The best decking stains

Colour, protect, and perfect your decking with our pick of the best stains, from solid colours to translucent glosses

TODO alt text

With warmer weather and longer days comes the urge to get out in the garden in any way we can, whether falling asleep in a deckchair or racing around making sure the garden is in tip top shape. If you’re tackling the garden rather than lying in it, there’s hardly a job more transformative than getting the decking spruced up. So why not start as you mean to go on with our list of the best decking stains? 

Not all deck stains are created equal, and there are a few formulas and finishes to choose from based on the effect you’re after. In terms of looks, a translucent deck stain is an option for those who want to let the natural grain of the wood shine through, while those after a more deliberately painted look should opt for a solid finish.

The other choice is whether to go for a water-based or oil-based decking stain; both do a good job of locking out damaging water and UV rays, but water-based has the slight edge on eco-friendliness, so that’s something to consider. Our top choice overall is Ronseal’s Ultimate Protection Decking Stain, which testers found easy to apply, and which dried to a wonderful translucent finish that stood up to harsh weather and footfall.
 

The best decking stain

1. Ronseal Ultimate Protection Decking Stain

This stain’s water base and low VOC content make it one of our friendliest options

Specifications
Best for: Hard and soft woods
Volume: 2.5ltrs
Drying time: 90 minutes
Colours available: 13+
Reasons to buy
+ Low-odour and -VOC formula + Suitable for use on hard and soft woods 

This water-based decking stain from Ronseal is designed to penetrate deeper into the wood than others, making for better adhesion and, as it says on the tin, ultimate protection. Its low-odour formula and low VOC content make it a good option if you’re worried about inhaling fumes, and reviewers found it was really easy to apply. So far, so user-friendly, but users also say it performs well once applied too, earning rave reviews for its elegant translucent finish and hardiness. So, that’s all the boxes ticked. 

Sikkens Cetol HLS Plus Translucent Woodstain

2. Sikkens Cetol HLS Plus Translucent Woodstain

Beautifully glossy and lasting an age, this is our best deck stain for a durable finish

Specifications
Best for: Translucent gloss
Volume: 2.5ltrs
Drying time: 4-6 hours
Colours available: 8+
Reasons to buy
+ Use as a base or top coat + Extremely long lasting 

Whether used as a base stain or a top coat, users say this Sikkens wood stain more than earns its near-legendary status among decking devotees. They say it sinks in quickly and forms a solid foundation as a base, and leaves a wonderful glossy finish, as well as a water-repellent, anti-mould, anti-algae and UV-resistant protective layer as a top coat. Best of all, perhaps, reviewers found it lasted an age, with one homeowner who lived in an exposed location claiming it only needed re-coating an astounding seven years after the initial staining. For its proven hardiness, it looks to be a great bet for high-traffic areas and variable weather. 

Cuprinol Anti-Slip Decking Stain

3. Cuprinol Anti-Slip Decking Stain

Stop sliding with this grippy, non-slippy deck stain

Specifications
Best for: Weather-resistant
Volume: 2.5ltrs
Drying time: 2-6 hours
Colours available: 13+
Reasons to buy
+ Anti-slip for safety + Durable weather protection 

While the effect this semi-transparent deck stain gives is an undeniably elegant one, make no mistake – it’s made of tough stuff. The anti-slip formula is ideal for decking that sees a lot of foot traffic, especially from fast-moving children and pets who could get into scrapes, but it does double duty as a hard-as-nails durable layer too. The double-action formula of anti-slip microbeads and algicide keep things grippy while preventing the formation of unsightly mould, and protects against weathering and scuffs too. A great choice for busy gardens. 

Ronseal Decking Stain

4. Ronseal Decking Stain

Whether hardwood or softwood, get it all done in one with this Ronseal deck stain

Specifications
Best for: All kinds of decking
Volume: 2.5ltrs
Drying time: 4 hours
Colours available: 6+
Reasons to buy
+ Colour and weatherproof in one + Rainproof in 90 minutes 

This decking stain, another showing from big brand Ronseal, colours, waterproofs and protects decking in one step, making it a great choice for the time-starved DIYer. Just like our previous pick, it comes highly recommended for busy households that see a lot of foot traffic thanks to its scuff-resistant finish and impressive 90-minute rainproofing. As well as surviving adverse weather with its UV filters and inbuilt resistance to cracking, peeling and blistering, like all the best stains, it’s tough yet beautiful, with a matte finish that leaves decking looking even, bright and perfected.

Johnstone's Woodcare Stain For Decking

5. Johnstone's Woodcare Stain For Decking

Stop growing nasties in their tracks with this anti-mould deck stain

Specifications
Best for: Anti-mould
Volume: 2.5ltrs
Drying time: 1 hour
Colours available: 5+
Reasons to buy
+ Great water repellent; anti-mould + Quick-drying formula 

Nothing looks worse on an otherwise beautiful deck than rapidly growing mould, algae or fungus. Luckily, this stain from Johnstone’s Woodcare sees them all off at the first sign of trouble, offering prevention in the form of a tough water-repellent formula, which means there won’t be an attractive place for micro organisms to settle. This clever formula is also said to resist peeling, blistering and cracking, and throws three years of protection and a quick dry time into the finish, so you can get to enjoying your deck sooner rather than later.

Read more

Why not treat that just-stained decking to a new gas BBQ just in time for summer?

(function(){ function loadGTM(){ (function(w,d,s,l,i){w[l]=w[l]||[];w[l].push({'gtm.start': new Date().getTime(),event:'gtm.js'});var f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0], j=d.createElement(s),dl=l!='dataLayer'?'&l='+l:'';j.async=true;j.defer=true;j.src= '//www.googletagmanager.com/gtm.js?id='+i+dl;f.parentNode.insertBefore(j,f); })(window,document,'script','dataLayer','GTM-NJVHTZQ'); } // Can't be in asset loader until we can call custom loader functions ;(window.Promise ? Promise.all([ window.reliablePageLoad, window.reliableConsentGiven ]) : window.reliableConsentGiven ).then(function(){ setTimeout(loadGTM, 1500); }); })();