Best deck sealer for old decks

Reviving an old, tired deck requires a careful and systematic approach. Before diving into the best deck sealer for old decks, it’s important to address the necessary steps to bring your deck back to life. By following these steps, you can restore your deck’s beauty and ensure its longevity.

  1. Repair First: Before applying any sealer, thoroughly inspect your deck for rotten or damaged boards. Replace them to maintain the deck’s structural integrity. Additionally, check for loose boards and railings, tightening them with decking screws. Don’t forget to examine the foundation for any signs of structural damage.
  2. Clean and Brighten Deck: To rejuvenate your old deck, start by cleaning it. Use a wood deck cleaner to remove unwanted mold, mildew, dirt, and graying. You can employ a scrub brush or a pressure washer for this purpose. Witness the amazing transformation as your deck reverts to a cleaner state. After cleaning, it’s crucial to use a wood brightener. Apply it to the wet surface to enhance the wood’s beauty and open its pores, facilitating better stain penetration.
  3. Apply Penetrating Stain with Non-Drying Conditioning Oils: Once your deck has dried completely, it’s time to select the best stain for an old deck. Given that old wood, decks are often dry and depleted of natural oils, using a stain that conditions the wood is vital. Consider stains like Armstrong Clark, which contain non-drying penetrating oils to rejuvenate the wood cells. These conditioning oils deeply penetrate the wood, replenishing its lost natural oils.

Best deck sealer for old decks comparison

1. Armstrong-Clark StainEditors PickHighFlexibleHigh
2. Seal-Once Nano+PolyRunner’s UpHighVersatileMedium
3. Thompson’s WaterSealBudget PickLowEasyLow
4. DEFY Extreme StainEnvironmentally friendlyHighEasyHigh
5. Olympic Maximum StainTop 5 BestMediumModerateMedium

Factors to Consider When Choosing Sealers for an Old Deck

After going through the steps to repair and rejuvenate your old deck, it’s essential to choose the right sealer to protect and enhance its appearance. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting sealers for an old deck:

Factors to Consider When Choosing Sealers for an Old Deck

Deck Condition:

Before selecting a sealer for your old deck, it’s important to assess its overall condition. Older decks may have specific issues such as dryness, cracking, or splintering that require a sealer with restorative properties. Look for sealers specifically formulated for older decks, as they offer enhanced protection and rejuvenation. These sealers can help address the specific needs of your deck and ensure its longevity.

Sealer Type:

When choosing a sealer for your old deck, consider the different types available. Clear sealers provide minimal color change, allowing the natural beauty of the wood to shine through. This is a great option if you want to maintain the original look of your deck. Semi-transparent stains offer moderate color options while still showcasing the wood grain. They provide a balance between color enhancement and wood visibility. Solid stains provide more color coverage and are ideal for hiding imperfections in the wood. They offer a uniform appearance and can transform the look of your old deck.

More considerations when picking sealers for a deck

  1. UV Protection: Look for sealers that provide UV protection. Sun exposure can cause fading, graying, and damage to the wood fibers. UV-resistant sealers help preserve the wood’s color and protect it from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays.
  2. Moisture Resistance: Ensure that the sealer you choose offers effective moisture resistance. Moisture can lead to rot, mold, and mildew growth, compromising the durability and appearance of your deck. A high-quality sealer will form a protective barrier against moisture infiltration.
  3. Breathability: Consider the breathability of the sealer. It’s important for the wood to be able to breathe and release moisture vapor to prevent trapping moisture within the wood. Breathable sealers allow for proper airflow while still offering protection.
  4. Longevity and Durability: Look for sealers that provide long-lasting protection. Read product reviews and consider the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance and reapplication. High-quality sealers can withstand heavy foot traffic, weather conditions, and the test of time.
  5. Application and Maintenance: Consider the ease of application and maintenance requirements. Some sealers may require multiple coats or specific preparation steps, while others are more straightforward to apply. Additionally, check the recommended maintenance routine, including how often the sealer needs to be reapplied.
  6. Environmental Impact: If you are concerned about the environmental impact, look for sealers that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or choose eco-friendly options. Some sealers are formulated with environmentally friendly ingredients that minimize harm to the environment.

Best Sealers for Old Decks

Choosing the right sealer is crucial for reviving and protecting your old deck. Here, we present a selection of top-rated sealer products that excel in restoring aged wood while providing long-lasting durability and protection.

