Recommended Fence and Deck Stains

Rewritten by Laura Braden

Unlike vinyl or other, pricier materials that are guaranteed to last for years with minimal maintenance, wood materials provide a more economical way to extend your space for living, entertaining, and enjoying the outdoors. However beautiful and low cost it may be, wood is prone to deteriorate over time as both rain and sunlight work to corrode it. This happens particularly in our area where we experience extreme heat, cold, and wet conditions throughout the seasons.  To help prolong the life of your wood fence or deck, it is best to use a wood sealing product every so often.

Benefits of Sealing Decks and Fences

The best deck stains and sealants will ultimately extend the life of the wood by. . .

  • Shielding the wood from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays
  • Waterproofing the wood
  • Preventing cracking and splitting
  • Protecting the wood’s natural coloring

This means you can admire the beauty and enjoy the use of your deck/fence for many more years than you “wood” have been able to without it.

Your stain and Sealer Options

Solid deck and fence stains typically last up to three years.  If you don’t mind using a product that hides 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 disadvantage to these opaque materials is that they can build up a film and—just like paint—may peel, chip or crack over time. Solid stains are also great because they come in different colors, so you can really freshen up or change the look of your property if you choose.

Semi-transparent 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.

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 ideal type of deck 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 wood fence protection features like ultraviolet inhibitors and wood preservatives. But with most, deck refinishing is an annual chore.


Other than choosing how much coverage you want, there is also the task of choosing a water or oil-based stain.

Water based stains

Water based stains tend to be more difficult to apply than oil based, but they are more environmentally friendly, easier to clean up, and are generally cheaper than oil based. The items below are some of the water-based stains that we recommend.

Oil based stains

Oil based stains are easier to apply and penetrate much easier and smoother than water based. They are also more natural in appearance. The downside is that they are more expensive. Below are some of the oil-based stains that we recommend.


Factors to Keep in Mind

There is 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. Part of choosing a product has to do with how you want it to look. Do you prefer the wood’s natural grain to show, or not? Would you prefer to apply it with a brush, or not?

We have listed some recommended stains and wood fence protection options above for you, but you are the only one who knows what you and your deck or fence specifically need and want. Here are the factors you should consider, including what we have already discussed.

  • Does your area get a lot of sun? Pick something that has a lot of color protection. Do you get a lot of rain in your area? Focus on waterproofing!
  • Some of the solid or semi stains come in many different colors, so you can pick and choose what color you would like your deck/fence to be. If you would like to keep your wood the color it is, choose a clear option.
  • Pay attention to the directions on the label about how the stain is applied. Some can be sprayed on, while some need to be brushed on. Pick something that works best for you.
  • Life span. Like we stated before, solid protectants last longer, followed by semi and lastly, clear.
  • How old is your deck or fence? Some stains and sealers are made for protecting and sealing either new or old wood.
  • How much are you willing to spend to protect your wood features? They range from 40 to 200 dollars depending on all the things we talked about.


If you are looking to preserve and protect the look and life of your wooden fence or deck, a good stain or sealer is definitely a good investment to make. Taking just a little time and money to purchase a good protectant and apply it can save you the greater expense of having to replace it sooner. If you have any further questions that were not answered in this blog, feel free to contact Frederick Fence and we will be happy to direct and assist you as best we can.