Top Pick: Ready Seal 512
Why We Chose It:
- Easy maintenance.
- No primer required.
- Easily blends.
- Weight of 1 pound.
- Oil based.
- 5 gallons in size.
Your deck can and should be one of the parts of your home that you use the most. After all, the space is perfect for enjoying the weather and it gives you a great excuse to get people together. To make sure that it stays useful, though, you’re going to have to make sure that you keep up with basic maintenance. Aside from cleaning it (maybe with an electric pressure washer), one of the most important steps you’ll take is to ensure that you’re sealing your deck properly to keep it in good condition.
Sealing your deck means trying to find the best deck sealer for your needs. We’ve put together a list of some of the best deck sealants out there, looking not only at star ratings but also at how each type of sealant functions. If you’re looking to keep your deck looking great while ensuring it is safe from the elements, you should definitely keep reading about these products.
Best Deck Sealer In 2024
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While every product we discuss here has a good claim to being the best deck sealer, the truth is that no one single product really deserves to take that title for everyone. Instead, it’s best to look at each product below to figure out which one best fits your needs.
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer
- No primer needed
- Very easy to apply
- Can be applied in any temperature range
- Protects from mold and mildew
If you’ve never owned a deck before, you’re probably not aware of all the steps that need to go into sealing your deck. It’s not just the actual process of applying the sealant that tends to take a long time – it’s waiting around to make sure that all of the weather conditions are exactly right that really takes time. If you’re in a hurry but you still want to protect your deck, you should take the time to find a sealant that is designed to be easy to apply. One great choice for those who are looking for both utility and extra protection is this sealant from Ready Seal.
Ready Seal’s big pitch is that it’s one of the easiest sealants to install on the market. It’s designed to add deep, rich color to your deck but to do so in a way that involves much less work than other sealants. You won’t need to worry about a primer coat here, for example, nor will you have to wait for quite as narrow a temperature range for the application. As long as the sun is shining and it’s above freezing, you can go out and apply your stain and sealant combination.
While it’s nice to note that this sealant is very easy to apply, that’s not all that it has going for it. It helps to give the wood of your deck a nice color, helping to really give life to your home’s addition. That same color works overtime to protect your deck, though, helping to keep out water and even to prevent UV ray damage. The stain even penetrates deeply into the wood, helping to ensure that it isn’t hurt by mold or mildew. This is a great all-around strain that is as good for your deck as it is easy to apply.
SEAL-ONCE NANO+POLY Penetrating Wood Sealer with Polyurethane
- Water-based but performs like oil-based
- Protects decks against damage for over six years
- Very easy to clean
- Available in multiple colors as well as a clear coat
One of the big choices that most deck owners have to make early on is whether to use an oil-based or water-based deck sealant. The latter tends to go on easier and tends to give you more options in terms of color, but the former is usually thought to provide more protection and lasts longer. Fortunately, SEAL-ONCE has a great solution that provides users with the best of both worlds.
SEAL-ONCE’s water-based sealant goes on easily like a water-based sealant but performs much like an oil-based sealant. That means that not only will you get a wide range of coat colors (including a clear coat) that can be easily applied to your deck, but you’ll also get a coat that can last for up to six years on any horizontal surface. This means less maintenance for you and longer functional life for your deck, all without having to sacrifice any of the utility that you need from the product.
Fans of pressure washers should also note that this sealant will leave your deck quite easy to clean. You won’t need to do anything special to ensure that the washer doesn’t do anything to the coat, and the smooth application means that it’s easier to get rid of dirt and grime. This is a great all-around deck sealant that can give you the kind of performance you need to keep your deck in great shape for years to come.
