semi transparent wood deck stains

Best Semi Transparent Deck Stain

One of the easiest ways to bring your old or faded wood deck back to life is to apply a deck stain to it. You can use either a solid, transparent, or semi-transparent stains, which will all give your deck a different finish.

The one you choose will primarily depend on your taste and preference; however, the semi-transparent stains offer some finish that most deck owners seem to love.

Decks and wooden stains come in different types, but since the elements can be very unkind to your deck, you’ll want to go for a stain that does an excellent job of protecting the wood.

That said, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, and you’re confused at which type to choose for your deck, then I have good news for you. All good stains are long-lasting and will protect your deck against harsh weather conditions.

For the rest of this article, we’ll be sharing with you the best semi-transparent stains for deck, based on our experience. You’ll also get to know what to consider when buying one.

Best Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

Why Use a Semi-Transparent Deck Stain?

best semi transparent deck stain

A high-quality, semi-transparent stain for deck brings out the natural color of the wood because it is a “see-through” layer that protects the wood deck but lets its color be seen.

It’s pretty simple to maintain this type of stain, because it’s easy to clean the deck with a high-performance pressure washer, and you can easily remove dirt and grime without sanding or stripping the wood in advance.

But if you do decide to sand the deck, it’s still a speedy and easy task. Besides that, semi-transparent stains equally give each deck a unique look since no two wooden decks will have the exact same color or shade.

That said, the two formulations of deck stains are water-based (latex acrylic) and oil-based (alkyd). So it all depends on what you want. However, both formulations offer superb durability and will protect your deck against harsh weather conditions.

Now, let’s look at the best semi transparent deck stains, according to the experts, and from our experience.

Semi-Transparent Stains for Deck Reviews

1. DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

The DEFY Extreme Semi Transparent Wood Stain is a water-based deck stain that is fortified with transparent nanoparticles to give your deck strong protection against UV rays and other harsh elements.

The product offers a natural matte finish, allowing the grain of your decking to show through, and you can also use it on fences, playsets, siding, etc. Unlike most of the other alternatives out there, once it comes to maintaining the deck, you can just apply a without having to strip or sand the deck.

According to the manufacturers, the DEFY Extreme deck stain can last a season or two longer than any of the alternatives. Furthermore, the durability of this product comes from the zinc nanoparticles and high-quality resins, which prevent mildew growth and premature fading.

All in all, this is the best semi transparent deck stain on the market right now due to its excellent quality and ease of maintenance – and application is seamless

  • Formulated with zinc nanoparticle technology
  • Very easy to maintain
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Improved mildew resistance
  • Produces a natural matte finish
  • Insanely durable, high-quality resins
  • Some users complaint of insufficient quantity

2. 1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks

Comes in either 1 or 2½ gallon containers, this is one of the best deck wood stains out there. It was produced by Saver Systems and acts as both a stain and a sealant for different structures such as siding, decks, and fencing products.

The stain is well formulated to protect the wood deck from harmful UV rays and dries to a flat, natural-looking finish each time. It’s essentially a low-VOC, water-based stain that makes cleanup effortless and comes in 4 different finishes so you can choose which one is suitable for you.

Furthermore, you can use the #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks on any type of softwood including cedar, redwood, fir, or pine that is already pressure-treated.

Even if you have a very old deck or one that hasn’t been stained for a long time, this impressive stain will give it an extraordinary look once the job is done.

It can completely restore the look of an old, faded deck and your neighbors will hardly notice that it’s the same deck that has been there for long.

  • It gives a deck a completely new look
  • Provides a non-slippery surface to walk on
  • Protects wood from harmful UV rays
  • Very easy to clean
  • Offers great penetration into the wood
  • Can be used as both a deck stain and deck sealer
  • Low VOCs
  • Unreliable water-resistant capability
  • Some users complain that the warranty is not good enough

3. Ready Seal – Best Oil-Based Semi-Transparent Stain

Made for both siding and decking, the Ready Seal 512 super deck stain helps to improve the natural beauty of wood and offers striking color and tone that will be noticed by everyone.

This semi-transparent stain for decks does a fantastic job of protecting your deck from fading or becoming damaged because of harsh elements. It is equally formulated with Tung and linseed oils that provide top-notch durability.

Additionally, Ready Seal 512 offers a consistent color. This means that even if the two containers that you have were bought several months apart, you can use them together without any issues.

The best part is that the stain is pretty easy to apply and it will still look fantastic for several years to come, making it a valuable addition to your paint collection and stain.

  • It is a very durable deck stain
  • Offers consistent color
  • It’s a high-quality product meant to last
  • Reasonably priced
  • Very easy to apply
  • Some users complain of a sticky deck even after the wood has dried
  • The effects do not last so long, according to some users

4. Kilz Exterior Water Based Semi-Transparent Stain

Comes in 9 tones, the Kilz L832111 waterproofing, semi-transparent wood stain provides durable protection and a mildew-resistant finish always. Formulated from 100% acrylic, it does a wonderful job of protecting the wood from sun, snow, and the rain. This deck stain delivers up to 250 Sq. Ft of coverage for the first application, and up to 500 Sq. Ft for the second coat. It is equally easy to apply using a pump/paint sprayer, paintbrush, or a pad applicator.

