Every homeowner always looks for the best deck stain as for eye-catching decoration and protecting the deck during seasons. An excellent stain must be long-lasting, low maintenance; and has strong mildew resistance and UV protection.

Most of the customers worry about the high cost of advanced treatment to a deck strain for more extended protection. There are specific recommendations of which types and brands that should be purchased.

For those reasons, we come up with a list of fantastic deck stains, including oil and water-based types, for the readers to purchase the most appropriate product.

Top 5 Best Deck Stain In 2021

Bestseller No. 1
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.; Requires no back brushing and will nerver leave runs, laps, or streaks.
Bestseller No. 5
#1 Deck Premium Advanced Solid Color Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, Siding (1 Gallon, Gray)
#1 Deck Premium Advanced Solid Color Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, Siding (1 Gallon, Gray)
Available in 6 Beautiful, Solid Color Finishes That Dry to a Flat, Natural Looking Finish; Low Odor Stain, Water-Based Cleanup - Low VOCs (<60 g/L)
Bestseller No. 8
Cabot 140.0016316.007 Semi-Transparent Deck & Siding Low VOC Exterior Stain, Gallon, New Cedar
Cabot 140.0016316.007 Semi-Transparent Deck & Siding Low VOC Exterior Stain, Gallon, New Cedar
Lightly pigmented to accentuate wood grain; Water-repellent and UV protection; Oil Based and Acrylic Water Based formulas available
Bestseller No. 9
1 gal Cabot 19202 Cedar Wood Toned Deck and Siding Stain
1 gal Cabot 19202 Cedar Wood Toned Deck and Siding Stain
A translucent oil finish that protects and beautifies wood's natural appearance; Water repellent; deep penetrating
Bestseller No. 10
DEFY Extreme 5 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone
DEFY Extreme 5 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone
100 VOC COMPLIANT - Ships to all states including California

Types of Deck Stain

Types of Deck StainThe two most popular types of stain are oil and water-based. However, there are surely other types that are used widely in the market. The following information is about the most common deck stain used for wood-carving.

  • Oil-Based Stain: An oil-based stain is well-known as its high wood penetrability and practical application. You can easily remove the excess stain before drying up thanks to the binder.
    The strain is super environmental-friendly thanks to the synthetic mixture including paraffin oil, linseed oil, rosewood oil, and others. Moreover, the strain’s strong smell helps to get rid of mildew.
  • Water-Based Stain: Compare to oil-based strain, the water-based is more effective. It maintains the natural decking color and lasts longer and gives ultra-protection from sun rays.
    Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) laws give a strong recommendation for water-based strain in recent years. It makes this kind even more popular and fast-selling in the market. Similar to oil-based liquid, the water-based stain can be easily washed out and suppresses the growth of molds inside the wood.
  • Transparent Stain: This stain is for people who prefer the natural color of the deck from adding any colorway or darkening. The dye has no pigment but water-repelling properties instead.
  • Solid Stain: Solid deck stain is the most durable liquid, with the longest record is over five years. The solid stain works best when combined with a transparent stain for wood exterior covering.
    However, people warn that after a while of using, the solid can make a firm surface that is stable and sturdy.

Buying Tips

Buying TipsIf you are purchasing a deck strain for the very first time, it might be challenging to pick the right one for your needs. Due to the excessive number of brands and stain types, here are a few criteria that might help you to purchase the most desirable stain.

  • Decking Wood Type: The type of wood plays a crucial role to determine how well your deck’s final look after putting the stain. Before deciding on stain purchasing, you need to do a test on a partial part of your floor and base on the result to purchase the appropriate stain.
  • Location: The accommodation can hugely affect the stain status, especially if you are living in tropical or ozone-damaged areas. The hot temperature could melt the stain quickly, also weaken wood reliability. Hence, it is essential to check the manual carefully to understand which areas the purchasing stain handles effectively.
  • VOC Examination: For a qualified deck stain, it must pass the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements approved by authorities. The VOC demonstrates which product is hazardous as its effect to human and pet health. The test goes from throat irritation, frequent headaches to severe issues of the immune system, and kidney functions. So, it is necessary to know that your stain compliances with VOCs standards.
  • Sunlight/UV Exposure: Sunray and UV are the killers for the decking surface and color covering. The high temperature hits the cellular structure and dries it, which destroys the freshness and natural color of the wood. And the worst part is, the drying wood starts to appear moisture, breeding molds, and mildew.

