I have had it with deck stain

August 3, 2005

I need soembody to help me come to a consensus.

I have been trolling the forums for weeks to try and find some sort of recomedation on a deck treatment. I have looked at countless numbers of web pages......and guess what they all say something different.

I have a cedar deck that is two years old and has not been stained/sealed/preserved/waterproofed etc. I have done all the prep work to get ready for a stain. The whole shot.....oxalic acid....oxegen bleach.....sanded the whole thing. Two levels....400 square feet each...220 spindles. Took me almost three weekends to complet. It is time to get something on it.....but what.

Lets make it clear right now. I do not want a solid stain. I am leaning between a "toned" sealer and a semitranserent stain. I have read all the cans. Cabots, Olympic, Wholmans, TWP, Penofin, Flood, Behr. Non e tell you the one thing that I am looking for. I do not want to have to strip the stain off the next time it needs a little refresing. I really don't care if I have to "wash" the deck once a year and reapply product. I do not want to have to strip, brighten, sand and seal every year.....or ever again for that matter. I want the deck to look great and I have no intetion of waiting until the deck is full of mold/algae and peeling sealer to redo it again. I want it to look good every year.

So what I need is somebody to recomend me a product that I can apply this year and next year take some "cleaning agent" be it oxalic acid TSP or whatever and wash down the deck an slap another coat on top to make it look new again.

So can somebody tell me what to use? I hoep I just don't hear TWP. Beacasue the other board was all about "ready Seal" and the other one was all about Cabot. Just help me understand the contents of the product and how aften I can apply wtihout stripping.

Comments (141)

  • doss_glenn_yahoo_com

    I live in South Central Georgia on a Lake. I built a new dock out of presure treated 2x6's as decking this past winter. It is now starting to fade in the hot summer sun. After reading the post on this forum, I was wondering what new products may be out to help protect my expensive new deck. I have over 500 SF on flat surface that needs something.

    In the past I have used Thompson's and did not like it because it did not last.

    I have also used Behr Stain on another place I owned.

    What would some one use on Pressure treated pine in the hot sunof South Georgia

  • greenbuff_cox_net

    We have a deck that was built 8 years ago. The second part was added about 4 years ago. This leaves two slight colors. It was poweredwashed 3 years ago and stained with Sherman Williams 'Natural' color. We have powerwashed our deck and their a few redish area from the old stain. We want to restain with a sherman williams deckscape semitransparent stain,the color is "harbor mist." Will this cover or should we use a semi-solid stain.

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    I live on Mn/ND border and used to buy and sell mobile homes. You are correct, it looks like a double wide. I would get rid of that skirting...what is under it? Do u have a block basement? Wood? If it's concrete, it can be painted, which is cheap to do..I would paint it darker than the siding. You could put brick or stone veneer. There is a bit of a job to it from what I have seen. Either way, once u change it u can landscape to draw less attention to it, unless u want to if it's a nice stone or something. For decking...correct, lumbar yards..but please bring home samples.. Never seems to work out well when I don't- I would also want the stain to coordinate/compliment nicely with whatever u put on the foundation...compare colors to your siding and in the daylight to see how it looks together.. If your windows had wider trim it would look less trailer-like...
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    The reddish wood is the repair work. Its mahogany which is actually the same wood as our deck. He said because it's new wood versus old it would be impossible to match the rest of the deck, but there must be a way to stain it to be closer. The close up of the board that looks almost blotchy yellow is my major concern. It looks like he didn't strip the wood down enough because many pieces on our deck look like this. Even if its old wood, the deck should be able to look more uniform in color (the repair pieces aside), right?
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    I was just in the same predicament myself. Due to the unevenness in the wood colours, I decided to paint it a solid colour using Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Solid Deck and Siding Stain. It comes in a variety of premixed colours but it can also be made up in any Benjamin Moore colour. I've attached a photo of my deck which is now a nice gray. Excuse the cherries - they're ripe and dropping from our tree and we can't keep up with them.
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  • hult_jackie_gmail_com

    Has anyone used Cedar Seal from WashSafeIndustries? It's a "green" project and claims to address many of the problems listed in this thread. (Can't believe I read the whole thread and I am still really confused. Just spent 10bills on a beautiful new cedar deck and pergola and now I'm scared poop-less.)

