What is the Best Deck Stain for Pressure-Treated Wood? (2024)

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Without a quality deck stain, your pressure-treated wood can result in premature fading, cracking, and peeling. This not only diminishes its appearance, but it also leaves it more susceptible to damage from UV rays and moisture. 

These can lead to costly repairs and replacements. To avoid this, I will recommend options for the best deck stain for pressure-treated wood for a wise investment.

Premium Option
Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer
Editor’s Choice
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
Budget Option
Storm System Stain Protector
Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
Storm System Stain Protector
• Premium gloss
• Ultra-low VOC
• Fast drying
• Waterproof
• Long-lasting sealer and stain
• Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish
• Eco-friendly option
• Ultimate protection against UV rays and black rays
• Greatly improves the deck's longevity.
• 250 VOC Compliant
• Enhanced with Nanotechnology containing Zinc particles.
• Water-Based Semi-Transparent Deck Stain
• Oil-based Satin & Sealer
• Ready-to-use formula
• Lap-Free Application
• Offers superior waterproofing and UV protection
• Semi-transparent stain and sealer
Premium Option
Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer
Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer
• Premium gloss
• Ultra-low VOC
• Fast drying
• Waterproof
• Long-lasting sealer and stain
• Water-Based Polyurethane Wood Finish
Editor’s Choice
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
• Eco-friendly option
• Ultimate protection against UV rays and black rays
• Greatly improves the deck's longevity.
• 250 VOC Compliant
• Enhanced with Nanotechnology containing Zinc particles.
• Water-Based Semi-Transparent Deck Stain
Budget Option
Storm System Stain Protector
Storm System Stain Protector
• Oil-based Satin & Sealer
• Ready-to-use formula
• Lap-Free Application
• Offers superior waterproofing and UV protection
• Semi-transparent stain and sealer

Reviews of the Top Deck Stains for Pressure-Treated Wood

1. DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

The DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain is a water-based deck stain that allows the natural grain of the wood to show because of its semi-transparent, natural matte finish. I used it on my own deck and even on a couple of outdoor benches, and the results are impressive.

Its zinc nano-particles reflect UV rays to keep your pressure-treated wood deck cooler and prevent color loss and premature graying. As someone who’s battled mold and mildew before, I was relieved to see that this stain fights off those pesky problems, too. 

This solid color stain has high-quality resins that resist fading and darkening. It’s also easy to maintain with a single maintenance coat. 

It’s also water-based and VOC-compliant, making it safer and more eco-friendly than many other stains. I tested it on outdoor surfaces like benches and porches, and it still offers superior protection and durability.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

2. Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer

The Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer is a water-based, odorless sealer that provides excellent protection for pressure-treated wood against wear and tear in high-traffic areas. 

When I applied it, the first thing I noticed was the glossy finish. It looks premium, and cleaning up afterward was as simple as using soap and water.  Since this is a penetrating stain, it creates a long-lasting, water-resistant shield that works from within, unlike many other sealers that only form a topcoat. 

It also contains UV inhibitors to protect pressure-treated decks against sun damage and won’t peel or flake. It’s available in clear and tinted formulas, is simple to apply, and dries quickly. However, it is more expensive than other deck stains. But considering the long-lasting results, I’d say it’s a solid investment.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

3. Storm System Stain Protector

I’ve gotta say, if you’re living in an area with extreme weather swings, you might want to look into Storm System Stain Protector. It’s an oil-based specifically formulated to withstand harsh weather conditions, including sun exposure, rain, and freezing and thawing cycles. 

The deep penetration of the stain and sealer offers additional protection against the elements, while the trans-oxide pigmentation provides vibrant color and depth. With six beautiful colors to choose from, this semi-transparent alkyd product ensures a stunning and durable finish. 

