Best Deck Stain for Old Decks

I Tested 5 Deck Stains for Old Decks: These are the Best (2024)

If you have an old deck, staining it is critical to maximize its longevity.

But with so many different stains on the market, it can be difficult to find the right one.

That’s why I tested these deck stains to find the absolute best deck stains for old decks! Let’s dig in!

In a hurry? DEFY Extreme is the absolute best wood stain for old decks because it offers the perfect balance of durability and visual appeal for a can’t-beat price.

Quick Answer: Here are My Favorites! 👇

Best Deck Stain for Old Decks

1. DEFY Extreme – #1 Best Overall

DEFY Wood Stain
DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone
  • Water-Based Semi-Transparent Wood Stain – This water-based deck stain allows the wood grain to show through…
  • Fortified With Zinc Nano-Particle Technology – It’s like sunscreen for your wood. Tiny zinc particles…
  • Durable Quality That Lasts – DEFY Extreme wood stains are made with the highest quality resins available…

DEFY Extreme is an eco-friendly, long-lasting semi transparent wood stain that’ll not only highlight all the wood’s natural features but protect them as well, particularly from moisture, UV rays, scratches, and stains.

As a semi-transparent, water-based stain, it can be used indoors and outdoors, and its matte sheen subtly accentuates any kind of wood grain pattern, which is a big plus in my book.

It’s made with acrylic resins and zinc nanoparticles, the latter being the main source of its UV resistance.

Denser wood surfaces only need one coat in most instances, whereas surfaces that are more porous should get two.

It can cover 100-150 sq ft, depending on the surface’s porosity.

It’s best to apply it when the temperature is between 45°F-95°F and there’s minimal humidity.

A brush, roller, or sprayer can be used to apply it, but I like spraying it because it never clogs and resists dripping well.

After applying the first coat, wait 10-15 minutes before applying another coat. It’ll be dry-to-touch in 2-6 hours after application, and ready for use 24 hours later.

Finally, this product is backed by a pretty broad satisfaction guarantee, and I’ve yet to see a finish manufacturer provide a more consumer-friendly satisfaction guarantee.

What I Liked:

  • It’s versatile because its shade blends perfectly with a range of hardwoods and softwoods.
  • It’s made with high-quality UV blockers so you don’t have to worry about sun fading.
  • It contains less VOC so it’s not only safer but more eco-friendly as well.
  • Its consistency makes it easy to spread and resistant to dripping.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Doesn’t offer as much coverage as products of similar quality.
  • Have to mix thoroughly or else it won’t be the same color all the way through.

My Thoughts:

DEFY Extreme will totally rejuvenate your old deck in no time, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This wood stain’s rich brown color and matte sheen make it perfect for a wide variety of woods, and it not only beautifies wood but protects it as well. And since only 1-2 coats of this quick-drying stain are needed for virtually all projects, application rarely takes longer than a day. My only complaint is the price, but honestly, I believe you get what you pay for and this is some of the best semi transparent deck stain you can buy.

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2. Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain – Best Quality

Ready Seal Deck Stain
Ready Seal 130 1-Gallon Can Mahogany Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer
8,275 Reviews
Ready Seal 130 1-Gallon Can Mahogany Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It reaches its true color in approximately 14 days. Do not apply Ready Seal over painted or newly stained surfaces….
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.
  • Requires no back brushing and will never leave runs, laps, or streaks.

Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain is a stain and sealer all in one. And while it’s not the only product that can do both, it’s one of the strongest and most visually appealing, especially when used on an old deck.

It’s an oil-based, semi-transparent stain that requires no primer, and it only takes two coats to form a durable seal on a wood deck.

Once fully cured, it’ll ensure the deck surface isn’t harmed by moisture, UV rays, scratches, or stains.

But even though it’s oil-based, it doesn’t have a high concentration of VOC, and I like that it’s different in this respect.

After the first coat is down, wait 45 minutes; then apply the second coat. Allow 48-72 hours of drying time before using the surface.

It covers 125-175 sq ft, and once cured it’s easy to clean with warm, soapy water.

