Semi-Transparent Deck Stains the 9 Best

Best deck stain

Your wooden deck is susceptible to damage from temperature extremes, UV rays, and battering rain. This is where a good quality deck stain comes in, reviving its appearance and also protecting it from all the aforementioned elements. Semi-transparent deck stains contain the lightest pigmentation to make the natural wood grain more prominent and give a delicate color to the wood surface.

The use of a semi-transparent deck stain has more to do with how the UV rays affect it. While transparent stains allow the natural look of the wood to shine through, they may wear off faster under the sunlight. Moreover, using a transparent stain would make signs of aging apparent only after a few weeks. An average homeowner may find it very time-consuming and a hassle to reapply every few weeks.

Semi-transparent deck stains, on the other hand, eliminate the issue by providing your wood with a tint to shore it up against any impact from the sunlight. Particularly for deck space, many professionals see semi-transparent stains as the “best of both worlds.”

Opaque deck stains are another option among the many types of stains, but they tend to cover up the wood’s visual appeal. Many such dark stains are also oil-based, and most oil-based products leave harmful by-products, making them an undesirable choice for the environment.

Many semi-transparent stains are made to protect your decks with the lightest tinting. They also come in many shades to compliment a natural look. Our top pick is none other than DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain, as it protects your deck from wood grains and different weather conditions. However, your deck may need more than just durability and a beautiful tint.

Therefore, before you consider buying a deck stain, make sure to read through the guide and learn everything you need to know. Here are our nine best choices for semi-transparent deck stains.

DEFY Extreme Exterior Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

Undoubtedly the first choice among the best semi-transparent deck stains, this product is water-based, UV resistant, and quite simple to use and apply. As it is water-based, it has less VOC content and is a better choice when it comes to the environment.

Moreover, since it has zinc nano-particle technology, it also protects your deck from graying and weathering for numerous years. Apart from decks, it can also be used on log homes, wood siding, pressure-treated wood, outdoor wood, and many natural wood surfaces.


  • Eco-friendly has lower levels of VOC
  • Water-based and easy to apply
  • Resistant to UV rays


  • Can be a little heavy on the pocket
  • Comes in only six colors

Ready Seal 512 Semi-Transparent Wood Stain and Sealer

It is a top-class oil-based product made from certified ingredients that ensure protection and preservation of your wooden deck. The ingredients consist of paraffin oil, trans-oxide pigments, grounded algaecide, and resins. They all work together to keep your wooden deck ever fresh and natural.

Since the product is oil-based, it matches wood’s tone and makes the grain visible. It is viable against mold, mildew, and algae and also protects your wood from UV rays.

Unlike many other products, it is very easy to apply. All you have to do is check if your surface is free of paint, mildew, dust, and stains.


  • Dries within 2 to 3 days, which may be impacted by porosity and weather conditions
  • Suitable for exterior projects
  • Can resist water, mildew, and UV rays
  • Enhances the wood’s natural beauty
  • Does not require a particular temperature range while applying
  • Available in a variety of colors


  • Takes a good two weeks to show the final color
  • Cannot be applied on stained or painted surfaces

Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

This cutting-edge protects against environmental factors and extends the lifespan of your wooden deck. You can find it in two different sets, it prevents UV rays from wearing the color off. When it dries, it leaves the surface with a flat and natural appearance. It also happens to be one of the best deck stains because of low VOC content and easy cleanup.

Additionally, it can be used on many softwood types such as redwood, fir, cedar, and pressure-treated pine. You can also use it on fences, outdoor furniture, siding, gazebos, playsets, and vegetable garden frames. Even if the deck in question is old and has stayed without staining for long, this stain will help you achieve extraordinarily beautiful results.  


  • Available in many different colors such as cedar and dark and light walnut
  • Works as a stain and sealer both
  • Protects your deck against UV rays
  • Can be used on all types of softwood
  • Water-based solution
  • Easy cleaning process
  • Low VOCs and dries flat


  • Wood can get saturated when it rains, as per some users
  • The water-resistant qualities may not be reliable
  • According to some users, the offered warranty is not good enough

Kilz Exterior Waterproofing Deck Stain

It is a high-quality semi-transparent deck stains available to users. It provides durable protection, resistance against mildew and water. Additionally, it enhances the wood’s beauty despite any outdoor conditions. 100% acrylic, the product’s formula is meant to prevent snow, rain, and sun damage.

Moreover, it provides desired results on surfaces, including decks, railings, shingles, siding, shakes, and fences. Just one gallon is enough for the first coat to cover an area of up to 250 sq. ft.. For coat number two, you can cover up to 500 sq. ft. with another gallon.