Olympic Stain Maximum Deck Stain
- Stain and sealant in one
- Can be applied in more weather conditions
- Enhanced waterproofing effect
- Fade-resistant UV coating
When most people think about protecting their decks, they think about water damage. Water damage is often the kind of damage that is easiest to see on a wooden deck and it’s certainly the kind that seems the scariest. After all, wood rot is a real thing and no one wants to deal with the potentially dangerous ramifications that can come from a rotted-out deck. If you’re looking for a product that’s going to help you to deal with this common problem, you should definitely take a moment to look at this sealant and stain combination from Olympic Stain.
This all-in-one product really does go a long way towards solving the moisture problem that tends to plague decks. It goes above and beyond compared to most products, keeping out more water and preventing more damage than its typical counterparts. This is, as one might imagine, also a major feature that those who frequently power wash their decks will love. It’s a great choice for anyone who lives in an especially damp area as well, as it will extend the life of your deck while also reducing the amount of time you have to spend on basic deck maintenance.
The other great feature that needs to be called out is the fact that this sealant can be applied whenever it is sunny and above freezing outside. This gives you a much wider window in which to work and will allow you to seal your deck during almost any time of the year. If you’re looking to seal your deck right away, this might be the best choice for you.
DEFY Crystal Clear Composite Deck Waterproofing Sealer
- Water-based, clear deck sealer
- Fortified with zinc to reflect UV rays
- Last longer than most other products
- No need to strip coat before maintenance
One of the most significant enemies that your deck’s going to have is the sun. While you will probably spend more time on your deck when the sun is out, the truth is that the sun’s rays can actually shorten the life of your deck. Not only can they bleach out the color of your wood, but they can actually cause real structural harm over time. As such, it’s important to make sure that you choose a good sealant like this one from DEFY in order to minimize the impact that UV rays can have on your deck.
One of the biggest selling points of this water-based sealant is that it goes above and beyond to prevent UV damage. It does so not just by sealing the wood against potential damage, but by actually reflecting the UV rays away from the wood. This helps to minimize the amount of solar radiation that can damage and discolor your wood while still providing the same kind of protection that minimizes the damage that occurs from sunlight. It’s a great way to take care of a very typical problem and one that definitely does need to be embraced by more products.
The other great factor here is the fact that this is a very user-friendly sealant. It can protect a horizontal deck surface for much longer than average, giving you plenty of time to interact with your deck without having to worry about this kind of basic maintenance. When you’re ready for another coat, there’s no need to strip your deck – just put on a new maintenance coat and let it dry. This is about as easy as it gets, giving you all the protection that you need from a sealant without the headaches that usually come from these products.
THOMPSONS WATERSEAL 21802 VOC Wood Protector
- Clear deck sealant
- Very easy to apply
- Minimal change to wood color
- Great moisture protection
If you’ve owned a deck in the past, you’re probably at least a little familiar with the Thompsons brand. The company is definitely one of those classic brands that has been advertised in the world of deck products for decades and it has an excellent reputation for providing a great sealant. If you’re looking for something that is going to do an excellent job of sealing your deck against moisture even when you’re pressure cleaning, you should definitely take a moment to look at this clear composite waterproofing sealer from Thomson.
Thompsons has a few major selling points that tend to hold true across its various products and they’re all on display here. One of the biggest factors that are going to attract most users is that this product is incredibly easy to apply on wood. Relatively thin, you’re not going to have much trouble applying it on any dry wood product. Though it’s not fit to be put on wet wood, it’s still easy enough to use that you’re not going to have a problem knocking out your sealing product in a single afternoon. If you’re looking for efficiency, you’ve got to be interested in what Thompsons has to offer.
The other nice thing about this deck sealant is that it does an excellent job of bringing out the natural colors in the wood of your deck. Though it does go in clear, the actual effect you’ll get is one that brings out a slightly deeper hue in your wood. It’s good for showing off all of the little color changes, but it doesn’t add anything to your wood that isn’t already there. This is a nice choice for those who want an easily applied sealant that is going to help them show off the work that they’ve put into building a great deck.
