There is a lot of pride in taking care of what you call home. Whether it is as simple as dusting, or more seemingly complicated tasks like giving your patio a refurbished aspect, the hand of the owner —that is, you— will always know better.
Have you worn out your home? Did you move into a new place to find out its wooden deck has tiny flaws you didn’t pay attention to before?
A new brush of color every once in a while, can give your house a different groove, and your family a big smile. Especially when we talk about wood, which deteriorates with great ease.
It is hard to find the right products, though —tell me about it. That’s why we have compiled a list for you to get the best deck stain for weathered wood out there. Find what you need and get on with it!
Benefits of Staining Weathered Wood
Wood has got an amazing look, particularly when surrounded by nature. There is something about it that screams both sophistication and coziness.
Unfortunately, nature elements have an eroding effect on wood. If your deck has no protection, sooner than later it starts to darken and rot.
Apart from looking bad, it is an accident waiting to happen. Pressure builds up until the deck gives in and breaks.
Rather than just applying a new coat of paint to watch it start flaking, again and again, you should use wood stain. Why? Let's see.
For starters, staining weathered wood works as a sealant. That means that, first, termites and similar bugs won’t be able to eat the wood. And second, moisture can’t slip through the cracks and undermine your deck from the inside.
Also, you can become friends again with the sun. Before staining it, sunshine decolorates your deck. After staining it, the more sun you get, the more you get to show it off!
There’s no need to buy new furniture or replace the boards on your deck. The easier, cheaper, and longer-lasting solution is to stain it.
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain
Cedar-Tone, Butternut, Driftwood Gray, Natural Pine, Light Walnut, Redwood
1 or 5 Gallons
Varathane Weathered Wood Accelerator
#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
Dark Walnut, Driftwood Gray, Natural, Light Walnut, Cedar
1 or 2.5 Gallons
Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer
Mahogany, Natural Cedar, Redwood, Dark Walnut, Golden Pine, Light Oak, Pecan
1 or 5 Gallons
General Finishes Oil-Based Gel Stain
American Oak, Antique Walnut, Ash Gray, Black, Brown Mahogany, Candlelite, Carbon Gray, Colonial Maple, Georgian Cherry, Gray, Java, New Pine, Nutmeg, Prairie Wheat, White
1 Gallon, 1 Half-Pint, 1 Pint, 1 Quart
KILZ Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain
Tall Earth Eco-Safe Wood Treatment Stain
Yes, it’s VOC-free
Olympic Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer
Redwood Naturaltone, Honey Gold
1 or 5 Gallons
SEAL-ONCE MARINE Penetrating Wood Sealer, Waterproofer & Stain
Natural, Light Brown, Brown, Cedar, Bronze Cedar, Redwood, Mahogany, Cape Cod Gray, Shale Gray, Battleship Gray, Black
1 or 5 Gallon
Best Deck Stain for Weathered Wood In 2020
1. DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain
Let’s get on board with our first product, a water-based wood stain marketed by DEFY. If you are looking for something that will make your outdoor wood endure like no other, this may be for you.
Besides, DEFY’s wood stain is fairly easy to apply: just a 3-step process. First, you need to clean the deck, generally with sandpaper, to remove any imperfections and splinters. Then, there's time to brighten the floor with a brush, water, and some soap. After that, you can finally stain.
Do you take pride in being old school? Then you can get on your knees and apply this weathered deck stain with a brush. That way, you get to see and fix every crevice that you might have missed when sanding. Good for you!
On the other hand, if you are all about efficiency and time optimization, you can spray the stain. Very simple too!
This 100% acrylic stain gives your wood environments a semi-transparent driftwood gray tone —for you rookies out there, that's gray with a bit of a tan; you're welcome. Its matte finish, besides, gives you points on the sophistication aspect.
But wait! There is more good news coming your way if you purchase this product. When the wood begins to get dull again, there’s no need to sand or strip the surface again. Just use a brightener, apply a single coat of stain, and voilà!
DEFY’s stain comes in two presentations: 1-gallon and 5-gallon pails.
2. Varathane Weathered Wood Accelerator
Do you enjoy vintage-looking objects and environments? Are you a regular customer to flea markets and antique shops?