Hence, checking your stain’s UV protection is the best way to expand the life of your wood-based deck and reduce the cost for unnecessary maintenance.

More: Best Stain Blocking Primer

List of Best Deck Stains

1. DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Stain – Best Overall

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent StainEditor Rating:

DEFY Extreme Wood Stain, one of the best-selling stains on the market in 2021, is superb as its ultimate performance and effectiveness. Most customers praise the product’s ability to prevent UV exposure and mildew growth in wood for more than one year of use.

The DEFY stain contains zinc oxide particles as a protective shield in preventing UV fading and mold/mildew invasion. The oil-based liquid penetrates deeply into the wood grain, then produces a non-filming overlay that is unable to peel.

Besides, applying the latest nano-technology, DEFY Extreme stain is the most effective stain on the market in tackling UV impacts. For a two-year test, the deck which is covered by DEFY stain shows little to no fade. Otherwise, the high traffic area on the floor that is covered by the stain shows a few wear-and-tears and no remarkable peeling.

For the look, the DEFY unit does not mask the wood grain like other stains. The CedarTone colorway gives a natural vibe and a rick look to your deck. And after two years, the stain only changes a bit in color, and there is no noticeable darkening.

Last but not least, the product is easy to use as its fast-drying speed. The stain dries in seconds when being under direct sunlight or high temperature, and also is accessible to washout with water.

One gallon of stain costs about $60, while with $150 you can have another brand’s 5-gallon stain.

Overall, DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Stain is an excellent unit and an active viral for many models of stain on the market. What makes it on top of our list are the incredible performance, high quality, and easing application. The unit is ideal when you need a stain that firmly remains color and effectively prevents UV graying on the deck surface.


  • Ultimate performance
  • Durable UV exposure protection and mildew prevention
  • Contains latest nano-technology
  • Less color fading and wearing
  • Nice colorway offering
  • Dries quickly


  • Expensive cost

2. Ready Seal 512 Wood Stain – Best Color Retention

Ready Seal Natural Cedar 512Editor Rating:

Ready Seal Stain is an advanced stain that is widely used for exterior surfaces of wooden items such as decks, fences, and roofs. At first, the product is exclusively designed for contractors, and then available to household usages through Home Depot stores. The ingredients include paraffin oil, resins, pigments, and algaecides.

The most outstanding features of Ready Seal stain are strong color retention and perfect grip. The unit receives acclaims due to there is no color fading or darkening even after two years.

Moreover, there are only a few peelings and wearing points on the deck after a long time.

Also, Ready Seal stain’s paraffin oil does a great job of getting rid of molds, mildew, and algae. Hence, there is no color darkening and mold/mildew growth, you need a suitable wood cleaner and brightener for the reapplication.

The manufacturer claims that their stain is easy to use, even with the wood-making novice. They are correct! The wood coating liquid dries in minutes with no runs or drips. And the stain’s Natural Cedar color fits with every kind of decking placement.

Notwithstanding, we notice that the finish stays oily and sticky for several days after coating processing. The reason might come from the excessive amount of stain that the users implement.

And with the cheap costs one gallon of Ready Seal can cover around 8 square feet, and it takes 7-8 gallons to handle a 600-square-feet deck.

In general, Real Seal Wood Stain contains paraffin oil, which penetrates effectively into the wood fibers. This element prevents the color fading and coat peeling with the best effort. Ready Seal products are a great choice if you are approaching the wooding field for the first time.


