The Best Decking Stain Products For Your Surface

By Thomas O'Rourke - 2nd January, 2019

A classic wooden deck can complement a small backyard and a large garden alike. The structure provides the perfect place to set up an outdoor socialising area. The only downside is that the wood surface may sometimes deteriorate after prolonged exposure to adverse weather.

That’s why you should look protect your deck surface with the best decking stain. The market offers a bountiful range of products and choosing the right one can be confusing. The right product should live up to expectations, with plenty of colours and finishes to boot.

Thankfully, our experts are here to let you know which staining products are worth your money. Our experts have tested and rated most products in the UK, selecting five favourites. Check out our top picks below to find the right one for you.

In this guide - we take a look at the UK's best deck stains...

Our #1 Top Deck Stain

cuprinol anti-slip

1. Cuprinol Anti Slip Stain

Our favourite decking stain – ideal for high-traffic areas and available in a range of colours.

Cheapest Pick

ronseal ultimate protection

2. Ronseal Ultimate

Unique formula provides enhanced protection to exterior wood and it won’t break the bank.

And The Rest...

3. Johnstone's Woodcare Stain

Great quality, but very poor coverage makes this decking stain a costly option.

4. Blue House Farm

Durable water-repellent anti-slip decking paint is ideal to use in high-traffic areas.

5. Sadolin Stain Protector

Ultimate surface protection against extreme weather and the elements, including advanced UV protection.

cuprinol anti-slip
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Wide colour palette makes this product perfect for decking surfaces.

If you’re after a decking stain capable of withstanding heavy footfall, extreme conditions, and harsh British conditions, Cuprinol Anti-Slip is undoubtedly your best bet. This manufacturer is renowned for the quality of its tinned wood treatment products, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Coming in a range of 13 neutral or dramatic colours and covering up to 16m²/litre, this decking stain is ideal to use in high-traffic areas or near a pool or hot tub.

The ultra-tough formula is perfect to use on all lumber decking and other outdoor timber. Supplied in 5-litre tubs, the product is also ideal to use on wood fences, sheds and other outdoor wood surfaces.

Besides the hard-wearing formula, Cuprinol Anti-Slip is also weatherproof and water-repellent. Designed to provide a long-lasting finish, this almost perfect paint doesn’t pair too well with the intense sunlight and is less appropriate to use on a deck fully exposed to the sun.

Pros

  • Hard-wearing formula prevents the wood from cracking and splitting and also prevents the growth of mould or algae in areas exposed to constant humidity.
  • Fast-drying decking stain touch dries and becomes showerproof in under an hour.
  • Great coverage ensures a perfect balance between value and money. We recommend applying at least two coats.
  • Translucent stain exposes and highlights the natural wood grain, enhancing the beauty of your deck.
  • Water-based formula is safe for kids, pets and plants once dry.

Cons

  • This decking stain tends to crack and peel under intense sun despite its weatherproof specifications.
  • The darker colours often dry to shades much lighter than expected, due to the translucent nature of the product.
ronseal ultimate protection
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Hard-wearing, low-cost stain ensures optimal weather protection.

Affordable quality is not always perfect, and Ronseal Ultimate Protection is here to prove it. This high-quality decking stain boasts a unique formula developed to penetrate the wood and protect it from the inside, a feature that increases the product’s durability.

Coming in twelve attractive colours, the product also provides a lightly tinted finish, just what it takes to freshen up the downscaled look of an old deck.

All this is possible due to the unique water-based linseed oil blend formulated to withstand heavy footfall and extreme weather, whilst simultaneously providing a rich colour and flawless finish.

This decking stain is intended to use on previously treated wood, although it won’t adhere well to previously painted surfaces unless the old stain is removed with an appropriate stripper. If applied correctly, the product touch dries in 90 minutes and can be re-coated in four hours.

Pros

  • An assortment of neutral shades and contemporary colours ensures all homeowners will find an appropriate colour of choice.
  • Decent coverage of 6.4m²/litre provides a great balance between value and money.
  • UV protection properties maintain the brightness of colours for a longer time, preventing them from fading.
  • Slip-resistant deck stain is suitable to use in high-traffic areas and near pools or hot tubs.
  • Superior weather resistance maintains a flawless finish for longer.

Cons

  • Colours are often inconsistent and the stain dries patchy if applied over a substantially darker shade.
  • Colour pigments deposit on the bottom of the tin and you will have to stir the product throughout application for consistent results.
  • This stain has a watery consistency and is very runny.
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Excellent surface protection for up to three years.

Johnstone’s is a brand renowned for its affordable paint products, but that’s definitely not the case with its Woodcare Stain For Decking. This product impresses with its quality but has an unexpectedly low coverage.

Considering most proper jobs require two coats, staining your deck with this product might have something of a negative effect on your bank account!

If that’s not a concern, then this decking stain undoubtedly lives up to the expectations. It has a hard-wearing formula developed specifically for high-traffic areas exposed to adverse weather. Ideal to use near a pool or hot tub, or in any other area prone to condensation and humidity, this stain prevents the growth of moulds and fungi.

Its anti-UV screening also protects the wood from sunlight damage, while the long-lasting colour enriched with drying wax will help your structure maintain its look over time.