Now, one thing to note: although it dries pretty quickly—24 hours in my case—it’s on the thicker side. So, don’t expect a single gallon to go very far. I found that it covers around 125-175 sq. ft. on porous surfaces.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

4. SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

The SaverSystems’ #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Stain is a high-quality water-based deck stain designed to provide both protection and beauty for your pressure-treated wood projects. It protects against UV rays, acts as a stain and sealer, and is available in 4 beautiful semi-transparent finishes. 

It contains a unique blend of resins and oils that penetrate deeply into the wood, providing long-lasting protection against fading, graying, mold, and mildew. Unlike some other stains I’ve tried, this one didn’t peel or flake, which is always a win in my book.

Aside from decks, it’s suitable for pressure-treated lumber, fences, outdoor furniture, play sets, and other outdoor wood surfaces. Additionally, it’s affordable compared to other stains for decks on the market.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

5. Storm System Two-Toned Dual Dispersion Finish

The Storm System Two-Toned Dual Dispersion Finish is a game-changer for DIY enthusiasts and woodworking hobbyists. Its unique teak finish enhances the pressure-treated wood’s natural beauty while providing a long-lasting stain. 

I used it on my own deck, and it was pretty straightforward to apply. Plus, it dries fast, so you can slap on a second coat in just a few hours if needed.  The two-toned effect gives pressure-treated wooden surfaces a rich, luxurious look, and the dual dispersion technology enhances the wood grain, providing a remarkable depth and character. 

I’m also impressed by its durability because it can withstand direct sunlight, rain, and temperature fluctuations without showing signs of fading or peeling.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

6. Ready Seal 512 Pail Natural Cedar Tone Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood

The Ready Seal 512 is a superior-quality deck stain and sealer that doesn’t require a primer and provides a professional-looking finish. It’s a bit unique because the stain reaches its true, rich color about two weeks after you’ve applied it. So, don’t jump the gun and apply it over freshly stained or painted surfaces.

Ready Seal wood stain can be easily applied without the need for back brushing, wet-line application, diluting, or thinning. The product blends independently and can be applied in any temperature range, making it suitable for various climates. 

Its “Goof Proof” application can achieve a streak-free finish with ease. Re-application is easy and does not require sanding or stripping, making maintenance a breeze.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

7. KILZ Waterproofing Wood Stain, Exterior, Semi-Transparent

Another good option to stain pressure-treated wood is KILZ Waterproofing Stain. This is a semi-transparent exterior stain that protects pressure-treated wood from the sun, rain, and snow. Aside from the deck, it can also be used on patio furniture, railings, siding, and fences. 

The advanced formula ensures long-lasting protection and maintains the beauty of the wood. No wonder it is one of the best deck stains for pressure-treated wood because it provides superior coverage. You’re looking at up to 600 square feet with two coats. That’s what I call bang for your buck. 

And it doesn’t just sit on the surface; it actually gets in there, resisting fading, cracking, and peeling. I mean, the stuff practically armors your wood against mildew.

Furthermore, this stain is engineered to endure diverse weather conditions, ensuring its durability and longevity even in challenging environments.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

8. Rain Guard Water Sealer

The Rain Guard Water Sealer is a water-based wood sealant that offers long-lasting protection for pressure-treated wood decks. It penetrates deep into the surface, creating a clear, natural finish that won’t yellow or change the appearance. 

It contains Micro-Lok, which creates a barrier against damaging elements such as weather, salt, dirt, and UV light. The concentrated formulation is easy to mix and covers up to 400 square feet when mixed with water. 

This is the best option if you’re on a budget and looking for a low-odor formula. However, the coverage area is relatively small, and the clear options may not provide enough color options.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

Should You Stain Pressure-Treated Wood?

Pressure-treated wood is treated with chemicals to resist decay, rot, and insect damage, making it more durable for outdoor use. 

However, pressure-treated wood can still be susceptible to weathering, UV damage, and wear and tear over time. Staining pressure-treated wood can help protect it and extend its life while also improving its appearance.