Best overall

Armstrong-Clark Armstrong Clark Deck and Wood Stain
$86.95 ($0.68 / Fl Oz)

Armstrong-Clark Deck and Wood Stain is a traditional exterior oil stain that complies with regulations everywhere. It is not a modified oil and contains no water. This stain is designed to condition and rejuvenate wood, providing exceptional results without peeling, cracking, flashing, or sticky shiners. It is highly regarded by wood restoration professionals, making it a top-rated choice in the industry.

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Reasons to Pick:

  1. Superior Wood Conditioning: Armstrong-Clark Deck and Wood Stain effectively conditions and rejuvenates wood, enhancing its appearance and extending its lifespan.
  2. Application Flexibility: This stain can be applied in direct sunlight and even in the heat of the day, allowing for convenient and efficient application.
  3. Low Maintenance: For maintenance coats, there’s no need for stripping, sanding, or media blasting. Simply apply the stain directly, saving time and effort.
  4. Quick Rain Resistance: Once fully absorbed into the wood, the stain can withstand rain exposure after just one hour, providing peace of mind and convenience.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Exotic Hardwood Considerations: When using Armstrong-Clark Deck and Wood Stain on exotic hardwood decking such as IPE and Mahogany, it is recommended to choose colors such as Amber, Mahogany, or Black Walnut for the best results. These colors can be used on all other wood types as well.
  2. Coverage Variation: The coverage of the stain will vary depending on factors such as the wood type, age of wood, preparation, and application method. It is important to consider these variables when estimating the required amount of stain for your project.

With its reputation among professionals, wood conditioning capabilities, application flexibility, and quick rain resistance, Armstrong-Clark Deck and Wood Stain is our top choice best sealer for old decks.

Scoring: 4.8/5

Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer

Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer is a water-based polyurethane wood finish that provides outstanding protection against wear and tear in high traffic areas. It is an odorless sealer suitable for various wooden surfaces, including wood siding, log homes, swing sets, outdoor furniture, wooden decks, and fences. This sealer goes beyond a surface-level topcoat, penetrating deep into the wood to create a long-lasting, water-resistant shield. It offers the advantage of being ultra-low VOC, making it safe for use around your home and vegetation.

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Reasons to Pick:

  1. Superior Protection: Seal-Once Nano+Poly forms a durable, water-resistant barrier that offers excellent protection against the elements, including moisture and UV rays.
  2. Penetrating Formula: Unlike many sealers that remain on the surface, this sealer penetrates deep into the wood fibers, ensuring long-lasting effectiveness and enhanced durability.
  3. Versatile Application: From wood siding to swing sets, Seal-Once Nano+Poly is suitable for a wide range of wooden surfaces, making it a versatile choice for your sealing needs.
  4. Environmentally Friendly: With its water-based formulation and low VOC content, this sealer is environmentally friendly and safe for use around your home and landscaping.
  5. Easy Cleanup: Cleaning up after application is a breeze with soap and water, offering convenience and simplicity in maintenance.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Application Frequency: While Seal-Once Nano+Poly provides excellent protection, it is important to consider the recommended reapplication timeline to maintain optimal performance and ensure continued protection of the wood.
  2. Price Point: This sealer is a premium product, which means it comes with a higher price tag compared to some other sealers. However, the exceptional performance and long-lasting results may justify the investment.

With its deep-penetrating formula, superior protection, and versatile application, Seal-Once Nano+Poly Penetrating Wood Sealer is an ideal choice for those seeking a high-quality sealer that offers long-lasting durability and protection for their wooden surfaces.

Scoring: 4.5/5

Budget Pick

Best budget
Thompsons Water Seal Clear Wood Protector

Thompsons Water Seal is a popular choice for homeowners looking for an affordable and effective waterproofing sealant. It is a clear, water-based formula that penetrates deeply into the wood, creating a barrier against moisture and preventing water damage.

One of the key benefits of Thompsons Water Seal is its versatility. It can be used on a variety of wood surfaces, including decks, fences, and outdoor furniture. Additionally, it comes in a range of colors, including natural cedar, redwood, and honey gold, allowing you to enhance the natural beauty of your wood while protecting it from the elements.

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Reasons to Pick:

  1. Budget-Friendly: Thompson’s WaterSeal is an ideal option for those looking for an affordable yet effective sealer to protect their aging deck.
  2. Decent Moisture Resistance: This sealer provides reliable water resistance, helping to prevent damage caused by moisture infiltration.
  3. Easy Application: The application process is straightforward, making it accessible for DIY enthusiasts and homeowners.
  4. Enhances Natural Color: Thompson’s WaterSeal enhances the natural color of the wood, revitalizing the appearance of the deck.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Durability and Longevity: While Thompson’s WaterSeal provides basic protection, it may not offer the same level of durability and longevity as some higher-end sealers. Regular reapplication may be necessary to maintain its effectiveness.
  2. Reapplication Frequency: Due to its formulation, Thompson’s WaterSeal may require more frequent reapplication compared to some other sealers to ensure optimal protection.

