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If you’re planning to give your best deck boards a fresh coat of paint or put the first coat on your new deck, you’ve come to the right place. Not all deck paints and wood stains are the same and it’s easy to become overwhelmed when making initial decision.
There are so many questions to answer. What type of paint is best? How slippery should it be? Do I choose a paint or stain?
In this guide, we’ll go over all the information you need to know when choosing the best rated deck paint or stain for your home’s wooden deck boards. We’ll even go into the differences between deck paints and stains so you can decide which one you like better for your chosen aesthetic.
- Our Best Deck Paint Reviews
- Paint vs. Stain: What’s the Difference?
- Best Deck Paint/Stain Features and Considerations
Our Best Deck Paint Reviews
Below are our top choices for the best deck stains and paints to use on your deck. Each is chosen for a specific need, such as best deck paints on a specific amount of funds or best deck paints for anti-slip concerns.
ReadySeal 525 5-Gallon Pail Wood Stain and Sealer
In terms of a good overall stain choice, you can’t get much better than the ReadySeal 525 5-Gallon Pail Wood Stain and Sealer. It doesn’t need any primer to get started so you can purchase the stain and start applying right away. You can use a sprayer, brush, or roller over the wood surface of your deck and see the same great results.
It takes about 14 days for the true color to come out into the wood, which is a little long, but given the low effort required to apply it, it’s not much of a flaw. Keep in mind that the stain will be at its darkest color when it is first applied, so if it doesn’t initially look like you imagined be patient and wait until it’s finishing soaking into the wood.
Drying time is between 48 and 72 hours depending on the moisture in the air.
It’s a relatively sturdy stain that can be applied at a wide temperature range. It offers a quite high UV resistance, which makes it an ideal stain for decks that are going to get a lot of sunshine during the day.
The benefits don’t stop there. It doesn’t have any linseed oil and it won’t stain your hands, although you should still take care to cover any plants or grass before spreading it across your deck. The stain is also biodegradable, so you won’t be polluting your backyard as you apply it.
Overall, it’s one of the most versatile and easy-to-apply stains on the market. Beginners and experts alike can take advantage of its simple formula and effective color. It is a bit expensive when compared to other deck paints, but if you’re looking for the best overall, it’ll be well worth a bit expensive.
- 8 colors to choose from
- Needs no primer
- Takes 14 days for true color to appear
- Blends with wood by itself
- Stain type
- 5 gallons
- Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It reaches its true color in...
- May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.
- Requires no back brushing and will never leave runs, laps, or streaks.
- Requires no wet-line application, the product will blend itself and can be applied in any...
Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint
This Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint is probably the top deck paint you can get in the market. This is due to its large capacity (5 gallons) and the whopping 20 different colors that it comes in.
Once applied, the paint is very smooth and feels uniform all the way across your deck. To accomplish this, make sure that you brush the paint layer smoothly as it dries. This ensures that the sealant is applied correctly.
If done properly, this paint can defend against moisture, mold, and mildew thanks to its tight seal and excellent durability.
Although it might not be the most durable deck paint there is, it is still quite good – since its water-based. You won’t have to worry about applying this paint and watching it rub off as the rainy season rolls around. It is also quite resistant to sun damage.
The paint is made from recycled things already, and it’s eco-friendly. That means it’s one of the most environmentally conscious deck paints you can purchase. By supporting this manufacturer, you’ll be reducing waste and saving the environment at the same time.
As a final bonus, you get access to a 10-year warranty through Montage if you find the paint unsatisfying.
- 20 available colors
- Versatile for all kinds of surfaces
- 5 gallons
- EXTREMELY VERSATILE - Montage Signature is the #1 choice for all of your professional painting needs...
- SUPERIOR COVERAGE & PROTECTION - All of our specialty finishes let you brush smoothly & evenly while...
- ECO FRIENDLY - We're committed to the highest quality environmentally-friendly & pollutant-free...
- 10 YEAR WARRANTY - We can't wait to add you to our long list of loyal customers turning to Montage...
Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain
This Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain is another easy-to-apply wood stain that comes in even more color varieties than our overall top choice. The downside is that it comes in a much smaller container but given its affordability, overall it’s still an excellent deal.
In fact, it’s perfect for adding a finishing stain touch to any wooden deck, particularly since you won’t need to use as much stain as you would paint for the same purpose. This stain sinks deeper into the wood and highlights the grains naturally included with the deck texture.
It’s one of the best stains for bringing out the character and history of a wooden deck and is ideal for decks that have a lot of natural physical anomalies like knots and tangles.
