Why Deck Stains Peel

Staining your deck is no simple task, and the frustration and disappointment that occur when the project comes out poorly can be overwhelming. One of the more common failures that you can experience is that the stain, whether semi-transparent or solid color, begins to peel away. To avoid the problem, you first have to understand the cause; let’s begin there.

What causes deck stains to peel?

Deck stains will generally peel for two basic reasons: over application and poor adhesion.

Over Application

This is simple — too much stain on the surface of the wood. With deck stains, specifically with semi-transparent finishes, more is not better. You only want to apply as much product as the wood can easily absorb. Why? Because wood absorbs moisture from rain and snow, and when the sun comes out and dries the wood out, the moisture vapor from the wood needs to be able to pass through the stain and escape. If there is too much stain, it restricts the moisture from evaporating away, so peeling can occur. Often times this problem will be most evident in the spring time when the deck begins to dry out after all of the winter moisture.

Poor adhesion

This is even simpler. The stain has not adhered sufficiently to the wood. We will cover several factors that contribute to poor adhesion in detail, but if the stain does not properly stick to the wood, it will almost always peel.

The Problem is Becoming More Common

Peeling problems are becoming more common, mostly due to air quality regulations. As restrictions have increased regarding VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions, manufacturers have switched from solvent-based stains to water-based stains or have changed the formulas on their solvent-based products to become compliant. In both cases, one of the results is a much greater propensity for the stain to peel.

The solution? Just follow a few basic rules.

Allow New Wood to Weather

All wood benefits from weathering prior to staining. Weathering allows Mother Nature to dry the moisture out of the wood to make it more absorbent. Weathering also starts the process of naturally breaking down the surface fiber of the wood again, making the wood more absorbent. The more absorbent that you can make the wood, the more stain the wood is going to absorb. Your project will last longer and be less likely to peel.

Clean and Brighten All Wood Prior to Staining

Cleaning and brightening the wood has a lot more value than simply making the wood look nice. Each step of the cleaning process opens the pores of the wood more to make the wood more absorbent. Power washing alone will not improve the porosity of the wood, so don’t skip this step. Use the cleaners and the brighteners every time you stain.

More is Not Better

This is one of the most important principles to understand when staining a deck. Applying more stain is not better — it is worse. If you apply more stain, the stain is more likely build up on the surface of the wood and form a film. When a film is formed, the breathability of the wood is decreased, increasing the likelihood of peeling. Over-applying the stain will initially look great, as the wood will take on an almost “furniture” type look. Don’t be fooled; it will eventually peel and the project will end up looking terrible. Apply only as much stain as the wood can easily absorb, no more.

Stay Out of Direct Sunlight

Avoid applying stain in direct sunlight or in the heat of the day. This one is really easy to understand. The hotter the surface of the wood, the more quickly the stain will dry. If it dries too quickly, then it simply won’t have time to penetrate into the wood, leaving it on the surface to form a film and, you guessed it, eventually peel. Apply the stain in the shade. Do your project in the morning or late in the day, but stay out of the hot sun or you’re likely to end up with a peeling problem.

Always Use a Brush

Always use a brush when applying any stains — they make a huge difference in your results. As the fibers of the brush work back and forth across the surface of the wood, they break down the surface tension and help to force the stain deep in to the fibers of the wood. Even if you spray or roll your deck, while the stain is still wet, always work the material in to the wood by brushing. For a tip on how to cut your brush time down dramatically and speed up the staining process, view this short video:

Don’t Go Cheap. Buy a premium wood stain

What’s inside of the can will make all of the difference in the world. The chemicals that promote the various performance characteristics of the stain, e.g. adhesion, penetration, mildew resistance, UV resistance, etc., all cost money, and some of them are very expensive. The easiest way to cut the cost of the product is reduce the amounts of these performance additives in the can, but you can’t do that without sacrificing durability. So don’t be fooled, if you want a stain that lasts, stay away from cheap wood stains!

That’s it. If you have had a peeling problem on your deck in the past, I’ll  bet that something in this article hit pretty close to home. Adhere to the few simple guidelines that I’ve outlined, and your results in the future should be significantly better.

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76 Comments

  1. Ann Prucinsky says:

    My deck has peeled every year. The painter said that it’s because the wood is drawing too much moisture from the ground underneath. The upright posts etc do not peel, just the flat boards. Is there anything we can do about this? Used high quality stain and not put on heavy but first time he put 2 coats on the same day. That was 3 years ago, then another coat the next year.

