Decks are a wonderful place to relax, but keeping them looking good is a real challenge. Consumer Reports is running long-term tests on more than 30 deck stains and finds some offer far better protection than others.
If you don't maintain your deck with a good stain, contractor Steve Bradsell says you'll pay the consequences.
Bradsell says, "You'll spend more in the long run to replace the boards that have gotten damaged."
Up on the roof of it's headquarters, Consumer Reports runs tough tests on deck stains to see how well they hold up.
These stained panels stay out of for years in all kinds of weather. Some are solid stains that look the most like paint.
Others are semi-transparent. And these clear sealers show the most wood grain.
Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports says, "Clear sealers need the most maintenance. Even the best need to be reapplied every year."
Compare this recently stained wood panel with one that's been outside for more than a year.
Rico de Paz of Consumer Reports says, "You can see how this one has lost its color and cracks are starting to form."
Other panels are left out in the shade to see how well they resist dirt and mildew. Again the clear sealers did the worst.
Paz says, "This is completely covered in mildew."
Markovich says, "Semi-transparent stains do better. They generally need to be redone every two years. Solid stains last longest-most last at least three years."
One by Behr was by far the longest-lasting. The Solid Color Deck, Fence & Siding Wood Stain from the Home Depot. Even after three years of testing, it still looks pretty good.
If you prefer a semi-transparent stain, Consumer Reports recommends another one from Home Depot-Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Weatherproofing Wood Stain. It costs 36 dollars a can.