Best Deck Sealer | Best Deck Stain

How to choose the Best Deck Sealer?

Choosing the best deck sealer or best deck stain is not easy as there are hundreds of products on the market and the right sealer for your deck depends on a slew of factors. These factors include but are not limited to the location of your deck, the type of wood, and the amount of exposure to the sun. Generally speaking, the more color a deck stain has, the more protection your deck has against UV light.

The trade-off is colored deck stains require more careful application as uneven spots and lap marks can easily form. Also, deck stains can either be water or oil-based. Water-based sealers dry quicker, easier to clean up, and easier to apply in damp conditions. Oil-based sealers last longer and offer more deck protection by penetrating deeper.

If you apply the best wood stain to your deck or fence, you will notice that water beads up on your wood instead of soaking through. A properly sealed deck protecting your wood by applying a layer of protection to cover it and preventing damaging substances from seeping through.

Below we have summarised 5 of the best deck sealer and stain reviews. You’ll also find one of the finest and best semi-transparent deck stains for pressure-treated wood.

Can you use semi-transparent stain on pressure-treated wood?

A definite yes. If you use stain or going to use deck paint for any type of old pressure-treated wood, then this will provide a nice solution. Your pressure-treated wood will look younger with very little work. Your neighbors and friends will only be able to say “WOW what a nice job”. What we found out during our tests is that if you use an oil-based or semi-transparent deck stain on the wood, then you’ll get the best results. The reason is that you’ll keep the wood natural look, but with a shiny and good finish sensation.

Is oil or water-based stain better for pressure-treated wood?

As I mentioned above, oil is always best. The oil stains have been used for a long time because they can deal with harsh weather environments with extremes (snow in winter and high-temperature summers. The oil works wonder with any type of wood that doesn’t have some natural rot protective qualities. What is good is that the oil is easily cleaned up with a bit of mineral spirits.

However, if you have cedar, cypress, and redwood, then you’d be better going or water-based stains. This is because these types of wood are naturally protected from rot.

Below I provide the best deck sealer for pressure-treated wood named the Thompson’s WaterSealer. It is our number two on the list.

THOMPSONS WATERSEAL 21802 VOC Wood Protector, 1.2-Gallon

Ready Seal 110 1-Gallon Can Golden Pine Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer

The best deck stain or best deck sealer is oil-based and know as the Ready Seal 110 1-Gallon Can Golden Pine Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer. It is simply made to protect your wood from the elements. And with nearly 5,000 positive reviews, you cannot go wrong with this offer.

Using this best deck sealer on your wood decks or fence is the key to maintaining healthy decks that will last a long time. Finishes for your deck can either be sealers or stains. Sealers are clear and let the natural color of your wood show while stains have a bit of color to them.

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Because wood that is unsealed can easily deform and become damaged through bad weather, mildew, and other environmental factors such as UV light, it is important that you routinely apply a proper seal over your wood decks. This is what the Ready Seal does best.

Best Deck Sealer | Best Deck Stain Reviews

THOMPSONS WATERSEAL 21802 VOC Wood Protector, 1.2-Gallon

#1. Ready Seal 110 1-Gallon Can Golden Pine Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer

The Ready Seal best clear deck stain or best clear deck sealer is an oil-based Wood Protector and it also happens to be our all-time favorite. It claims to have more than 2 years of wood protection (that’s what people say). While most deck sealers only promise a two-year protection plan, the Ready Seal seems to go the extra mile. After testing this sealer against the others, we can attest that the sealer lasts longer than the usual 1 to 2 years. And you can look at a stain boat paint too.

We tried pouring all types of harmful substances and exposing them to UV light. The sealer did its job and beaded up the water well and did not become deformed. While we have not tested the claim that it holds for 7 years, we can say for the brief one-month period we did test this product against others, we found it to be more durable and more effective at blocking out UV light.

