Pressure treated wood is already protected from rot and insects. But if you want to preserve the look of your deck, fencing and other exterior wood for a long time, then you need to protect it from the sun, wind, water and dirt. For this, I wrote how to choose best deck sealer and stain for pressure treated wood.
Deck sealers and stains are essential for all deck owners. These liquids dry and form a waterproof coat over the wood, creating a tight, protective seal. However, despite their similar functions, these two products are not the same. A sealer is transparent, while a stain has a thin amount of pigment to enrich the color of the wood.
Any individual who owns a deck, and would like to see it last for a long time, needs to utilize one of these liquids. Picking the right one is essential, since they aren’t all made for specialties like pressure treated wood.
Best Deck Sealers and Stains for Pressure Treated Wood in December, 2020
|PRODUCT NAME||FINISH||SIZE||SQ FT PER GALLON*||BASED ON|
|Ready Seal 512 |
|Flood CWF-UV |
|Semi-transparent||1 Gallon||150-250||Acrylic Oil|
|Timber Oil||Semi-transparent||5 Gallon||100-150||Oil|
|PPG ProLuxe||Semi-transparent||1 Gallon||150-450||Alkyd Oil|
|#1 Deck Premium||Semi-transparent||1 Gallon||100-150||Water|
|Olympic Stain Maximum||Solid||1 Gallon||250-350||Acrylic Latex|
|Thompsons Wood Protector||Clear||1.2 Gallon||200-400||Oil|
1. Ready Seal 512 – The Easiest to Apply
Ready Seal is well known for manufacturing products that can be used straight out of the container, and this product is no exception and can be applied immediately after opening, creating the best results with only a single coat. Another benefit of using this Ready Seal 512 is it can be inserted into a regular hand pump sprayer and applied without relying on traditional paintbrushes or rollers. It is UV radiation blocking, as well as moisture, and could be considered semi-transparent.
This company has a reputation for sending products in good condition, which means the packaging is solid. Instructions on how to use the Ready Seal 512 are included on the back of the plastic gallon container.
2. Flood CWF-UV Wood Finish – Best for Long Lasting Coverage
The Flood CWF-UV Wood Finish is the ideal choice for any individual who does not want to worry about sealing their deck every year. This transparent coating goes down in a single layer and offers protection for 2-4 years.
While some other choices can only guarantee coverage from water, the Flood CWF-UV Wood Finish also has defense from harsh ultraviolet radiations, which can bleach and weaken wood over time. This is a deep, penetrating formula that sinks into the boards, resulting in years of defense against the elements.
Flood CWF-UV Wood Finish is available in containers ranging between one and five gallons. The manufacturer recommends using between two and three gallons for an average deck of 200 sq. ft. or more. Because this is a thin yet durable formula, it is possible to apply the finish using a standard hand pump sprayer.
3. Timber Oil Deep Penetrating Stain – Best Oil Stain
The Timber Oil model lives up to its name by working well on new wood and penetrating deep into fibers for long lasting color. The manufacturer claims to use transparent oxide pigments, which leave behind a semi-transparent stain that enrichens preexisting color while still allowing your natural deck to shine through. This is ideal for someone who has a semi-weathered deck.
One feature which makes this choice stand out is the ability to receive color samples from the manufacturer to see just what your wood would look like after application. It can also be applied to new wood without the big requisite drying period, meaning you can protect your deck without waiting for the boards to cure.
4. PPG ProLuxe Premium Deck Wood Finish – The Most Durable
Although PPG ProLuxe Premium Deck Wood Finish is expensive, it is well worth the price. This transparent sealer comes with a satin finish that adds extra shine and smoothness to even the oldest of decks. The formula is smooth and easy to apply and even works well in a pump sprayer.
After two coats, PPG ProLuxe offers between 2 and 4 years of protection from mildew, rain and other forms of humidity. It also slowly evaporates over time, requiring no stripping when you want to apply a new layer.
Once all old materials are removed, the PPG ProLuxe is durable and long lasting, capable of surviving years of exposure to high temperatures, intense sunlight and even monsoons.
5. #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain – Best Inexpensive Sealer and Stain
This inexpensive product can be applied in as little as one coat and is easy to clean from non-wooden substances. It works best on soft woods, like cedar and redwood, and even works well on damp wood.
However, one of the best features of this SaverSystems is its easy clean up. This formula has a composition that is water-based, so it is easy to strip misplaced stain from other substances, like clothing, hands, doorways and tools.
6. Olympic Stain 79606 Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer – Best for UV Protection
The combined wood stain and deck sealer from Olympic Stain is ideal for applicants who want to work on their deck no matter the weather. This formula’s weather-ready application means users can work on their stain whether it’s 32 or 80 degrees outside.
The finish comes with different levels of defense against moisture and UV radiation, but it is one of the only products that offers high amounts of protection from the sun’s harsh rays. It works well on soft and hard woods, and is absorbed rapidly.
7. THOMPSONS WATERSEAL 21802 VOC Wood Protector– Transparent Protection
Thompson’s is one of the most classic names in wood protection and it shows with this durable deck sealant. The material can be applied in a single coat and is truly transparent, leaving behind no stain. No moisture will be able to penetrate the durable seal of the Thompson’s Waterseal 21801, making it ideal for deck owners who want to avoid mildew, mold and rot.
This is one of the most well-known products available, because it can last for 2 to 4 years depending on how well it is initially applied. The clear finish also allows the natural beauty of a deck to show through.
Choosing the appropriate stain and/or sealer is an essential component of good deck ownership and maintenance. Although wood is an excellent building material, its natural state is porous and prone to many different issues, including mildew, mold, rot and warping. The right liquid will help you avoid these problems.