    • woodstainadmin says:

      Ann, how close is your deck to the ground? If there’s not enough clearance between the ground and the deck, this could trap moisture underneath and create peeling problems.

    • Ken Fontenot says:

      I suggest you put a vapor barrier , go to your nearest store and purchase a heavy gauge of black plastic sheeting and put it under your deck you can secure it with special pins for this sheeting and this will protect or help control some of the moisture that sits under your deck.

  2. Miles says:

    What is the best way to remove the remaining stain that is partially peeling?

    • woodstainadmin says:

      Miles, if it’s a clear, or semi-transparent stain, then use DEFY Stain Stripper, then rinse with a pressure washer. If it’s a solid stain, then you may need to either use paint stripper or a sander.

      • marty says:

        My situation: Bought a home. Restaining a deck with two obviously different existing and unknown products via replaced boards at a health sensitive home (wife w/extreme sensitivity) so no stripper, chems.
        Random flaking onboardr, dark stained boards. Solid condition amber stain on replacement boards.
        Question: Is it possible to just stain over the whole mess with a solid bodied stain?

        • defyadmin says:

          Marty, yes, using a solid color stain could work in your situation. Keep in mind that once you start using a solid stain, it’s difficult to go back to a semi-transparent or clear. Solids are very difficult to remove, only paint stripper or sanding will remove them. As long as you’re ok with permanently having your deck a solid color, then that might be your best option. One thing to keep in mind, as solid color stains weather, they will typically peel on horizontal surfaces.

    • Johnny says:

      Power wash then strpper….then power wash again

  3. Jeanne says:

    Interesting video about staining with a car wash brush. It looks like a lot of product is being put on with this method. This amount is NOT considered over application? What about railings? Thank you.

    • defyadmin says:

      Jeanne, the brush being used in the video is nice because it allows you to cover a lot of area in a small amount of time. It also helps to force the stain into the wood pores by breaking the surface tension…something that’s difficult to do when just using a sprayer to apply the stain. If too much is applied in an area, it’s easy to spread it out across other boards with this brush, plus it saves your back and knees! For railings, you could use this brush, but we typically use a standard 2 1/2″ or 3″ paint brush.

      • AJ says:

        Where can I get this exact brush? Or what’s the name of the manufacturer of the brush used in this video. I will be doing this very soon. I’m just waiting for my new wood to weather now. And thanks for this great write-up.

      • AJ says:

        Oh, never mind. You guys sell this brush LOL! I’ll be ordering this soon. Sorry, but I already have my stain.

  4. Scott jacobson says:

    I refinished my deck last spring. In preparation I stripped, completely sanded and then brightened the wood. Put two coats of Defy Extreme Semi Trans stain on per instructions. Now I notice there are a number of spots that appear to be peeling or wearing off. What can I do about that? What may be causing it?

    How do you recommend I clean the deck after the winter to remove the dirt, dust, etc that has accumulated over the winter?

    I’m located in Salt Lake City, UT

    • defyadmin says:

      Scott, just out of curiosity, why did you strip and sand it? Did the stain stripper not fully remove the previous stain? The reason I ask is if you sand the wood too smooth, it can make it harder for the stain to penetrate. If sanding is necessary, we usually recommend using a rough grit sandpaper. What type of wood do you have? Typically peeling is caused by over-application, or the stain not adhering to penetrating into the wood properly. If the peeling is severe, you’ll need to use DEFY Stain Stripper, followed by DEFY Wood Brightener. Otherwise, you can just use some Dawn dishwashing soap and water to clean it off. You can also call our customer service at (800) 860-6327 and talk to someone more in depth about your project.

      • Scott says:

        Yes there was still stain on the deck. It’s a 20 year old deck and I’ve only been in home for 5 years so also not sure what stains were on there. I know the last one was Behr. I stripped, pressure washed and sanded then brightened. Sanded with 80 grit. I’m also not sure on the wood thinking it’s redwood or pine.
        If I strip again doesn’t seem it will resolve any of the issue if it’s too smooth, etc. Frustrated that I’ve put so much effort into this, bought premium stain and got the worst results ever. I used Behr for years at my other home and would get 2 – 3 years out of it and then recoat. Lasted for 10 plus years with one sanding in between.

        • defyadmin says:

          Scott, call our customer service at (800) 860-6327. If you have any pictures of your project that may be helpful. They may be able to offer more specific advice once they see what’s going on.

