Decorating our outdoors helps enhance its overall look. The addition of patios and decks makes the space more homey and inviting, but not everyone wants to add them to their homes. We all know that leaving structures like these outdoors will expose them to different elements.
Wooden decks are sturdy, but they’re bound to come in contact with moisture and UV rays. Over time, they’ll get prone to mildew and rot, which will require you to repair or replace them. However, you can avoid this hassle by being one step ahead in caring for your decks.
Below are the best deck sealers in the market. From the name itself, these products will seal and protect your decks to prevent them from deteriorating over time. They vary in what they’ll be best for, so you’ll surely find what’s appropriate for your deck. We also wrote a useful buyer’s guide to help you decide on which one to get.
Best Deck Sealer Comparison Table
|Ready Seal 525||5 gallons||Oil||Dark Walnut|
|BOND DISTRIBUTING LTD||1 gallon||n/a||Natural|
|DEFY Extreme||1 gallon||Water||Clear|
|Ready Seal 112||1 gallon||Oil||Natural cedar|
|#1 Deck||1 gallon||Water||Light walnut|
|Thompson's WaterSeal||1 gallon||Water||Natural / Transparent|
|Thompson's WaterSeal||1 gallon||Water||Woodland cedar|
Best Deck Sealer Reviews
Ready Seal 525 Exterior Stain and Sealer – Editor’s Choice
If you’re looking for the best deck sealer for pressure treated wood, the Ready Seal 525 is for you. This product also happens to be our top pick among this list, so check below why this sealer stands out for us.
Diverse Stain Choices
For starters, the Ready Seal 525 is not just a sealer because it also works as a stain. You can choose from burnt hickory, mahogany, natural cedar, pecan, redwood, golden pine, light oak, mission brown, and this particular stain, dark walnut. We love the diversity in these colors because you can use them to enhance the look of your deck, and they range from different shades to match your existing wood color.
The Ready Seal 525’s staining ability highlights the texture of the wood. These colors are not solid, but they are semi-transparent. Because of this, you’ll still get to see the true look of your deck, but with improved color. However, do note that this stain looks darker at the first application. And within two weeks, you’ll get its actual semi-transparent effect.
Works on Pressure-Treated Wood
The Ready Seal 525 stands among this list because it still managed to penetrate and seal our deck even if it’s made from pressure-treated wood. What is a pressure-treated wood? If you have a wooden deck, you can protect it a bit further by infusing it with chemical preservatives.
You’ll put the wood in a depressurized holding tank, which removes its air in exchange for a preservative to fend off insects and rot. But because of the chemical preservatives, it can be harder for some sealers to work on wood that has been pressure-treated. However, this is not a problem with this sealer and stain. As a result, you’ll be getting twice the protection for your wooden deck.
UV Rays, Mold, and Mildew Protection
At the same time, because this stain and sealer is oil-based, it can penetrate much deeper, as you can read in our buyer’s guide. The 525 can preserve your deck by protecting it against UV rays, as well as mold and mildew, by fending off liquid.
Easy to Apply
And what’s great with it is that you can apply it in various ways, so even newbie applicators won’t have a difficult time sealing, regardless of it being an oil-based product. You can use a brush, roller, or a spray, depending on which would be the easiest for your deck. Ready Seal doesn’t even have linseed oil, so you don’t need to worry about it staining your hands.
No Need to Back Brush
Overall, we didn’t find any difficulty during the application because it doesn’t leave streaks. Therefore, you don’t need back brushing or wet-line application to blend the product. And if you opt to apply it by spraying, you don’t have to dilute it. Just remember to leave your deck to dry up to 72 hours after you’ve sealed it.
Lastly, even though this is an oil-based product, you should feel at ease, knowing that it has met the VOC level requirements. It’s not going to be harsh for you nor to the environment. In fact, it is even biodegradable.
BOND DISTRIBUTING LTD – Best Natural Deck Sealer and Stain
Another 2-in-1 stain and sealer that you might appreciate is this product from BOND DISTRIBUTING LTD. It may not come in various colors, but it leaves a natural finish on your deck. Think of it as a semi-transparent stain for intensifying the existing look of your wooden deck to keep it looking brand new.
If you’re just a first timer in sealing your deck, you don’t need to worry about mistakes when applying this product. We notice that it doesn’t drip during application even when using a brush. Compared to other sealers, BOND DISTRIBUTING LTD would not leave you with streaks or noticeable start and end points when applied.
However, it does take a while to dry up. If you’re using this sealer on the deck where it isn’t fully exposed to sunlight, it may take you longer to get it to dry. On the bright side, what’s great with this seal is that over time, it doesn’t peel nor crack.
