Has your deck seen better days? Consumer Reports has you covered. It just tested 29 deck stains.
To find out which stains last the longest, testers apply them to wood panels. The panels are left on Consumer Reports' roof for up to three years. Other panels are left in a shady spot to test for mildew resistance.
The type of stain you use makes a difference. A clear finish shows off the wood's natural grain and texture but tends to only last a year, and it won't keep the wood from turning gray. A solid stain lasts longer, but it covers up the natural grain of the wood. It's more durable. So three years later, it's almost exactly the same.
The semi-transparent Cabot Express Deck Wood Stain claims you'll need no dry time between cleaning your deck and applying the stain. So testers applied the Cabot to a wet wood panel. They tried the same experiment with a semi-transparent stain from Behr.
And after two years the Behr still looked really good, but the Cabot had started to break down. In fact, the Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Weather Proofing Wood Stain earned top ratings. It costs $37 at Home Depot.
If you prefer a clear stain, the only one to earn a Consumer Reports' recommendation is Thompsons Water Seal Advanced Waterproofer for $23. And for solid stain, Consumer Reports named Behr's Solid Color Waterproofing Wood Stain a Best Buy. It's sold at Home Depot for $29.