  5. Robbi Boston says:

    Hi, our hardwood deck has a solid stain that is coming off so we will need to sand it (we are also slightly changing the color to a warmer tone and have to replace a board or two). My question is: do we still need to use the Brightener? If so, do we use it before or after we stain?

    • defyadmin says:

      Robbi, a couple of thoughts. First, make sure you totally get the solid stain off. Any areas where it still remains on the surface will cause adhesion problems for your new stain. Also, are you re-staining it with DEFY or another solid color stain? If you’re replacing boards, then you may see a color variance between the old boards and the new if you use a semi-transparent stain like DEFY. If you’re using another solid stain, then this won’t be an issue. Once you sand, using Wood Brightener will help, as it will help the stain penetrate better and absorb more uniformly across the surface of the wood. Apply the Wood Brightener, allow it to set for 5 minutes or so, then rinse it off with a garden hose. Allow the wood to dry out and then you can stain it.

  6. Stephanie says:

    My husband built a bridge and we stained it last fall, using a semi transparent stain. We don’t like the color and now want to change the stain to a solid stain. Are we able to power wash it and then restain it?
    Thank you!!

    • defyadmin says:

      Stephanie, use a stain stripper to remove the semi-transparent stain and then follow it with a wood brightener to neutralize the surface. After that, it’s ready to stain. Powerwashing alone may not be sufficient to get the wood back to it’s original state.

  7. Dan says:

    We are looking into using this product on a deck that had been stained 2 and 4 years ago with a semi-transparent oil-based stain.
    Once the deck is stripped of the old product and Defy Extreme is applied, how will subsequent applications look in the future? Will there be a build up of the pigment over time or will the deck have to be stripped each time a new application is applied?
    In other words, in a few years, can a light cleaning with a deck cleaner and pressure washer be all that is needed to refresh the look?

    • defyadmin says:

      Dan, you’re correct. Over time, the stain will darken a little as you apply additional coats. The way to combat this, is when you do maintenance coats, apply the Wood Brightener to lighten the wood.

  8. Deanna says:

    Hello, I have had so many problems with my deck paint peeling. I started with Restore Brand colored deck paint. It was very thick and looked nice for about a month and then started peeling off. I reapplied the following year and we built a cover over the deck. It is still peeling bad. I’m fed up and I know that once you put this type of paint it would be hard to go to just a sealer or stain. Please tell me what you think about outdoor carpet over the entire deck. We have a really high deck about 3 feet off the ground and the boards have adequate space between each one for air circulation. Since the deck is covered with metal roofing except steps, would outdoor carpet be a good choice to cover this ugly deck?

    • defyadmin says:

      Deanna, at this point outdoor carpet isn’t going to hurt anything. Unless you want to sand the deck down to bare wood or use a harsh paint stripper, you’re stuck with painting the deck.

  9. Gina Lagore says:

    Hi. I have a 20 year old, pressure treated pine deck that was originally in all day full sun. It now receives full sun for about 7 hours a day. I live outside Phila., PA. I have maintained it by cleaning it every year, and hand brushing on S/T oil based Cabot stain every 3rd year which amounts to approximately 6 coats of stain and it consistently looked fine each time for about 3 years. With a recent back injury, I am now getting estimates for the deck to be handled by a professional. I have been reading many different opinions as to whether or not, after all the appropriate prep work, another oil based S/T stain coat can be placed on top. One professional said he would use a Sherwin Williams oil based S/T stain right over the existing stain, a second told me that after the cumulative 6 coats of Cabot S/T oil based stain that I have been applying over the last 20 years that I now have a deck that is similar to a painted deck that is peeling and he wants to apply a Sherwin Williams solid stain water based product. Completely different opinions. Can anyone steer me in the right direction – and recommend the appropriate product that will require simply cleaning and recoating over the next 2-3 years? Thanks for your time.

    • defyadmin says:

      Gina, your second contractor was right, the 6 coats of stain will probably begin peeling if they haven’t already. At this point, we would recommend that you strip the deck with a wood stain stripper followed by a power washer. It may take 2 applications of stain stripper given the number of coats of stain you have on your deck. This should bring the wood back to it’s bare state and at that point our Extreme Wood Stain would work great on your pressure treated deck. You can give it a light cleaning every couple of years followed by a single maintenance coat.