That’s why I never skip staining. Staining isn’t just a cosmetic choice; it acts as another layer of armor against UV rays and moisture. Staining can also make maintenance easier, but the wood must be allowed to dry completely before applying the stain. 

deck painted with Rain Guard Water Sealers

It’s recommended to use high-quality stains for pressure-treated wood and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for best results.

Next: Should You Apply Pressure-Treated Wood Sealers For Cut Ends?

Your Deck Stain Options

Specialty Stains

Specialty stains possess distinctive characteristics like water resistance and UV protection and are typically developed for specific purposes, such as pressure-treated wood. These stains are frequently oil-based and marketed for pressure-treated wood.

Oil-Based Deck Stains

Oil-based stain is considered less environmentally friendly than water-based stains because they contain more chemicals. However, this dense oil-based deck stain usually provides a more uniform result, requires less maintenance, and deeply penetrates the wood.

Water-Based Deck Stains

These are environmentally friendly as they don’t contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are light and breathable. Additionally, these stains retain their color for an extended period and display a high level of resistance to the growth of mildew and mold [1].

Deck Stains for Treated Wood: Buyer’s Guide

Quality

When I’m shopping for a stain for my pressure-treated deck, I put quality at the forefront. I’ve wasted enough time and effort on low-quality stains that just don’t last or offer the protection I need. 

Look for stains labeled as “UV resistant” and “mildew resistant” to identify high-quality options. 

Additionally, opting for reputable brands like Behr, Cabot Stain, or Olympic can also help ensure to get the best deck stain for pressure-treated wood.

Shade

The shade of the deck stain is an important factor to consider as it affects the deck’s appearance. Various wood stains offer different looks, so it’s important to choose the right shade. 

Lighter stain looks natural, while darker stain creates a more dramatic effect. I’ve also experimented with different levels of transparency like opaque and semi-transparent stains.

Certain stains enable the wood’s natural grain to be visible, so select the level of shade that best achieves your desired appearance.

Stain Type

A deck stain is primarily categorized into an oil-based stain and a water-based stain. 

staining with #1 Deck Stain

I’ve tried both, and here’s the deal: oil-based stains are more long-lasting and provide better protection, but they can be more difficult to apply. Water-based stains are easy to apply and clean up, but they are not as durable as oil-based stains.

Wood Type

To achieve optimal results when staining pressure-treated wood, it’s crucial to use the appropriate stain for each wood type. 

Pressure-treated wood, for example, is often treated with chromate copper arsenate (CCA), making it challenging for some stains to stick to and soak into the wood. 

I learned the hard way that not all stains are compatible with it. I now make sure to use a stain specifically designed for pressure-treated wood to avoid headaches later on. If you’re dealing with different types of wood, you’ll have more freedom in your stain choices, but it’s still crucial to pick the right one.

Application

The complexity of applying stains can vary. If you’re new to deck staining, I recommend starting with a stain that’s user-friendly and doesn’t require a steep learning curve.

Cost

Stains for decks can vary in price, so consider your budget when selecting a product. Typically, the cost of deck stains is correlated with their quality, but budget-friendly options can also be of excellent quality.

Quantity

The quantity of stain required will influence your choice of stain. If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s to take the time to measure your deck’s area in square feet. Having this number on hand helped me figure out the right amount of stain to purchase, saving me from the hassle of multiple trips to the store or having excess stain left over.

Environmental Friendliness

To protect the environment, consider the environmental friendliness of deck stains before purchasing. An oil-based stain may be harmful to the environment and challenging to dispose of, whereas a water-based stain is a more eco-friendly alternative.

Furthermore, a water-based or oil-based deck stain may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are hazardous chemicals. Selecting a product with low VOCs is essential for ensuring safety.

Steps to Staining Your Deck in 5 Easy Steps

Step #1: Pick Your Prefered Stain

With a wide range of options available in terms of stain colors, types, and brands, it’s crucial to choose the best stains for pressure-treated deck. 

To ensure that you make an informed decision, conduct thorough research and gather all the necessary information about each option. This will help you determine which stain is best for your pressure-treated lumber and will provide the desired finish.