  • CedarMan

    TWP and Cedar

    I live and build in the Midwest.
    That statement should be sufficient to anyone that has had dealings with our weather.
    If its not 97degrees with an index of 110, its raining at 33 degrees at 5pm setting up for a freezing night. All that moisture is soaking into unsealed wood and concrete all over the region. Some fundamental physics are about to show their stuff.

    After building hundreds of costly cedar decks, fences and patios there really is only one issue. HOW do I protect the investment?
    And my answer is SIMPLE, remove the moisture and seal with TWP.
    TWP was designed and tested for cedar and applied properly will help to protect the investment.
    But make no mistake, the acid rain and direct sun light will take their toll and TWP will have to be reapplied. When? that depends on the amount of those process mentioned.
    Here is an example: On your cedar deck you will notice that the vertical wood will weather slower then the horizontal wood.

    I had the advantage of speaking with the owner of Amteco a few years ago and discovered some interesting things about their products and their applications.

    I will post another item on when your cedar is ready to seal.
    The boy at Home Depot will tell you to wait 6 months because that�s what he was told.

    If you like that nasty, grey, weathered barn look, heed his advice.

  • brunosonio

    Wow, what a spectacular thread, one of the best and longest I've seen in THS. So much great information culled from everyone's experience. Thanks for sharing.

    One can theorize that where you live in the country and your local weather patterns (as well as type of wood) will determine what is the best product. Like several others in here, I live in the PNW, where it's extremely wet for most of the year, then bone dry for the summer. In addition, I have decks in the back of the house in full shade facing a forest greenbelt, then a deck in the front of the house facing directly west, getting blasted with winter storms and hot summer sun.

    Both decks are just past the magic 15 year mark, what many have said is the maximum life span for decks in our state. After much cursing and experimenting, I've come up with the following that seems to work best and has kept our decks going all these years. Later this summer when it finally gets hot, I'll probably have to replace for the first time a few boards that have cracked or are worn from water damage (under a leaky rain gutter.)

    I've used Flood's CWF in clear, and it's held up really well. A few years ago they upgraded to a new formulation that was supposed to last longer between reapplications. I was able to switch to that without having to strip off the previous stain.

    The decks were built in 1995, and what I do is powerwash ever year, both horizontal and vertical surfaces. In the begining I made the regrettable mistake of using the stronger Olympic deck cleaners and brighteners, which only weakened the wood. Now I only use Oxyclean, which I mix up in 1/2 cup to 1 gallon of water. I spray it on, let it sit for 30 minutes, scrub a little on the handrails where needed, then powerwash off.

    I let it dry for 2-3 days, then apply the CWF, using a bristle brush to load it on very heavily. I let it soak in, then back brush. It looks like crap for an hour, then magically disappears into the wood and all the sheen goes matte.

    I find even with the longer (3-5 years) product, I still have to reapply to the horizontal surfaces every other year in our weather. The vertical surfaces I can stretch out to about every 4-5 years, and even then it's just a very light touch up coat.

    What gets us is the moisture and rain. The hot sun in the summer doesn't hurt the wood at all or fade the stain. All the sections of deck that are protected by the roof overhang are in pristine condition. All the areas exposed to the rain take a beating by comparison.

    What I like about CWF is that you can reapply over old applications without having to strip. It goes on like thick melted wax, then soaks into the wood.

    We have a large cedar fence at another property. It was installed last year and we used Penafin on it. After one bad and very wet winter, the finish is not holding up that well and will have to be reapplied this summer. It's gotten a bit splotchy and uneven, whereas the CWF seems to look better on the deck.

    On all of our outdoor teak furniture, I've used Daly's teak oil finish. The large table which we have to keep outside all winter really takes a beating, so I clean it with Oxyclean, lightly powerwash to rinse off the mold/mildew, let dry for a day, then sand to smooth out the flat surfaces. I then apply up to 6 coats of teak oil, buffing off the excess after 15 minutes. They do have a teak wood cleaner, but it's basically oxalic acid.

    My big qualm with bleach, oxalic acid, sodium hydroxide, TSP, and all of the other products is that our yard is incrdibly packed with native perennials and even if I wanted to cover the garden or water it down, it's just too much work. Oxyclean breaks down into sodium chloride and is actually good for the soil. I never wet down the plants, and never have to rinse everything down to dilute the residue.