Eco Advance EAWOD16CON 16-oz Exterior Wood Siloxane Water Repellent Liquid Concentrate
- Environmentally-friendly formula
- Safe to walk on after two hours
- Goes on white but dries clear
- Breathable repellent can be used on new wood with no problems
For some, the concerns surrounding sealing a deck are about much more than just how the deck is going to look or how well it is going to hold up. Instead, they’re worried about the impact that the sealant they choose is going to have on the environment. While none of the sealants that are featured on this list are especially harmful to the area around your home, it is nice to note that there are some great products out there that are a little more ecologically friendly. One such sealant is this waterproof repellent from Eco Advance, which is not only kinder to the environment but that has some great features that make it a good fit for your deck.
This water repellent is, at least in basic functionality, an awful lot like most of the other great repellents on the market. You put it on your deck just as you would any other sealant, but once it dries it goes from a white coat to one that is clear. This shows off the color of your deck’s wood quite well, but still provides a good bit of protection from the elements. Though it’s not quite as thick as some of the other sealants discussed here, it nevertheless provides good protection.
It’s the environmentally-friendly aspect, though, that really tends to set this one apart. Safer for the environment around your home as well as for the wood on the deck, you can actually start walking on wood sealed by this sealant in just a few hours. You’ll also have to worry less about what happens if the sealant runs off of your deck and gets into the groundwater, as it is a water-based substance meant to have as minimal an environmental impact as possible. This is one of the better water-based stains for those looking for a product that won’t cause environmental issues when they pressure wash their decks.
SEAL-ONCE MARINE – 1 Gallon Penetrating Wood Sealer, Waterproofer & Stain
- Designed for applications on or near the water
- Non-toxic and safe for both people and pets
- Water-based but works like an oil-based sealant
- Forms a barrier without damaging the wood
It’s one thing to treat a deck that will be exposed to the normal amount of moisture in the air. It is an entirely different thing, though, to deal with the kind of moisture that comes with having a deck on or near the water. If you’ve got a deck on the water, you absolutely need extra water protection. Though most sealants do a fantastic job of keeping decks dry, you’ll need something that can go above and beyond. One great product for those in such a situation to try out is this water-based sealant and wood proofer from SEAL-ONCE.
SEAL-ONCE has created a fantastic product that really puts the bulk of its power into protecting wood from water. Not only does it do the usual job of forming a barrier on top of the wood, but the product goes deeper to provide protection inside the wood itself. This not only helps to keep away water that spills on the deck, but it provides protection against anything that makes it past the outer barrier. This extra bit of protection is a must when your deck is always under assault by the moisture in the area and a great feature even for those who are just worried about regular water damage.
What’s especially great about the product, though, is that it still allows your wood to breathe despite providing extra protection. This means that your wood can still expand and contract, making it less likely to get damaged and allowing you to depend on your sealant longer. Combined with an easy-application design and a formula that replicates the protection of oil-based sealants in a water-based form, this is one sealant that is definitely worth a look if you’re located on or around a major body of water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which deck stain lasts the longest?
This is a tougher question than you might think because there are a number of factors that determine how long a deck sealant will actually last. Though there are absolutely a few different formulas from the leading brands that can last a long time, your actual experience is going to vary based on everything from the amount of sunlight that your deck gets to the average temperature in your area. Do some research to see what kind of sealers have a good reputation for lasting longer in your area and on decks that have a construction similar to your own.
What is the best sealer for pressure-treated wood?
There are actually a number of really great products out there that are specifically formulated to work on treated wood. While most of the products that are made by the big names in the deck sealant space do a good job here, you’re always going to be better off looking for a sealant that’s designed for pressure treated wood and that has a good reputation for protecting decks. You may want to do a little extra research to make sure that the sealant you choose really is meant for the wood that makes up your deck.
Why Are Deck Sealers Important?
