Best Semi-Solid Deck Stain

Deck stains come in different transparency levels. The more transparent or the less opaque a stain is, the more the natural wood grain shows through. This category is referred to as the semi-transparent deck stains.

The more opaque less transparent deck stains are commonly called the semi-solid deck stains. So basically the transparency scale in order starting with the least opaque would be a clear sealer, semi-transparent stain, semi-solid stain, and solid stains.

All stains are designed to be water repellent but not all will protect against graying UV rays. Pigment in the stain is what provides UV protection. With that said, a clear sealer would provide zero UV protection while a solid stain would provide the most. Ultraviolet rays are what cause a wood deck to turn gray. Because of this, many deck owners stay away from clear sealers.

The solid deck stains completely mask the beauty of the wood and are much harder to maintain. Therefore, the semi-transparent and semi-solid deck stains are the popular choices. They are easier to maintain, provide adequate water and UV protection, and do not hide the wood but rather enhance its appearance. For those looking for an enhanced look with exceptional UV protection, the semi-solid stains are the ticket.

The best semi-solid deck stain is going to be an oil based penetrating formula. A reputable deck stain like Armstrong Clark is a popular choice. They offer several semi-solid deck stain colors such as Espresso, Mountain Cedar, Sequoia, Woodland, and Oxford Brown.

Armstrong Clark Semi Solid Colors

This stain is a unique blend of both nondrying and drying oils. These oils separate to perform specific tasks. The nondrying side of the formula penetrates the pores to replace the wood’s lessening natural oils. The drying oils provide a surface barrier to trap in the conditioning oils and keep out moisture. This process revitalizes the wood while providing protection. Using the best semi-solid deck stain available will ensure you get much use from your deck while keeping it looking great.

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    Rob · 06/26/2021
    I haven't used AC stains before, so I have a few questions about semi-solid stain:1. Do the darker color stains have more UV protection (pigment) than a lighter semi-solid color?2. How long to wait to apply a second coat? Can it be applied a few days later, or do you have to do it before the drying oil dries, and how long does that take?3. Can my 2 year old PT pine fence be cleaned (I use 30 Second Outdoor Cleaner) without having to also use a brightener after cleaning?4. Since the stain has a drying oil that seals in the non-drying oil, how does that affect prep work when it comes time to redo the fence in a few years; will I have to strip or sand out the drying oil film before staining?
    5. What is range of years of protection I should get before needing to restain? (Southern climate with moderate amount of direct sun)? Thanks
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      Armstrong · 06/27/2021
      1, No, the colors all have the same UV protection in the semi-solids.2. Semi-solids typically only need one coat. Only very dried out wood would need two.3. 30 Second cleaner is not very effective. Best to use a proper deck cleaner and then a wood brightener.4. Clean and recoat as needed down the road. You do not have to strip.5. On a fence, about 3-7 years depending on UV exposure.
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    Richard · 06/17/2021
    Do you recommend staining the edges of deck boards prior to installation? In a high desert climate with limited precipitation, including some snow, should the bottom side be treated?
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    Hal · 05/17/2021
    Here are s couple of photos. 
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    Hal · 05/17/2021
    I have a three year old pergola made with sassafras and walnut with live edges. It is on a PT deck with a water-based semi transparent stain, which complicates what I do. I have been using Heritage oil twice yearly on the pergola, but the wood grayed and streaked horribly by rain runoff. I power washed the wood removing all graying and as much streaking as I could. I want to try an oil based semi-solid to better protect the wood and hopefully last longer between treatments. What are best options for staining the two kinds of wood used in my pergola, that might also be used on my PT deck?
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      Armstrong · 05/17/2021
      We would need to see pictures for prep help. All current coatings will have to come off first before using the AC stains.
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    Maira · 04/09/2021
    I had a pressure treated wood deck and fence installed last October.  I am already seeing some cracking in the boards.   I live in St Catharines Ontario Canada.   I wanted to treat the boards with a semi solid stain this spring , however , noticed the comment "not recommended for wood under 1 year".  Can you please comment.Can you also advise what prep work is required before application.  Lastly, are small samples available for purchase to test the colour? Thank you for your time.  I look forward to your response.
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    Merwin · 03/26/2021
    Will RADStripper work well to remove Cabot Australian timber oil from 3 year old deck. If so, do I only use the brightener and then apply the Armstrong Clark semi solid when deck is dry Also, I have a 8’x8’ small attached deck that will be one year old in July. It is brown pressure treated pine. Can I use only the brightened on this surface before applying stain or do I require the cleaner.Your interest and cooperation are appreciated. Northern Ontario, Canada