The stain is also easy to apply with any normal paintbrush or staining brush. You can also use a roller to accomplish the same effect. Make sure that the surface of the wood you’re staining is stable since it takes several hours for the stain to sink into the wood and finalize its color.
Since it’s easy to apply, you should feel confident about being able to get all of your staining done over the course of an afternoon.
We’d recommend using this stain for everything from your deck to any wooden furniture in your home. It should give off any undue smell or stench as it’s being applied, so feel free to break this into the house or garage without the use of a respirator.
One downside, though, is that it’s not necessarily biodegradable or environmentally friendly. Be sure to take care when applying it outside to cover up any plants or the backyard ground to stop the stain from being absorbed by the soil.
- 26 colors to choose from
- Penetrates to highlight the wood grain
- Easy to apply
- 1 quart
- Stain type
- RICH EVEN COLOR – Minwax Wood Finish is a deep penetrating, oil-based wood stain that provides...
- QUICK DRYING – Staining interior wood has never been quicker. The special formula allows it to...
- EASY TO APPLY – Use a clean cloth or wood stain brush to apply this wood stain in the direction of...
- JACOBEAN WOOD STAIN – This dark wood stain provides a beautiful, rich color. The deep brown color...
KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Latex Floor Paint
The KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch and Patio Latex Floor Paint is a top rated deck paint in terms of durability. It can withstand frequent foot traffic and all sorts of inclement weather and still come out on the other side looking fantastic and appearing uniform.
Despite the fact it’s resistant to scuffing, fading, cracking and peeling, it can still let water vapor permeate somewhat to keep wood from drying out prematurely. At the same time, it’ll stop too much water from sinking into the wood and allowing the growth of mold and mildew.
Essentially, it’s an ideal wood deck paint for any sort of climate, sunny or rainy, hot or cold.
When applying this paint, you should use a nap roller cover or a nylon polyester brush. Both of these tools will have the best results and you’ll end up with paint that is spread evenly and finished properly. You can also use an airless sprayer if you have that tool available.
Once applied, the paint only takes one hour to dry enough to be touched. This makes a phenomenal choice if you have kids that might accidentally step in the paint shortly after application.
You do need to apply a couple of extra layers to ensure that the sealing is finished and the paint is fully applied to the wood, but there’s no denying that the low dry time is a nice plus.
Wait for about 72 hours before allowing everyone to walk across it and you should be all set. You can choose between two different shades of gray, which does limit its aesthetic opportunities somewhat.
Overall, we recommend this for people who need deck paint that will stand the test of time and who aren’t particularly concerned with getting a super “woody” color to match that of their natural deck shade.
- 2 colors to choose from
- Super durable
- Dries quickly
- Acrylic type
- 1 gallon
- A good porch and patio floor paint is highly durable, easy to clean and resistant to scuffing,...
- This acrylic paint offers a low-lustre enamel surface that is formulated to endure on deck, porch,...
- Appropriate for all previously primed or painted surfaces including wood and masonry. It also can be...
- KILZ enamel floor paint delivers a low-lustre finish that applies smoothly and evenly surfaces in...
RTG Deck, Porch, Patio Anti-Slip Paint
For those of you looking for a deck that won’t cause undue slipping, look no further. The RTG Deck, Porch, Patio Anti-Slip Paint is a water-based polyurethane formula that has been specifically designed to provide a textured surface once it’s dry. This textured surface makes it extremely difficult for any shoe or foot to slip, even if it’s going fast.
This feature alone makes it one of the best deck paints if you’re going to have kids running across it frequently, particularly if they play around water.
It takes one to two coats to fully settle onto the wood or another surface, so you need to set aside enough time to let the paint dry in after the second coat for maximum effect. The drying time is relatively quick (under a few hours), so total paint time is likely about a day’s worth of work.
You can apply this paint with a brush or standard roller depending on your preference.
Once it’s finally dried, this paint truly shows off how effective it is. It’s very durable and can withstand heavy foot traffic and all types of harsh weather. The formula has also been specifically curated to offer UV protection.
In this way, wet or dry weather won’t harm the paint and you shouldn’t need to apply it again anytime soon.
It’s also eco-friendly and doesn’t have toxic chemicals that can poison your backyard. While it’s still a smart idea to cover up any plants prior to applying any sort of paint to your deck, you don’t need to worry about accidentally spilling some into your soil and ruining all of your grass.
Altogether, this is an ideal paint if your primary concern is people injuring themselves when running across the deck.
- 4 colors
- Generates textured surface
- Easy to apply
- Water-based formula
- Fast-drying, textured paint provides an attractive finish & secure footing on exterior surfaces that...