  • musky-hunter

    It is really sad that these companies can continue to make such an inferior product for so many years and we continue to pay increasingly higher prices. I might understand if their R&D was really producing a better product.

    I have had two cedar decks in the past 15 years and I am sick of the maintenance and am now considering either replacing with some lower maintenance material or stripping and staining with a solid stain. My first deck we used Superdeck twice. Both times it lasted only a year. We then went with Cabots solid stain and it lasted 5 years before we moved to our current house. Not having to do the annual staining maintenance for five years left me with blurred vision and a desire to have a transparent stain on our new deck. After reading all there was to read we tried TWP. At year two it looked bad. Now at year three it is worse and I�m faced with what to use this time. For those that think TWP is great and I must have prepped and applied wrong, please check that. I used both parts of Restore-A-Deck per the instructions and applied the TWP properly to a cool deck. In the links below you can see what TWP looks like at year three. Year two wasn�t much better.


    Why isn't there much discussion of solid stains on this forum? Is it because people that use it don't have many problems and therefore we don�t hear from them? If you have used a solid stain, what did you use and how long did it last? Is there a solid stain out there that won't peel if you reapply without stripping?

  • cdnguy292001

    Bargoman may know where it is at. I just had a cedar deck built by contractor that builds beautiful cedar cottages. He suggesed using penofin on it. It never peels or has to be stripped and is safer for kids in bare feet. I guess other stains are toxic? The only downfall to this is you have to put it on and then rub off the excess which makes it kind of messy. If it isn't rubbed off it "gathers" for lack of better word and then dries looking like sap on your deck.

  • Kapty19_yahoo_com

    Great thread!

    I inherited a very gray cedar deck in British Columbia, on the North side of the house, basically in a forest.

    I've had good results getting rid of mildew with a bleach/water mixture and some light scrubbing with a broom.

    After that, I used oxalic acid and the gray color really went away.

    I pressure washed lightly after both chemicals.

    Now, I'm going to use Olympic clear oil on it.

    I plan to pressure wash again next spring and put on another coat of clear oil.

    Wood decks need maintenance every year if you want them to look good. End of story.

  • ahooks_jdssc_com

    I have 3 seperate redwood decks on the back side of my house. One deck is the origional deck and the wood is about 15 years old and the other two are about 8 years old. I have refinished the decks 3 times myself in 8 years and each time Striping,sanding and cleaning each time. This time I decided to do a little more research on the deck stain options instead of taking the local wood dealers recommendations. I settled on using the READY SEAL - Medium Red color sealer\stain on my decks. It has come out way better than expected. I was a little worried at first when I applied that it was going to be too dark but it ended up looking amazing. My neighbors are asking what I used and they can't believe the difference. When I first built the newer 2 decks I origionally used Superduck stain from the place where I bouight the redwood from. Went on good and looked good for about a year then started waering very fast. Second time I used Penofin and had issues with wood turning black on most of the tang rails. Did wear better than other previously applied. Next was my nightmare and it was Behr from HD. Bad Choice!!!! The rails were fine but the deck boards started peeling and flaking after about a month. Looked terrible. I was skectable about the advertising that READY SEAL had but I could NOT find any negative postings anywhere on the web about this stain, so I decided to give it a try. This was definately the easiest and best stain that I have used this far. Unfortunately they don't have distributors in California but the shipping though I thought was a little pricy was well within my budget. With shipping it ends up being about 33.00 a gallon. The results were amazing.

  • tworst

    I have been reading this thread for a few hours and the more I read the less I know what I am going to do for my replacement PT deck boards. Most of the threads are just use product A/B/C or process X/Y/X with little rational behind the recommendation. I am not looking for the "best" product or process, as there are usually many variables involved as well as andvantages/disadvantages. Besides, if you simply claim product A/B/C is best all I can do is group that comment in with the thousand other contradictory comments I've read. How about a link to a controlled long term study of different product types like stain/paint/oil/latex/UV/sealer/etc? With explainations of what each type actually does to the wood and how well it performs, maybe a chart with each type with a rating for each desired characteristic such as longevity, cost, UV protection, water protection, fading, peeling, reapplication period, etc, to some it all up? I hate to complain becasue I know everybody means well. But I am just not getting enough fundamental, organized and comparitive information considering the great deal of time I have spent reading. I mean honestly, I know less about the approach I will take now than before I started reading this thread.