Step #2: Prepare the Wood

This involves cleaning the wood and removing any existing stains or sealants, which can be accomplished using a power washer, deck cleaner, or sandpaper. 

In cases where you are staining a pressure-treated lumber with peeling paint or an old stain, I recommend removing as much of the old finish as possible before proceeding with the new stain. 

After cleaning, make sure to let the wood dry completely before moving on to the next procedure. Remember that it’s crucial never to stain damp wood, which can lead to uneven absorption and an unsatisfactory finish. 

Step #3: Mix and Shake the Stain

Properly stirring and shaking your stain before beginning the staining process ensures that the stain color is uniformly spread out throughout the can.

You can use a paint stick to stir the stain, mixing it thoroughly from the bottom of the can to the top. By taking the time to stir and shake your stain, you’ll ensure that it goes on evenly and that the final result is exactly what you’re looking for.

Step #4: Apply the Stain

Now that you have completed all the necessary preparation, it’s time to begin the staining process. You’ll require a roller or a paintbrush specifically designed for use with stains.

Begin applying the stain to the wood deck edge and gradually work your way inward. Make sure to apply the stain evenly across the entire wood surface. If you’re working in direct sunlight, the color of the stain may dry up too fast. 

To prevent this, apply a thicker stain coat. This will help the stain penetrate the wood and produce a more even finish. 

Step #5: Let the Stain Dry

After you have completed the staining process, it’s important to allow the stain to be completely dry before applying a sealant or walking on the deck. This is because walking on wet or tacky stains can cause them to become uneven and ruin the finish. 

painting pergola with Defy Extreme Wood Stain

Top 5 Reasons to Stain Your Deck

1. Protects the Wood from Weathering & Fading

Staining your deck has several advantages, including protecting the wood against weathering and fading. By applying the best stain, you can safeguard the wood from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can lead to deterioration and fading over time. 

Additionally, the best stains will create a protective barrier against moisture, helping to prevent wood, even untreated wood, from becoming warped, cracked, or damaged. 

2. Seals Toxic Chemicals

Many stains have the added benefit of functioning as effective sealants. This means that they not only add color to the pressure-treated deck but also help to seal it. Some pressure-treated wood has dangerous chemicals like arsenic, which the stain seals in. 

The stain penetrates the wood and creates a seal that prevents the infiltration of harmful substances into the wood and the leakage of existing harmful substances out of it.

3. Provides Aesthetic Benefits

Stains offer aesthetic benefits due to the variety of color tones they come in. They can enhance the appearance of your deck by providing a new and refreshed look, so always choose the best stains.

staining old deck

By applying a solid deck stain, you can add a touch of style and elegance to your outdoor space, making it more visually appealing. Ultimately, the staining process can give your pressure-treated decks a brand-new look that is beautiful and inviting.

4. Enhances Your Wood’s Natural Grain & Color

Staining your deck can also enhance its natural beauty and add a stylish touch. There are many deck stains available, and each stain can accentuate the color and natural grain of the wood in a unique way. 

Whether you prefer a dark and rich finish or a lighter, more natural appearance, there are many stain options to choose from that can meet your specific preferences.

5. Gives Wood Extra Protection from Wear and Tear

Wooden decks are subject to frequent use, including heavy foot traffic and furniture placement, which can cause wear and tear over time. To provide your deck with additional protection from these factors, staining is an excellent option. 

A high-quality deck wood stain can create a sturdy and long-lasting surface that can withstand significant abuse. However, it’s crucial to apply the stain during the appropriate time and weather conditions to achieve the best possible results.  

You’ll Also Like

My Top Pick For a Deck Stain for Pressure-Treated Wood:
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

The DEFY Extreme Wood Stain is an ideal option if you want a high-quality deck stain that provides long-lasting protection to your pressure-treated wood and maintains its appearance for many years. 

This is the best deck stain for pressure-treated wood for safeguarding your deck and keeping it in good condition, all while staying within a reasonable price range.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!