10 Best Stain for New Deck- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Staining your deck has numerous advantages, such as offering an aesthetic look and, above all, ensure the durability of the structures. Stains protect the wood from damaging elements such as moisture, mold, mildew, and UV rays. If left unprotected, these elements cause rotting of the wood or discoloration due to prolonged exposure to sunlight. Overall, such impacts would leave your deck looking ugly. Now that you understand the importance of staining, you would probably want to get the best stain for new deck.

One problem that beginners in woodworking, painting, and homeowners face is selecting the right products from the many available in the market. Gladly, I am here to help you make the best choices for your newly installed decks.

Here are some of the things that you need to consider in a deck stain:

The color of the stain. You would want to go for a color that is appealing to you, and above all, it should coordinate with your house. Another aspect that you need to consider is the durability of the stain- Going for deck stains that will last longer helps you save on the ongoing costs of restaining. Additionally, consider stains that suits the wood in your deck. Most hardwoods would look better with a transparent or semi-transparent deck stain, while softwoods would go with solid or semi-solid stains.

The opacity of the stain is also vital. Wood stains are available in different thickness, some are clear, yet others can be transparent, semi-transparent, solid, and semi-solid. So, ensure that the stain you choose will give you the final appearance that you want. Other factors that must affect your decision making when shopping for stain includes pricing, ease of application, etc.
You’ll find below the list of best stains for new deck…

1. Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood

Ready seal exterior stain and sealer for wood improve wood’s general beauty, allowing your deck’s grain and texture to be visible. It is an oil-based, semi-transparent stain and also a sealer in one, suitable for exterior decks. It’s arguably the best stain for new deck thanks to its unique formula that penetrates deeply to protect and preserve wood from elements such as mold, mildew, and damaging UV sunlight rays. It comes in 8 different colors; therefore, it is probable that you will get a choice that suits your preference. The ready seal is darkest when first applied and achieves its true colors in approximately 14 days. 

Summary of top features

  • It is an oil-based exterior stain and sealer.
  • It has a built sealer.
  • It is semi-transparent.
  • It comes in 8 different colors.

Image of ready seal, best stain for new deckPros

  • It requires no primer.
  • The stain is easy to apply. A sprayer, roller, or brush can be of use.
  • Requires no back brushing and will never leave runs, laps, or streaks.
  • Requires no mixing or thinning before spray applications.
  • It comes with a variety of colors to choose from.
  • You can apply it during any temperature.
  • Easy maintenance, no need for sanding, or stripping during re-application.


  • The stain has a strong odor.
  • Boards turn very dark as it weathers.
  • Not suitable for thinning.
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2. DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

It is a water-based semi-transparent, an environmentally friendly stain that allows the wood grain to show through making it the best stain for new deck. The formula acts like sunscreen on wood, thanks to tiny zinc oxide particles spread through the stain to reflect damaging UV rays. Defy extreme wood stains are made with the highest quality resins with better resistance to fading and darkening, thus offering the much-needed durability. During maintenance, there is no need to sand the surface again, as this formula helps brighten the wood upon applying a single coat. The stain penetrates wood excellently and better than most water-based wood stains. 

Summary of top features

  • It is a water-based stain
  • The formula is semi-transparent.
  • This stain is made with the highest quality resins that provide durability.
  • Also made up of zinc nanotechnology for sunlight protection.

Image of Defy which is the best stain for new deckPros

  • Zinc Nano-particle technology produces a reliable protective layer that is durable.
  • It is easy to maintain. It only needs brightening, and then one coat is applied.
  • You can easily apply it by brushing, spraying using a pump-up, or an airless sprayer.
  • The stain is durable.
  • It does not darken or peel and has a low odor.


  • It is not that semi-transparent.
  • More expensive as compared to other options.
  • Wood must be cleaned and brightened first for better results.
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3. #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, Siding

#1 Deck Premium protects wood from damages caused by exposure to the elements. It uses a water formula to offer protection against color fade and graying of the wood. You can use this stain on pressure-treated pine, cedar, fir, redwood, or most softwoods. In the case of hardwood, frequent maintenance will help, especially if you are using this stain.  

This formula is available in 5 different colors. You can use it as a stain and sealer, protecting from water penetration and also adding color. It also enhances wood grains. The #1 Deck premium works on damp wood, saving on the time between cleaning and staining. This wood stain has easy cleaning as you only require water and soap. It has a low odor and VOC content; thus is safe when used with no harmful effects on health.