    PS - I am an engineer and a bit anal about getting good data on any subject before committing to a course of action. This has advantages and disadvantages.................nevermind.

  • patricja_umflint_edu

    I read the first 20 posts and realized the same thing, and, like yourself (tworst), would really like to find data/info that is better researched/organized/coordinated. Based on the massive amounts of contradictory data out there on deck prepping and staining "do's and don'ts", no wonder many of us end up confused, taking stabs in the dark in hopes of finding a good outcome on this time-consuming project. Looks like there is a market for a "better" product and/or less intense procedure. Maybe an expensive switch to concrete or composite is in the works.

    Think I'm off to the hardware store once again, unfortunately still blindfolded...

    Good luck to everyone!

  • nvwoods21_gmail_com

    I live at an elevation of 5600ft. high desert, temps in summer to 95, and down to 15 in winter, lots of snow. I have a redwood deck that we have been using McCloskey redwood stain on. We do have a claw foot tub Koi pond right next to the deck and it does mildew from year to year. We have kept it clean with a bit of bleach water for the mildew and then power washing with deck cleaner. Now in our isolated area the store that carried the product has been closed. I have read the threads and found none that are in our geographic location. Any ideas, we just finished sanding the deck and need to buy something, and I think 2 years sounds great, as we have been keeping ours up 2x's a year. Neighbors slammed on the breaks with that product.

  • MILefty

    After hours of research, I finally found my way to the Forest Products Laboratory of the USDA Forest Service, with clear, unbiased, scientifically-based information about deck maintenance, sealers and stains. No product names are used. The documents that I found helpful are "Details for a Lasting Deck", "Finishes for Wood Decks", "Cleaners and Restorers for Wood Decks", and "Finishing Wood Decks". While they are not recent publications, the science doesn't change.

    Hope this helps!

  • caesarv

    I read this entire post and came away with the feeling that the best solution is to do nothing and just replace the entire deck every 2 years. This is what information overload will do to you! Since there seems to be many experts here, I thought I would try my luck in getting some expertise on a somewhat related item.

    In my case, I just need to stain and protect some new KD clear cedar wood that will surround an outside bathtub (not hot tub.) This amounts to only about 16 sq ft. For now, I have settled on Superdeck transparent stain (canyon brown)....partially because they sell 3 oz samples for only $2. Yes, I know that may seem absurd considering that the small amount of clear cedar I got cost me about $200. I expect the cedar to be covered most of the time, so it should not weather too badly.

    My relatively simple question: Is it better to sand the wood lightly (220 grit) before application of stain? I would like to stain it as dark as possible and I have heard that using 2 coats is NOT a good idea, so I want as much staining mileage out of the stain as possible. Can I apply it, wait for it to dry, re-sand, and apply another coat?

    In terms of refinishing in a year or two, can I just re-sand and reapply the stain again?

  • fourwheelin

    I live in the Northeast and built a 7' high T&G Pine and Pressure Treated fence back in 2003 and coated it with Sikkens Oil Based Rubbol Solid Stain with it's 6 year warranty.
    Well this week we are giving it it's first new coat. The back side away from the afternoon sun is still smooth and has some sheen, as is the sections under the trees that yearly saw two Spic and Span cleanings to rid the black stains.
    The sun sections faded flat and got real dry finally, and 3 pine caps rotted due to rain and snow getting into screw holes or knots failed.
    Everthing now is VOC formula so the new Sikkens has a 2 year warranty I believe. I chose FLOOD SWF Solid this time and had it mixed to match the former two colors I used.
    The prep was power washing using a surface cleaning attachment, then a backup scrub on some areas with Spic and Span powder. I filled all board cracks and knot shrinks with wood filler.
    The stain was a pleasure to use, covered great and stuck to the old oil stain no problem. Will re-post if anything turns ugly...but I don't expect it to. I chose FLOOD for it's 5/15 warranty, it's self priming ability and it's Emulsabond formula, and if I only get half (7 1/2 yrs.) I'll be thrilled.