Also keep in mind that this is a deck stain, which means it has color and pigmentation. We did not see any discoloration during the time we tested it out, which is a good sign of long-term durability. Ready Seal also makes their best deck sealer clear (colorless) solution for those who prefer that. The one advantage of a pigmented deck stain is that it offers superior UV protection. We highly recommend you get a colored deck stain if your deck is exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

In terms of application, Ready Seal is not difficult to apply. You have to be very careful in the application and clean-up process. Otherwise, your deck will be unevenly coated and have lap spots. If you have the time and energy, we really think this product is the way to go. It will smell quite harsh and the application will be tough, but the payoff is down the road.

We polled many long-term users of this product to whether the seven-year rule is actually true and the average time between re-application is about 5 years, which is a lot longer than any other deck sealer we have reviewed. Because you won’t have to worry about your decks for a long time, we think this is the best sealer for redwood, cedar, or mahogany decks if you put in the initial work.

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THOMPSONS WATERSEAL 21802 VOC Wood Protector, 1.2-Gallon - best deck sealer and stain sealer

#2. Thompson’s Water Seal Advanced Natural Wood Protector

Here is the best semi-transparent deck stain for pressure-treated wood. Now, if you are looking for a convenient and durable sealer, Thompsons Water Seal is definitely the best deck sealer for pressure-treated wood. Thompson’s special formula is built to protect heavy against UV damage and mildew growth, which are some of the top reasons why decks go bad in the first place. Thompson’s deck sealer is a water-based formula, which means the sealer dries very quickly, easy to clean up, and is extremely forgiving on your wood surfaces. It can seal nail holes in one goer. 

While it does not offer as much protection as oil-based sealers, we really like the fact that the application process is much easier. It takes only a day to apply this to your deck, and it doesn’t matter whether you have damp or dry wood. You simply dump this on your deck with a paintbrush and clean it up with water and soap. This can all be done on the same day. Afterward, you need to let it dry for two days. The product lasts 1.5 to 2 years but really you should re-stain every 1 – 1.5 years.

If you have never used a water-based sealer, you should know that they are very easy to apply. We think many people underestimate this fact and just go with an oil-based sealer that penetrates deeper and lasts longer. Then when they start applying the oil-based sealer themselves, they find it to be a lot of work and results in many uneven spots. It may even start raining, which would completely ruin the project.

So for those who don’t want to do too much initial work, go with a water-based deck sealer. Thompson’s sealer is enough to cover 200 square feet of wood and we recommend it to anyone who isn’t a home improvement professional and wants a quick and easy solution. Because it is a clear solution, it is also the best deck sealer if you want a transparent deck that lets the natural beauty of your wood show. Though it is a clear sealer, a lot of my friends are also using this sealer as their best semi-transparent deck stain for pressure-treated wood.

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Cabot Australian Timber Oil best deck Stain, Quart, Jarrah Brown

#3. Cabot Australian Timber Oil Stain, Quart, Jarrah Brown

If you want an oil-based deck sealer that will weather any storm, Cabot Australian Timber Oil Stain, Quart, Jarrah Brown is the best deck sealer for you. Many professionals will agree that Cabot is hands down the best deck sealer that is oil-based. This sealer is a clear sealer (translucent) that offers superior mildew and UV protection. It does so by penetrating deeply into your wood’s pores and sealing the microscopic holes in them.

Also, the Cabot sealer forms a protective layer of old-based wax over your wood. This prevents water and other harmful substances from seeping through. After application, you will notice that water will bead up on your deck. This means that none is getting into your wood. Having damp wood is the start of the deterioration process for wood. It leads to wood cracking and deforming as well as expedited mildew growth. Furthermore, the UV protection from this product is the best we have ever seen. We have found practically no damage with UV light after application.

Application of the Cabot sealer is a lot trickier than water-based deck sealers and deck stains. You need to be extremely careful to get an even layer or you risk creating lap spots and sometimes even foot footprints. This oil-based sealer needs to be dried longer and has quite a strong odor. This is because toxins need to be in it to kill mildew since oil is a natural mildew magnet.