Summary of top features

  • Available in 5 different colors
  • Dual-purpose stain and a sealer
  • You can use it on pressure-treated softwoods. However, on hardwoods, it requires frequent maintenance.
  • It is a water-based, semi-transparent stain.
  • Has a low VOC content and odor

Image of a deck premium, the wood stain for new deckPros

  • Easy to apply
  • Has excellent penetration
  • Low odor
  • It is dual purpose as it acts as both a stain and a sealant.
  • Moderately priced
  • It dries quickly.
  • It comes in 5 different colors, and therefore you can choose what best suits your deck.


  • Not suitable for use on hardwoods.
  • More frequent maintenance costs on hardwoods.
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4. SEAL-ONCE NANO+POLY Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane

SEAL-ONCE NANO+POLY is a water-based sealer with advanced nanotechnology for penetrating the wood. It performs like an oil-based stain without any toxic chemicals or noxious solvents. The product offers long-lasting protection against water, up to 10 years on vertical surfaces and six years on horizontal surfaces, and combines polyurethane to provide 3600 protection, more reason for it to be the best stain for a new deck. 

Additionally, it works to protect the wood from fading by creating a UV barrier. It has an ultra-low VOC safe for people, plants, and marine life. You can apply it on damp surfaces, and is easy to use with soap and water clean-up. Available in 11 different color tints. Prevents warping, cupping, wood rot, mold, mildew, staining, decay and will not peel. NANO+POLY is not like most other sealers that trap moisture, creates a flexible, breathable barrier that allows water vapor to escape.

Summary of top features

  • The formula is a water-based stain and sealer that uses nanotechnology.
  • It has an ultra-low VOC, which is safe for plants, people, and marine life.
  • Available in 11 different wood stain tinted colors.
  • Combines using polyurethane to provide 3600 protection, making it ideal for high traffic applications such as decks and patios.

image of on of the best stains for new deckPros

  • It offers long-lasting protection against water. Ten years on vertical surfaces and as long as six years on horizontal surfaces.
  • Available in 11 different color tints, thus more options to choose.
  • Easy to apply.
  • Saves time as it can be used on damp surfaces.
  • Also ideal for high traffic applications such as decks and patios.


  • It is expensive
  • Wood turns grey over time.
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5. Cabot 140.0019202.007 Wood Toned Deck & Siding Low VOC Exterior Stain

Cabot 140.0019202.007 Wood Toned Deck & Siding Low VOC Exterior Stain is a translucent oil finish that beautifies the wood’s natural appearance. The stain is water repellant, deep penetrating, and also guards against warping and checking. On the plus side, it is mildew resistant. This formula is available in 5 toned wood colors that are ideal for your decks. 

The stain also has excellent UV sunlight rays’ resistance to protect your deck against fading and discoloration. What’s more about this formula is that it is uniquely formulated with a blend of resin and oil to offer a superior natural finish on bare wood by accentuating wood grains. 

One coat is enough for protection, and when properly applied, it will not crack or blister, or peel. Before using the stain, the surface must be dry, clean, and the wood sanded for better results. Clean up with mineral spirits.

Summary of top features

  • It is a translucent oil finish.
  • The stain has a low VOC.
  • Available in 5 toned wood colors.

Image of cabot, one of the best stains for new deckPros 

  • It offers reliable protection against water and UV rays.
  • Only one coat of protection is enough.
  • It has a low VOC, therefore, no adverse health effects.


  • Prone to cracking, peeling, or getting blisters when poorly applied.
  • It does not last long.
  • This stain is not that easy to apply. Requires back brushing immediately after spraying to ensure uniformity. Before applying, the wood has to be sanded, clean, absolutely dry, and brightened.
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6. THOMPSONS WATERSEAL Transparent Waterproofing Stain

Thompson’s water seal provides coverage of up to 400 square feet per gallon, depending on the surface requiring staining. It is highly effective in preventing water damage and uses advanced polymer to protect against fading. It is an all in one stain and a sealer, hence saving on cost and labor. The stain is also resistant to mildew and UV damage. 

It is available in 5 different colors, and the transparent stain helps keep the natural wood grain visible. You can apply it on freshly cleaned, damp, or dry wood. It will still give positive results in all situations. Thompsons Waterseal exceeds industry standard ASTM D-4446 for waterproofing wood.

Summary of top features

  • It uses advanced polymers for protection against sunlight.
  • It is a waterproofing, penetrating oil stain.
  • The formula provides coverage ranging up to 400 square feet per gallon.
  • Available in 5 different colors.
  • Transparent stain.
  • It has a dual composition of a stain and a sealer.