  10. Michelle says:

    We have a mobile home that our college kids live in. The decks have not been treated in at least 4 years (when we bought it) and are gray and look totally bare. After a lot of research, I am leaning toward DEFY based on ratings and the water base, plus not many reviews of issues with peeling later. We planned to clean, pressure wash, and let dry overnight, then do the brightener early in the morning, followed by stain before it gets sunny and hot. We’ll do a sprayer and use your car wash brush tip to rub it in.
    Since this wood is very old and thirsty, do you have any specific advice?
    Do you think we’ll need two coats under the circumstances?
    Also, is there any need to seal if we use Extreme Wood Stain?
    Finally – as far as color, with the deck being totally gray, do we need to go a shade darker to have the browner tint show through?
    Thank you for your responses and clarifications to all these questions – it’s very helpful!

    • defyadmin says:

      Michelle, make sure you clean it with DEFY Wood Cleaner, as this will remove the graying. You can actually use DEFY Wood Brightener immediately after the cleaner. It’s ok to use it the next day as well. You’ll definitely want to apply 2 coats as the wood will probably need it. Extreme Wood Stain is a stain and a sealer, so no need to seal it with another product. If you use the Wood Cleaner and a power washer, that should bring the wood back to its natural, bare state and totally remove the graying, so you can use whichever color you like. We have samples available here if you want to see what the colors will look like on your deck.

  11. Tom says:

    Last fall I used a spray on deck cleaner (did not power wash) before applying a semi-transparent stain. Now there are several areas where the stain is peeling off. Apparently I did not do a good enough job of prepping the surface before staining. Would using a power washer be enough to remove all the loose stain? Or would I need to use some kind of stain remover over the entire thing first, +cleaner, +power wash?

    • defyadmin says:

      Tom, you need to use a stain stripper and a power washer. The stain stripper will loosen any remaining stain, and the power washer will then be able to remove it completely. After that, use a wood brightener to neutralize any remaining stain stripper and let it dry out. Then it’s ready to be stained.

  12. Ian Grant says:

    I built a new red cedar deck and stairs, last June. Let it weather for 2 months. Then sanded, cleaned and applied 2 coats Defy clear stain. As I wanted to retain the red cedar color.
    Now it has faded to white.
    Why the color fade? How to fix it?
    I purchased a 5 gallon pail of the clear, still have 3 gallons.

    • defyadmin says:

      Ian, contact our customer service at (800) 860-6327 and they can help you figure out what went wrong. Pictures may be helpful if you have them.

  13. Dominic says:

    Is there a website that evaluates all types of stains and application methods without promoting their own brand?

  14. Martha says:

    I’m glad I found this site! Hoping to get some advice. We just had a new PT wood deck built. I’m not sure if it was entirely dry before we had stained applied. I wanted dark walnut, a dark brown with no hint of red. The guy we hired bought Olympia (?) walnut, stain & sealer in one. (He didn’t get dark walnut) He put one coat on and it looked terrible. It was reddish (which I did not want) and very uneven. I think he applied it in full sun and it dried very quickly/unevenly. I asked him to hold off on the 2nd coat for now. I asked a professional painter referred by a friend and he said we should lightly sand the first coat, clean the dust then apply 2 or 3 coats of dark walnut oil based wood stain (not mixed with sealer), no sanding in between, wait 4 hours in between coats. Then let that dry completely for a day or two. He said cover the deck with a tarp so it doesn’t bake in the sun, then put a couple of coats of a clear polyurethane. He said the oil based stain will work better if we are unsure what the water content is in the wood. Is this a good plan? If so, what type of polyurethane should I use and how is the best way to apply that? If not, then what should we do? Thanks!

    • defyadmin says:

      Martha, you’ll need to check with the manufacturer of the oil based stain that he’s using as to what their instructions are. One thing to keep in mind, if you’re unsure about the water content of the wood, an oil based stain is definitely not something you would want. Oil and water do not mix, so unless the wood has totally dried out, you won’t want to use an oil. With that being said, there are hybrid stains that combine an alkyd (oil) resin in a water-based carrier. This type would be ok to use. The way you can easily tell is if the cleanup recommendations for an oil based stain are to use water (as opposed to mineral spirits). The other issue, is polyurethane is typically used on interior surfaces and works well, but it doesn’t always hold up on exterior applications. It sounds like your contractor wants to give your deck a furniture-like appearance, and with all those coats of stain and polyurethane, my concern is that you could see peeling as the deck weathers. The best rule of thumb is to only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. If the stain lays on the surface and forms a film, chances are it’s going to peel.