Deck sealers are important because they are necessary for protecting your deck against the elements. Building a deck can be a major investment for many, but it’s also an investment in a part of your home that’s almost always going to exposed to elements that can cause it damage. Rain, cold, and even sunlight can all wear away at the wood on your deck, and leaving it exposed for too long can cause the deck to rot. If you want to avoid seeing your investment literally fall to pieces, you’ll definitely want to invest in a good deck sealer.
How Long Does it Take to Seal a Deck?
This really depends on the size of your deck and the type of wood of which your deck is made. If all of the conditions are absolutely perfect, it shouldn’t take you more than two or three hours to completely seal your deck. The biggest issue you’re going to run into is waiting to apply a second coat – if the weather isn’t perfect, you could find yourself having to wait for more than a day just to get around to putting on your second coat. Ideally, though, you’re going to go out on a sunny day when the temperature is high enough to avoid this problem.
Deck Sealer Buying Guide
While buying a deck sealer does seem like it should be a straightforward process, the truth is that doing so often involves paying attention to more than just what others think about the product. Like so many other substances that you need to use to take care of your home, you really need to pay attention to your own specific needs when making your choice. Below are a handful of the factors that matter the most when you’re looking to buy a deck sealer that will work best for your deck.
Oil or Water
The first big question that most have to ask themselves is whether they’re going to look for an oil or water-based sealant for their decks. This is the biggest divide in the world of sealants and one that the average person probably isn’t going to have too much of an opinion on when they first get started. You’ll definitely want to take a look, though, as this choice will help you to eliminate about half of the potential sealants on the market.
Oil sealants are definitely the common choice for those who are really worried about how their decks will look after they have been sealed. These are the sealants that help to protect the color of the deck, but this feature tends to come at the cost of having to re-seal the deck more often. If you’re more worried about protecting your deck from the elements, though, you’re going to want to look at a water-based solution. These sealants don’t do quite as good of a job at protecting your deck’s color but they last longer and tend to be a lot more durable.
Color and Tint
Once you’ve figured out whether you’re going to get water or oil-based paint you can start thinking about what you’re looking for in terms of color. There are a variety of different tints out there, some of which do a very good job of bringing out your deck’s natural color, and others that do a great job of adding something new to the coloration of your deck. There is absolutely no wrong choice here, of course, but you do owe it to yourself to figure out whether adding a new tint to your deck is going to be worth your time.
As a note, the color and tint of your sealer are actually going to play a bigger role in protecting the wood of your deck than you might think. There are sealers that absolutely just bring out the natural color of the deck, but most of them do a poor job of providing UV protection. The heaviest kinds of sealants, on the other hand, are going to provide much more protection but they’re going to hide the wood’s natural character. Both are valid options, but you’re going to have to sacrifice something with whatever you choose.
Length of Protection
Most deck owners want to reseal their decks as infrequently as possible. It would make sense to automatically go for whatever kind of sealant is going to last the longest, of course, but those sealants tend to have their own issues that need to be balanced out. For some, it really might be a question of exactly how much they value the length of time that their sealants last and what they’re willing to give up in terms of looks to make sure that they have to re-seal as infrequently as possible.
The sealants that last the shortest amount of time are also those that arguably bring out the notes of the deck’s wood the most. These sealants don’t provide quite as much protection and have to be put on more often, but they really show off the wood used in the deck. At the extreme other end are those thicker stains that are going to give the deck a much more artificial look but that might last for up to five years. Finding the sweet spot between the two extremes takes time but doing so is almost always worthwhile for most deck owners who don’t have a strong opinion going into the process.
The final thing to think about is cost. One of the biggest mistakes that buyers make is picking up a stain because a single bucket costs less. If you’re really concerned about cost, you need to look at the lifetime cost of using that style of sealant. If you pick up a sealant that only has to be used once every three years, for example, it might make sense to pay a few cents more than you would for one that has to be applied annually. As always, though, your budget is going to play a huge role in the kind of sealant that you ultimately choose.