Thompson's waterseal, the best stain for new deckPros

  • Prevents water damage
  • It is highly affordable.
  • It is available in 5 different color selections according to your preference.
  • Advanced polymers provide fade-resistant colors.
  • You can apply it on freshly cleaned or damp surfaces.
  • It doesn’t change the color of the wood.
  • The stain has no odor.
  • Highly affordable.


  • Not a long-lasting stain.
  • For the best results, you must prepare the wood before application.
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7. SEAL-ONCE NANO Penetrating Wood Sealer & Stain

The SEAL-ONCE NANO Penetrating Wood Sealer & Stain is a water-based sealer with advanced penetrating nanotechnology. It performs like an oil-based stain without chemicals or noxious solvents. The wood sealer and stain have great investments to enhance and extend natural wood life. 

It protects against water damage for up to 10 years on vertical surfaces and up to 6 years on horizontal surfaces. This product is available in 11 tinted colors and uses NANO that penetrates deep below the surface of wood, offering a flexible, breathable water barrier that allows water vapor to escape. Unlike other wood stains and sealers that trap moisture below the surface. All surfaces should be cleaned with SEAL-ONCE all wood cleaner before sealing for best penetration and performance. 

Summary of top features

  • A water-based product that will not harm people, plants, or marine life.
  • It offers long-lasting protection from water damage.
  • The formula uses nanotechnology in wood finishes and stains.
  • It has a low odor.

Image of stain for new deckPros

  • Available in 11 different colors providing enough choices.
  • Has ultra-low VOC
  • It is durable. 
  • Easy to clean up using soap and water.


  • Needs back brushing for the best results.
  • Ideal for vertical surfaces that do not experience a high level of wear and tear.
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8. Cabot Semi-Solid Deck & Siding Stain

Cabot 140.0001417.007 is formulated in a unique way for superior durability. They have an alkyd resin base that provides an extremely tough and scuff resistant finish. It is a deep penetrating semi-solid finish that offers excellent UV protection. 

You will find this product in 6 different colors. They are incredibly durable for all types of wood decking and are composed of lightly pigmented, deep-penetrating, alkyd resin, and refined natural linseed oil. This stain brings out the full beauty of the wood grain and provides deep penetrating wood protection. The finish is only applied using a brush. It dries to a natural flat finish in approximately 24 to 48 hours, depending on humidity and temperature. It covers about 500 square feet per gallon.

Summary of top features

  • It is an oil-based semi-solid finish.
  • Available in 6 different colors.
  • It covers 400-500 square feet per gallon, variable according to the porosity of the surface.
  • The formula has alkyd resin and refined natural linseed oil.
  • They quickly clean up with mineral spirits.

image of cabot stain for new deckPros

  • This formula is available in 6 different colors, you can choose according to your preference.
  • It has superior durability. 
  • It is a water-repellent stain that resists cracking, peeling, and blistering. It also protects the wood against UV rays.
  • It only needs one coat.


  • Takes a long to dry
  • Not suitable for thinning.
  • You can only apply using a brush.
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9. SEAL-ONCE MARINE -Penetrating Wood Sealer, Waterproofer & Stain

SEAL-ONCE MARINE is a water-based penetrating wood sealer and stain that will make your wood last longer. The stain is formulated to offer protection for decks along the coastlines mostly and applied around fresh or salty water. It features a leading Nanoparticle technology that allows water to breathe while preventing moisture from penetrating past the sealant. As a result, wood can expand without cracking or splitting. It also makes your deck resistant to damage from salt spray, mold, and algae. If you prepare your wood properly before sealing, Seal-once marine will protect your wood for 6 years. The stain is endorsed by leading environmental organizations for its safety as one of the best stains for decks.

Summary of top features

  • It is a water-based product.
  • It comes in 11 different wood stains tints.
  • Features Nanoparticle technology that creates a flexible, breathable barrier that allows water to escape.
  • Has zero VOCs thus safe for the environment.
  • It is semi-transparent.
  • Available in 11 different color tints.

seal once stain for new deckPros 

  • It offers ultimate protection from water, thus suitable for decks along the coastlines.
  • Easy to clean up with warm water and soap.
  • Safe for the environment, it has zero VOCs this will not harm the plant, human, or marine life.
  • It is UV stable.
  • Adds color without hiding wood grains.
  • Available in 11 different semi-transparent tints to suit your preference.