When considering Thompson’s WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector, keep in mind its budget-friendly nature and decent moisture resistance. However, consider the need for regular reapplication to maintain its effectiveness and ensure adequate protection for your aging deck.

Scoring: 3.5/5

Runner's Up
Defy Extreme Wood Stain (Cedar Tone)

DEFY Extreme Wood Stain is an environmentally friendly, water-based semi-transparent wood stain that allows the natural wood grain to shine through with a beautiful matte finish. It is suitable for staining a variety of wood surfaces, including decks, fences, siding, playsets, and outdoor patio furniture. This stain is fortified with zinc nano-particle technology, acting as a protective barrier against damaging UV rays, preventing premature graying and color loss.

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Reasons to Pick:

  1. Enhanced UV Protection: The zinc nano-particle technology in DEFY Extreme Wood Stain acts as a sunscreen for your wood, reflecting harmful UV rays and preserving the wood’s natural color for a longer period.
  2. Long-Lasting Durability: Crafted with high-quality resins, DEFY Extreme Wood Stain offers superior resistance to fading and darkening compared to competing products. This results in a longer-lasting finish that maintains its beauty for multiple seasons.
  3. Easy Maintenance: When it’s time for a maintenance coat, there’s no need to sand or strip the surface again. Simply use DEFY Wood Brightener to brighten the wood, and apply a single maintenance coat of DEFY Extreme Wood Stain to keep your deck, fence, or siding looking great.
  4. VOC Compliant: DEFY Extreme Wood Stain is 100 VOC compliant, making it suitable for shipping to all states, including California.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Semi-Transparent Coverage: As a semi-transparent wood stain, DEFY Extreme allows the wood grain to show through while providing a natural matte finish. Consider whether this level of coverage aligns with your desired outcome and aesthetic preferences.

With its water-based formulation, enhanced UV protection, long-lasting durability, and ease of maintenance, DEFY Extreme Wood Stain is an excellent choice for preserving and enhancing the beauty of your wood surfaces.

Scoring: 4.5/5

Olympic Maximum Wood Stain And Sealer For Decks
$33.98 ($0.27 / Fl Oz)

Olympic Stain Maximum Waterproofing Sealant is designed to provide enhanced moisture resistance and protection for older decks. Available in a range of colors, including clear and semi-transparent stains, this sealer allows you to customize the look of your deck while preserving its natural beauty. It offers advanced UV protection, preventing fading and graying of the wood, ensuring long-lasting vibrancy.

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Reasons to Pick:

  1. Versatile Option: Olympic Stain Maximum Waterproofing Sealant is a versatile choice suitable for moderately aged decks, offering a balance of protection and aesthetic appeal.
  2. Color Options: With a variety of colors available, including clear and semi-transparent stains, this sealer allows you to achieve your desired look while highlighting the wood’s natural beauty.
  3. Effective Moisture Resistance: The sealer provides enhanced moisture resistance, safeguarding your deck against the damaging effects of water infiltration.
  4. Long-Lasting Durability: Olympic Stain Maximum Waterproofing Sealant offers long-lasting durability, ensuring that your deck remains vibrant and protected from the elements.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Lack of Variety: One aspect to consider when choosing Olympic Stain Maximum Waterproofing Sealant is the limited range of color options. It is worth noting that this sealer is commonly available in two shades: Canyon Brown and Redwood Naturaltone. If you desire a wider selection of colors to match your specific preferences or the existing aesthetics of your deck, you may find the options somewhat limited.

While Olympic Stain Maximum Waterproofing Sealant offers effective moisture resistance, it is important to consider whether the available color choices align with your desired outcome. If having a broader range of color options is a priority for you, exploring other sealers that offer a more extensive selection may be a better fit.