  • Dries well and forms a water-resistant layer
  • Results in a mildew resistant finish
  • Only a gallon can give coverage of up to 500 square feet
  • 100% acrylic formula
  • Can stay for five years on siding and fences and three years on foot deck


  • Area coverage can be affected by external factors
  • Can be a little heavy on the pocket as it requires a high-quality paint pad

Behr Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

It’s considered a leading deck stains to BEHR ever produced. It’s a stain as well as a sealer with water-resistant properties and can be applied with ease. It has a fast drying time and leaves a beautiful finish at the end.

With its 100% acrylic formula, it penetrates into the wood effectively, providing protection to your deck for around six years. For other surfaces such as siding and fences, it can last approximately eight years.

Moreover, the product has the ability to protect your surface against the sun’s UV rays thanks to a silicone-manned formula. You have 60+ colors to choose from, each of which enhances the grain and its natural beauty. Apart from decks, it can also be used on shakes, patio furniture, siding, railings, fences, roofs, etc.


  • Reliable and high-quality product
  • Has resistance properties against many environmental conditions
  • Water-proof properties


  • Molding can occur as per some users
  • Some users complain of the paint not penetrating the wood smoothly
  • The effects may not last for a long time

Thompson’s Waterseal Waterproofing Stain

Thompson’s Waterseal Waterproofing Stain is among some of the best deck stains available. It has a good reputation with many users due to its features. It protects your deck against moisture and lasts for at least four years. Even though it lasts longer on fences and siding, it is still a good choice for decks. Moreover, it uses advanced polymers that maintain the stain color for the duration.


  • Protection lasts for up to six years, depending on where you apply the stain.
  • The formula provides protection against wind, rain, UV rays, and mildew
  • A single coat is enough to provide protection to your deck
  • Water-proof

The Con

  • Works well only on cleaned and freshly dried wood

Cabot Australian Timber Oil

Do you need a product most woodworkers recommend? Consider the Cabot Australian Timber Oil. This product, as the name suggests, comprises various oils in the formula, each with multiple purposes. It is easily among top semi-transparent deck stains for unique wood surfaces such as mahogany and teak.

Even though it was originally created for Australian breeds, including Merbau, Tallowwood, and Cambara, it has also recently shown effectiveness on all types of hardwood products across the world. It contains a comprises linseed oil, long oil alkyds, and pure South American tung oil for repelling water and enhancing the color’s appearance.

Apart from blending the oil well, this product also has translucent iron oxide colorations to absorb the UV rays. Users should note that, unlike other oil stains, this one is not easy to apply. A clean the surface that is free of mold, mildew, or other material is necessary for maximizing the impact of the stain and how it performs.

Linseed oil can also leave hard stains on your clothes and hands when applying. Therefore, make sure that your wood’s moisture content is less than 15% to obtain results you desire. To achieve this, expose your deck to maximum sunlight for up to 5 days.


  • Can cover a huge area of up to 600 sq. ft. of smooth and 350 sq. ft. of rough surface respectively
  • Can be used on decks as well as sidings, railings, and outdoor furniture
  • Penetrates deep into wood grain
  • Easy application
  • A single gallon covers substantial surface
  • Great water-resistance


  • The products has limited use
  • Skin and fabrics can get stains due to linseed oil
  • Color can get dark in case of a mold infestation

Superdeck Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

This product is made to provide enhanced color and superior protection to exterior wood.  It prevents UV damage by using iron-oxide pigments. It also contains linseed oils and tung to save your deck from mildew. Moreover, it also contains carnauba to give your deck a durable and scuff-resistant finish. One of the best qualities of this product is that even after full exposure to the sun for two years, you can still see the initial color. In terms of wear and tear, the product scores well unless your deck is in a high-traffic area.


Ø Can cover up to 800 square feet with 800 gallons

Ø Contains a mildewcide to fight mildew

Ø Can be applied easily with a staining brush

Ø Gives a durable and scuff-resistant finish


Ø Can give a sticky, uneven finish after one coat

Ø Mildew may start growing after two years


TWP 1500 Series –Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

It is a low VOC blend that can be found in all 50 states and is available in 9 different tones. Designed to outperform the last product in the series, this one is an EPA-registered wood preservative and provides much higher UV protection. Apart from being easy to maintain and user-friendly, it also enhances your wooden deck’s beauty and prolongs the life of exterior surfaces. It can retain the initial color even after a year.

Even though the absorption rate is a bit slow, it can dry in 4-12 hours. Additionally, they give the best results when applied using two light coats.


