Best Deck Paint

Best Deck Paint – Finding the Best Exterior Wood Stain for Your Deck

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Decks are where the fun begins at pool parties, barbeques, or when just relaxing and enjoying those cool summer evenings together with family and friends. However, if your deck has been neglected and shows serious signs of wear and tear, you may feel embarrassed about inviting friends and family around. So, it may be time to revamp your deck, get rid of those unsightly stains and faded appearance, and give your deck a brand-new look. Once done, this will not only add value to your home but will also give you hours of fun and enjoyment. Choosing the best deck paint for your project can be a daunting task, as there are many types of paint or stain on the market. But fear not, in this article we will be helping you to get the absolute best product to suit your needs.   



What is Deck Paint?

You can use either a paint or a stain on your deck, depending on the whether or not you want to display the original grain of the wood. You will have a greater variety of color choice when selecting a deck paint, but keep in mind that this will completely cover the natural appearance of the wood. Alternatively, you can use a deck stain to color your wood without obscuring its natural grain.


Deck Paint

The quickest and easiest method to refresh your deck is to give it a new coat of paint. The deck paint will hide all flaws in your wood surface but will also hide the unique beauty of the natural wood. Deck paint can hold up against all weather conditions, including UV rays. This deck finish can last for about 10 years, after which time you will have to think about painting it again.

By using deck paint, you can choose from a variety of different colors from which you can create your own unique combinations. You can apply the paint by using a paintbrush, which gives you more control over the final finished product, but a paint roller will get the job done quicker and will apply the paint more evenly.

Be certain of your decision before painting your deck, as a painted deck is more permanent. This means that once you have used deck paint, you will have to continue using deck paint, as it is very difficult to go from paint to stain. It is, however, much easier to go from a stain to a paint.

Best Deck Stain


Deck Stain

Many homeowners prefer to use a deck stain for their deck surface, as it allows the original texture, color, and grain of the wood to stand out. You will then have to select between a clear sealer, a solid stain, or a semi-transparent stain. It is worth noting that some people also refer to deck stains as deck paints, so be sure that the product you are choosing is in fact a stain and not a paint.

Deck staining is not as long-lasting as deck paint, as the deck will have to be re-stained every few years. Staining will also not hide all the flaws in your wood, so if you have a well-weathered old deck, we suggest that you rather use deck paint. Stained decks provide a less slippery surface than painted decks, so if safety is an issue then we suggest that you rather choose a deck stain for your project.


Solid Stains

These are opaque wood stains that give a darker appearance to the natural wood texture or grain. Solid stains are the most similar to a painted surface.


Semi-transparent Stains

These wood stains will give you a trace of color whilst still allowing the natural wood grain to stand out. It also gives you total protection against weather conditions, including UV rays.


Clear Sealer

You can use this type of sealer when your deck is made of redwood or cedar, as it brings out the natural grain and texture of the wood. Not all brands of clear sealers contain UV and fungicide protection.



Choosing the Best Deck Paint

Now that you have decided to paint your deck, you need to choose the right type of deck paint that will suit your project. Another factor you have to consider is whether to use oil- or acrylic-based paint.

We suggest that if you have painted or stained your deck before, you stick with what has already been applied. This means that if you have used an acrylic- or oil-based paint or stain, you stay with that specific choice. These two types of paint do not go very well together and could result in a total mess, in which case you may then need to remove the old finish completely and apply a new one, which could cost you. For example, applying an oil-based paint over a water-based paint will ruin your end-result.

Choosing the Best Deck Paint


Oil-Based Paints

These types of coatings are normally used by beginners. Oil-based paints penetrate the unfinished wood surface to give you a flake-free coating that will generally last for around two years. They provide an excellent cover for your wooden deck as they penetrate right into the wood, leaving you with a water- and UV-resistant surface.

You can apply it using a brush or pad applicator, and it should not leave any streak lines. A great benefit of using an oil-based coating is that it normally only requires one coat and can be kept clean using soap and water.

However, these coatings have very high volatile organic compound (VOC) levels due to their containing some harsh chemicals. Oil-based paints also take a lot longer to dry before you can use the deck. This poses a problem for those who are living in a high-humidity and rainy climate, as it may take up to 72 hours for the deck to dry completely, during which time there can be no rain.

You should also bear in mind that oil-based coatings last for a comparatively shorter time than water-based paints before you will have to redo the surface. They also contain resins that make them susceptible to mildew and mold.


Water-Based Paints

Water-based paints, on the other hand, are safer for you and better for the environment. Also, where children and pets are involved, they contain far fewer VOCs. They are also excellent when it comes to preventing mildew and mold, and many brands also offer UV protection as well as traction boosters. It is much easier to replace the brush with a pump sprayer when you apply water-based coatings, which will then dry within a period of four hours.

However, you may have to apply several coats of this paint. Water-based coatings also do not penetrate the wood surface, which could cause it eventually to peel and chip off.