Furthermore, the Kilz Exterior Water Based Semi-Transparent Wood Stain protects both the integrity and the beauty of the wood for years to come. Excitingly, you can equally use it on siding, outdoor patio furniture, railings, fencing shakes, and shingles. When used on decks, it can last up to three years, and up to five years when used on fencing or siding. Another thing we love about this stain is that you can use it even on decks that haven’t been treated or stained for long

  • It has a very quick drying time
  • It is slightly thicker than most other types of stain
  • Offers great coverage irrespective of where you apply it
  • Some users complain of unusually long drying times
  • A few people also complain of “uneven” look

5. BEHR Cedar Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain and Sealer

Produced by a reputable company, the BEHR Cedar Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain is very easy to apply, quick to dry, and works like a magic! It’s designed to give the deck a very beautiful finish and offers some of the best coverage of any wood deck stain you can find in the market. If you’ve never stained a deck before, this is a fantastic product because it is newbie-friendly and application is pretty much straightforward. The result will definitely leave you astounded. Just try it and see for yourself.

  • It’s very reliable
  • It’s a water-repellent product
  • Can endure different environmental conditions
  • Some users complained of flaking and mildewing of the wood
  • The effect isn’t really long-lasting, according to some users

Semi Transparent Deck Stain Buyer’s Guide

semi transparent wood deck stains

Now, we’ve discussed why you should use semi transparent stains on your deck, and also shared some of the best semi transparent deck stains on the market. In this section, we’ll be focusing on a few things you should always consider when buying a decking semi-transparent stain.

1. Exposure to the Elements

Since decks are outdoors, they will certainly be exposed to the elements all the time. Because of this, you’ll want to properly research the advantages and disadvantages of each deck stain type so that you can pick the right stain for your region.

Whether it stays humid and hot most of the year or your winters are extremely bitter and cold, it’s advisable to look for a product that is created for that particular weather condition. Else, the stain won’t work properly as you hoped for, and you will end up using more a mildew blocker or wood cleaner than you do stain product.

2. Oil-Based or Water-Based?

Good semi-transparent deck stains are usually available in both water-based and oil-based types, with each having its own positive and negative aspects. Most times, your chosen stain is just a matter of taste and preference; however, if you’re concerned about stain varieties, here are a few things to consider.

Oil-based stain:

  • Takes a bit longer to dry
  • Suitable for decks that are exposed to severe weather conditions
  • Is often very durable
  • Penetrates better than a water-based stains

Water-based stain:

  • Very easy to clean up with soap and water
  • Has better color retention than oil-based stains
  • More breathable and hence, it won’t trap moisture
  • Ideal for woods that resist rot and decay, such as cypress, redwood, and cedar

Depending on your place of residence and what conditions your deck will be exposed to, you can easily choose your ideal stain once you know the results you want to achieve with it.

Finally, there are equally hybrid deck stains that have a mixture of water and oil-based latex and they have most of the benefits of each deck stain type.

Read Also: How to Paint a Wood Texture with Acrylics

3. Aesthetics versus Safety

Remember that you’re not staining your deck just to improve its beauty; you’re equally doing it to protect the wood and extend its lifespan.

This is another benefit of using the semi transparent deck stains. The stains can ensure your safety since a smooth, non-slippery, and sealed deck is often safer than one that is poorly treated or not treated at all.

However, the good thing is that most deck stains out there today are designed to both protect and make your deck safer and to also give it an aesthetic look.

4. Types of Wood for Decking

Just like most other products, when it comes to decks, some woods are much better than others. Here are the woods that are often used for decks:

  • Cedarwood: It’s very strong, lightweight, and resistant to rot and insects
  • Pressure-treated wood: This type is often is very reasonably priced and is chemically treated to resist rot and mold
  • Redwood: Redwood is an enchanting, natural-looking wood; though relatively costly, it is a top-quality wood that is considered the ideal choice for decks
  • Tropical hardwoods: This type is incredibly expensive but can last for decades. Tropical hardwoods need an oil-based stain and not the water-based type
  • Composite wood: This type of deck wood is often made out of recycled wood fibers and plastics and is almost maintenance-free

There are also other less conventional types of deck materials, such as aluminum and others; therefore, you’ll want to research the advantages and disadvantages of each type before making a final decision.

Also, remember that the type of material used to build your deck will determine what semi transparent deck stain you’ll use.

How To Stain A Deck Using Semi-Transparent Stain

Semi-transparent deck stains are mostly applied when the wood is clean, dry, and smooth; therefore, if your deck looks old or messy, you’ll want to give it a deep clean up using pressure washer brush before applying the stain.

