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Best Deck Paints and Stains for 2021

Whether you're looking to protect your new deck or restore an old one, here are some deck paints and stains that are worth considering.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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Staining A DeckBanksPhotos/Getty Images

It’s Time to Freshen Up Your Deck

Your deck is an outdoor extension of your home’s living area. Get yours in tip-top shape for summer by sprucing it up with the right deck paint or stain.

The difference between deck paints and stains

Paint is the most opaque choice in protective coatings. Available in a wide range of color options, it tends to be more prone to chipping and peeling so it requires periodic sanding and repainting.

Stains, on the other hand, penetrate into the wood to provide protection against water and UV damage while accentuating its texture and grain. They come in a range of see-through options: solid, semi-transparent, transparent and clear. Keep in mind that stains at the sheerest end of the spectrum offer less protection and require regular re-application.

To determine which products to recommend, we weighed reports of application properties, durability and cost from professionals and DIYers.

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Best Water-Based Deck Paint

The 100 percent acrylic Behr Premium Porch & Patio Floor Paint makes our list for its versatility alone. Use it on new, weathered, primed or pre-painted wood, as well as uncoated concrete and other masonry. It also scores high marks for its fast dry time — it allows you to recoat in as little as four hours.

It provides a low-luster, enamel finish for extra protection on high-traffic areas like wood porches or cement walkways. And there are a multitude of beautiful custom colors to choose from.

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Best Water-Based Deck Stain

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain is an environmentally friendly, water-based stain that leaves behind a durable matte finish while protecting against damaging moisture, mildew and UV rays. It utilizes a new formula with transparent oxide-based nanoparticles that helps prevent premature graying and fading.

And it’s easy to maintain. When the surface begins to dull, simply clean with soap and water and reapply a single coat. No stripping or sanding is necessary. Said one Amazon user: “Rain water beads up like no other product I’ve seen.”

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Best Oil-Based Deck Paint

For achieving extra-hard yet flexible surface preservation, oil-based products deliver. Rust-Oleum Marine Coatings Topside Paint was originally designed for boats, so it’s an excellent choice for decks exposed to lots of rain or extremely humid weather conditions.

Topside bonds to all types of surfaces, from wood to fiberglass and metal. It dries to the touch in as little as one hour and promises long-lasting color retention.

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Best Oil-Based Deck Stain

Using the purest linseed and tung oils available, the Cabot Australian Timber Oil Stain gives superior penetration into wood surfaces.

This stain features a durable alkyd resin formula that produces lasting durability on heavy-traffic areas, while remaining flexible so it doesn’t flake or peel over time. Earth-ground pigments deliver a rich and natural color for UV protection three to four times that of other synthetic compounds.

One Amazon user wrote, “…it coats perfectly and lasts longer than any other with simply amazing results. You do not need to be a professional to get a professional result at a fraction of the price!”

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Best Anti-Slip Paint

Not slippery when wet, the RTG Deck, Porch, & Patio Anti-Slip Paint is a deck coating with a traction additive for a sure-footed, non-slip finish.

Made of a water-based polyurethane formula, this fast-drying and DIY-friendly paint is easy to apply with a brush or roller and cleans up with soap and water. It’s recommended for heavy foot traffic areas like decks, patios, porches, stairs, ramps and walkways — almost anywhere where slipping is a risk.

One Amazon reviewer reported, “I bought this paint because it sounded easy to use, and it was. It helped us turn a dingy patio into a cozy outdoor space, and the traction underfoot is a plus.”

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Best Waterproof Stain

Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain has more than earned a reputation for giving exterior wood decking complete protection. The stain prevents water damage. Its advanced polymers combat fading. And as it says on the container, the coating resists mildew and UV damage.

Applied to freshly cleaned decks and damp or dry wood, it sinks in fast with one coat protecting your deck for up to four years (six years on fences and siding). Moderately pigmented in a range of colors, Waterseal comes in solid, semi-transparent and transparent formulas.

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Best One-Step Stain and Sealer

The all-in-one Olympic Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer stains and beautifies in a single step, making it a real time-saver.

The weather-ready formula can be applied after it rains or in full sun. In the heat or in the cold, there’s no need to wait for the perfect conditions to get the job done. Olympic Maximum provides enhanced waterproofing and superior UV sunblock defense, and it’s made to condition all types of wood.

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Best for New Wood

Requiring no primer, Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer is goof-proof. Recommended by pros because it goes on effortlessly at any temperature, it penetrates deeply to preserve and protect decking from the elements.

Apply using a brush, roller or sprayer. It stains and seals in one step, allowing you to finish the job in a single day. Ready Seal is biodegradable for easy cleanup and meets VOC level requirements in all 50 states.

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Best Resin Coating for Wood and Concrete

While technically not a paint or a stain — it’s a coating — Behr Premium Advanced Deckover provides a barefoot-friendly, durable veneer. It can also rejuvenate well-weathered wood and worn-out concrete.

The high-viscosity, splatter-resistant formula of 100 percent acrylic resin adds a waterproof coating and brings wood back to its former sheen. It goes on easily with a roller and is ready to recoat in six hours. Deckover comes in 54 colors, and custom color-matching is available.

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Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a freelance travel, lifestyle and digital content writer based in a medieval hill town in central Italy. Her work has been featured in such publications as Fodor's, The Telegraph, Walks of Italy, Italy Magazine, Frommers.com, Touring Bird (via [email protected]) and more. Most recently she authored the 2020 edition of DK Eyewitness Sicily travel guide. When Toni is not roaming around Europe, you'll find her tending her alley-side container garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.