  • Longest color retention timeline
  • Few peelings and wearing after long using time
  • Intense penetration with a non-filming overlay
  • Effectively get rid of molds, mildew, etc.
  • Easy to apply and dries quickly


  • Produces oily cover after processing
  • Low coverage per gallon
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
7,144 Reviews
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It reaches its true color in approximately 14 days. Do not apply Ready Seal over painted or newly stained surfaces. Sealed surfaces inhibit penetration.
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.
  • Requires no back brushing and will nerver leave runs, laps, or streaks.
  • Requires no wet-line application, the product will blend itself and can be applied in any temperature range for proper application.
  • Requires no diluting or thinning prior to spray applications.

3. Cabot Timber Oil Stain – Best for Durability

Cabot Timber Oil StainEditor Rating:

This Cabot stain contains a unique mixture of high-class linseed oil, long-oil alkyds, and pure tung oil. It delivers full protection for the wooden surface and beautiful hardwood cover.

In detail, the Cabot unit has translucent iron oxide pigments to absorb into the surface with color and dimension strongly. Also, this advanced technology is designed to protect your wooden deck from a natural catastrophe like never before.

After long using time, there is some wearing but no peeling on the deck surface. The Mahogany Flame colorway looks very rich and elegant overall, which can help to hide the tiny wear-and-tear.

One more benefit is saving costs. You can only need two gallons of stain to cover up to 300 square feet of foot deck.

To sum up, the Cabot Timber Oil Stain has a different formula to strengthen the stain reliability and color retention at its finest. This oil-based product is super eco-friendly at an affordable price, which is suitable for those who are beginning to do the decking things.


  • Strong durability, color retention, water repellency
  • Few wearing after a long time
  • Affordable


  • Weak mold/mildew/algae prevention

4. Tall Earth TEESWT1G Eco-Safe Wood Stain – Best Stain to Use Inside the House

Tall Earth TEESWT1GEditor Rating:

Most of the deck sealers require wood prepping before the stain application. However, with Tall Earth stain help the prep wood is just an easy task that can be done with ease. This stain is made of natural eco-safe materials, which is extremely safe to use even with the beginners.

A unique selling point of this Tall Earth product is health protection and eco-friendliness. Also, the non-toxic formulation is guaranteed for no risk of health when used around kids and pets. All these things allow the Tall Earth stain to be the stain that is appropriate for indoor projects on our list.

After coating the wood with this unit, your deck color will transform into silver or light brown, which looks decently elegant and state-of-the-art. And you should know that this is the cheapest option on the list, it can be an excellent pick for people who are in-short of budget.

Additionally, The manufacturer claims that Tall Earth stains can adhere into the wood incredibly well and can be long lasting. While many wood-caring products require frequent reapplication, this particular product offers long-lasting results that need to be applied once in a lifetime.

However, this product is confirmed to be weak in water repellency. You should use this stain in the dry weather.

In short, the ultimate safety aspect is what Tall Earth stain brings. With this fantastic feature, the users are not limited to just outdoor areas, and you can use it for the wooding area inside the house with no worry about family health.


  • Environmental-friendly
  • Health safety features
  • Modern colorway offering
  • No reapplication requirement


  • Weak water repellency

5. DeckWise Oil-Based Stain – Best for Hardwood Projects

DeckWise Oil-Based StainEditor Rating:

If your deck is made from a bunch of hardwood material, this is the best deck stain for you. This oil-based liquid offers the deepest penetration for dense varieties of wood-based material such as tigerwood and ipe wood.

The DeckWise stain contains linseed oil, which maintains a vibrant color and solid wood texture. Also, the stain gives an excellent shield against UV graying and water-repelling functions.

However, a dark reddish color can appear on the wood surface if there is no specialized maintenance. It might not be suitable for the decoration, especially the front-house areas.

In brief, this DeckWise protectant is the best deck stain for the hardwood deck. It provides excellent protection against water, sunlight, and high-temperature damages.


  • Great hardwood handling
  • Strong penetration
  • Great against UV ray and water repellency


  • Create dark reddish colorway after a long time


All the products above should give you the right choice of the best deck stain. We have listed some essential criteria that you should consider before decision making. Comment on your experience, share this article, and don’t forget to catch up on our next reviews.