Before purchasing, you need to consider what you want the sealant to do. Are you looking for something completely transparent, or would you like the wood to be enriched with color? Are you looking for just water protection, or do you want to avoid weathering with protection against UV radiation?
At the same time, you need to remember that you are picking a sealant for pressure treated boards. These boards have been covered in chemicals designed to protect them from pests and rot. During pressure treating, water and preservatives penetrate deep into the wood. Therefore, pressure treated lumber, after its release, is very wet. Until dry, you should not try to cover them with anything. Water will not allow sealer or stains to penetrate deep into the wood and such a coating will not last long. You need to give the boards extra time to dry, especially if they were purchased as “wet treated wood.”
Pressure treated boards, because of their high moisture content, do NOT respond well to water-based products. Instead, you will need to look at oil-based stains and sealants that have a higher absorption rate. The easiest way to tell if your choice is oil-based is to check the list of ingredients.
Finally, once you know the sealant you chose will work on your boards, consider these four factors: finish, application method, level of protection and ease of application.
Perhaps one of the most important elements of picking the right product is the finish. The finish not only affects the overall appearance of the deck, but also the level of protection. In general, there are four categories:
- Wood Toner
- Semi-transparent Stain
- Solid or Opaque Stain
Maintenance experts recommend that the older the deck wood, the thicker or more opaque the sealer and stain need to be. Clear finishes are transparent, meaning you will be able to see through the material once it dries. These options work well for someone who enjoys the appearance of their deck and is looking primarily for protection from moisture.
A wood toner is a stain used to repel water. The toner functions similarly to a basic clear, but has a small amount of color designed to boost and preserve wood’s preexisting shade and beauty. These options work for decks that are slightly faded but still new.
A semi-transparent stain combines clear sealant with drops of color to enhance a deck’s appearance. Instead of being opaque, the stain enriches the natural color of the wood. This type of stain can be seen on older furniture and is popular among older deck owners.
Finally, there is the solid or opaque stain. This style offers ultimate protection against water and UV radiation, but is similar to paint than anything else. The liquid is not translucent, so users will not be able to see the wood underneath. This is recommended for weathered decks that have been around for a long time. Unfortunately, pressure treated wood struggles to absorb enough pigment to make a truly opaque stain and will also be unable to handle paint without multiple coats.
Once you know what type of finish you want for your deck, you need to consider the application method. Sealers and stains can be applied in several ways: using a pump-action sprayer, with a brush or a paint roller. Each method comes with unique pros and cons.
If you are using a product that can be applied in a single coat, and you have experience with a sprayer, than that is the best option for larger decks. Sprayers use pressure to transfer the sealer or stain from a small container to the surface of the deck. You need to be able to control how much is released at any given time, as well as how even the spray is. If you are a perfectionist, this might not be the method for you.
For the traditionalist, there is the basic paintbrush. This method is ideal for thicker stains that cannot be used in a sprayer, as well as for people who are unworried about a little unevenness in the finish. You see, the brush gives you more control over how much stain is used and applied, but there is also more room for error.
Finally, you can use a paint roller. This is a great average option for deck owners who don’t have experience with a sprayer but don’t want to spend all day outside with a paintbrush. The paint roller applies an even coat when handled correctly, and covers a much greater area over time. It can work for thick and thin sealers and stains as well, so this is the most versatile choice.
Level of Protection
Similar to the type of finish you need to choose, you also have to look at the level of protection. Less expensive stains tend to have the lowest levels of protection, because they are thinner and include fewer defensive materials. However, you also need to look at what the stain or sealer is going to be protecting your deck from.
Almost all stains and sealants are designed to resist the effects of rain, water and other forms of moisture. If water comes in contact with untreated wood, it can cause mildew, mold and other types of rot to develop. This weakens the wood and can also cause warping when too much moisture is absorbed into the porous material. If you are concerned about water damaging your deck, look for a product that has a high level of moisture protection.
The other form of defense in which you can invest is protection against UV radiation. The sun emits ultraviolet radiation, which is a form of energy. It is responsible for causing people to tan and develop sunburn and can also bleach and damage wood over time. If you have an older deck and you want to make it last longer, consider investing in a choice that will stop UV radiation from reaching the boards.
Ease of Application
Finally, there is the most important feature: how easily can you apply your chosen product?
When picking a sealer or stain, you need to consider how much preparation goes into using the product and what needs to be done to your deck. Some products will require you to strip all previously applied stains, paint and other materials before they can be used. Others will require mixing with other substances, like thinner, and some need you to completely clean and strip the wood.
Similar to the ease of application is when you are able to use your chosen sealer/stain. Sometimes you need to allow the wood of your deck to dry out for three months, while others will require a minimum of a year. In the best case scenario, you choose a product that has no waiting period.
How much do you expect a gallon to cost? The same as a gallon of paint?
Unfortunately, many individuals are often surprised by how expensive a quality stain can be. On average, a single gallon can be anywhere from $30 to $50 depending on the finish, color quality and ease of application. If you want a solid finish that has full protection from UV radiation and moisture, while also allowing the natural color of the wood to shine through, then you can end up spending as much as $120 per gallon.
When considering cost, don’t be tempted by products you can’t afford. Just because an option is expensive, doesn’t mean it is the best. Do some research on products – or buy one from this guide – to figure out which ones are actually beneficial for your deck.
Although it takes work to find the best deck sealer and stain for pressure treated wood, the results are worth it. These seven options have a variety of pros and only a few cons, making them great for decks in all environments and climates. Just remember to take into account how often you are willing to replace the finish and what features you prize over others. Out of these seven, the best current option is the Ready Seal 512, which is not only long lasting, but also easy to use.