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      Armstrong · 03/27/2021
      Yes, it will strip it. Brightener after. You have to clean and brighten the newer deck.
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    Steve · 11/14/2020
    I am building a greenhouse out of western red cedar with polycarbonate glazing. Will your product provide good moisture protection in this high humidity environment? I wanted to stain the wood before construction so I can coat all surfaces. The wood is framing material, how many coats would I use?
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    Brenda · 10/11/2020
    Ran out of stain. Will I need to reprep after waiting for stain to arrive?
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    Birdie · 09/12/2020
    I have a 53 year young redwood deck that for the last 30+ years has been stained with Cabot's semi-solid in black. However, the last few times it turned somewhat greyish when dry. It's been 3 or 4 years since last applied. I would like to try your product in your darkest color, i.e. espresso?, and wonder whether that could be done without having to sand it down. Would your product adhere and not create a terribly messy affair?
    Birdie
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      Armstrong · 09/13/2020
      You will need to fully remove the Cabot to be able to use any of the AC stains.
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    Rebecca · 08/21/2020
    Do you have any pictures that show how your semi solid stain colors look on Pressure treated deck boards? How true to color will the look?
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    D Dean · 08/20/2020
    Where can I buy Armstrong Clark stain in retail store around the Acworth, GA 30102 area?
    I'm looking for Oxford Brown & Rustic Brown
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      Armstrong · 08/20/2020
      You will need to buy online only for your area fro our website.
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    IJ · 08/14/2020
    What happens/disadvantage if I put Semi-Solid on Deck were half of it is about 10 months old and rest half is about 4 months(deck was extended later), I get too much Sun (east side) on the deck so I really want to go with semi-solid expresso rather than semi-transparent. Please advice. Thanks!
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    Kristen · 08/08/2020
    We have an old but well maintained PT deck that currently has Behr Deckover on it. It has failed miserably so we plan to sand it off. Prior to the Behr product, an oil based stain was used. Once it's sanded and dust completely removed, is there any other step we need to take before applying the Armsclark semi transparent stain? (I wish you had the driftwood in semi-solid!)
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    Rydell · 07/08/2020
    Why is the semi-solid stain for use on wood older than one year?
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      Armstrong · 07/08/2020
      It will not soak in fully and cure correctly for wood that has not seasoned for a year.
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    Tom C · 07/06/2020
    Are 5 gallon cans of stain delivered in a box or other container, or are they shipped as is? Are they shipped UPS?
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    Larry B · 07/02/2020
    is it possible to get your driftwood gray in a semi solid
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    Danny Hawtin · 06/16/2020
    I have a gazebo which I stained 3 years ago with Armstrong and Clark stain. Can I add another coat to it or do I have to strip and clean it first?
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    mark · 06/11/2020
    Hi I have a redwood swingset made by Rainbow that needs to be redone (10+ yrs oold). I am replacing the main supports with pressure treated wood and then re-staining the whole thing to match. I ordered samples of semi solid Oxford brown and Sequoia and we actually liked to color that resulted from mixing both together. Is it a problem to use the semi solid in this application (some areas the stain did not soak in well after 12 hrs), can we order a mix color of the Oxford and Sequoia,and as far as application is it supposed to be a light thin coat or can we go on heavy. How long should it take to dry to touch. Thanks
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      Armstrong · 06/11/2020
      You cannot stain the new wood right away: https://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/new-decking-and-armstrong-clark-stain