Ø Prevents UV graying

  •  Can be found in all 50 states
  • Does not peel easily
  • Costs around $39 per gallon
  • Prevents mold, mildew, and algae
  • Can dry within 6 hours
  • Does not darken ever after two years


  • There can be a slight amount of wear.
  • Some people may find the drying time to be a little longer.

Here Is Why You Need a Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

Dries Quickly

People who are looking for immediate results can use semi-transparent deck-stains; however, the drying can vary depending on the brand and the surface.

Easy to Clean

Once your surface is dry, all you need is a piece of cloth and water to clean it.

Can Be Applied on Damped Surfaces

Apart from giving you the option of applying them directly on damped surfaces, they also provide better protection than toners. In addition, they never chip or peel off.

Easy Application

One of the best parts of having semi-transparent deck stains is how easy they are to apply. All you need is a spray, brush, or roller, and you have a natural, beautiful finish.

Safe for Your Respiratory System

Most stains contain VOCs and odor, putting your respiratory system at risk. Even though this risk is eliminated with semi-transparent deck stains, it is still recommended to use your safety gear before applying them.

Protection From Elemental Damage

Semi-transparent stains make the wood grain apparent and also provide your deck the protection it needs from different environmental elements. However, it is recommended to use such deck stains with synthetic resins as they provide resistance against molding.

Choice in Colors

These stains provide you with a number of choices in colors so you can mix and match the right one for your deck.

Area Coverage

These types of deck stains are known to cover a large area which makes it a suitable choice for decks.

What Should You Consider Before Buying a Semi-Transparent Deck Stain?

Here are some factors to look out for before purchasing such stains.

Type of Wood

Most semi-transparent deck stains work well with expensive hardwoods like mahogany. Using them on such woods gives your surface a gorgeous texture and grain. However, they can also be used for softwoods.


While choosing the color for your deck, it is recommended to go for the one that will match your home’s trim shade.  This way, you will enjoy a clear stand-out as opposed to the main field of your house. Additionally, the final finish will highlight your deck’s architecture and give it a unified look. However, if you like a more monochromatic look, then you can use a shade similar to that of your house’s primary color.


Weather is yet another important factor to consider for all types of deck stains. During the period of application, don’t forget to check the weather forecast and make sure that there is a 48-hour rain-free period.

VOC Level

If you’re someone highly concerned about your health, make sure to check the VOC levels and odor of the product you purchase. High VOC levels can affect your respiratory system and cause issues in breathing. Therefore, look for a stain with low VOC levels and low odor.

Color of the Wood

It is best to look for the wood’s natural color before staining. It is an important factor to consider because undertones can change the stain’s look after you’ve applied it. For example, if a wood type has green undertones, you should look for a stain to either enhance it or cancel it.

It also helps in hiding the imperfections caused by staining and damage.

Area Coverage

Since a deck’s average size is between 300 to 400 square feet, it is important to consider how much area your stain can cover. For more information on the coverage area, make sure to check the printed label.

Additional Tips

  • Test a smaller area first before applying it to the entire deck
  • Protect yourself and the surrounding areas before application
  • Make sure the wood is prepared and cleaned well
  • Stay updated with the weather forecast
  • Stir often and thoroughly
  • Use a spray, brush, or roller for a smooth application
  • Avoid lap marks by applying on few boards
  • Apply one thin coat properly
  • Wear your safety gear such as masks, shoes, and gloves
  • Try to treat most areas
  • Do not stain on hot surfaces or under direct sunlight
  • Keep your coverage area into consideration
  • Use the suggested equipment for cleaning
  • Make sure to back brush

A semi-transparent stain is quite effective for maintaining your deck. With the extensive guide we have provided, it shouldn’t be hard to settle on the right brand or type that your heart desires. Having a deck is a great move; however, providing the right type of care is also necessary. Therefore, if you are looking for deck stains that will give your deck a beautiful finish, the variety above is sure to get you the best for your money.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Coats of Semi-Transparent Deck Stain Should Be Applied?

It often depends on the type of stain, but decks require a single coat only.

How Can I Ensure That I Get the Desired Results?

The best way to have your project give you the desired results is to first use your stain on a test area.

Is It Necessary to Sand the Deck Before Using a Semi-Transparent Stain?

It depends on factors such as the decking and its condition. Sanding does not hurt the process in any way; however, it is important to know if you’re willing to spend extra time if you would like the wood texture to be rough or smooth, etc. The right way is to first use a light wood stripper and later pressure wash. You can also sand it after it has dried.

Do I Need to “Weather” My Wood Before Staining It? and for How Long?

It’s alright to let your wood “weather” for some months; however, with today’s products, it’s no longer necessary as long as you follow the correct process.

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