  15. Jim H says:

    defyadmin…I had a pro install a deck at my cabin in north WI using treated lumber. Its 6 feet above the ground. I was told to wait one year before using a nontransparent stain. One year later, it has peeled. Including the railings. The same happened to the front porch/deck of the cabin. But that is not like the back deck which is above our walkout basement. However, we installed cedar on the 64 foot long porch/deck the same year we did the back deck. I stained it with one coat of Behr transparent using a roller. It peeled within three months!!

    • defyadmin says:

      Jim, a couple of thoughts here…were both decks allowed to weather? Applying a stain to unweathered wood can frequently result in failure. We always recommend waiting a few months for the wood to dry out. The other issue is that solid color stains will frequently peel as they weather, especially on horizontal surfaces. It’s surprising that the Behr transparent peeled as transparent stains will usually just fade away as they weather, unless they’re over-applied. My guess is that using a roller didn’t help. Rollers can make it easy to accidentally over-apply stain. A better option is a car wash brush. A car wash brush breaks the surface tension and forces the stain into the pores of the wood, ensuring that the stain is absorbed and isn’t over applied.

  16. Jen says:

    Just this weekend we stained our deck. We used a deck cleaner and power washer to remove the old stain. We started off in the morning but the deck is in full sun for most of the day/evening. I got a semi transparent cinnamon color wanting to have a light oak look. It is orange looking and the stain looks very uneven and thick in places. We can’t afford to redo and some mentioned another coat but I worry it will still be uneven looking and too thick. Any suggestion to correct this?

    • defyadmin says:

      My guess is the old stain wasn’t completely removed which can certainly cause uneven applications. If the stain is too thick in certain places, this may be a sign of over application. We always use a car wash brush to force the stain into the wood pores and prevent puddling. You may consider this for your next application. A stain stripper and power washer would have completely removed the old stain and brought the wood back to its natural state. Your options are to allow the wood to weather for a few months and then apply a maintenance coat, or strip it with a stain stripper and start over. If you choose to allow the wood to weather for a few months, I would recommend applying a cleaner and brightener before staining to open the pores of the wood. The other issue is the color. You may be able to use a different color next time, but if it’s a semi-transparent, then the old color may still be visible underneath.

  17. Karen says:

    We have a new ipe deck that has weathered for 3 months. Two days ago, we used deck cleaner and brightener to prep, and we were planning to stain today, when we noticed that the company we ordered from shipped us the wrong stain product: Extreme Wood Stain instead of Stain for Hardwoods. We will now have to wait for them to ship us the correct product, and hopefully the weather will cooperate; we’ve had a lot of rain lately. If it takes a couple of weeks (or maybe up to a month?) for the right conditions again, can we go ahead and stain without having to re-do the prep?

    • defyadmin says:

      Karen, yes you should be fine. You may want to sweep off the deck before staining to remove any dirt or debris.

  18. Don Green says:

    I think screwed up my newly replaced deck. It’s cedar and we were looking to keep the natural color. I used Biowash Glaze remover on Friday afternoon/evening and then started in the next morning with Defy Wood Oil. It ended up being a very hot day and I had it in my head I had to have two coats on all flat surfaces. Now two days later, the deck looks great but is still real tacky to walk on. Will this go away and if not do you have any recommendations to eliminate the tackiness.? Also, any predictions regarding the finish ending up peeling by the end of summer or next year? Thanks

    • defyadmin says:

      Don, the deck will eventually dry out, but you may consider covering it if rain is in the near forecast. Tackiness can be caused by high humidity levels and made worse by applying too much stain. Only time will tell if the stain application holds up. In the meantime, watch out for rain and keep it covered until it dries completely.

  19. Michael Accarino says:

    The most important fact was that the stains of yesteryear before the government regulations were superior and no one has come up with anything to compare with them yet. You can do everything perfectly from start to finish on a new deck and they will peel way before the stated time that the manufacturer claims the stain will last. You can stain the underside of the deck. Put it on lightly as you recommend so it can allow water to evaporate. If you live in a part of the country that has a lot of snow and freezing temperatures, get your wallet out. Cause you will be sanding and staining and stripping etc. Every spring.

  20. Fleuri Perron says:

    We are just installing a new deck in Vancouver, BC – Canada and are using red cedar 5/4 x 6″ boards installed on 16″ centres.