What I Liked:

  • Its consistency makes it self-leveling and resistant to brush/roller marks and dripping.
  • Rich color and muted sheen enhance the appearance of even decades-old wood.
  • It’s one of the more convenient stains since it can be applied in any temperature.
  • Less VOC means less odor, less safety risk, and less environmental impact.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Have to use multiple cans to make the color richer.
  • Usually too yellow/amber for light-colored woods.

My Thoughts:

Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain is advertised as being visually appealing, tough, and easy to apply, and in all these categories it delivers. It’s an oil-based stain-sealer, yet it’s quick-drying and less toxic than other oil-based stains. It dries quicker partly because it’s less viscous, and its consistency also makes it resistant to brush marks and dripping. If you didn’t have to mix multiple containers to get a darker shade, it’d be at the top of my list. But otherwise this is one of the best quality stains you can buy.

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3. #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain – Best Value

#1 Deck Stain
#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, & Siding – 1…
  • PROTECTS AGAINST COLOR FADE AND PREVENTS GRAYING – #1 Deck Protects Wood From Damage Caused By Exposure to the…
  • BOTH A DECK STAIN & DECK SEALANT IN ONE – #1 Deck Stain Is a Dual-Purpose Stain & Sealer. It Adds Color to…
  • ALLOWS THE WOOD GRAIN TO SHOW THROUGH – Available in 5 Beautiful, Semi-Transparent Deck Stain Colors That Dry…

Want a breathtaking, impenetrable wood stain for the lowest possible price? Then you can’t go wrong with #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain.

This water-based, semi-transparent wood stain can stand toe to toe with the best of them, yet it’s much cheaper and less toxic than products of similar quality.

It works on dry and damp wood, and once completely cured it’ll protect the surface from moisture, mold and mildew, UV rays, pests, and temperature fluctuations.

The manufacturer recommends 1-2 coats for most exterior wood surfaces, but I’ve found that three is the magic number.

One container will cover 100-150 sq ft, and it can be used on dark- and light-colored woods since it doesn’t yellow over time.

Finally, it takes a coat 30-45 minutes to dry, and you must give the final coat at least 24 hours of drying time before you use the surface.

What I Liked:

  • It’s a versatile product that works with virtually all wood types because it dries clear.
  • Its watery consistency makes it great for spraying.
  • It only takes a few coats to bring out wood’s natural beauty.
  • It lasts longer than other wood stains because it’s designed to withstand temperature fluctuations.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • It’ll need to be touched up 2-3 times a year depending on how the weather is.
  • Thorough prep must be done in advance to ensure this deck stain is effective.

My Thoughts:

I love when a affordability doesn’t have to come at the cost of quality, and that’s definitely what you get with #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain. This budget-friendly stain-sealer is perfect for decks old and new, and its versatility makes it a truly cost-effective product. In short, it can protect exterior wood from everything nature has to throw at it, and it’ll look beautiful all the while. Sure, it requires more maintenance, but that’s a small price to pay for such a terrific product.

4. Seal-Once Nano+Poly Wood Stain – Best Natural Stain

Seal Once Deck Stain
Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane – Premium…
  • WATER-BASED POLYURETHANE WOOD FINISH: Our sealant provides top-notch protection against wear and tear in high…
  • WOOD SEALANT: Unlike many sealers that only form a topcoat, our protector penetrates below the surface to…
  • FLOOR SEALER APPLICATOR: Our premium gloss is ultra-low VOC and great for enhancing the extended life of your…

If safety and eco-friendliness are both important to you, as they are to me, I highly recommend Seal-Once Nano+Poly Wood Stain, as it’s one of the greenest deck stains available.

Another water-based stain, it’s different from the others on my list because it has a glossy sheen.

Only two coats are needed to protect wood from moisture, direct sunlight, etc., and it’ll be ready for use 24-48 hours after application.

It can cover 150-300 sq ft, and once completely cured it’s easy to clean with soap and water.

What I Liked:

  • There’s minimal off-gassing because this is a water-based product with barely any VOC.
  • It forms a stronger seal because it seeps deep into the wood pores.
  • It resists fading and yellowing because it has UV blockers.
  • Its ability to keep out moisture ensures mold and mildew stay out as well.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • It doesn’t adhere to damp wood well.
  • Its sheen makes it more slippery than other deck stains.