Scoring: 4/5

Application Guide and Tips

applying sealer to a deck

Proper application of sealer is crucial to achieve optimal results when reviving an old deck. Follow this step-by-step application guide and consider the following tips for a successful sealing process:

  1. Prepare the Deck: Before applying the sealer, thoroughly clean the deck to remove dirt, debris, and any existing coatings. Use a deck cleaner and scrub brush or pressure washer to ensure a clean surface. Allow the deck to dry completely before proceeding.
  2. Check Weather Conditions: Choose a day with moderate temperature and low humidity for the application. Avoid applying the sealer during extremely hot or cold weather, as it may affect the drying process and sealer performance.
  3. Test the Sealer: Perform a small test patch in an inconspicuous area to ensure compatibility with your deck and achieve the desired appearance. This will help you evaluate the color, coverage, and absorption of the sealer before applying it to the entire deck.
  4. Choose the Appropriate Tools: Select the right tools for the job, such as brushes, rollers, or sprayers, based on the sealer type and manufacturer’s recommendations. Brushes are typically effective for applying sealer to small areas and ensuring proper penetration into the wood.
  5. Apply the Sealer: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the application method and coverage rate. Start from one end of the deck and work your way to the other, applying the sealer evenly along the wood grain. Take care to avoid puddling or excessive buildup of the sealer.
  6. Work in Sections: Divide the deck into manageable sections to ensure consistent coverage and prevent the sealer from drying too quickly. Apply the sealer to one section at a time, working systematically across the deck.
  7. Back-Brushing Technique: For optimal penetration and an even finish, consider using a back-brushing technique. After applying the sealer, use a brush to back-brush the product into the wood, ensuring better absorption and smoothing out any excess sealer.
  8. Multiple Coats: Some sealers may require multiple coats for adequate protection. Follow the recommended drying time between coats, typically specified by the manufacturer. Apply subsequent coats in the same manner as the initial application.
  9. Cleanup: Clean up tools and equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dispose of any leftover sealer or cleaning materials properly, adhering to local regulations.
  10. Drying and Curing Time: Allow the sealer to dry and cure fully before subjecting the deck to foot traffic, furniture placement, or exposure to moisture. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for drying time, which can range from a few hours to a few days.

Additional Tips:

  • Work during a time when the deck is not in direct sunlight to avoid premature drying of the sealer.
  • Avoid applying the sealer in windy conditions to prevent debris from sticking to the wet surface.
  • Consider wearing protective clothing, gloves, and eye protection during the application process.
  • Read and follow the safety instructions and precautions provided by the sealer manufacturer.

Summary: Best deck sealer for old decks

Reviving an old deck requires a systematic approach, starting with repairs and thorough cleaning. Once your deck is ready, choosing the right sealer is essential for long-lasting durability and protection.

Our top picks include

Consider factors such as deck condition, sealer type, breathability, longevity, and ease of application when making your choice. Follow our application guide and tips for a successful sealing process, and enjoy your revitalized and protected old deck.

What is the best finish for an old deck?

The best finish for an old deck is a wood stain that not only adds color but also conditions the wood to revive its cells and replace lost natural oils. Stains like Armstrong Clark are recommended for old decks due to their non-drying penetrating oils, which deeply penetrate the wood and rejuvenate its structure. These conditioning oils remain within the wood, while the drying oils create a protective layer on the surface, ensuring weather resistance. This combination of conditioning and weather protection is vital for reviving and preserving the cellular structure of an older wood deck.

Should you seal an old deck?

Yes, it is generally recommended to seal an old deck. Sealing helps protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental elements, which can cause damage and deterioration over time. An old deck is particularly susceptible to issues such as drying, cracking, splintering, and discoloration. By applying a sealer, you create a barrier that helps prevent water penetration, reduces the effects of sun exposure, and slows down the aging process of the wood. Sealing an old deck not only enhances its appearance but also extends its lifespan and helps maintain its structural integrity. It is important to properly prepare the deck and choose a suitable sealer to ensure effective protection and long-lasting results.

Is there a permanent deck sealer?

There is no such thing as a truly permanent deck sealer. Over time, exposure to weather, foot traffic, and other factors will gradually wear down any sealer, causing it to lose effectiveness. However, certain sealers can provide long-lasting protection and durability.

The durability of a deck sealer depends on various factors, including the quality of the product, proper application, maintenance, and the specific conditions the deck is exposed to. High-quality sealers with advanced formulas and UV-resistant properties tend to offer better longevity.
It’s important to note that even the most durable sealers will require periodic reapplication to maintain their protective qualities. The frequency of reapplication will depend on factors such as climate, exposure to sunlight, and the amount of foot traffic the deck receives.

To maximize the lifespan of your deck sealer, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application, maintenance, and reapplication. Regular cleaning, routine inspections, and timely resealing when needed will help ensure your deck remains well-protected and visually appealing for years to come.