The good part about getting this sealer is that you will require less upkeep and maintenance, as you can afford to re-coating every 2-3 years instead of 1-2 with water-based sealers. This five-gallon jug of sealer covers up to 1000 square feet of deck space and is VOC compliant. You should get this if you have the time and patience to apply it and if your deck is constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions and UV light.

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#4. Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer

Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and SealerReady Seal Wood Stain and Deck Sealer are made of quality ingredients. It is great for all sorts of wood sealing and coating around your house. You can use it on your fence, deck, siding, patios, and gazebos. Also, it is an oil-based semi-transparent stain.

We think the best part about the ready seal deck sealer is that it is very easy to apply. It requires no primer which definitely saves you from a lot of unnecessary prep work. It also requires no diluting or thinning before your applications and works right out of the box.

Additionally, it will never really run or streak, so you don’t have to worry about uneven spots or bad aesthetics. The Ready Seal Deck Sealer doesn’t need a wet-line application, as the product pretty much blends itself. You can even spray this product on instead of rolling or brushing it on. We also like how there is not really a fixed range of temperatures to properly apply this product, so you don’t necessarily have to wait for a sunny day.

With the Ready Seal Wood Stain and Deck Sealer, you really do enhance the natural beauty of the wood and let your wood pop through. Keep in mind that this is not deck paint. It will not form a thick layer that changes the color of your wood. It is semi-transparent, so you can still choose one of the varieties of colors offered. We recommend a color that closely resembles the natural color of your wood deck.

Finally, the Ready Seal Wood Sealer offers a good deal of protection for your wood deck. It will protect it from harmful UV rays and mold, mildew, and water. Since it is a deck sealer, it will not provide the same level of protection as a deck paint, but it still does a great job. We really like the semi-transparent colors, which are something in between a clear deck sealer and deck paint. Instead of hiding the natural color of your wood deck, these semi-transparent colors accentuate the natural colors.

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#5. Defy Extreme 1 Gallon Exterior Wood Stain

Defy Extreme 1 Gallon Exterior Wood StainThe Defy Extreme exterior wood stain and deck sealer is a wise choice if you want to protect your wood deck. It also lets the natural beauty seep through. This is a water-based clear deck stain that is environmentally friendly. It works great to stain and seal anything wood, from your fences to decks, to sidings. Defy Extreme also offers one of the best levels of protection for a deck sealer compared to its competitors.

What we like the most about this wood sealer is that it has zinc nano-particle technology. This is simply a fancy way of saying it prevents premature graying and color loss. These particles evenly disperse throughout your wood to also prevent damage from UV rays. We know that most competitors have some sort of UV ray protection built-in. However, very few have zinc non-particle technology, which offers superior protection from color loss and damage. These nan-particles are also preventing mold and mildew from collecting on your wood deck.

The Defy Extreme wood stain and deck sealer also have high-quality resins. This is great if you want to extend the natural color of your wood deck. It is better resistant than most of its competitors to fading and darkening. This results in a wood deck sealer and stain that will last a few years longer than its competitors.

Finally, the Defy Extreme Deck Sealer is easy to maintain and re-apply. If you find the need for a touch-up, you don’t have to go through the hard work of stripping the surface. You just need to brighten the wood with a wood brightener. After that re-apply the Defy Extreme Deck Sealer in one single maintenance layer.

All in all, we like how easy it is to apply this product as well as the easy maintenance. We asked some long-term users of Defy Extreme their opinions on Defy Extreme. Most people cited durability as the number one feature. It is one of the most durable deck stains and deck sealers out there and will last longer than most of its competitors. Also, people stated that it is easy to reapply without having to strip and sand. The only real complaint is that it is a bit costly on a per galloon basis. But you pay for what you get.

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