My Thoughts:

With Seal-Once Nano+Poly Wood Stain, you can liven up your deck without imposing on the environment, and that’s why this product is preferred by those who value safety, eco-friendliness, and efficiency. You won’t need more than two coats to form an effective seal, and once one is formed it should stay sound for at least a few years. Its sheen is a little too glossy for my tastes, but this gripe is vastly outweighed by all its benefits.

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5. Cabot Wood Toned Deck Stain – Best Color

Cabot Wood Stain
Cabot Wood Toned Stain + Sealer, Exterior Natural Wood Stain, Natural,…
  • PROTECT WOOD – Cabot Wood Toned Stain + Sealer is specially formulated with a unique blend of resin and oil to…
  • BEAUTIFY – This natural wood sealer seals in and enhances the natural beauty of your outdoor wood projects….
  • WATER REPELLANT – As a wood protector for outdoor items, this wood stain is mildew resistant and…

I’ve yet to find a stain-sealer that can bring out wood’s qualities as brilliantly as Cabot Wood Toned Deck Stain, and it’s not only an accentuating finish but a strong one too.

An oil-based product, it repels moisture, blocks out UV rays, and resists mold and mildew.

It’s a transparent, fade-resistant product, and over time it’ll seamlessly blend with the wood’s natural color—a unique quality that I really value.

A full can will cover 200 sq ft- 600 sq ft, and only one coat is needed to ensure a durable, eye-catching finish.

After it’s been applied, you have to wait 24-48 hours before using it.

Finally, it comes with a generous satisfaction guarantee, which I like because this ensures I don’t have to accept the results no matter what.

What I Liked:

  • It’s cost-effective since it covers a wide area and only one coat is necessary.
  • It penetrates deep into wood’s pores to highlight even minor details in a magnificent way.
  • It has UV blockers to prevent discoloration and fading.
  • It blends with the wood’s color over time.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • More toxic due to higher concentration of VOC
  • Too thick to be sprayed effectively.

My Thoughts:

Not only is Cabot Wood Toned Deck Stain’s color appealing on its own, but it blends so well with wood’s natural colors over time, something other stain-sealers can’t do. Plus, it’s strong in all the ways a deck stain has to be strong, and it’s cost-effective since it’s a one-coat solution that covers hundreds of sq ft. If it was less toxic and thin enough to be sprayed, it might be worthy of the top spot on my list, for it’s an all-around dependable product.

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Best Type of Stain for Old Decks

Water-based stains are best for older decks for two reasons:

  1. They adhere to natural wood better, even if the wood has been stained or painted before.
  2. They have a muted sheen since there’s no oil, so they blend well with woods of all colors.

What to Consider When Choosing a Deck Stain for Old Decks


The best deck stains are strong enough to withstand prolonged exposure to the elements, and they also require very little maintenance.

A stain-sealer, especially an oil-based version, will prevent moisture, UV rays, etc. from harming the wood surface underneath, and this protection won’t come at the cost of visual appeal.

Are you searching for a deck stain for pressure treated wood? Check out these best deck stains for pressure treated wood!


How the stain looks is just as important as its durability.

Wood stains come in a variety of colors and sheens, and they have different opacities as well—some are semi-transparent while others are transparent stains.

To ensure your stain displays the right color, thoroughly prep the surface before carefully applying the stain.

Also, protect the surface from excessive moisture and sunlight exposure.

For the best finish, I recommend using one of these deck stain applicators!


Deck stains that are properly applied and well-maintained usually last 3-5 years.

Of course, if the stain is exposed to extreme weather routinely, it won’t last as long (1-2 years).

Stain should be touched up twice a year to ensure it’s visually appealing and 100% sound. And whenever you notice damage, it should be fixed right away so it doesn’t get worse.

Ease of Use

A quality deck stain can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed, and it doesn’t require any thinning before application.

Water-based, solid stain is the easiest to use, since it spreads well, dries quickly, and levels itself out.

Want to know how to use Deck Stain more effectively? Check out the video down below!

Final Thoughts

To recap, the best stain for old decks is DEFY Extreme because it’s a sturdy, long-lasting product that beautifully highlights wood’s grain and its natural colors.

For superior strength and a richer finish, go with Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain.

And if you have a tight budget, #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain is the reliable, easy-to-use product you need!