Best Deck Paints and Stains for 2020
Need to get outside for a while? Check out these deck paint and stain recommendations from DIYers and professionals.
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We’ve assembled some of the best deck paint and stain options on the market based on first-hand reviews, pro recommendations and test results. Paint (similar to solid stain) provides an opaque protective coating with a wider range of color options, but it may exacerbate water pooling and retention. Stain provides protection against water and UV damage, plus a range of transparency options. On the more transparent end of the spectrum, clear stains offer less protection and more frequent re-application is required.
It’s Time to Freshen Up Your Deck
To determine the best products, we considered application properties, durability and cost. Whether you’re looking to protect your new deck or restore an old deck, here are some deck paints and stains that are worth considering.
Best General Use Deck Paint/Solid Stain
DEFY Extreme Solid-Color Wood Stain is a synthetic-resin, opaque wood finish designed to protect against water, fungi and UV radiation on exterior wood surfaces. It utilizes a new formula with transparent oxide-based nanoparticles and it resists peeling and flaking.
DEFY Extreme products land in the $40 to $45 per gallon range.
Note: You can find the nearest dealer through the manufacturer’s website. This paint is officially distributed through select stores.
One user said it’s, “easy to apply… [but] you need to be careful not to leave overlaps with the colored stains.”
Best Semi-Transparent Deck Stain
Restore-A-Deck Semi-Transparent Deck Stain is recommended by pros because it applies easily and allows for staining the same day as prep. It offers deep penetration, UV protection and mold/mildew protection for less chance of wear and tear, and comes in a range of semi-transparent colors.
It costs around $43 per gallon and the eco-friendly, water-based formula means easy cleanup.
One user said, “It looks better than all previous stains we’ve used. We’ll use it again.”
Best for Treated Wood
Armstrong-Clark’s Wood Stain comes recommended by pros and is perfect for coating treated wood. The oil-based formula can be applied even in direct sunlight — no waiting for that late-afternoon shade — and you can brush, roll or spray it on. The non-drying oils are designed to recondition older wood, while drying oils lock in the conditioning. Pigments and water repellents protect against moisture and UV damage. This is also recommended for exotic wood such as ipe, and hardwoods like mahogany.
This stain costs around $50 per gallon and is VOC compliant in all 50 states and Canada.
One user said, “It lasted five years on my deck. My redwood/cedar deck is 40 years old so it absorbed the stain instantly but looked great for many years.”
Best for Weathered Wood
KILZ Over Armor Smooth Wood/Concrete Coating is a thick solid-color coating designed to restore old, weathered wood (or concrete). It features a durable acrylic resin formula, recommended for bridging cracks, hiding imperfections and concealing splinters. This product creates a smooth, slip-resistant finish.
It costs around $30 per gallon. Though the thickness makes application challenging, many reviewers say the results are worth it.
One user said, “…this stuff is thick as tar! Filled all the cracks and splits and is tough as concrete.”
Best Cedartone Color-Retaining Deck Stain
Amteco TWP Cedartone VOC Stain is a low-VOC exterior stain that’s great for renewing and refreshing exterior wood surfaces on decks, wood siding, shutters, fences, porch decking, wood shingles, shakes and fascia. It can even be used on rough-sawn cedar.
This stain is designed for smooth, even application and costs around $45 per gallon.
From a user review: “Rich finish, good absorption, holds up in sun and winter moisture. More expensive but well worth it.”
Best Non-Slip Coating
KILZ Over Armor Textured Wood/Concrete Coating is a solid-color deck coating that contains non-slip textured grit. Made with an acrylic resin formula that’s also good for weathered wood, this textured coating is recommended for slip protection on decks, porches, boat docks, railings and pool decks. It’s designed to bridge cracks and hide imperfections.
It costs around $48 per gallon.
Multiple reviewers report challenging application with this one as well, but worthwhile results. One user said, “This stuff is very thick and difficult to spread, but in the end worth the effort… the end result was amazing.”
Note on Eco-Friendly Deck Coatings
While there are limited options for truly eco-friendly exterior coatings (all will have some fungicides/biocides), here are some tips to consider.
Look for coating with:
- Zinc oxide as the fungicide
- Low/no VOC
- An acrylic/latex or recycled water-based formulation
Watch out for oil-based coatings that have high VOC. And, of course, never use really old paint that could contain lead or mercury.