  • Dan

    Not to add to an already long post, but I felt compelled to reply after seeing messages above recommending Sikkens (by dealers mostly). I live in Ontario (Canada) and have used Sikkens SRD on my east-facing cedar deck for about 7 years ago. Why? Because that is what my very reputable dealer recommended. I have spent 7 years of refinishing my deck almost yearly (cleaner, stripper, sanding) thinking it was me and have now realized it is the Sikkens. There are several problems I have encountered with the Sikkens. It darkens considerably in the course of one year. It also blackens in places due to mold. You can clean the deck to address the mold, but that doesn't address the darkening of the finish. The cleaner also has a habit of removing some of the Sikkens because it will start to fail in about 25% of the deck area. I have even had areas of graying under the finish after only one winter. After 7 years I am giving up on the Sikkens and moving on.

    Does anyone know if this site is legitimate?


    Their review on Sikkens is spot on and exactly what I have experienced. They have me looking at TWP. I don't mind cleaning yearly and even putting a fresh coat on the horizontal surfaces yearly, as long as I don't need to strip and sand it first. The TWP is said to lighten and thus would be more amenable to adding a new coat (unlike the Sikkens which darkens).


  • deckdude2

    I agree with deckstainhelp.com's review of Sikkens. As a contractor we will not use it. We do use a lot of Armstrong Clark and TWP and both are very good stains. Neither darken in color.

  • JohnGalt2013

    Well consumer reports CR came out with thompsons as the best and recommended for clear deck sealer. (July 2012)
    But of course - any of us doing decks know - it should be the lowest, if on the list at all. They like it because it's waterbased and wax. As previous posts correctly point out - that's ideology and hope - not science.
    With all research I've done including here there is no single answer which product to use. But the household ones are uniformly poor. My current favorite is Penofin, but my mind and eyes will remain open.

  • Crittenden

    Wow! Lots of great info...but I don't think I found what I was looking for. Hopefully someone can help me out. I tried doing a google search but really couldn't find anything.

    My question deals with re-applying and what is required. I read in this thread people say they have done various things before reapplying their stain (Wash with soap, wash with chemical cleaners, strip, strip and sand, etc.). However, how do I know which one of these I need to do? Does it depend on if my stain is water based or oil based? Or does it just depend on how bad the stain is pealing/fading? And generally speaking is water based better or oil based?

    I recently built a 2 tone deck. I applied the water based (acrylic) Behr semi-transparent stain (yes I know, lol, but I didn't read enough reviews) to the border and some pattern boards and then used the Thompson's clear waterproofing to the rest. I assume I'm going to have to fix it next year. So I'm wonder if I'm going to have to strip it, sand it, etc. or will I just be able to wash it and reapply?


  • millworkman

    Strip it without a doubt although by using Behr/Thompsoms there may not be much left to strip, lol. But yes it would need to be stripped regardless.

  • Crittenden

    Thanks millworkman, but that doesn't quite answer my question :( What is the reason you say strip it for sure? Is this because it's water based? Why wouldn't I be able to just clean it and then reapply?

  • millworkman

    because if the old finish is not completely removed the new finish will not adhere properly

  • Crittenden

    Thanks again millworkman...but I have another followup question :) I've seen in this thread that many people say they have only had to clean the deck before reapplying. What enables them to do this? Is it just because they used better quality product, or is it something else?
    Thanks again, I appreciate the help!

  • millworkman

    washing does not remove the finish that is currently applied. You can use a deck wash or cleaner if you apply the exact same product over the existing finish. If you want a finish to last and look even and correct your strip the deck.

  • capecodd

    Well, it is deck-finishing season in New England, and I have studied this blog until my eyes bleed, but I have a question which hasn't been asked yet. How do I keep my PT pine weathered deck gray, without using a gray solid or semi-solid stain?

    On Cape Cod houses, including mine, the prevailing color is weathered gray cedar shingles.The likely weather hazard is standing snow, which we will not be here to remove. The deck is now weathered enough that it matches the natural weathered cedar wall shingles. Unlike most contributors to this blog, I don't want to turn my deck back to its original tan or brown color, although I do want to get rid of the black mildew.

    This is our first season in this house, so we don't know the deck's history. I can see that solid gray stain has been sanded off at some point in the past. Water does not bead, so it clearly is ready for some treatment. There is an unopened jug of Olympic WaterGuard Waterproofing Clear Sealant for Wood in the basement, but no evidence that it was used.