Sanding the wood is an excellent way to start and you have to properly smoothen out every uneven spot before applying the stain. This is because wood stains will be able to penetrate the wood efficiently only if the wood is very dry and clean.

That said, watch the video below to see how to stain a deck using semi-transparent stain:

Aside from that, it’s also advisable to apply the stain in thin coats; otherwise, it may not be able to penetrate the way it should.

Above all, you have to follow all of the directions on the product’s packaging religiously. If you alter even one step, you may end up getting the opposite of what you wanted in terms of look.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is semi transparent stain?

Semi-transparent stains show a slight color that exposes the wood’s natural grain and texture. Their natural color and oils help to enrich wood’s natural grain.

Can you spray stain on a deck?

Yes, deck stains can be applied with an airless paint sprayer; however, it usually has lots of power to spray deck stain efficiently and effectively.

Because of this, a deck stain pump sprayer or garden pump sprayer is the ideal tool to use for applying deck stain.

Read Also: Stained Vs. Painted Cabinets

Must I remove all stain before restaining?

No, you’re not necessarily required to remove all the old stain to restain. But you have to remove all the varnish, lacquer, or any other thing that will prevent new stain from absorbing properly into the wood.

Can a semi transparent stain be put over solid stain?

A solid stain can be used over an existing semi-transparent or solid stain, but using semi-transparent stain over a solid stain will produce an odd look and it won’t last. It’s made to penetrate the wood and won’t properly adhere to a solid coating.

How long does it take for semi transparent deck stain to dry?

It takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. Depending on humidity and temperature, allow between 24 to 48 hours of dry time before using your newly restored deck or porch.

For the best results, do not stain in direct sunlight or at midday. If a second coat is needed, wait for about 4 hours between applications.

What is the difference between transparent and semi transparent deck stain?

The most significant difference between transparent and semi-transparent stain is the opacity. Semi-transparent stain will always impart more color onto your wood than the transparent stain. And less of the wood grain will show through.

Should I use transparent or semi transparent deck stain?

for best semi transparent deck stain
Transparency, or opacity, determines how much wood grain you want to see after your deck is stained. For newer wood, go with clear, transparent or semi-transparent stains — that way some grain still shows through. Semi-solid stains are a better choice for decks that have seen their share of cookouts.

Which deck stain lasts the longest?

Types of Stains

  • Solid. Just like regular paint, solid stains hide the grain of wood, and the best should last three to five years on a deck, the longest of the three types of stains.
  • Semi-transparent.
  • Clear sealer.

Is Cabot semi transparent stain any good?

Cabot Semi Transparent Stain Review

This product was fairly difficult to apply, you have to really brush it in to get proper results. Product performed reasonably well for an alkyd stain on the 14 month weathering test. Though a fair amount of darkening did occur, the stain resisted peeling and erosion reasonable well.

Which is better semi-transparent or semi solid stain?

Semi-solid stains offer better protection and coverage than a semi-transparent stain. Some grain of the wood is visible but not much as a transparent stain.

How long does Behr semi-transparent stain last?

BEHR PREMIUM® Semi-Transparent Waterproofing Stain & Sealer. Enhance your wood’s natural patterns while providing increased protection from the elements. This 100% acrylic formula seals out the elements, and sun’s harmful UV rays, for up to 6 yrs. on decks and up to 8 yrs.

Is Behr or Olympic stain better?

According to Consumer Reports, Olympic Maximum Solid Stain & Sealant in One is rated in their top solid wood stains category, coming in slightly behind Behr.

Is Pittsburgh stain good?

– The Pittsburgh Paramount Exterior Wood Stain + Sealant was average score overall. The stain did hold up fairly well except in high traffic areas and some mildew was present. We were not overly happy with the coverage rates and will have to strip the stain off prior to recoating to remove the mildew.

Do you need 2 coats of semi-transparent stain?

Skip a Second Coat

With a solid stain, CR typically recommends putting on two coats because these are more like a regular paint and will dry one on top of the other. But with a clear or semi-transparent wood stain, a second coat will just sit on the surface of the first coat.

How many coats of stain should you put on a deck?

2 coats
The general rule of thumb is to apply only as much deck stain as the wood can absorb. Typically this will be 2 coats, unless your dealing with extremely dense hardwoods which may only be able to absorb 1 coat of wood stain.

Is Benjamin Moore deck stain good?

We also used the same solid stain for deck staining and some residential wood siding. Our painters seemed to like how easy the product was to use. The product had a thickness feel about it and looked really good . It showed fewer lap marks and excellent hiding properties.


As you can see, a semi-transparent stain gives your deck lots of benefits and finding the suitable type and brand for your need shouldn’t be hard.

If you want to bring back the natural beauty of the wood, then you need a semi-transparent deck stain. Just pick any of the ones mentioned here, and you’ll be very proud of your deck one again.

However, if you’re still confused and don’t know which to go for right now, then the DEFY Extreme is absolutely a good choice, and we highly recommend it.

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