No More Moisture
Besides being easy to apply and giving a natural finish, this sealer is also useful in blocking moisture from seeping through the wood. If your deck gets soaked in the rain, you can use this sealer to keep it from rotting. We also notice that this product takes a while to fade and lose its water-repelling activities. Just make sure that you follow the instructions on when to reapply the product to keep it useful.
DEFY Extreme Composite Deck Sealer – Best Sealer for Composite Decks
Like always, we like to create an inclusive review so that every homeowner can find the best product for them. Some of you may have a composite deck, which is why we found the best sealer that you can use for it.
A composite deck is different from other decks because it is made from a mix of wood fibers and plastic. Therefore, if you compare it to a typical wooden deck, it wouldn’t be as vulnerable to rotting. However, this doesn’t mean that you should also skip sealing it.
Zinc Nanoparticle Technology
The DEFY Extreme is the best sealer that you can use for your composite deck. This is because the brand uses their so-called zinc nanoparticle technology. When these tiny zinc particles are added to this seal, it helps in protecting against UV rays. Over time, UV rays damage your deck because it hastens fading. It’s important to get a product that offers UV protection to keep your deck looking brand new and fight dullness.
DEFY Extreme is clear, so don’t expect that it will add a stain on your deck. However, it helps in enhancing the natural look of the deck so that it doesn’t look as dull. And what’s great with this sealer is that it isn’t hard to apply. The brand even offers a composite cleaner to use before applying this sealer.
You can spray it on your composite deck, and just allow it to dry completely. You may notice some puddles here and there, but don’t worry because the deck will absorb them afterward as long as they aren’t too deep.
No More Fading and Mold Growth
Besides protecting against fading and damages from UV rays, this sealer also helps prevent moisture from seeping in that can cause mold. You’ll notice that water will just bead up after applying this sealer. We are also pleased with this product’s performance because it lasts long, that a single maintenance coat every now and then is enough to protect your deck.
Not for New Decks
However, you should know that DEFY Extreme is especially useful for old and weathered composite decks only. So if you just have a new deck, this product is not going to penetrate as effectively.
Overall, this sealer works well for rejuvenating the look of stained and weathered composite decks. If you notice that your deck no longer responds to the usual cleaner and pressure washer, try using DEFY Extreme to bring it back to life.
Ready Seal 112 Exterior Stain and Sealer – Best Cedar Deck Sealer
If you remember our top pick Ready Seal 525, the next sealer on our list is also from the same brand. This time, it’s their 112 variety that also happens to be our recommendation for those who have cedar decks.
Cedar is pretty common for decking because it’s quite resistant against insects and rot. However, you need to seal it to help its longevity because it’s a softwood. At the same time, cedar decks have the tendency to fade over time, so it’s best that you use a 2-in-1 stain and sealer. This way, you get to keep your deck looking vibrant for a long time.
Different Stain Selections
What we review here is the natural cedar sealer. However, if you have a different colored deck, the brand also has burnt hickory, dark walnut, mahogany, pecan, redwood, golden pine, light oak, and mission brown. Again, we love this variety of stains to accommodate different deck owners.
We also notice that the 112 has a lot of similarities with the 525 earlier. It isn’t a solid-staining sealer, so you’ll still get to see the natural look of your cedar. But a word of advice, you may need to do multiple coats in order to achieve the vibrancy of your desired color.
Perfect for DIY
As for the application, the 112 soaks effectively into the wood. We know that oil-based sealers have the reputation of being unfriendly for DIY, but this isn’t the case in this product. Similar to the 525, you can do the sealing yourself stress-free with 112. You don’t need to use a primer, and no diluting is necessary with this product. We also didn’t struggle doing multiple application methods using a brush, roller, and sprayer since it doesn’t run nor streak. And even if you end up having drops, the sealer will manage to blend itself.
Mold-Free and Vibrant Cedar Deck
Once you’ve applied your desired number of coats, you’ll notice that Ready Seal is an effective water repellant. You no longer have to worry about mold or mildew even if your cedar deck is exposed to rain. At the same time, this seal does not only stain and prevents your cedar from fading. It can also protect it against UV rays to prevent discoloration.
Lastly, the 112 is also a biodegradable sealer. So even if it’s oil-based, it isn’t as irritating to the user and the environment because it has the required VOC level.
#1 Deck Premium Stain for Decks – Best Wood Deck Sealer
We are halfway through our review, and what we have here is another 2-in-1 sealer and stain called #1 Deck Premium. We also choose this as the best wooden deck sealer because it is effective for almost all kinds of woods.