    From this blog, I have concluded that deck wash, brighteners and oxalic acid will remove the dead gray wood and renew the original tan/brown highly grained appearance of PT pine, which I do not want. The comment that the dead gray wood fiber is nature's way of protecting the good wood beneath makes sense to me. I've also read here that there is a fair chance that semi-solid or solid stain will peel, and I don't want to risk that. In conclusion, I want to clean and finish the deck to protect it, but not change the existing natural gray color. Any ideas how to do this?

  • southerncanuck

    And people ask me why I leave my cedar deck natural, no stain, no anything? It's cheaper to replace a few deck boards every 5 to 10 years. Within 1 season they blend in like they were original.

    I read here where someone actually tarps the deck every winter. My oh my.

  • DaDuck

    Regarding Consumer Reports. Go down to your local library. It doesn't cost a thing..

  • kaylawildflower8bflorida

    Does anyone know for sure what these white spots on my new pressure-treated pine fence are? Mold? Mildew? Chemicals from the pressure treating leaking out? Do they need to be cleaned or pressure washed off before I have the fence stained? Thanks.

  • kaylawildflower8bflorida

    Does anyone know for sure what these white spots on my new pressure-treated pine fence are? Mold? Mildew? Chemicals from the pressure treating leaking out? Do they need to be cleaned or pressure washed off before I have the fence stained? Thanks.

  • Peter_Bray

    Hi KalyaWildflower!

    The spots are just part of the chemical treatment process. You should apply a cleaner such as ProClean used in combination with pressure cleaning. This will give you a great base as a prep prior to applying the wood protection product of your choice. If you desire a fast and easy product to use where you can still see the grain of the wood, have a look at CUTEK Extreme. The CedarTone would be ideal.


    All the best with your fence project!

  • kaylawildflower8bflorida

    @Peter Bray too late. It's painted now. 3 out of 5 painters told me its normal and nothing to worry about, so they just painted right over it. I hope that's okay. I think it would have taken scrubbing, not just pressure washing to get that chemical off. The Sherwin Williams rep told me to scrub it with a wet rag and see if it came off. If it did, it would have been mold, but it didn't, so I didn't worry about it.

  • millworkman

    Peter Bray is a spammer, pay him no mind.

  • Leslie Hand

    Well after all these years of posts - can anyone tell me whats the best choice for a covered porch that is open to the elements on the sides? Ive almost got all of the paint (or whatever it is) sanded down to bare wood. Its been a bear to do. Not sure if I really need to keep going. I had hoped to do something semi but now Im thinking Ill never be able to do that. There's places where it seems near impossible to get all the "whatever it is" up - especially around some of the edges or sunk boards.

    So what solid product has held up the best?

  • Oldbluemountainbeach.com

    Picking out a deck stain/protectant is absolute torture. I am using penofin blue label, a semi transparent stain. We put it on yellow pine decking; most of it covered. I like it because it appears to be more easily maintained. Just clean the deck and reapply.

    I live right off the beach on the Florida panhandle. I expect to reapply every 12-18 months; maybe less often on the more protected surfaces.

  • traveler_2008

    i live on long island. have 2 very large decks. husband thinks a paint was put down and not a stain. anyway its horrible. needs to be resanded and then???? what about floods or TWP. any recent experience. tx.

  • bob_busch20

    I live in Kansas City. The deck on my house is 29 years old. It is pine. The deck boards look close to new. Every couple of years I apply Wolman's Copper Coat with a hand-held tank sprayer. I do no sanding, ever. I do no power washing, ever. I do no scraping, ever. I do no chemical cleaning, ever. I don't shovel the snow off, ever. There is no awning or anything else over the deck to protect it. I do blow the leaves off in the fall. The Copper Coat imparts a faint green color to the natural color of the wood. This diminishes with time. There is also a faint odor that is gone in two weeks. At different times and not on a regular basis, I have applied both Minwax wood hardener and a 2-part epoxy product, CPES (clear penetrating epoxy sealer), from the Rot Doctor in Seattle to the ends of the deck boards where they are exposed. This clogs the capillaries from sucking water into the boards. Although the wood is dead, the capillaries are still good at moving water through the boards. At this rate, I don't expect to ever have to repair this deck in my lifetime. I did remove a few "short" deck boards to replace them with much longer ones.. I don't like 3-footers ruining the appearance of a deck. You could dismiss my results, since it is a single experimental result. My neighbor on one side of my house is now having her deck boards replaced along with balusters, hand rails, and steps. A couple of years ago they had their deck professionally cleaned and stained. That only temporarily improved the appearance. My neighbor on the other side has a deck that is a mess, with all kinds of stuff living off of it. It will have to be replaced. Our decks were all built at the same time and all with pine. I will assume that it was pressure treated CCA (chromated copper arsenate) wood. The difference in the decks is just amazing. I have learned to live the with the appearance of weathered wood in the trade-off of doing nearly nothing to maintain my deck. I have read where rot is caused by micro-organisms. I remove the water by clogging the capillaries in the wood, and the copper will inhibit or kill any other surface micro-organisms. I buy Copper Coat at about $22 per gallon. That sure beats $50 a gallon for some preservative/sealer/UV-inhibitor/colorant that lasts 3 years at the most.

