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If you are looking for the best deck sealer or best deck stain, you have come to the right place. Picking the best deck sealer or best deck stain can be a complete nightmare given the various types of decks, different altitudes, various products, and a handful of industry jargon.
Sealing your wood deck or fence is an important part of proper wood maintenance. Unsealed wood can easily be damaged, grow mildew, and rot with bad weather. We understand this can all be confusing at first, but we will help you pick the best deck sealer or best deck stain for your wood deck. Click here to see our #1 pick on Amazon.com.
Deck Stain Brand Comparison
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Top 3 Best Deck Sealers on the market
With nearly 30 years of combined experience in building and repairing wood decks, we have the industry knowledge to recommend you the best products out there. There are many options to choose from and to consider when picking the best deck sealer or best deck stain. These include your deck location, the amount of exposure to the sun, wood type, whether you want to use a deck sealer or the best wood stain, and whether you want to use a water or oil based deck stains.
While there are so many products in this competitive market, we only know a handful of them work well and are respected by other industry experts. To make life easier for you, we have narrowed the choices down to just a few of the best products on the market that we like to use and trust. See below for a comparison table of the best deck sealer and best deck stain and read our detailed reviews further down:
Top 5 Best Deck Sealers & Best Deck Stains
Thompsons Water Seal A21761 Natural Cedar Tinted Wood Protector Low VOC
Thompsons Water Seal A21761 Natural wood sealer is the best deck sealer for convenience and durability. This deck sealer beautifully preserves the natural beauty of the wood underneath. The thin but strong layer of protection over your deck protects it against mildew growth and even comes with UV protection, something that not all deck sealers have. The Thompson Water Seal contains a water based formula vs an oil based formula. This means that the solution will dry quicker, is non-flammable, easier to wash and clean up, and is more breathable and will not trap as much moisture as an oil based solution, which can cause the protection to fail.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
Application of the Thompson WaterSeal is very easy. Just use a paintbrush or pad and only use one thin layer. It takes 24-48 hours to dry depending on what type of wood you have. Afterwards, water should bead up nicely on your wood and will remain that way for years. We usually do a small touch up every 2 years or so and this is the best deck sealer to reapply. The solution does not require you to strip off the old sealer before applying the touch up.
The approximate coverage of the deck sealer is 200 sq ft per gallon, but it all depends on the conditions and porosity of your wood. We recommend being more conservative and estimating about 150 sq ft per gallon. If you are going to seal your deck, don’t go cheap. Get the best deck sealer. We can whole heartily vouch for the Thompsons Water Seal A21761 Natural Cedar Tinted Wood Protector Low VOC if you prefer a more natural finish to your wood deck or fence.
Flood CWF-UV Clear Wood Finish
The Flood CWF-UV Clear Wood Finish is the best deck sealer if you are looking for a great all round oil based sealer. It restores and protects the natural color of the wood while providing both mildew and UV protection. It has a nice matte finish that will not crack or flake.
Our Rating: (4 / 5)
We find it less watery than the Thompson WaterSeal, but it also beads water better. This is because the oil based wax creating a solid coating over your wood that makes water bead up a lot better than a water based solution. As we all know, the water bead test is a great way to determine how well your deck is sealed. Water resting on top of your wood means it is not penetrating into the wood, which causes mildew grow and decay.
However, one downside of this is it causes your wood deck to become a bit slippery. Water stays beaded up on your wood deck for hours and even days.
The Flood CWF-UV is very easy to apply and cleans up easily with some soap and water. You need to be a bit careful when applying and make sure you get a nice even layer. Otherwise, you risk a chance it will turn your deck a slight tint, which some people don’t seem to mind. This is a 5 gallon container, which covers about 750-1000 sq ft of wood. Unfortunately, we have not found a small sized container, but it is useful to keep some extra solution around for touch ups every two years.
This product is pretty popular and many times your local retailer will be out of stock. Amazon has this on stock most of the time and you can get really great prices buying online in bulk. The Flood CWF-UV also passes all regulation tests for VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) Laws, which is good to know because some solutions are banned in certain states. All in all, if you want to best deck sealer and want an oil based solution, we highly recommend this product. You can also buy this product in different stains and tints.
OneTime Wood Protector
OneTime Wood Protector is the best deck stain that is neither water or oil/wax/silicone based. It is made from a proprietary acrylate resin blend that works wonders on any wood deck or fence. A water or oil/wax/silicone based solution tends to cause the structure of the wood to swell, dry, and crack. OneTime Wood Protector is a also the best deck stain that penetrates deeply into the wood and protects the wood inside out, whereas a regular deck sealer will only rest on top of the wood and loses its effectiveness after a few years. OneTime comes with a 7 year guarantee vs the usually 2 years from deck sealers.
Our Rating: (4.1 / 5)
With the OneTime Wood Protector you are truly buying a premium product. Although the initial cost is more than other wood protection products, it lasts way longer (7 years vs 2 yrs) and covers more square footage per gallon (300 sq ft vs 200 sq ft). We have used this product for many clients in the past and we find the 7 year guarantee always holds. The stain pigment will deteriorate over the years with about 50% of it gone by 7 years, but the protection still lasts. If you do not like to see a faded color, you can always get the clear version.
OneTime can be used on all types of wood. For new smooth cedar, we recommend you let it naturally weather for a year so that the mill glaze can break down. It passes all VOC regulations and offers excellent UV protection. We think this is by far the best deck stain in the market and definitely worth paying the initial premium. Let’s face it, painting or sealing a deck is hard work and nobody wants to do it.
If you can get away with only doing the job every 7 years instead of 2, you are saving a lot of time and money on buying new supplies and hiring workers. There is not much else wrong with OneTime Wood Protector. Our only complaint is that the curing takes at least 2 days, but it is such a minor issue compared to all of the great things this product has to offer. You can buy this product in one gallon or 5-gallon jugs on Amazon with many different colors to choose from.
TWP/Gemini TWP116-1G Rustic TWP Wood Preservative
TWP 116 Series penetrates well into the wood, fades lightly in color and holds up to wear and tear. We like that when it is time to redo the wood in 2-3 years, the TWP can be cleaned and re-coated or even removed with ease. This makes the reapplication process much easier. TWP 100 Series is only allowed in 35 States and cannot be used in Canada.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
Defy Extreme Semi-Transparent Stain
The Defy Extreme penetrates into the wood grain extremely well for a water-based stain, resulting in a non-filming coating that is not prone to peeling or wear from traffic. We personally use the Defy Extreme on about 30-50 deck restorations every year in the Midwest and is one of our go-to brands. Compliant for all US states and Canada.
Our Rating: (4.2 / 5)