- Easy to apply by brush or roller (1/4"-3/8" foam or nap roller cover for surfaces with a smoother...
- Durable coating withstands heavy foot traffic and harsh weather without fading.
- Eco-friendly, low-odor, low-VOC, water-based polyurethane formula can be applied to properly...
Paint vs. Stain: What’s the Difference?
While some folks might consider these two to be completely different, the truth is that they are more alike than they are apart. Let’s break it down.
Deck paint covers wood and often forms a glossy or matte appearance. This is because it forms a second layer over the wood, covering any knots, scratches, or impurities. Over time, as deck paint wears off, these impurities may return and provide a means to give the wood a weathered look, but initially, things will look relatively uniform when compared to a stain.
A stain, on the other hand, soaks into the wood and changes its color without forming as much of an extra surface. This means that the natural impurities and character of the wood are better preserved with a stain as opposed to paint.
However, both paint and stain offer wood protection from inclement weather and allow water vapor to permeate. This lets the wood breathe and prevents it from drying out or cracking too much.
Overall, the biggest difference between the two is in their aesthetics. If you have a wooden deck that you love the physical character of, use a stain. It will preserve some of the unique physical qualities inherent in the wood pieces. On the other hand, if you want your deck to be as smooth and uniform as possible, use paint.
Best Deck Paint/Stain Features and Considerations
When buying the best deck paint or stain for your home, there are some factors you should keep in mind. Thinking about these aspects will help you choose the best deck paint or stain initially, rather than having to go through several stages of trial and error.
Most of these aspects are relevant for deck paint in particular since it forms a higher layer over the wood, rather than stains, which sink into the wood.
Of course, the type of deck paint you select is easily the most important factor of them all. This is because the type of deck paint you choose directly impacts its other aspects, such as its weather resistance, feel, slipperiness, and look – think of it as the template for the whole product.
We’ll look at the following paint types:
Oil deck paint is usually made from both oil and certain mineral additives. These additives are usually composed of liquid and small mineral chunks. In order to prevent the mineral chunks from settling, you’ll need to stir the paint before each time you use it. This applies both to the initial coating and any recoating that happens afterward.
Oil paint usually takes a really long time to dry. However, this allows for excellent bonding with a base coat of paint like a primer, which translates into a long-lasting paint that isn’t likely to be scraped up or worn down easily over time. Oil paint can be a great choice if your deck is going to be traversed frequently.
However, oil paint does have one other downside in that it diminishes quickly when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays over a long period of time. Outdoor decks, therefore, will only look good with oil paint for about 4-5 years.
Once it starts to diminish, the oil paint will deteriorate and decompose. This is usually accompanied by a bad smell. Overall, use oil paint if your deck isn’t going to be exposed to the sun frequently or if it’ll be shaded all the time by trees or umbrellas.
- Lasts for a really long time
- Doesn’t break easily
- Good for decks that are traversed frequently
- Smells bad when it deteriorates
- Not good for decks with lots of sun
- Takes a long time to dry
Alkyd deck paint is composed of a special alkyd pentaphthalic varnish. This varnish is what allows alkyd paint to come in so many colorful varieties and visuals styles.
Alkyd paint is particularly resistant to all sorts of weather effects. Once settled, it can withstand the effects of weather for many years without fraying or diminishing. This includes the effects of rain and fog since the paint forms a tight seal over the wood that doesn’t let moisture penetrate easily.
Alkyd paint is generally quite affordable, even in bulk. We’d recommend alkyd paint for those of you who have wide decks with tons of surface area and dramatic seasons.
As a bonus, alkyd paint is easy to mix with other paint colors so you can easily form your own personal shaded paint by mixing a few tubs together.
There are a few downsides. For one, alkyd paint is particularly susceptible to catching on fire. In addition, although it can withstand the effects of weather degradation, it has a low natural bonding lifespan.
Typical alkyd paint coats will last less than seven years in total. Also, keep in mind that alkyd paint has a particularly bad smell until it’s totally dried and bonded to your wooden deck. This isn’t a huge deal but it might be notable if you’re spending time outside already.
- Good for all temperatures/weather
- Good for all types of deck surfaces
- Easy to mix colors
- Smells bad until dry
- Doesn’t last for too long
Acrylic deck paint is water-based. This means that it should be quite durable and have an assortment of desirable qualities.
Acrylic paint is very resistant to all kinds of weather conditions, including rain and fog. In addition, it can withstand direct exposure to the sun very well, making it a prime paint choice for decks that are going to be sunny throughout the year.
Another great benefit of acrylic paint is that it’s elastic. Wood typically expands or shrinks depending on the temperature and the moisture content of the air. Acrylic paint can flex with this movement and retain its smooth surface, preserving your hard-earned aesthetic.