For All Kinds of Wooden Decks
For example, you can use #1 Deck on softwoods like cedar, or even fir, pine, and redwood. And like our top pick, this sealer also works on pressure-treated decks. This way, you can get twice the protection for your deck. However, if you have a hardwood deck, you might need more coats since they wouldn’t absorb as easily.
Cleans with Soap and Water
Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that this stain is easy to apply. In fact, you can even use it directly on damp wood. This saves you time because you can use it after cleaning. And speaking of cleaning, you can clean up this product with some soap and water because it’s a water-based sealer.
Water and UV Protection
As for the protection it offers, #1 Deck helps in preventing water from seeping through and damaging the deck. We notice water beading up, so you can avoid mold growth. And because it is also a stain, you can protect your deck from UV damages as well. In turn, your deck will keep its color and look over time.
No Irritating Odor
The #1 Deck is also quite similar to the previous Ready Seal products that we reviewed. What we mean by this is that this product has met the allowed VOC level. Sealers sometimes emit an irritating odor because of having a high amount of VOCs. These compounds can also be detrimental to the environment, so it’s always a win when the product has met the VOC level requirements.
As we have previously mentioned, #1 Deck works both as a sealer and stain. So as you can assume, it also comes in different colors. What we have here is light walnut, but there are also dark walnut, driftwood gray, natural, and cedar. Overall, this is an excellent selection for different decks. Just note that they are not solid colors, and they act as semi-transparent stains. After application, you’ll see a more vibrant color on your deck afterward.
The only negative that we can say about #1 Deck is that there are very few instances where their customer service is hard to contact about wrong shipments of stain colors.
Thompson’s WaterSeal – Best Clear Deck Sealer
The next two products on our list are both from Thompson’s WaterSeal, but first, let us take a look at this colorless deck sealer. So far, we have been seeing 2-in-1 sealers plus stains. But sometimes, some owners prefer a colorless or transparent sealer for their decks. And if we were to recommend a clear sealer, this product comes to mind.
Natural and Vibrant Deck
For starters, this product prevents your deck from fading. When we think of UV protection, semi-colored stains come to mind. However, this natural deck sealer is also capable of preventing graying by offering UV protection.
We notice that it manages to keep the deck from graying for up to 2 years, which we think is a reasonable period, especially if your deck is fully exposed to various conditions. And besides fighting discoloration, you can also prevent mold growth as it repels water efficiently. This way, moisture can’t penetrate into the wood and cause other damages.
Save Time in Application
The Advanced Natural Wood Protector from Thompson’s WaterSeal is capable of protecting your deck even with just a single coat. And what’s great is that like the previous water-based sealers, you can apply this product easily and quickly.
You can shorten the waiting time because you can use it on damp wood just as effectively on dry wood. If you notice that your deck looks dull after cleaning it with a power spray, try applying this sealer to revive its look. You may notice that the product is yellowish upon application, but don’t worry since it will dry clear.
And if you’ve just pressure-treated your deck, you can immediately apply this sealer, and it will still get absorbed and dry quickly. However, do note that it’s best to use a brush or a roller when applying this product. We notice that it’s not as easy to blend when you use a sprayer.
Thompson’s WaterSeal – Best Deck Water Sealer
We are down to our last two sealers, and what we have here is another product from Thompson’s WaterSeal. From the name itself, you can have an idea of what this brand specializes in. Decks are often exposed to liquids and moisture. And over time, this can lead to mildew and mold growth, which can also cause rot and other damages.
Therefore, you need to get an effective water sealer, especially when your whole deck is exposed to rain and other conditions. And while most of the sealers that we have reviewed repel water well, this specific model is the best water sealer for us.
Passed the Industry Standard
You can avoid rotting, mildew, and mold growth as this product repels water effectively. Compared to our other sealers, you can immediately notice water beading up as promised with this sealer. In fact, this product has passed the industry-standard ASTM D-4446 when it comes to waterproofing wood. You can be reassured that this product wouldn’t let you down over time.
Revive Your Deck
We also notice that it restores the look of worn-down wooden decks. The brand offers different stain colors such as acorn brown, harvest gold, sequoia red, maple brown, and woodland cedar to match your wood. They aren’t solid staining, but we are pleased with the finish they give. And since they are stains, you can expect UV protection to prevent discoloration.