    The deck is approximately 16″ off the ground. We have placed crushed rock on the ground under the deck area.

    The deck exposure is south.

    Appreciate your recommendations on the steps we should take to finish. We are leaning to a semi-transparent finish but haven’t settled on a colour as yet.

    Also appreciate your recommendations as to which products we can use that would be available here in Canada.

    Thank you,

    • defyadmin says:

      Fleuri, you’ll want to allow the deck to weather for 3-6 months before applying a stain. This allows the deck to weather and will help the stain to absorb better when it’s time to apply. Watch this quick 2 minute video to see the process – http://defywoodstain.com/videos/. Deck Stain for Hardwoods is going to be the best product for your red cedar deck. Although red cedar is not a hardwood, it is an oily wood that can be difficult for most stains to penetrate. Our Deck Stain for Hardwoods is formulated with smaller resins that are able to soak into hard or oily woods better than most. We don’t have any Canadian dealers at this time, but we do have a dealer that will ship to Canada. Contact the Sealer Store at (866) 856-3325 to order.

  21. monique p says:

    I’m so glad I found this website. I applied three coats of the redwood Behr wood stain and waterproofer. Now I know why it’s peeling. I really couldn’t figure it out because Behr product was so highly recommended.

  22. Ted Cooper says:

    Have 500 sq ft cedar deck in Oklahoma. 150 sq ft is covered and balance is in the sun. As one would expect, sun exposed area has faded and covered still looks okay after one year. Used Olympics’ Premium product with a semi transparent stain.

    What do I do to keep the sun exposed areas to fade less that the covered area?

    Frustrated deck owner!

    Ted

    • defyadmin says:

      Ted, unfortunately there’s not much you can do. Areas subjected to sun exposure are always going to weather faster than protected areas. There’s not a product on the market that will cause both exposed and non-exposed areas to weather uniformly. You’ll need to apply maintenance coats to the sun exposed areas more frequently. To make this as easy as possible, choose a wood stain that is easy to maintain and doesn’t require stripping or sanding every time it needs to be recoated. I’m not sure what Olympic’s requirements are when it comes to maintenance coats, but if they’re too difficult, you may consider DEFY as the maintenance process is very easy for this product.

  23. Lyle Underwood says:

    I have a deck that has a solid color cabot stain on it. It is light blue in color. I have read some good reports on your stain. Do you sell a solid color stain? I am going to change the color of it to a cedar tone. I live in Indiana and have a dealer near me that sells your stain. Thank You

    • defyadmin says:

      Lyle, we only offer semi-transparent and clear stains. Our semi-transparent stain comes in 6 different colors including cedar tone. In order to switch from a solid to a semi-transparent, you’ll need to make sure you completely remove the solid by either sanding it, or using a stain stripper and pressure washer.

  24. Marielena says:

    So we had a new pressure treated wood pool deck built last April and waited a year to stain it. We bought a semi transparent stain which is a very light color (yellow cream). We love the color as it looks like the deck is bright and has a nice subtle appearance. Every time it rains there are parts that have just washed off completely! It’s bizarre… Some off of the spindles, the floor boards, the railings on the stairs. Was it applied to thick? What are our options for the Fall when we’ll have to redo it all?!?!
    Discouraged in Massachusetts!

  25. Kim says:

    I have been through so much crap with all these deck restore and stains and ends up lasting a year! When it claims to guarantee decks for 5 or 6 yrs. When it does not, they blaime it on you. Anyway, this time I purchased Behr Solid color waterproofing wood stain. Tested smaller section I was able to get to end of summer last year and peeled and wore by spring. Well, I had purchased 3 ~ 5 gallons to complete the deck, poles and rails (very large wrap around deck), So already purchasing it last yr, I got on it and just completed it, looks great right now but… I am 57 with a bad back and has taken me awhile down on my knees with paint brushes, I can not keep doing this and especially with the price it costs to keep redoing every year and nothing lives up to their guarantees. So my question is: this is 100% acrylic, is there a very thick clear coat I can put over it now to help keep it from peeling and wearing to help all this work last more than one season. I have already spent way too much going through this every year but will spend a bit more on a good thick top coat to help it last this time ~ please tell me what I can use. Hoping for a thick very hard top coat I can use and holds up over Behr solid stain, 100% acrylic. Please tell me there is something. ?