Once applied, acrylic paint takes only about seven hours to dry totally. This limits the potential for accidents or for footprints to be tracked inside the house.
However, acrylic paint is relatively easy to scrape off or be broken by physical stress. Due to its low drying time, though, repairing any cracks or holes is less of a big deal than it might otherwise be.
One final benefit of acrylic paint is that it’s environmentally friendly. It’s not toxic to human health and it won’t poison your backyard during the painting process or as it inevitably cracks off from old age. Speaking of age, acrylic paint typically lasts for many years, although you may have to do some spot checking now and again and make occasional repairs.
The biggest downside, even of the best acrylic deck paint, is that you need to store it carefully. In low temperatures, the paint substances will start to separate and you won’t be able to mix them together again without the proper tools and environment. In most cases, you just have to throw the cold paint out. Therefore, we recommend using acrylic paint if you live in a warm climate or summer has just begun.
- Dries quickly
- Resistant to sun and weather
- Resistant to temperature changes
- Don’t need a lot of layers
- Has to be stored carefully
- Can be broken easily
- List Element
Rubber deck paint is also sometimes called latex paint. Like acrylic paint, it’s safe for humans and the environment. You can apply it without protective gloves and without using a respirator kit.
Rubber paint is also quite durable. This is because, once it dries, a wear-resistant film appears over the rubber surface. This film covers any cracks that might crop up and acts like a shield, guarding the primary paint layer against physical and weather-based stress.
Despite this shield, rubber paint still allows water vapor to permeate to the base. This lets the paint and the wooden deck breathe, preventing stress cracks and drying out.
Rubber paint does have a downside in that it’s usually quite expensive. This is because rubber paint is often considered the best of the best when it comes to deck paints, although your ideal paint will depend on your funds and overall needs.
- Very, very durable
- Shields decks from damage and mold
- Lets paint breathe without breaking
- Resistant to weather/temperature effects
- A little bit expensive
The color of the paint obviously affects the overall aesthetics of your deck. When choosing your paint color, you’ll want to find something that goes well with the natural color of your wood and the color aesthetic of your house as a whole.
To pick your deck paint, it’s often a good idea to use a color wheel to figure out the color scheme of your house and find the deck paint color that goes well with that scheme. This will keep your deck looking like it’s a part of the whole unit instead of a separate project you threw together in a week.
The wear resistance of a particular paint is a great thing to think about before making a final purchase. Paints that are wear-resistant will last longer and be able to handle more foot traffic than paints which are flimsy or fragile.
Paints that fall apart or start to crack relatively easily will need to be repaired and painted over all the time. This can become extremely frustrating very quickly, and it makes your house look bad as well.
Instead, investing in deck paints that might be a little more expensive but which last for a much longer time is usually the economic choice. You’ll save funds in the long run by purchasing a quality deck paint that doesn’t require you to repaint every few months.
As with wear-resistance, quality deck paint should crack as little as possible. Deck paint cracking is usually caused by ultraviolet rays or precipitation, both of which cause the wood underneath the deck paint to flex or become moist.
As this occurs, your deck paint will be stressed since the original shape of its base will be changing. Deck paint that can accommodate these minor shape changes won’t crack as often.
In addition, anti-cracking deck paint can keep the wooden decks’ structures more rigid over time, since it would act as a “cast” of sorts to keep the wooden beams in place despite excessive flexing.
Cracking looks ugly, too, so avoid paints that easily crack if you want your deck to be the envy of your neighbors for the foreseeable future.
Organic Growth Deterrent
Finally, you might also try to find a deck paint that has a mineral or seal that prevents fungus or insects from growing inside your wood deck. This problem is particularly prevalent during the wet months of the year.
All deck paint acts as a deterrent in the short term, but paints that are particularly good at sealing away the wood or not cracking will be better at this aspect than others. Insects can make little nests in your wooden deck and cause you issues when they finally grow. For instance, you don’t want wasps making a nest on the side of your deck, right?
This has aesthetic reasons, too. Fungus and mold can grow on your deck and throw off the whole aesthetic you’ve had planned. While it’s true you can get rid of these growths manually, no one wants to do that much manual labor time and time again. Instead, get a good deck paint and you won’t have to worry much about this issue at all.
As you can see, although there are tons of deck paint and stains available to choose from, narrowing down your options to the top candidates by reading best deck paint review makes it a lot easier. Choose from one of the above options or remember the main considerations and you’ll have the best paint for decks or stain possible for your wooden deck. Good luck and don’t forget primer!