  • Expensive
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10. KILZ L832211 Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain, Semi-Transparent

KILZ L832211 Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain is a semi-transparent tint that offers long-lasting protection. It provides a waterproofing and mildew resistant finish on your decks while maintaining the beauty of wood in variable exterior conditions. It is composed of a 100% acrylic formula that protects wood from rain, snow, and sun damage. The stain is warrantied for up to 3 years on your decks and up to 5 on fences and siding. It covers approximately up to 250 square feet on the first coat and up to 500 square feet on the second coat. For outstanding results, the product should be applied on dry and sanded surfaces. Available in 9 colors.

Summary of top features

  • It is a semi-transparent acrylic stain
  • They are applied in two coats and cover up to 250 square feet on the first coat and up to 500 square feet on the second coat per 1 gallon.
  • The stain is offered in 9 different colors.

image of a stain for new deckPros 

  • Provides durable exterior protection
  • Easy water clean-up.
  • 100% acrylic formulation
  • Provides waterproofing and mildew resistant finish while also protecting your deck from rain, snow, and sun damage.


  • For best results, wood preparation must be done before the application of the stain.
  • Color choices appear similar to traditional wood grain hues.
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Best Stain for New Wood Deck Buyer’s Guide

There are so many things that you need to consider if you are looking to land the very best staining formula for your newly installed deck. If you can get them all spot on, then you can rest assured that you end up with a stain that will serve your deck right for an extended duration.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Stain for New Deck

  • Color

Color is a significant factor when it comes to choosing your stain. When considering color, look for the one that matches your existing exterior house colors. It would make your decks stand out, complementing the look of your home. You can pick a stain that matches the wood’s color on your patio for a more natural look. You can test how the color of your stain looks on a smaller section of your deck. You can always strip if it off is not appealing.

  • Type of wood

Before you pick on the best stain for your new deck, you should first determine your decking material. Softwoods and hardwoods vary in texture, with hardwoods having a relatively consistent grain, while softwoods can frequently be blotchy with an inconsistent grain. The overall surface of the wood will generally change how a specific stain looks. Most hardwoods would shine through when using transparent, semi-transparent, or translucent like a stain. On the other hand, softwoods, including those that are pressure treated, would look best in semi-solid or solid stains.

  • Environmental concerns

Some stains have VOCs that emit toxic fumes which may be harmful to the environment. These VOCs may also affect your health. Develop a habit of going for an environmentally friendly stain with zero VOC and if you go for a stain with VOC, go for a stain with moderate VOC stain. It is recommended to go for one that complies with the VOC content regulation in your region. You would not want to find yourself breaking the law while staining your deck. Considering the VOC content of your stain should be much more of a priority for those next to water bodies to not harm marine life.

  • Durability

Different wood stains work differently and, as a result, offer different lifespans. It is most important to consider durability, depending on your weather. For harsh weather conditions, you would not want to go for a less durable stain as this will require frequent maintenance, thus more labor costs. Durable stains are generally cost-effective. When compared to oil-based stains, water-based stains will flake or chip during extreme weather.

  • Opacity

Also, opacity is vital when considering a stain. This aspect has an impact on the general design of your deck. You will find the stains existing in varieties such as clear, transparent, semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid. 

Clear stains have no color and will show the natural beauty of the wood. Semi-transparent changes the color of the wood slightly but does not obscure the grains of the wood. On the other, semi-solid has deeper shades and covers most rough textures in wood, allowing some of the grain and texture to show. 

Solid stains cover entirely imperfections allowing wood grains to peek through lightly. Depending on the design you want to achieve and the kind of surface on your wood, it will be essential to consider the stain’s opacity.

  • Ease of application

Different wood stains vary in application techniques. For instance, oil-based ones could be tricky to apply on damp surfaces while using water-based stains on moist surfaces would not be a problem. Some of these formulas also require wood sanded and cleaned or brightened. So, if choosing the best stain new deck, go for those that will allow you to apply without so many complications.

  • Pricing

Finally, what is your budget? Consider selecting a stain that fits your budget. Different wood stains have different prices. Oil-based ones are generally more expensive than water-based ones. If you are going for a more durable stain, you will have to part with more money.

Watch the video below on how to stain a deck:


In conclusion, staining your deck has numerous advantages. It protects the wood on your deck from effects such as rotting and fading while also giving it lasting beauty. 

As a homeowner, it makes every sense that when selecting your deck stain, you consider many factors, which I have highlighted in this text, you might end up wasting your time and hard-earned money on the wrong product.

My overall best stain for new deck is Ready SealThis formula is reliable, and above all, gives you a double advantage over other similar products in the market. 

I believe you have read this post and found it helpful for your quest to land the very best product for your newly installed deck. In case you have a question, opinion, or suggestion, kindly feel free to share it with me in the comment section below. Meanwhile, enjoy your shopping!

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.