In the search for old, gravitas-infused furniture, some people go as far as to leave their home fittings outdoors. There, it gets that aged look by withstanding rain and sunshine for a week or two —or more!
Well, you don’t need all that bother. Varathane Weathered Wood Accelerator can fix it for you in minutes!
Its water-based stain bathes cabinets, shelves, and other indoor furniture in a gray tone. The ultimate look, of course, depends on the texture of the original wood, but you can be sure that this product will imitate the aging that would happen by itself in nature.
A problem I’ve had when painting or staining indoor furniture is the (seemingly) inevitable stench. With other products, it has taken days for it to go away, even with all windows open. Not with this one product, though. Its low odor formula lets you use it and then be at ease.
Do you want more? I don’t know about yours, but my home has always been packed with children. They are cute, but I just can’t get them to keep their hands off paint and such. Luckily, this stain dries to touch in an hour. I don’t have to worry about tiny hand-shaped marks anymore!
Varathane’s Wood Accelerator comes in a 946 mL pail which can cover up to 275 square feet.
3. #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent- Best Deck Stain for Old Wood
Are you ready for a very useful tip about wood? When buying wooden furniture —or lumber, for that matter, if you’re that good a carpenter— to use outdoors, make sure you purchase pressure-treated wood.
What's the difference? you may ask. Well, pressure-treated wood has undergone a procedure which gives it protection against termites and rotting. Those are two issues you won't have to care about anymore.
However, there might be something else to think about. Even that old pressure treated deck of yours may start to lose its color after a while. Nothing to do about that, unless…
Yes, you guessed. #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain can help you! Its semi-transparent, eco-friendly formula was made to protect your outdoor timber against color fade and gray.
Apart from staining your decks, fences, and patio furniture with a beautiful matte finish, it also works as a sealant in case they weren’t already protected from natural elements.
#1 Deck’s stain can be applied to any kind of wood, though it works especially on softwoods (cedar, redwood, fir, pine…) and pressure-treated lumber.
However, if you happen to own a hardwood deck —that is, one made of oak, maple, cherry, hickory, birch, and the like—, don’t be scared! It does get the job done, though it may require more frequent maintenance.
Two extra perks! This stain doesn't cover the wood grain, which means wood will still look like wood. And second, you may apply it to damp lumber. You don't have to wait for it to dry!
Comes in 1-gallon and 2.5-gallon presentations.
4. Ready Seal Exterior Stain For Weathered Wood
While we continue to help you on our search for the best deck stain for weathered wood, let’s look at this product from Ready Seal. It’s a bit different from what we have seen so far, with its pros and cons.
For starters, it is the first oil-based stain that we have gone through. If you are thinking, “Well, that means pollution in my backyard!”, think again. This product is 100% biodegradable when it touches soil or water. One thing off your chest.
Another difference is that it will take at least two weeks for you to see its real color. Your wooden deck will get darkest after application, and then start to fade to the tone you have chosen. On the bright side —pun intended!—, it will also take longer before you need to reapply the stain for maintenance.
Speaking of which, there are multiple applying methods. You can use a sprayer, a roller, or a brush; it's all the same, the product will get the job done. Furthermore, it requires no diluting nor thinning: it's a ready-to-use stain suitable for all seasons, be it the coldest winter or the heaviest summer.
One last advantage: it doesn't need a primer. That is, you don't need to apply the first coat of paint to cover the pores in the wood. You shouldn't use this stain at all over already sealed surfaces, because it won't penetrate the lumber.
What you have to do is apply two light coats of this product, waiting around 45 minutes in between. That is enough for you to have that old wood protected from nature and looking shiny as you wanted!
This product comes in 1-gallon and 5-gallon pails. Each gallon can cover up to 175 square feet of the wooden surface, depending on the kind of timber.
5. General Finishes Oil-Based Gel Stain
When looking to purchase an item that satisfies your needs, it is always reasonable to seek the voice of the experts —that’s what you come here for, right? In this case, besides us, you have to listen to woodworkers.
They would probably recommend a stain that is easy to apply and suits even the trickiest of woods, e.g., aspen or pine.