Whatever your choice, the paint or stain product should specifically say it is for exterior use or to be used as a deck paint. These are the best options, as they can withstand harsh environments. Interior paint does not have the qualities needed to protect your deck surface.



Best Deck Paint

Now that you know more about deck paint, it is time to choose the right brand of deck paint for your project. This may sound easier than it is, as there are so many factors to consider. For example, there is the best deck paint for wood that is treated, weathered, old, stained, textured, cedarwood, and so on.

We have recommended three deck paints that we consider to be the best in their category. However, you need to take into account what your specific needs are before making a decision so as to choose the right paint for your project.

What is the Best Deck Stain


Best Overall Deck Paint: KILZ Porch and Patio Floor Paint

This is a 100% acrylic latex paint that is an excellent choice for refurbishing your deck or patio. The paint can be used to improve the appearance of your exterior or interior floor while also giving your floor a durable, protective finish. In addition to this, once fully dried it becomes resistant to mildew and mold, fading, scuffs, or cracks. This is the best deck paint for old wood.

KILZ Interior/Exterior Porch and Patio Latex Floor Paint
  • Highly durable and resistant to mildew
  • Weather-resistant low-lustre enamel surface
  • Can be used on previously primed or painted surfaces 
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All of the above characteristics make this an excellent paint, especially for use where you have high traffic. It is also good for use on any of your outdoor furniture. If you have a deck that has been primed or painted before, you will not have to worry, as you can use this paint over those surfaces. However, before you start, you will have to do some preparation work by making sure the surface is clean and dry. We also recommended that you use the KILZ cleaner-brightener.

KILZ paint comes in slate grey, ultra-pure white, and deep silver-gray colors. The paint is opaque, which means that it will cover any marks and spots on your wooden surface. The instructions for using this product will provide you with a three-step process, which includes preparation, coating, and then protecting.

One of the major benefits of using KILZ paint is its quick drying time. The paint will dry within an hour to the touch, and you will be able to apply a second coat within 4-6 hours. Before you can allow traffic movement on the surface, you will need to leave it for up to 72 hours to dry totally. Remember, the drying time is dependent on the surrounding environment.

KILZ paint works far better when the surface is smooth, and with its acrylic formulation, you can apply it using an airless sprayer, a nap roller, or a polyester or nylon brush. For the best results, it is recommended that you apply the paint at a temperature of 50 to 90° F. The area you can cover depends on the type and stage of your wood, as well as the method you use to apply it. In general, one gallon of paint should cover between 200 and 400 square feet. The paint is supplied in gallon-sized tins and also carries a warranty.


  • Dries to the touch within one hour
  • Resistant to scuffing, fading, and cracking
  • A low-gloss enamel paint
  • Good coverage
  • Well-trusted brand
  • Can apply a second coat within 4-6 hours


  • Slightly slippery when wet
  • Can be susceptible to peeling due to film-forming formulation
  • Has 50 VOCs per gallon


Premium Choice Deck Stain: READY SEAL Exterior Wood Stain Sealer

This is an oil-based sealant that is resistant to mold and mildew, thus preventing your deck from developing any rot underneath the wood surface. As it is a stain and not a paint, it will require a repaint after three years. You will have to do any sanding or stripping ahead of reapplication. Do not apply this stain to newly painted or stained surfaces.

Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
  • Requires no primer, dilution, or wet-line application
  • Will never leave runs, laps, or streaks
  • "Goof Proof" application
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This type of best deck stain and sealer is best applied when you decide to use stain instead of paint to show off the beauty and texture of the wood. When applied to a cedar deck, it will bring out a darker shade of the wood, and has received great deck stain reviews from woodworkers. The wood takes around 14 days to reach its true color. This wood coating is the best exterior wood stain, as it also offers UV-protection and has properties that will preserve your deck from peeling, fading, or cracking.

This product does not contain any linseed oil and therefore will not leave a stain on your hands. This is also the best deck stain and sealer as it complies with all the VOC requirements throughout the USA. The product is also considered the best exterior wood stain due to it being biodegradable and better for the environment.

This wood stain can be applied without the use of a primer and will give you an excellent finish. You can use a paint sprayer or a roller to apply the stain, otherwise a brush will also do. It leaves behind no laps or streaks and does not need to be thinned or diluted before use. When using this stain, you should only apply thin coats and wait for around 45 minutes before adding the next layer. Once completed, wait for approximately 72 hours for it to dry properly. The drying time is dependent on humidity, the porosity of the wood surface, and the surround temperature.


  • Moisture-, mildew-, and mold-resistant
  • Can be applied in all weather conditions
  • Brings out the natural beauty and appearance of the wood
  • UV-resistant
  • Easy to apply
  • Reasonably priced 


  • May need several layers to achieve a great finish
  • Takes time to penetrate the wood surface
  • Darkens lighter woods


Best Value for Money Deck Paint: DEFY Extreme Exterior Wood Stain

DEFY Extreme is a water-based paint that is environmentally friendly and ticks all the boxes. It is the best semi-transparent deck stain that also comes in several different natural wood stain colors. This product contains zinc-nanoparticles that make it UV-resistant and able to withstand even the harshest of weather conditions while also preventing color loss.