  • jestapilot

    Here is a vote for Sherwin Williams Cedar toned Deckscapes. I applied mine over a year ago and it looks brand new.

  • PRO
    Fiberon Decking

    You could use composite decking and never have to sand, prep or stain your deck again. Yes -- a more expensive option, but it may be worth the money. Consider all the hours saved, and all the things you could be doing instead! See the wood-vs-composite report

  • Deb Wheatley

    Armstrong semi transparent and then you will only have to do the spindles every 5 years and the horizontal surfaces will just need a quick clean once a year and recoating to make it look like new again. You won't get it from most stores but The Stain Shop do a great job getting the stain out to you in 24 hours and at a great price.

  • Terri Byers

    Ok. Because I am late... Just now finding this.

    Sounds like you had the same problems and like the look I do. After having the issues with stains that had to be stripped before updating each year, I somehow got hold of sherwon williams deckscapes. I got clear deck and TINTED it with the color I wanted! So for 15 years I loved reapplying it every other year for the horizontal areas and every 4-5 years for the verticals. I would simply cleaned it and reapply! It went on like a dream! Like an oil but would clean up like water! Could see the grains and the beauty of the wood so well.

    Last treatment, my husband insisted on relieving me of this duty and hired someone to do it. I didn't realize that they switched to the semitransparent instead of the clear! Thankfully we just had to rebuild a new deck so here we are again. If I get my way the decking at least will be the clear with the tint!

  • sjwhittle174

    i used beher on my front porch the water based and have been so dissaponted it being latex is only coats not penetrate and shows lap marks i just did 2 14 by 38 back decks with thompsons timber oil and could not be more satisfied after 1 yr they still look new and repells water just as the day i put it on hint if it drys before it penetrates it will not last

  • rafael rodriguez

    So I've read most comments and I guess the bottom line is there is not seal, stain or treatment that last a lifetime. Has anyone tried ecowood treatment???? I have a new fence put up and wanted to see if its as good as advertised. Maybe this is the way to go because many stains have to be replied ever 2 years or so. Help please!

  • PRO
    Pinnacle Home Interiors and Exteriors Llc,

    I used Thompsons Water Seal on my redwood deck and now I am getting a black residue/dust coming off on everything. I can't even walk on it without getting black feet and socks!!

    Why would this happen?

  • Yo Name

    Hello there,

    For those of you looking for a Deck stain with low maintenance I would suggest the Penofin Stains. Penofin is a penetrating oil stain that lives in the wood not on the wood. I have a Cedar Deck and have used this product on it for years. I never have to sand or strip I just use the Pro-Tech cleaner and than re apply.! I would not suggest any other products. When i was interested in first applying the stain I called the Penofin Customer Service help line and they walked me threw all of the steps. They explained the difference between surface stains and penetrating stains.

  • brunosonio

    Not sure about Penofin up here in the wet PNW. We've used it on a fence and my sister used it on her deck. Both turned dark and grew mildew very quickly, within a season. Basically, in our climate with standing water most of the year and now with baking sun in the summer, it's nearly impossible to not have to treat and restain a wood deck every year. I've given up and given in to that. Semi-transparent is no better at lasting than clear oil finishes. What's also hard for us is that you have to wait to nearly the end of summer....Aug on....to clean and restain a deck, because the early spring/summer are just too wet and cool. So I've learned to stain for the winter to make it look good in the fall/winter LOL. Ironically, the Trek type decks are not that much less maintenance up here, and look pretty dirty and ragged after a few years.

