Which Deck Treatments Are Best

Which Deck Treatments Are Best
SEATTLE - People around here love their decks, even though keeping them looking nice takes some work. If you have a wood deck, you know what a pain it is to stain it, so you want a deck treatment that will last.

There are three basic types treatments:

  • Opaque: These hide the wood grain the way a coat of paint does. Based on years of testing, Consumer Reports says opaque stains last the longest.
  • Semi-Transparant: They contain a small amount of color and are next best.
  • Clear: They have no pigment in them. Clear treatments are very popular, but Consumer Reports says they are the "least effective."

With some products, it really doesn't matter which brand you choose, because they're all about the same. That's not the case with deck treatments. For its July issue, Consumer Reports rated 22 products and found big differences.

The editors say two opaque stains from Cabot are best for most decks: Cabot Decking Stain 1480 and Cabot Solid Color 1880.

The Cabot Decking Stain 1480, an alkyd, cleans up with solvent. The Cabot Solid Color 1880, is a latex that cleans up with water. Consumer Reports says both of the Cabot deck stains looked "very good" after 3 years of testing.

“They provided a very uniform appearance that stood up well to weathering,” says the magazine’s Jim Nanni. “They minimized the cracking of the wood beneath them, they didn't retain a lot of dirt, and they retained their appearance better for a longer period of time."

If you have wood you want to show off, Consumer Reports recommends Wolman DuraStain 18146. It rated “very good” after 2 years and “good: after 3 years of testing. Even though this DuraStain is an alkyd, it cleans up with water.

The Cabot Decking Stain 1480, was by far, the top rated deck treatment. It's an alkyd, which means it cleans up with solvent.

These top-rated deck treatments will cost you around $25 or so per gallon. You'll find the ratings for all of the deck stains tested in the new July issue of Consumer Reports.

Proper preparation is important to a successful treament. You need to get rid of the dirt. Generally that means using a cleaning product or a power washer. If you pressure wash, be careful. If the pressure is too strong, you can actually damage the wood.

After power-washing be sure to let the wood dry, which will take 3-5 days.

For More Information:

Deck Treatments: What Lasts Longest -- www.consumerreports.org
Keys to a Long Lasting Deck -- www.doityourself.com.