    • defyadmin says:

      Kim, sorry to hear you’ve had so much trouble with your deck. Your frustration is shared by many people. Unfortunately there isn’t a deck stain on the market that will last 5 or 6 years, in spite of what the warranties claim. 2-3 years is about what the best products on the market will give you. The big question is how easy is it to do maintenance coats. Some products require the wood to be stripped or sanded every time. In our case with DEFY products, you only have to apply a single maintenance coat every 2-3 years to maintain the finish. Unfortunately for your situation, a thick clear top coat may not be the best answer. This will only form a film on the surface of the wood, and typically when you put film-forming coatings on decks, they will peel. Solid stains in general can peel as they weather. A good quality semi-transparent stain will fade as it weathers, rather than peel. This makes it easy to maintain with a simple maintenance coat. If you want to switch to a semi-transparent stain, you’ll need to allow your solid stain to weather and then either sand or strip the finish off. Once the wood is bare, you can use a semi-transparent stain hopefully with less frustration and work. The other option if you don’t want the maintenance is to replace the wood with a composite type decking material or a concrete patio, but obviously these are much more expensive up front.

  26. Mark Gershovich says:

    Last time I stained my deck I used Geco solid stain product. Unfortunately, Geco discontinued this solid stain product. It’s acrylic based and lasted several years. It’s peeling in places and wore out. I really don’t want to strip the deck. I did pressure washed it and now need an advice what other prep steps I need to take and what solid stain product would work the best in my situation. I live in Seattle area. I realize I am stuck with solid stain but hope I can find some product I can reapply more easily. Thank you.

  27. Stephanie says:

    Can I use semi transparent stain over aged and faded Thompson tinted water sealer?
    If so, what steps do I need to take?

  28. Larry Neff says:

    I have a nine year old deck that my Son helped me out when I was sick by spraying my deck with way to much stain. It has turned black and now must be stripped,My question is if i STRIP IT now and can’t beat cold weather would it be OK to wait until spring to stain it.
    Thanks Larry

  29. Diane says:

    My deck kept peeling and slivers were rising. So 50 feet of outdoor carpet on deck and top railing. Every year I cover it with a few tarps with zip lock ties on openings and bungle them to bottom of deck for the winter. Its been 3 years and the carpet is still great.

  30. Julie says:

    I just added on to my deck to double its size, so now half the deck is dark brown (a semi was used I believe, not a solid) and the new half is well, naked. I really want to have the whole deck look like a red wood. What is the best approach I should take here? Basically, I think I have to decide between solid and semi. From the comments here, I am hearing that once you go with a solid, you’re kind of committed to it unless you want to strip it off down the road. But I think it might be the only way to get one uniform color. What would you recommend? I know that the two products differ in several important ways, but frankly the most important thing for me right now is that it is all one uniform color. FYI, I did power wash the dark brown section of the deck and got most of the color off so the two different colors aren’t hugely different anymore. Your thoughts?

    • defyadmin says:

      Julie, you’re right, you need to decide whether to use a solid or not. Since you’ve got a semi-transparent already, it may be best to continue on with that. Once you go with a solid, you’re pretty much stuck with it. If the previous product is totally gone, you may not need to strip. If there’s any of the previous stain remaining, to ensure you get a uniform color, you’ll want to make sure you totally strip it off, and bring the wood back to it’s natural state. Once you strip it, you’ll need to brighten it to neutralize the surface. Let it dry out, then it’s ready to stain. You may consider DEFY Extreme Wood Stain as it’s a long lasting, semi-transparent stain that comes in a redwood color (get a free sample here).

  31. TF says:

    We had a new cedar deck built. Floor decking is kiln dried, the rest is not. Contractor convinced me it would be fine to stain even though wood has only weathered a month. We got 4 or so straight days of rain had 2 or 3 drying days, they stained the vertical boards today with a white stain. He said he primed it first then sprayed and brushed in. He made mention that it wasn’t covering so he had to put 3 coats on. He said he has been staining decks for 16 years. Figured he might know what he was doing. Not sure if the 3 coats were 1 primer and 2 stain or if he primed and did 3 coats. At 5 a.m. the morning after he stained we got a heavy down pour of rain. I am scared to see what kind of mess we will have on our hands going forward. We are in Chicago area. Should we let the kiln dried floor deck weather through the winter. Forgot to mention they did do a light pressure washing with a cleaner/brightened. Help!