      12 months with the solid stains. We do not do customer mixes, you have to do this on your own. Just one coat.
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        Mark · 06/11/2020
        Thanks, We sanded all the new wood, does that thereby remove the mill glaze and speed up the stainability of the new wood ? Is there any way to bring down the 12 months period. I am not asking from a warranty or reliability standpoint, I just need to stain in the near future in this case and cant wait the 12 months. Is there any way to speed things up. Thanks
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          Armstrong · 06/11/2020
          No sanding actually hinders the stain's ability to soak in. You cannot speed up the 12 months. The issue is it may not dry correctly as it cannot soak in as well and it will rub off.
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            Mark · 06/11/2020
            Ok thank you for the clarification
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    Bob · 06/11/2020
    I have a mahogany deck that was "bleached" initially, but then I used an Olympic brown-colored semi-transparent stain several times that lasts less than one year; I was thinking of using your semi-solid stain. Can I just clean the deck and apply that?
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      Armstrong · 06/11/2020
      You cannot use a semi-solid for Mahogany. You would need one of the three hardwood colors. Strip and brighten for prep.
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        Ed k · 06/11/2020
        Bob. Here is my mahogany deck w the Armstrong Clark hardwood stain in Amber. The first year I had to strip as well. But it is a great color and easy to apply. Hope this helps.
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          Bob · 06/11/2020
          Ed I am surprised that the amber looks so dark; I was going to go with the mahogany stain, but maybe i shouldn't.
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            Ed k · 06/12/2020
            Yes. It is a very rich color that I really like on our porch. I didn’t want a reddish look so I stayed away from the mahogany. I suspected that would have a redder tint to it. I never tested it though so I can’t truly say. Perhaps the moderator could comment on that. But for me, I really like the Amber on mahogany and will continue to use it. Great color.
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    ed k · 06/09/2020
    I am re-staining my wood privacy fence. I suspect it is cedar. I want a driftwood gray type color and do not want to re-stain every 2 years. So I am considering a semi-solid as I expect that would extend the time to re-stain a year or 2. I see that Armstrong Clark (I use the hardwood oil based for my mohagany porch in Amber color and it is fantastic) does not make a gray. What would you recommend? Reviews on Cabot are pretty poor.
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      Armstrong · 06/09/2020
      Use the AC in Driftwood Gray for this. It will last 3-5 years on a fence.
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        Ed k · 06/09/2020
        Thank you. The hardwood is a great product. My second time using on my porch and it is easy to work with gives great results and holds up well. In regards to application on the fence can it be applied via pump sprayer and back brushed? Or should I apply with a stain pad and back brush? One or two coats? If 2 coats wet on wet?
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          Armstrong · 06/09/2020
          It cannot be sprayed with a pump sprayer. Stain pads, two coats wet on wet.
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    Keith · 05/27/2020
    For what reason is semi-solid not recommended for furniture?
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    Keith · 05/27/2020
    Hello-
    I was considering just recovering my deck with a solid stain (paint) but I couldn’t get all the old peeling decks solid stain thoroughly with pressure washing. I thought I’d have give up or replace. It’s pressure treated wood, probably 30+ years old. I grabbed my 4-1/2 sander and 40-grip flap disc and went after it. The woods is in very good shape. It’s a lot of work but I think I can clean it. There’s no rot in the under joists either, so I think I could save it.
    My question is what stain to use. It still has some sanding streaks or smeared stain in the wood and some in cracks I can’t sand out. I wouldn’t mind a rough rustic look, but not sure if a semi solid or semi transparent would work best in this situation. It’s on the north side, in CT. Gets some sun but not a bunch. Of course snow in the winter. I don’t want to have to sand it again! Your opinion is appreciated.
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      Armstrong · 05/27/2020
      You cannot use the AC unless you remove 100% of the current solid stain.
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    Matt W · 05/24/2020
    I want to restain my deck and want to use an oil based semi solid stain. The last time I stained was 13-15 years ago. It was a Behr oil based stain. Would I have to strip that or can I just apply stain after cleaning? Water no longer beads .
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      Armstrong · 05/25/2020
      You have to remove the old coating fully first.
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    Jim · 05/12/2020
    where can I buy it in Chicago il
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    Michael H · 05/10/2020
    I have a 10 tear old Cabot semi-solid stain on my deck. Can I use your semi-solid stain over this existing stain. The deck has been cleaned and dried from power washing.
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      Armstrong · 05/10/2020
      Sorry but no. You would have to remove the Cabot fully.
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    Sydnee · 05/09/2020
    Also below you say this

    ... Share

    Armstrong 04/28/2020

    You cannot use a semi-solid on new wood until ti has weathered for 12 months. Semi-transparent is 3+ months.
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    Meg Y · 05/09/2020
    Semi solid or semi transparent on this deck?
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      Armstrong · 05/09/2020
      Either. That would be your choice.
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    Sydnee · 05/09/2020
    I have the same question. I want to keep.the new wood look and not have it discolor!!
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      Armstrong · 05/09/2020
      That is not possible. A clear coating (no tint at all) will not keep the color and the wood will gray in months form the UV. It must be tinted with a stain if you want to prevent graying. The more tint you have, the longer it lasts.
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        Sydnee · 05/09/2020
        Yes. I would be tinting but waiting a year for this new rough sawn wood will alow it to grey, no? I did not want it to grey.
        Would a waterbssed stain be better for immediate staining?
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          Armstrong · 05/09/2020
          Or rough sawn you can stain right away with the AC.
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    frank s · 05/07/2020
    I would like to use semi-solid Mountain Cedar on a new pergola with rough sawn doug fir.
    Do I have to wait 1 year since the caption says "not for wood less than one year old"?
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    Kerri · 05/01/2020
    Hi! We recently installed new redwood beams and are looking to stain them with Oxford Brown. Is this okay?