But, wait! What do we mean by "tricky"? Here we mean porous woods. Their kind absorbs most fluids you bathe them with, so you can go coat after coat of a low-quality stain and it will never stick.
Back to the woodworker's advice. What you need in cases like that is a heavily bodied stain that doesn't penetrate as deeply into the wood. In other words, you need the product to dry before it gets lost within the lumber.
Second of all, they would endorse something easy to apply, preferably with the touch of the hand. Because what do woodworkers like most than feeling the texture of an evenly sanded piece of lumber beneath their fingers? I will leave the answer hanging out there.
The point is the voice of the experts points to this product by General Finishes. It’s so thick you just can’t spray it —you need to wipe it on with a cloth. Besides, it leaves a lustrous finish the kind you would only find in a carpenter’s shop.
General Finishes’ gel stain comes in four different presentations: 1 gallon, 1 half-pint, 1 pint, and 1 quart.
6. KILZ Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain
In our quest for that deck stain for old wood which you have been needing for a while, we now stumble across a waterproofing wood stain by KILZ. With a brand that has been in business for more than 40 years, the chances of failure thin out.
They come with waterproofing, semi-transparent, mildew-resistant stain that also provides UV protection for all your wooden needs.
Because it is acrylic-based and not water- or oil-based, it guards your weathered wood against the harshest conditions, like heavy rain, scorching sunshine, and even snow.
Be careful, though, for this stain performs its best on new or unsealed surfaces with less than 10 years of exposure. Beyond that, your wooden exteriors are considered geriatric and should move to Florida.
If, however, they are still in their prime, you can use this product without any worry.
Just a few tips! First, you don’t need to thin the product, although you should use a cleaner or brightener on surfaces before application. Once you’ve done that, let the surfaces dry for 24 hours and then you can put on the stain.
Do it with a brush, a high-quality sprayer or a pad applicator, and enjoy! KILZ's stain lasts 3 years on surfaces that endure foot traffic (e.g., decks), and 5 years on other wooden constructions, like fences and sidings.
Each gallon of KILZ's stain covers up to 250 square feet on its first coat, and 500 square feet on the second application.
7. Tall Earth Eco-Safe Wood Treatment Stain
I’ll start with a question that you can answer in a minute: Have you ever looked at something you wanted and thought, “Oh, man, this is too good to be true!”? Well, check out this product by Tall Earth, because I think they broke the mold.
What is one of our main concerns, as parents and pet-owners, when painting or staining? “Honey, make sure the children and Rufus don’t go out and touch it or smell it. It’ll make them sick”. Am I right?
Not when Tall Earth created a non-toxic, children- and animal-friendly stain! This product does not contain any VOCs. To clarify, that means volatile organic compounds —chemicals that have respiratory, allergic, and immune effects on people— are nowhere to be seen here.
Another concern: “Well, I take care of nature and such, but without chemicals, there's no way this stain lasts what it should. Right?” I'm truly sorry, but you're wrong again. The company claims that one application is enough for a lifetime. You don’t have to care about maintenance ever again!
Besides, one package of this, when mixed with water, makes three gallons of stain. That’s enough to cover between 450 and 600 square feet of wooden surfaces.
In sum: Is this too good to be true? Many, many costumers vouch for Tall Earth’s eco-safe safe, including US government agencies and national park authorities. So yes, this product may well for your old deck.
8. Olympic Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer
Tell me if any part of this has happened to you.
Your partner recently noticed that your deck has started to show some gray patches, and asked you if you would fix it. Without looking up from the computer, you said, “Sure, honey, I’ll do it”.
Against all odds, you went to the store the next day, purchased a stain for weathered deck, and went home looking forward to spending a couple of hours on your backyard, fixing stuff.
As you parked your car, however, big drops of water started hitting the windshield. “When rain, no stain”, you thought to yourself. The same happened the next day, and for weeks straight you didn’t get three days in a row without it pouring like crazy.
What to do? If you live in a cloudy place, always with the threat of rain, you need a faster-working stain. You should try Olympic’s, for example.