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain
  • Water-based, eco-friendly, and semi-transparent wood stain
  • Strengthened with zinc nano-particles for UV protection
  • Durable and easily maintained
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This stain is also durable, resistant to fading, mold, and is quite easy to apply. If you ever need to repaint your deck, all you need to do is apply a coat of wood brightener first, after which you can apply a coat of this wood stain without having to strip or sand the surface first.

Defy Extreme stain absorbs into the wood fast and does not leave any film after application, which means that it will not allow moisture to be trapped underneath the painted surface of the wood. This property gives your wood surface perfect protection from the rain, in addition to it being exceptionally durable to wear and tear.

The formulation includes a certain number of adhesives, which are added with epoxy resins. This gives your deck an abrasion-resistant finished surface. The product dries fairly quickly when exposed to direct sunlight, so you need to work fast. Once completed, it brings out the natural beauty of the wood.

This is the best semi-transparent deck stain and is also great for fencing, outdoor furniture, and much more. The deck stain reviews for this product are excellent, with more than half the users recommending four to five stars.


  • Resistant to mold and mildew
  • UV-resistant
  • Deeply penetrating
  • Very adhesive
  • Easy to apply
  • VOC compliant
  • Long-lasting


  • Average durability
  • Limited color range



How to Use Deck Paints

Refurbishing your deck not only adds value to your home but makes you feel good when inviting your friends and family over for an enjoyable time together. So, here are a few steps to show you how to go about painting your deck:

Applying Best Deck Stain


Preparation Before You Start

  • Decide if you want to use wood stain or paint. This decision is based on whether you want to cover the wood or bring out the wood grain. Thus, if your deck is old and full of marks and cracks, it is better to cover it using deck paint. But if your wooden deck is in good shape and made from a good quality wood, you may want to use a wood stain that can bring out the wood’s natural beauty.
  • You will then need to choose whether you want to use an oil- or water-based product. In addition to this, if you chose to use wood paint, you will first need to choose a color that will match your surroundings. On the other hand, if you have decided to preserve the natural beauty of your wood deck using a wood stain, you need to decide if you want to use a clear or semi-transparent stain.
  • Prepare the wood surface. This may require some sanding, scraping, or power washing to make sure all the old marks, stains, dirt, and dust have been completely removed. This will enable the new wood finish to adhere properly to the surface.
  • Repair any loose or damaged boards and fill up any cracks. If you notice any water or rust marks, apply a stain remover to those areas.
  • Allow the wood to dry out completely. To be perfectly safe, we recommend that you leave it for at least 48 hours to dry thoroughly.


Applying the Deck Coating

  • Make sure your weather conditions are perfect. You do not want to paint the deck and then have it rain later on. It is best to wait until the sun has moved and the surface is not in direct sunlight.
  • Use masking tape and cover any areas you do not want the paint to reach, such as walls or windows. Make use of plastic sheeting where necessary.
  • You will need to use a brush first to trim all the difficult-to-reach places.
  • You can then apply the first two coats using a roller or sprayer. Make sure the paint is dry before you apply the second coat.
  • Allow for the surface to dry overnight. We suggest you leave the newly painted deck for about 48 hours before you start walking on it or moving furniture over the surface.

Deck Stain Reviews



Frequently Asked Questions


Is It Better to Use Oil- or Water-Based Paint?

The choice between and oil- or water-based paint will depend on what you want to do. If your deck is situated in direct sunlight, it will be advisable to use a water-based paint, as it offers you a UV-resistant and protective coating. But if your deck is situated in a humid and damp area, oil-based paint is good, as it offers you a mildew- and mold-resistant coating.


Can You Rely on Coverage Rates?

Most of the deck paint manufacturers will give you a fairly accurate cover rate for their products. You must remember, however, that if your wood is very porous it will make a difference as to the square footage you can cover.


Are VOC’s Harmful?

These are volatile organic compounds, which can damage the environment and are a health risk. These form a part of the composition of all oil-based paints. You can protect yourself against VOCs by wearing a respiratory mask and protective goggles.


What is the Best Deck Paint for Areas That Have High Traffic Flow?

For these conditions, we suggest that you use a superior-quality water-based stain, as oil-based stains are more likely to deteriorate faster. However, water-based paints are more prone to peeling and chipping. As shown above, the Defy Extreme product is specially designed to protect such surfaces.


Should I Use Deck Paint or Stain?

This is a matter of preference. If you want the natural grain or texture of the wood to stand out, then use a deck stain, but if you want to have a smooth and different colored surface, you should use deck paint.


What Lasts Longer – Deck Paint or Stain?

Deck paint usually lasts longer than deck stain, but this is subject to the weather, the amount of traffic it takes, and also how well you take care of it.


Do You Need to Apply a Primer When Using Deck Paint?

This varies according to the brand of paint you are using, as some brands require you to use a primer and others do not. You should follow the manufacture’s directions every time.


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