a layer. Oil would still be wet and tend to flatten out, even out. Just my guess.
      Never work in heat or direct sunlight: this causes any product to dry too fast and gunk up.

      I’ll call my Ben Moore rep: thanks for bringing this up.

      Lately, I’ve been changing my recommendations to the DEFY deck stain called “#1”. Good reviews.
      Solid stain
      Semi-transparent stain

      Here is my real recommendation to you though: If you have all the old stain removed, consider a once in a lifetime stain on this post

      I used it because I hate decks! The safe chemistry in this stain that you mix from a powder prevents rot int he wood permanently.
      It has colors that may fade and you might re-apply to refresh the color, but you never need to do that.
      Eco Wood won me over in many Q and A with the company.
      It solves so many problems.
      B

  19. Thanks for your reply, Brad. I know I’ve read about Defy, but can’t remember whether it was good or bad. I HAVE read about and this stuff called TWP-1500 which I can use in my state of NY. The reviews are all good from what I remember. (Hard to remember good from bad after reading about SO many) AND it’s carried by Walmart, though not in the stores. Online only.
    Apparently there’s a number of numbers – TWP-1500; TWP-100; TWP-300, etc. – which I guess because of the chemicals in each one(?) can’t be used in certain areas. I think the 100 can’t be used in Canada nor NY.

    Although I was ready to order the TWP – because I’m tired or reading about them all and husband says “just pick one! We’ll see how it does and deal with it in a year or two” – I’ll go back and check out Defy. Just to confuse me more 🙂

    As for that Eco stuff you used, I understand your reason for paying like $5k (reasoning having to pay $500 every year to do the deck for 10 years = $5k) we really don’t want to shell out that kind of money for something that we haven’t read any reviews of it having been on a PT wood deck for 5 or more years. Lifetime guarantees always have caveats it seems. Maybe we’ll do it after reading YOUR review of it after 5+ years, but right now at about $60/gal for 3-4 gals of whatever we would buy now is only about $240 max and we’d see how it held up. Anyway, that’s our theory.

    Thanks again. Will keep checking here to see what’s going on…………

  20. So NOW I find a couple sites that don’t have such good reviews of the TWP-1500 we wanted to use, although one guy says he’s used it for 12 yrs and it help up at one time for 5 yrs, so although that’s a great testament, it’s only one. What to believe?

    Checked out your Defy link to Amazon. Problem with those reviews are first, all Qs on Amazon are answered by a customer/user, not a company rep, so they can’t answer a number of Qs they haven’t experienced – like effects in certain weather conditions (high humidity, snow, heat) and problems applying (not drying, being sticky) or removing (have to sand? can power wash?)

    The other most important thing about those reviews is NO ONE talks about longevity. Every review is about application (easy!) and color (great color!). What everyone wants to know the most – how does it hold up in their weather conditions? – is not reviewed.

    So what makes it #1? Ease of application and nice color isn’t’ really a factor. Couldn’t find any
    site where they review that.

    Back to square one.

    • Yes, I feel your pain as someone once said.
      I have found that in Colorado a deck treatment was good for 5 years only, but that is a very harsh summer sun, and very dry.
      So I used to tell people to get something that you can re-apply with no prep, or just a quick pressure washer. I think that’s the bes if you don’t want the lifetime treatment.

      By the way, if you have green or brown ‘pressure treated’ wood, you really don’t need anything. I wrote about the green wood that was buried under one of my deck posts…used as a shim. This place is very wet and cold, not like CO. The ship was in great shape after being underground for 20 years. Cool

      • Hi Brad – we have what I would call the brown color of PT wood – only because none of it is green. After power washing it, some parts are a very light color, like a very pale gray. Other parts are a darker brown. The pillars/posts are a more golden color (different wood used. PT pine but not deck boards) and the pergola tops are pretty much uniform but do vary in color. Wish there was a way to get a picture on here so you could see what I mean.

        As for you saying I really don’t need anything on it because it’s pressure treated – I asked that very Q of stores and deck builders – if it’s PTd why do we even need to use something? Shouldn’t those chemicals prevent everything but graying? Their replies were that using a stain prevents cracking/warping/cupping/drying out. Don’t know how a STAIN would prevent all that. A SEALER, yes, but just putting a COLOR on wouldn’t prevent all that from happening, right? Can’t seem to get a logical answer from anyone about that.

        Anyway, we’re down to the wire now. Will use one of the Defy Extreme products and hope for the best. Waiting for a reply on Deck Stain Pro site to the Q of the difference between the Extreme and the Extreme 40 semi-transparent clear coat to see which one we’re gonna use.

  21. So NOW I find a couple sites that don’t have such good reviews of the TWP-1500 we wanted to use, although one guy says he’s used it for 12 yrs and it help up at one time for 5 yrs, so although that’s a great testament, it’s only one. What to believe?

    Checked out your Defy link to Amazon. Problem with those reviews are first, all Qs on Amazon are answered by a customer/user, not a company rep, so they can’t answer a number of Qs they haven’t experienced – like effects in certain weather conditions (high humidity, snow, heat) and problems applying (not drying, being sticky) or removing (have to sand? can power wash?)

    The other most important thing about those reviews is NO ONE talks about longevity. Every review is about application (easy!) and color (great color!). What everyone wants to know the most – how does it hold up in their weather conditions? – is not reviewed.

    So what makes it #1? Ease of application and nice color isn’t’ really a factor. Couldn’t find any
    site where they review that.

    Back to square one.

  22. Is there anything that will remove black mold from PT wood? Used 30 Seconds Outdoor Cleaner, as it seemed to be the #1 rated solution for mold removal, among other things. Did a relatively good job lightening it, but didn’t actually remove any of it.

    Is that expected for a mold removal solution, that it lightens/removes some of it, but not all? Did it twice over 3 days trying to actually remove all of it, but it didn’t.

    Anything else I can do?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Hi again. Well there is the mold and then there is the stain left by mold. If you used a cleaner, not bleach, that is guaranteed to kill all mold, you just have to remove the corpses. It may take sanding. But first try a pressure washer, a tool all homes really should have..washes the car too. If water pressure fails, sand and scrape, then replace protection with your choice of stain/preservative. I like the EcoWood…a powder and I just mix a little at at time when I add a shelf to my outdoor spots etc.
      BTW bleach does not kill all mold I just found out. It makes the spores that survive very strongly multiply. I like this and this

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