An outdoor deck is a great place to sit and relax on a warm summer’s day. It can be a place where you hang out with friends and family, all while kicking back and enjoying good food, cold drinks, and great company.

However, you need to make sure that you take care of that same deck. If you leave it unfinished, it will quickly deteriorate and become an eyesore and, even worse, unstable. That is why you should try and find the best solid deck stain to finish it with.

This article will help you find the right product, so join us as we explore the top 12 and offer an in-depth review of our three favorite products.

Top 12 Solid Deck Stains Comparison Table

PictureNameTypePriceRating (1-5)
Picture
Name
Type
Price
Rating (1-5)
1. THOMPSONS WATERSEAL 043831-16 Sequoia Solid Stain Water Based$$4.5
2. PPG ProLuxe Premium Deck Wood FinishOil Based$$$$4.4
3. Cabot Semi-Solid Deck & Siding Low VOC StainOil Based$$4.1
4. FLOOD/PPG ARCHITECTURAL FIN FLD822-01 Pro Deep Base Stain Acrylic Based$$5
5. Olympic Stain Maximum Deck Stain, Cedar, 1-GallonOil Based$$4.4
6. CABOT STAIN 41808 MEDIUM BASE SOLID COLOR DECKING STAIN Acrylic Based$5
7. Duckback Products DB-9606-4 Deck Stain, Brill White Acrylic Based$$5
8. Valspar 57-7260-01 GL Redwood Semi Solid Latex Stain Oil Based$$$5
9. Olympic PPG ARCHITECTURAL 79601A, Exterior, Acrylic, Solid ColorAcrylic Based$4.6
10. SaverSystems Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain Water Based$4.5
11. BEHR Cedar Naturaltone Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain and SealerOil Based$$4
12. KILZ L832111 Exterior Waterproofing Wood StainAcrylic Based$4.5

Things to Consider When Looking for a Solid Deck Stain

When you are looking for the best solid deck stain, there are a few criteria to keep in mind.

  • Exterior Finish. This might sound like a no-brainer, but make sure that you look carefully at the label of your stain before you purchase it. If you are going to be staining a deck, you will want an exterior stain that has been designed to increase the wood’s durability and helping it to stand up to the punishment Mother Nature can dish out.  
  • Stain Color. Solid stains will produce a richer color than any other type of stain. As such, make sure that you are confident of the color that you plan to use before staining your whole project. It is best to purchase a smaller amount and test it before you stain your entire deck.
  • Acrylic, Oil, or Water Based? Solid deck stains can come as acrylic, oil, or water-based. Each of these performs differently and will work better with different species of wood. Make sure that you get the stain type that will work best for whatever wood you intend to use for your project.
  • Application. Make sure that you read the fine print carefully before you begin to apply the stain that you choose. Depending on how the dye is formulated it might go on best with a brush, cloth, or sponge.

Top 3 Best Solid Deck Stain Reviews

1. THOMPSONS WATERSEAL Sequoia Solid Stain

Out of all of the different products we reviewed, this is by far the best solid deck stain that we found. It is an acrylic-based stain, which means that it is best applied with a natural bristle paintbrush. In fact, putting it on was very much like painting, which is to say that it wasn’t difficult at all!

It comes in a variety of colors, so you should have no problem finding the right color for your project. The one that we tested was Sequoia Red on pine decking, and it ran pretty true to color.

Of course, if you would like to alter how dark or bright the color is you would be able to do that easily. To lighten the finish, simply wipe off the excess immediately after application. To darken the finish, you can apply a second coat.

While this stain has a lot of great features, what makes it stand out from the pack as our number one pick is the fact that it also seals the wood. This will save you a lot of time since you will not need to apply a sealer separately.

Summary: This acrylic-based stain was easy to apply and seals your work, saving you time and money. It comes in a variety of colors that you can easily customize to fit your needs.

Pros
  • Easy to apply
  • Dries very quickly
  • Can be used on a damp surface
  • Easy clean up with soap and water
  • Resists mildew and UV rays
Cons
  • May become slippery in the rain

2. PPG ProLuxe Premium Deck Wood Finish

The PPG ProLuxe Premium Deck Wood Finish is ideal for certain breeds of wood. Since it is an oil-based formula, it will deeply penetrate wood, providing a durable finish that should not peel or show age for a long time.

To apply it, you can use a natural bristle paintbrush, cloth, or a staining pad. For our test, we used a lint-free cloth. Oil-based stains have a habit of stiffening quickly upon their applicator, and therefore we prefer to use something that will only be used once. If you choose to use a paintbrush, be sure to have some mineral spirits on hand to clean it up afterward.

While this stain will deeply penetrate your wood project, it will not seal it as well. Be sure to apply a sealer afterward, or you will have to re-stain your deck sooner than you would if you had sealed it up properly the first time.

Summary: A deeply penetrating stain that comes in many different colors. Since it is an oil-based stain, you will need to be more careful with how you apply it. Also, be sure to use a sealer when you are finished staining.

Pros
  • Very durable
  • Can be used for decks, lattice, railings, and benches
  • Protects against mold, mildew and UV damage
Cons
  • A second coat is recommended

3. Cabot Semi-Solid Deck & Siding Low VOC Stain

Cabot has made a name for itself with high-quality stains for both exterior and interior projects. This stain is no exception. It is oil-based and listed as semi-solid.

However, the color covers so well that the company considers it a solid stain. It applied quickly and gave a great color, just be sure to follow the same guidelines for cleanup as our number two selection.