It provides most of the perks of other stains (e. g., waterproofing, UV protection, and the like), but you can apply it over damp wood and only need 8 hours for it to stick.
This product also has a great temperature range for you to use it: from 35° F to 120° F. Plus, for a treat, it is a stain and a sealant, all in one!
Does it last long? Yes, more than most brands: 4 years on decks and 6 years on fences and wooden sidings.
Olympic’s stain comes in 1-gallon and 5-gallon pails, and each gallon covers up to 300 square feet.
9. SEAL-ONCE MARINE Penetrating Wood Sealer, Waterproofer & Stain
We know by now that you have been looking to purchase an item that works as a protection for old deck wood. But we haven’t yet considered a game-changing issue: What if you live by the sea?
Seaside towns offer fantastic scenery, a peaceful lifestyle, beautiful sunsets, and delicious food, among other perks. However, saltwater environments take a toll on materials such as metal, concrete, and, yes, also wood.
SEAL-ONCE Marine formula works as the perfect solution to preserve lumber in such conditions. It specializes in wooden constructions in high-moisture areas and marine locations: docks, piers, retaining walls, and the like.
This product’s water-based formula is low on VOC and non-toxic. It fits into the eco-safe category, for it doesn’t harm children, pets, plants, nor marine life.
Apart from providing UV protection to your wooden decorations, this stain inhibits warping, rotting, molding, cupping, and mildew and algae growth.
And to put the cherry on top of everything, we have saved for the end that which distinguishes SEAL-ONCE’s product from the rest:
It features exclusive nanotechnology that coats individual wood fibers when applied. That means the stain expands and contracts with wood, which in turn protects it from radical temperature changes.
Especially thought out for humid environments, it also allows water vapor to escape. That way, it provides superior protection against decay and water damage.
SEAL-ONCE’s stain comes in 1-gallon and 5-gallon presentations. Each gallon covers up to 350 square feet of surfaces.
What to Look Before Buying a Deck Stain for Weathered Wood?
There are some things to take into account when trying to find the right deck stain for old wood.
1. Oil-based vs. water-based
How to know which kind of stain will work better on your deck? We can start by saying that, if it’s all the same, water-based stains are the right way to go. They are less pollutant, don’t emit harmful fumes, keep a richer hue of color for a longer time, and are easier to clean up.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not all the same. There are woods with a natural resistance to rotting —for example, redwood, cedar, and cypress— and others that rot fairly easy. The latter would require an oil-based stain, which provides a thicker seal and penetrates deeper.
If you value a more even finish over a richer color, oil-based stains would work better for you, too. The same if you don’t intend to do frequent maintenance to your wooden decorations.
2. Size of the deck
There is no need for me to tell you to always read the product’s label before buying something, is it? An important piece of information you will find there is the amount of stain it comprises, and possibly the standard area of wood it will cover.
I can’t think of anything as unpleasant as running out of a product halfway through your hard work —I’ve been there, believe me, it stinks.
Good advice is to always purchase a few extra products, just in case. If the container says you need two gallons, buy three. Yes, I know, it costs more, but you will use it anyway.
Oh, and something else! Beware of how many layers of stain you will need to put on your deck and take that into account. Brands aren’t always clear about that. Do your research first, and then do the math.
3. Desired color and specifications
Another conundrum is to decide about the final color you would like for your wooden decorations. If possible, don’t trust pics: get the hardware store employee to show you a sample in real-time.
I’ll repeat it due to its importance: always read the label —and the instructions, if you already purchased the item. Some people use the stain and get upset the following morning because their deck doesn’t look like they thought it would. These products take time, be patient.
4. VOC Compliance
We’ve talked a bit about volatile organic compounds (VOC). There’s nothing inherently bad about them. Most of the time, they appear in nature and do not cause any health hazards.
However, that’s not the case with human-made VOCs. Chemical mixtures such as the stains we have reviewed usually contain VOCs that are harmful to people and the environment. That’s why, to prevent health risks and air pollution, each country and state has its regulations about them.
Always read the product’s label and check its amount of VOCs. The lower, the better, especially when working indoors.
