The Best Deck Stains for Sealing Decks and Fences

Wood fences and decks provide an economical way to extend your living space and create a wonderful setting for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors.  However, wood fences and decks are prone to deterioration over time as both rain and sunlight work against the wood’s life cycle and can cause it to corrode, particularly in years where there is an abundance of wet weather or extreme heat.  To help prolong the life of your wood fence or deck, it’s best to use a wood deck sealer within a year of installation.

Benefits of Sealing Decks and Fences

The best deck stains help shield the wood from the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays while also waterproofing the wood so that it repels water.  A wood sealant also helps prevent cracking and splitting and protect the wood’s natural color.  Ultimately, a proper wood sealant extends the life of the wood, meaning you can enjoy your wood deck or fence for many years as it endures the elements brought on by the natural world.

Recommended Deck and Fence Stains

There are a plethora of deck and fence stains on the market today, most of which a homeowner can easily apply with a bit of preparation and research on the materials needed to adequately seal and stain the wood.  Choosing a product depends on how much of the wood’s natural grain you wish to show—opaque or solid treatments tend to last the longest, but you may prefer a semitransparent or clear finish if you want to showcase the wood’s natural beauty.

Below are some examples of the types of finishes available and some of the recommended options available to you.  If you want to go in-depth and explore what’s out there on the market, visit Consumer Reports as they tend to update their Wood Stain buying guide each year as new products get introduced on the market or their longevity tests on certain seal and stain products offers updated results.

Solid Deck and Fence Stains

Solid deck and fence stains typically last up to three years.  If you don’t mind using a product that ends up hiding the wood grain and don’t want to re-apply a seal every year, then a solid stain may be the ideal choice for you.  One caveat of these opaque materials is that they can build up a film and—just like paint—may peel, chip or crack over time.

Image credit: Dollar Photo Club (used under license).

Below are some recommended solid deck and wood fence stains on the market, which you can typically find at Ace Hardware or Home Depot:

Semi-Transparent Deck and Fence Stains

Semi-transparent deck sealer products allow some of the wood grain to show through, which makes them a great choice for cedar or other types of wood whose natural finish you want to showcase on your property.  They are not as weather resistant as solid treatments; you may find yourself needing to re-apply this stain after two years.

One of the best semi-transparent deck and fence stains is Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Wood Stain, which you can find at Home Depot.

Clear Deck and Fence Stains

Clear deck and fence stains typically contain little or no pigment, along with water repellents.  If your goal is to retain the natural grain of the wood, then this is the best fence stain. However, make note that over time, the wood will still turn gray.  If this is the stain you prefer to use, expect to re-apply it each year.

Clear stains are ideal for showing off the natural grain of a premium wood as much as possible. Clear treatments may have ultraviolet inhibitors and wood preservatives. But with most, deck refinishing is an annual chore.

Below are some recommended clear deck and fence stains, which you can typically find at most home improvement stores in the area:

Pricing Deck and Fence Stains

The average price for deck and fence stains typically runs between $28 and $40 per container.  Check with your local retailer or manufacturer for special coupons, especially during the fall and pre-summer seasons!

Have a fence or deck you recently stained? Tell us about your experience and what products you recommend in the comments below!

Photo Credit: all images in this article are used under license from Dollar Photo Club.