That was our top criteria for selecting the best deck stain sealer.
If you are ready to get moving with “all hands on deck”, then Thompsons Water Seal Natural Wood Protector scored high above the rest of the sealers we tested and is our top pick.
Deck Stain Sealer Comparison
Deck Stain Sealer Buying Guide
Things to Consider
There are many things that you will need to take into consideration before you start searching for the right deck stain sealer. Factors that you will need to look at include:
- Location of your deck
- The type of wood the deck is made of
- How much sun the deck gets
If your deck is in a high sun area for extended periods of time, you will want to look for an oil based sealer because they penetrate deeper and offer more protection because of that; they also last longer. Redwood and cedar don’t need sealers due to the type of wood they are.
They are not usually prone to the same problems as other wood. Sealers will help the wood maintain its natural color rather than turning dark or gray. It also prevents the wood from getting wet and then drying out repeatedly which can cause the wood to warp.
Types of Sealers
There are several different kinds of sealers on the market that do different things. We have listed the different wood sealers below so you can see the differences between them and figure out which one fits your needs the best.
- Water Repellant Sealers – There are several things that this type of sealer can do for you. It will form a protective coating on the wood and protect it from stains, wear and water damage as well.
- Water repellant Wood Preservatives – Water repellant wood preservatives also protect your deck against decay and rot because it prevents fungus, mold, and mildew from growing and causing tons of problems with the wood of your deck. It can also possible protect against some of the wood eating bugs that can damage your deck as well. This type of sealer is EPA registered.
- Wood Toners – Wood toners are water repellants with a tint. They protect your deck by adding UV protection from the sun. This added protection comes from the darker tint of the sealer. Darker tones provide more protection from the sun than light colored wood. Wood toners can be applied right over the top of previously painted surfaces.
Types of Deck Sealers
There are two basic types of deck sealers. We’ve listed some help information about these two types below.
Oil Based –There are several advantages to using an oil based sealer. They protect your deck by penetrating the wood deeper and are extremely durable. They also provide a thicker seal that prevents many different kinds of damage. Oil based sealers require more time to dry which will provide an even finish. They also require solvents to be cleaned up and can have harmful odors or fumes.
Water Based – The advantages to using a water-based sealer include the fact that they dry quickly. It is extremely easy you clean up (soap and water) and resists mold and mildew. Water based sealers also don’t have the chemicals and dangers that oil based sealers can have such as being flammable or having a harmful odor or fumes.
The three sealers listed below can either be oil based or water based depending on what options the manufacturer offers.
Clear Finish – Depending on the clear finish your purchase, it may allow the wood to naturally gray while maintaining structural integrity, or it may preserve the natural color of the deck.
Semi- Transparent – This type of sealer has a little bit of a tint or color to it and offers UV protection. It adds some color but allows the grain of the wood to show through the sealer.
Solid Color – This will provide you with the best protection against any UV rays but it keeps the natural look of the wood intact. It is very important that the deck be thoroughly cleaned before sealer is added. If not you will seal the dirt to the deck and it will show.
Penetrating sealers prevent the wood from cracking and splintering. It will say penetrating on the can or bottle of sealer so you know you have the right kind. The best time to seal the deck is soon after it is built. Reapplication will normally be about every 3-5 years or as needed. A high quality deck stain sealer will help extend the life of the deck and there will be more time between reapplications.
Getting the Deck Ready for Application or Reapplication
Your deck will start to degrade quickly if it is left exposed to moisture and sun. By not treating your deck you are leaving it open to turn gray. Another potential and likely problem that can arise from leaving the deck untreated is that the boards can warp, cup or split. Take care of business and seal the deck and you will not have to worry about any of those things.
When you are getting ready to seal your deck there are three basic steps that you will need to follow that will make the sealing go smoothly.
- Step 1 – remove the old stain or coatings
- Step 2 – clean the wood and prepare it for sealing
- Step 3 – Seal the Wood
If the deck has not been sealed before there will be no stripping step involved. New wood has some pre stain preparation that needs to be done. Don’t make the mistake of sealing the deck too soon. It needs to weather for a few months before you seal it.
New boards have a very high moisture content and since the surface is very smooth because of milling. This will prevent the sealer from being able to properly penetrate the wood of the deck.
Do a water test to see whether the deck has previous sealer on it. The water test is very easy. Just put a few drops of water on the deck in various places and see if they seep into the wood or they remain on top, beaded up. This will need to be done in several places.
The importance of sealing your deck is very clear. If you don’t seal it, it will wear out much faster and have to be replaced. Keep up with the maintenance your deck requires and you will not have to do much maintenance at all.
With all of the different kinds of sealers on the market, knowing some specifics that will help you sort through all of the varieties and select the right deck stain sealer for your needs. A good quality sealer will save you lots of money in repair or replacement costs and will keep your deck looking fantastic.