With time, stain wears out, that’s a sad truth and we’ve all have to live by it. What’s relative, though, is how fast it wears out, and that depends on the type of stain and its brand.
As we've said, oil-based stains last longer because they can better withstand the elements of nature. Sunshine, rain, snow, hail… you name it: oil is better prepared than water to deal with it.
Brands are prone to advertise if their product lasts longer than their competition’s. But you know how marketing works. To be safe, always buy a stain recommended by someone who has used it.
6. Climate Zone
The last characteristic you need to consider is how the climate zone you live in will affect the strain you put on your weathered deck. Here, there are two things you should take into account: applying restrictions and resistance.
Every stain container will tell you exactly the temperature range at which it should be applied. For some you will need temperate weather; others withstand harsher conditions. Make sure you read the instructions carefully before applying —heck, before buying!— any product at all.
Even after being treated, there so much a stained deck can take. And I’m not talking about foot traffic; I mean climate conditions. Some stains hold better against constant rain, some perform their best with scorching sunshine. There are even stains specifically designed for marine environments.
Know what it is you’re going to need before deciding on a stain.
How to Stain an Old Weathered Deck?
OK, we’re ready to fire this up! We’ve gone to the store, purchase the best deck stain for weathered wood we could find, and now we’re set to the task. What to do?
Staining wood is fairly easy, although there are several steps to follow and essential equipment involved.
It depends on the product, but I’m pretty sure you will at least need some sandpaper (or a hard bristle brush) and something to apply the stain with. It can be a brush, a roller, a sprayer… There are many ways to do it, just make sure your stain is suited.
Well, all hands on deck!
First step: clean it. If it’s new, all you need is wash it to remove any dust and leaves. On the other hand, if it has undergone a series of staining and painting before, make sure you get rid of it.
An easy way of doing it is by using a stripper, which makes all previously applied finishes come out to the surface. After it has had time to work, remove sand out (or brush out) all imperfections and give your deck a final wash.
Second step: let it dry. Some stains can be spread on damp wood, but that’s not usual. Most products will ask you to let your deck dry off at least for a day.
Final step: apply the stain with the method you want and can. And consider safety! Use gloves and goggles so the stain doesn't come in touch with your skin and eyes. Oil-based products emit several hazardous fumes, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to cover your nostrils and mouth.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can a stained deck hold up to scratches, say, by moving heavy chairs back and forth?
A well-stained deck won’t have issues with scratching, and I will tell you why.
Stain works differently than paint. While the paint is usually a coat that sits on top of the wood, stain penetrates the pores of the lumber and soaks it up. To put in metaphysical terms, while paint joins wood, a stain becomes wood.
So no, if your deck is properly treated, and we’re just talking about patio furniture moving through it, scratches won’t be a problem.
2. Is it recommended to wear a respirator while spraying a stain?
That is a question that holds lots of answers.
First off, it won’t kill you to wear a respirator. If you can afford it and think you will feel safer wearing one, be my guest.
Do you need it? That depends on the kind of stain you are using. Oil-based products, as we have mentioned, release into the air chemical compounds you wouldn’t want in your lungs.
That said, if you are indoors using an oil-based stain, you should wear a respirator and keep your windows open. Outdoors, even with a light breeze, it shouldn’t be an issue.
3. I have a newly installed deck. Can I stain it now or should I wait?
That will depend mostly on your deck’s wood.
It takes longer for hardwoods to open their pores, and you want the stain to penetrate and reach every interstice. The safest bet will be to let your deck exposed to nature for about six months.
Oppositely, if your deck is made out of softwood and you live in Raging Storm City, it wouldn't be a bad idea to stain it sooner. I'd still leave it unnatural for a couple of months, though.
Ready to go and purchase right weathered wood stain? We have reviewed a bunch of them for you and we don’t pick favorites. In the end, you should go with whatever suits your needs.
Everyone should take pride in housework. You don't get paid for doing it, I know, but the look on your family members when they see their place one step closer to perfection has no price.
I hope you have found our tips useful and that you can give your home the new look it deserves.
Last note: Selecting best deck stain for weathered wood is very tricky. So, carefully read our all product reviews and select perfect stain for old decks.
Best of luck!