Health and Environment-Friendly
Thompson’s WaterSeal is even water-based, so it’s not as irritating to the smell and environment. As we have been discussing throughout this review, a sealer’s VOC level is an important factor to consider because it is irritating, not just the user but also to the environment. Therefore, we chose products that met the VOC level requirements.
Can Be Used on Damp and Pressure-Treated Wood
Lastly, when it comes to application, this product is no different from the previous one from Thompson’s Waterseal. It will absorb well even on damp wood or pressure-treated wood. However, using a sprayer might lead to waste, so opt for a brush or roller instead for easier blending.
Cabot Australian Timber Oil – Best Affordable Deck Sealer
The last product on our list is the Australian Timber Oil from Cabot. It is an affordable stain and sealer that comes in honey teak, amberwood, jarrah brown, mahogany flame, and natural. At the same time, the brand also offers low VOC versions of these sealers if you want something less irritating.
Enhance Your Deck’s Look
Like the previous stains we’ve reviewed, Cabot leaves a semi-transparent color. So instead of getting a matte or solid finish, expect to get a bit of sheen on the deck when you applied this sealer. Regardless, we’re still pleased with the color pay-off of this product.
The Advantage of Going Oil-Based
Speaking of applications, we have no problem with streaks even when you use a brush with Cabot. You can also use water and soap for clean-up after application. However, do note that this product takes a while to dry.
Cabot is oil-based anyway, so we have already assumed that it will take longer to dry up. Still, the fact that this sealer uses a blend of oils helps in its performance. For example, linseed oil helps improve penetration, while tung oil will prevent the sealer from peeling over time. And if you’re worried about VOCs, you can always opt for the low VOC version of the sealer that you want.
A single coat is able to repel water nicely. And Cabot is also able to bring back the look of the deck not just from the stain, but also because it protects against UV rays.
Read also: Best Deck Paint
Factors to Consider When Buying a Deck Sealer
Deck Material and Application
As you have seen throughout the review, the deck sealers vary in what material that they will be best for. Woods also differ in quality, so a sealer that works for a thin material won’t be able to be as effective when used on a denser material. So before buying, be sure to check if your sealer is going to work for the type of wood that you have in your deck.
At the same time, you’ll notice that deck sealers differ in application methods. Some brands recommend their product to be applied by brushing, while some are best via spraying. The application method that would be more convenient for you might also become a deciding factor when choosing a deck sealer.
Stain vs Sealer
If you remember our review of the best deck stains, stains work by adding a pigment or “staining” the deck. You can typically choose from colors that are very pigmented to semi-transparent if you don’t want a solid color on your deck. Stains enhance the look of your deck, but some also offer UV protection or moisture-locking abilities like a sealer.
On the other hand, you can opt for a sealer with a clear or transparent finish like the DEFY Extreme if you don’t want to add a color on your deck. Sealers repel moisture so you can protect your deck from rotting over time.
Oil-Based vs Water-Based
Another characteristic where sealers differ is whether they are oil-based or water-based. For example, an oil-based sealer is easier to apply because they have smaller molecules, which in turn, penetrates the wood easier. However, you’ll notice that these sealers have a stronger odor and longer drying time compared to a water-based sealer.
On the contrary, water-based sealers do not smell as strong due to having a lower VOC level. They also dry much quicker than oil-based sealers, but because they have larger molecules, they don’t penetrate the wood as easily.
Protection and Durability
Lastly, the offered protection and longevity of the sealer is probably the most significant factor to consider. After all, you’re using a sealer to protect your deck. Therefore, check for the characteristics such as water resistance and UV ray protection. This way, you can protect your deck from being exposed to various conditions and elements.
Not all sealers are equal when it comes to their strength. Some might take a shorter period before reapplication, or some might not be as effective in repelling water. You can reread our reviews to check which product would be the best deck sealer for you.
Read also: Best Concrete Paint
Just like any part of our homes, we need to care and maintain our decks regularly. They might even require twice the love because they are exposed to various elements outside. For us, the best oil based deck stain and sealer that you can get in the market is the Ready Seal 525.
We know that oil-based sealers have the reputation of having a high VOC level, but the ones we’ve chosen throughout this review have met the level requirements. This is true for Ready Seal, but what we like most about it is that newbies can apply it flawlessly. The brand also offers different color choices, and the finish leaves you protected from mildew and UV rays.
You can also check out water-based sealers like the DEFY Extreme Composite Deck Sealer. This particular product enhances the look of your deck and can bring back your weather deck to life. And just like all the sealers that we reviewed, you can prevent graying and damages because this sealer keeps UV rays and moisture at bay.
Did you find your next deck sealer? If you have any questions, leave them below and let us help you.