  • Yo Name

    Im located in the PNW and love the Penofin just a suggestion.

  • 1818 Federal (7bEC)

    I am so RELIEVED I am not alone with shopping for exterior stain. Between 4 ft pickets and 7 ft privacy, I've got 350 linear feet (about 3500sf) of fence. My goals are longevity/durability, meaning I don't want to reapply in 2 years (powerwashing + staining + product is costing over $2k). I prefer it wear gray than to peel.

    In case this helps anyone, here's what I've gathered from research:

    1) READYSEAL - semi transparent oil; beloved by contractors! (bc it fades in 2 yrs). Now at Lowes/HD.

    2) DEFY, TWP, ARMSTRONG - all 3 have good online reviews (haven't found at Lowes/HD).

    3) BEHR SOLID STAIN - Oil/latex blend. Filming, not penetrating. And Behr's response on peel is benignly noncommittal.

    4) THOMPSON WATERSEAL SEMI TRANSP - limited UV, bust supposedly waterproofs even after it fades.

    5) OLYMPIC - has 4, 6, and 10 year products. Reviews indicate failures.

    6) CABOT - has a semi solid!

    I'm beginning to think COMPOSITE FENCES have improved such that they're the best value for time/money. #ItsJustAFence

  • k_quan


    I have multi-tiered cedar deck thats probably about 12 years old, in the Pacific Northwest . Ive only been in the house a few years. The largest section of deck had previously been srained, but a smaller 150 sf section hadn't been, but was in need of something. So I did weeks and weeks of research until I was thoroughly confused. I read up a lot before doing anything, in hopes of avoiding mistakes.

    After being stressed out at the lack of a clear answer, I thought I'd go with Behr semi-transparent stain and sealer. Why??? Yes I read all kinds of reviews, but I had noticed a neighbours fence that didn't look too bad after 2 or 3 years, and found out he had used this same product. So I thought I'd give it a go. (In hind sight, there's a big difference between vertical surfaces like fences, and horizontal surfaces like decks!)

    I read up on how to best prepared. Used the Behr all in one wood cleaner (which was a pain to rinse off), a stiff scrub brush and lots of elbow grease. Rinsed and rinsed again. I didn't power wash to avoid damaging the deck. It looked really good after it was cleaned up! I let it dry for 2 weeks. (Yes, 2 weeks of no rain in the PCW!) Then I sanded it , but not too fine. Brushed off all the dust thoroughly. Then I followed the directions for the Behr stain and sealer. A helper applying it and me back brushing to even it out and not allow for puddling. Didnt apply it in the hot sun, as directed. After letting it all dry, it looked great! This was late September. Nervously, I would check it every morning for weeks, hoping it would be good and thinking that only people with bad experiences had posted poor reviews.

    After a few months and several rains, things were still holding up. Winter came, and still ok. But in January, that's when I started noticing some peeling. Yes, only FOUR MONTHS after original application. Then I got the bad feeling i was now part of "the club". I've had more and more peeling. It's as if the "stain" was nothing but a very thin coating the deck and it was starting to peel away. All over.

    They guarantee their "most advanced formula" for 6 years on decks? It didn't last 6 months. What a horrible joke.

    All those hours and hours of research. Hours and hours of work and prep. Hours from my children and family. Hours and hours of stress.

    I took every precaution. I followed every direction. I find it extremely irresponsible for a compay to sell a product like this THAT SIMPLY DOESN'T WORK as advertised. It's reprehensible. And so what if they offer 100% money back guarantee?!? The money I get back on a couple gallons doesn't pay for all the time out of my life.

    This is NOT a stain. It is a film or coating only. And a weak one at that. By now I can only guess that after numerous complaints, Behr knows this but continues to sell this product. Unconscionable.

    IF MY STORY CAN SAVE A FEW PEOPLE FROM WASTING THEIR TIME...at least it can feel like a small consolation for me after the time taken from my family and children in going through this frustration.

    Now I don't know what the hell I'm going to do about this deck this year. These photos were from a month ago. It's worse now.

  • CarrieHund

    Honestly, after reading this whole thread, I am kind of tempted to just replace my deck boards with composite or pvc decking....

  • Larry Symms

    @CarrieHund, I'm with you. In progress on an addition and really annoyed with myself for cheaping out with PT pine. My plan is to let it weather and then use twp 1500.

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