Pros

  • Formulated to use on all exterior decking and other wood surfaces, this stain is water-repellent and withstands extreme weather.
  • Hard-wearing formula resists cracking, peeling, and blistering.
  • Three neutral colours allow you to choose from a lighter or darker wood shade.
  • Quick drying wax protects softwood, enhancing its natural beauty for up to three years.

Cons

  • Low coverage makes this an expensive redecoration option.
blue house farm deck stain
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A convenient solution for particularly large surfaces.

Manufactured from decanted or reworked paint, Blue House Farm Deck Stain presents itself as a budget and environmentally friendly solution for the homeowners who have to paint extensive surfaces.

This deck stain is supplied in 20-litre tubs and covers 15m²/litre, which means a tub will go a long way. Two coats suffice to achieve full coverage while the exceptional properties of this product further enhance its value.

In fact, this paint is formulated to protect your decking from algae and mould – it has a hard-wearing finish that withstands high traffic and outdoor elements, while its anti-slip properties make it a perfect choice for any areas near a pool or hot tub.

A selection of colours also allows you to pick the most appropriate shade. The manufacturer proposes neutral and contemporary tonalities although it’s near impossible to find how many shades there are and the specific colours the stain comes in.

We’ve tested slate grey and we were happy with both the product’s coverage and shade of the colour.

Pros

  • Water-based formula is environmentally friendly and safe for kids, pets and plants once dry.
  • Quick drying time allows you to finish painting quickly. The product touch dries in two hours and can be re-coated after six hours.
  • Semi-transparent finish highlights the wood grain, transforming your deck into a beautiful focal point.
  • Deck stain is produced from recycled paint.

Cons

  • Due to the production method, the colours are inconsistent between lots. This is to be expected but still annoying.
  • Manufacturer shipping is sometimes slow.
sadolin decking protector
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Excellent coverage on both plane and sawn wood decking.

The last product in our list is Decking Stain and Protector by Sadolin. Like its counterparts above, this product boasts a hard-wearing formula developed to provide long-lasting protection to all wood decks.

In fact, Sadolin is suitable for both plane and sawn wood, and can be used on softwood and hardwood decks alike. Its long-lasting formula incorporates various technologies to ensure the quality of the stain over time.

One of these is the UV-active technology developed to prevent cracking and peeling but also to maintain the colours brighter for longer. In terms of colours, there are five: all neutral choices intended to highlight the natural beauty of the wood.

We also like that this stain contains fungicides, a feature that makes it ideal to use in high-traffic areas, near pools and hot tubs. Resisting mould and algae growth, the product is also easy to apply – either with a brush or with an appropriate roller.

Pros

  • Excellent coverage up to 15m²/litre on sawn softwood and up to 8m²/litre on plane softwood or hardwood.
  • Fast drying time allows for a quick application. The product touch dries in 2 hours and can be re-coated in 4 hours.
  • Five neutral colours highlight the natural beauty of your timber structure.

Cons

  • The product can be used on pre-treated surfaces only.
  • More expensive than many of the other options on the market.

How To Stain Your Decking Surface Effectively

Staining your decking surface may seem straightforward, but often it’s not. An outdoor deck is exposed to adverse weather and elements, so merely applying a single coat of good stain will never suffice. We asked our experts how to stain the deck effectively and here are their tips:

1. Prepare your materials
An important step if you want to avoid running to the closest DIY store in the middle of your project because you’re lacking a product or a tool. To guarantee a successful outcome you will need:

  • Stain stripper for removing old coats
  • Decking sealant
  • High-quality decking stain
  • Paintbrush or wood stain roller
  • Roller tray
  • Broom
  • Dust mask


2. Prepare the surface
Surface preparation is an essential step in any painting project. Start by removing all furniture and objects from the deck, placing them in another area of your garden. Once the surface is clear from all objects, clean it.

Sweep the larger debris with a broom, or with a blower, then grab your garden hose and wash the surface thoroughly. If the old coat of stain is in good condition, you might not have to remove it, but it is essential to get rid of any mould, algae, moss and lichens present on the surface.

A pressure washer can often serve this purpose better than a traditional hose. Leave the surface to dry and inspect it for any cracks and holes that might need caulking. Bring any necessary reparations, then clean the surface again.

If the old stain is in poor condition (cracked, peeling or flaking) it is essential to remove it. You can either use an appropriate chemical stripper or a heat gun, although removing the old coat from such a large surface with a heat gun is going to be a laborious process. Alternatively, sand the surface to remove any traces of old stain.

3. Seal the surface
Not all decking stains are water-repellent or weatherproof. To stay on the safe side, seal the surface with a waterproof, UV-resistant and anti-fungal sealant developed specifically for decking.

Use a roller or brush and apply as instructed, then leave it to dry completely before applying your staining product.

4. Stain the deck
The stain must be applied in a similar way to the sealant, either with a paintbrush or with a roller. We strongly advise using a brush for better results, but if you’re in a hurry a roller can also do.

Dip the brush in stain, remove surplus product, and start painting the deck, paying attention to make sure you’re applying the product in the direction of the wood grain. This is important because most decking stains are translucent, and this motion will mask brush strokes and slight inaccuracies.

Work on small areas at a time and only move on to the next patch when you’re completely satisfied with the results. Repeat until the surface is fully covered, then wait for the product to dry. Apply a second coat and let it dry for at least a day before stepping over it.

5. Enjoy your brand new look!

That’s it. You can now bring the furniture and decorations back and start enjoying your new surface!