This stain comes in a wide variety of colors, so you should have no problem finding the color to match your project. Since it is just a stain, however, you will need to be sure also to purchase a sealer to apply afterward.

Summary: This is a high-quality dye that comes in many different colors. Just be aware that it may be messy to clean up and you will need to seal it once it has dried.

Pros
  • Easy to apply
  • One coat application
  • Can be used for decks, siding, and fencing
  • Resists UV rays
Cons
  • May be messy to clean up

Different Types of Deck Stain

Clear

On the surface, clear stains seem like a great option for deck protection. Clear stains are an excellent way to protect your deck from the elements and foot traffic. Yet, these water repellent solutions lack durability – they will need reapplication almost every year.

Solid

Solid stains are used to cover the wood on decks. Solid stains are easy to confuse with paint, but they may not protect the wood like paint. Solid stain can be better than paint because it hides imperfections, but it is more likely to crack, chip, and peel.

Semi-Solid

A semi-solid stain is a good option for high-traffic areas. It allows you to see more of the wood’s grain, which can make it look better. The durability of this type of stain is the same as with solid stain.

Semi-Transparent

Semi-transparent stain is good for decks. It will keep the wood’s grain visible, but it will also give color to the deck. This kind of stain is more common than clear stain and soaks into the wood better than other types of stains.

You can use it on railings and other places that don’t see a lot of traffic because this type of stain lasts for 2 to 3 years before you need to reapply it.

FAQs

Which is Better Oil or Water Based Deck Stain?

Oil-based stains penetrate the wood so they are easier to apply. They resist peeling better than water-based stains. However, oil-based stains contain higher VOCs (volatile organic compounds) so they are bad for the environment.

Water-based stains are UV resistant and retain their color. They are non-flammable and have a low odor. However, they require more care and application than oil-based stains. They don’t absorb the wood as much as oil-based stains.

When Can I Apply Second Coat of Stain?

Assuming that you have allowed your newly stained deck to dry for at least 24 hours, you can apply a second coat of stain. Applying a second coat will help to deepen the color of the stain and also increase its protection against the elements. Make sure that the first coat is completely dry before applying the second coat.

How Can You Tell if a Stain is Dry?

For oil-based stain, there should not be a smell when it is dry. For water-based stain, it should feel cool to the touch. With light sanding, you may also see some powder.

How Long Will Stain Dry?

How long the stain will take to dry depends on several different factors, including the type of wood being stained. Different types of woods have different absorption rates, so what might absorb in 4 hours for one type of wood may need six hours for another type.

On average, though, most hardwoods will be dry enough to walk on after 24 hours. Make sure that you wait until 24 to 48 hours before applying a second (or third) coat.

Can I Use Stain Over Paint?

Yes, but certain precautions must be taken. If the paint is oil-based, the stain will not adhere to it and will eventually flake off. If the paint is water-based, however, the stain will adhere but may not be as durable.

In either case, make sure that you test the compatibility of the two products in an inconspicuous area before applying them to the entire surface.

How Long Does Stain Last?

The lifespan of a stain will vary depending on the type of wood, the climate, and how often it is used. In general, though, most stains will last for 3 to 5 years before needing to be reapplied.

Can Stain Be Applied When it is Hot?

Yes, but you should still take precautions to ensure that the wood can absorb the stain quickly enough. If your deck will be exposed to direct sunlight after applying the first coat of stain, make sure that you apply a thin layer rather than a thick one, so that it is dry enough to use in no more than 24 hours.

Can Stain Be Applied When it is Cold?

Yes, but you should avoid applying stain if the weather conditions will make the wood too dry or allow the stain to freeze and chip off. If possible, wait until late spring or early summer before staining a deck that will be exposed to cold weather.

Can I Apply a Second Coat of Stain the Same Day?

No, you should always wait at least 24 hours between coats of stain. Applying a second coat before the first is completely dry will result in streaks and an uneven finish.

Can Stain Be Applied to a New Wood Deck?

Yes. A new wood deck will have the same absorption rate as an older one, so you can apply stain to it just like you would for an older deck. Make sure that the wood has been allowed to dry thoroughly before staining and follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Can Stain Be Applied Without Wiping?

Yes. You can apply stain by spraying or brushing, without wiping off the excess. The color will be slightly more pronounced if you wipe off the excess before it has a chance to dry, but it is not necessary. To retain the natural appearance of the wood, however, make sure that you only apply a thin layer.

Conclusion

With so many deck stains and sealers on the market, it can be hard to determine which one is best for your needs. The ten products we’ve listed are all top-rated in their category, but they each have something different that makes them stand out from the rest. Browse through our list of reviews and see if any of these products would work well for you.

If you need more information about which product is right for your home, do not hesitate to contact us at any time. Our team of experts will be happy to answer all of your questions and help guide you in making an informed decision.

2 thoughts on “12 Best Solid Deck Stains 2021”

  1. I have a 3 year old deck that badly need stain and protection as it is fading and drying out. I need a good product that is thick oil based to treat the wood and seal it in. What brands fill my needs and what is the cost per gallon. I was recommended Cabot oil base stain and sealer, but I need professional recommendations by brands on my need. Please e mail with your recommendations

    Thanks

    • Both Cabot and Olympic deck stains listed above in our top 10 list will do the job. They have the quality and thickness you are looking for. They will bring your wood back to life and leave it looking great. We love the results and so will you.

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