    • defyadmin says:

      TF, are the floor boards cedar, or pressure treated? If they are cedar, it may be a good idea to allow them to weather. Cedar is an oily wood type that frequently has trouble accepting stains. The more it weathers, the better your chances are that the stain will penetrate and hold up. If it’s pressure treated, even though it’s kiln dried, it still may be a good idea to allow the wood to weather. Even though the kiln dries out any moisture, the chemicals used in the pressure treatment process are still present and may prevent the wood from absorbing the stain sufficiently. If you choose to stain it now, it may still be ok, you just might have to do a maintenance coat sooner than if you allowed it to weather more.

  32. Chris says:

    I got in my semi annual deck protector painted on this year before the temperatures dropped too low. I used CWF UV Clear. I had a good window of time before temps dropped or forecasted rain. But, later that night I awoke to it pouring outside. As the deck started to dry, it is turning white. It is looking more like weathered beach wood. Any thoughts?
    It’s now too late in the year to do anything. What are the options for spring? I cannot power wash because it drains my well.

    • defyadmin says:

      Chris, it doesn’t sound like the sealer wasn’t able to cure before it rained. There’s probably not much you can do about it unless you get another stretch of warm/dry weather. In the spring, you’ll probably need to strip the CWF off with a stain stripper, and then restain it.

  33. Wade says:

    Will staining my deck on cooler weather be bad. We just have got ready to stain, kinda puthing it on the back burner.

    • customerservice says:

      Wade, We recommend applying the product in temperatures above 45 degrees. The temperatures should stay above 45 degrees for at least 12 hours.

  34. Scott Sportsman says:

    We recently moved into a house with a 2 year old deck that was not stained properly. The stain appears to be semi-transparent but is very “thin looking” in most places. The bare wood is visible on some planks.
    We cleaned the deck with Defy Oxygenated Wood Cleaner which took the stain off in some places, but not all. Stain is still visible in lots of places.
    We had planned on applying the Defy Extreme ST stain at the end of this week until we began reading comments on this site. We’re now worried that we have not properly prepared the deck to accept the stain.
    Do we need to strip the stain that remained behind after the cleaning and power wash before we stain with Defy Extreme ST? Or can we apply a wood brightner then stain?
    We are running out of nice weather to accomplish the job. If stripping is required we will need to wait until the spring to do it. Will it harm the deck to let it sit in its current clean, but not protected state over the upcoming Ohio winter?

    • customerservice says:

      Scott, If there is still stain on the deck you need to remove it, our stain is a penetrating stain and if there is another product on the deck, Defy Extreme Stain won’t penetrate. You could do one of two things, either sand the deck, then clean it and brighten, or strip the deck, then brighten and apply the stain. The ideal temperatures for staining is between 45-95 degrees. If the deck sits over the winter just make sure you clean it and brighten it before applying the stain.

  35. Terri says:

    We just used an Olympic semi transparent stain on our newly built redwood decks and WOW is it ever ORANGE!! The coverage is also far more intense than we wanted covering that beautiful wood. Too make it worse, to save time the workers used a sprayer and got it on unevenly and away too thick. We were able to use a beautiful natural deck oil on our front porch once we saw the results on the back, but now we have to figure out how to address the very large wrap around back porch. From what I’ve read here we’ve made a few mistakes. We rushed to protect the decks not realizing it was better to let them weather before staining–so both decks were stained too soon. The back deck has too much stain on it, no question as it has been tacky for more than a week and rain the day after application only made things worse. I was tempted to put the beautifully colored natural oil over the semi-transparent on the back but from this article now I know it would only further saturate the already saturated and improperly weathered wood. As winter is setting in it seems our options are to use the Defy stain stripper then brightener now or in the spring and then apply the far more natural looking colored natural oil….or…allow this mess a couple of years to fade and THEN strip and brighten the wood and apply the oil we like. Regardless, it sounds like we will have to strip the old stain, am I correct? Thanks for your expertise and advice.

    • customerservice says:

      Terri, Yes, you are correct, you would need to remove any stain on the deck before applying anything else. I would wait for the stain to weather through the winter, then in the spring, strip, and brighten the deck, then apply the stain.

  36. stain deck says:

    Ive tried putting stain on several ways. The best way I have found is to use a sprayer.

    • customerservice says:

      Joel, It’s ok to use a sprayer just make sure you use a brush to back brush the product. It needs to break the surface tension and soak into the pores of the wood. If you don’t the product may pool on the deck and could create problems later on.

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