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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    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?
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    Doug · 04/29/2020
    I have a 15 x 20 cedar deck that was previously stained with a water based semi solid product made by Olympic We recoated the deck about every 3 years till we had 3 layers of stain. As expected, after a recent very cold winter, the deck began to flake. After trying to remove the existing coating, and finding it virtually impossible, we decided to simply turn the deck boards over, giving us a new clean surface after sanding. Can you tell us if this new surface is considered weathered (its 11 years old and never stained, just recently sanded) and capable of accepting an oil based semi solid stain, or will it have to be weathered again as if it were fresh from the lumber yard. The sanding was necessary to remove mildew and other minor discolorations from where the deck wood sat on cross beams. Is your restriction on application only on weathered wood a common expectation, regardless of brand of oil based stain?
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    sue · 04/28/2020
    To be clear, are you saying i should use a semi-transparent rather than a semi-solid stain on new wood? Why? I would like to get the max UV protection available. How long should i wait to apply semi-transparent stain and how long before applying semi-solid stain to new pine deck boards?
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      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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    Rita · 04/10/2020
    This deck was stained 15-20 years ago. The railings, pickets, and posts are all covered with this, but decking itself was replaced 18 months ago and has not been stained. What product will work on this? Is it solid or semi-solid? Can I do decking with semi-transparent and all that has this stain on it presently with semi-solid?
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      Armstrong · 04/10/2020
      That is a solid stain and the AC products cannot work over this stain type or any other brand of stain. You would have to sand it all off.
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        rita · 04/14/2020
        Wait a minute, what? I can't use restore a deck solid over old solid stain? I want to use semi-transparent on the new decking and solid on all vertical surfaces (and a small protected gazebo floor which does have old stain on it). What solid stain would look good next to the light walnut semi-transparent?
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          Armstrong · 04/14/2020
          You can use a solid stain over a solid stain but Armstrong Calrk does not come in a solid stain. This website is an Armstrong Clark Stain website, not Restore A Deck. AC does not have a light walnut color.
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    glen Kakowski · 03/01/2020
    Hi Folks. I have on my deck Floods CWF-UV...It's described as: Acrylic/Oil resin provides durability of acrylic and richness of penetrating alkyd
    Fortified with Penetrol® additive to drive protection below the surface..It's soap and water clean up... It's about 2 years on my deck and I want to cover it with your semi-solid stain..It has a solid dark brown finish ..Any problems using your oil-based semi-solid over this? Thanks Glen
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    Eric Mello · 12/11/2019
    Hi

    I am staining the inside of a barn. I am installing unfinished notty pine shiplap. I want to hide the lines and knots in the wood but I do not want to use an opaque stain because I want to see some of the wood grain and knots. Do you think your woodland brown would work? I love the color. Any advice?
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    Hale Miller · 11/19/2019
    Hi,
    i am looking to use semi solid stain on the trim on my house. Do you have a stain in the color of Cabot’s shade tree? Can I mix to get to that color with your stains?
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      Armstrong · 11/20/2019
      I am sorry but we are not familiar with Cabot's colors. AC cannot be custom mixed.
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    aldrin · 11/14/2019
    hi
    i use the amber stain on a new massaranduba deck, how long you ve to leave the stain on the deck before wipe the excess stian from the floor ?
    and if it rains the same on the floor after staining it do you need to strip the floor and apply the stain again or you can just let the floor dries for 48 hours and the reapply the stain again?
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      Armstrong · 11/14/2019
      AC is not supposed to be back wiped right away. Apply a light coat and let dry. If needed you can remove any excess the next day. It cannot rain on it for 12-24 hours after applying. If it rains while the stain has not dried, you may need to strip and start over.
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    David · 10/05/2019
    I applied your semi solid stain and finished at 1:30PM--out of nowhere--got a shower at 3:30--not forecasted
    I was about to go out and brush out some excess spots of stain that hadn't penetrated--
    How bad am I messed up? What should I do to save my work??
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      Armstrong · 10/05/2019
      Wait until the rain dries off the deck to assess and damage or not. Send pictures then.
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        David Sommerlath · 10/07/2019
        it finally dried off--got about 1/10 of rain (very light and spotty) over a 36 hour period--sun out today and mostly dried off--see photos
        I will say--the deck looks great (should have taken some before pics--it was in rough shape)--plus a strong stain odor is coming off of it. I think I'm good to go--but WHAT DO YOU THINK??
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          Armstrong · 10/07/2019
          Wee you do have some water spots but the stain looks okay. You should be fine.
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            David Sommerlath · 10/08/2019
            It's good enough for me---I think this stain is superior--had always used TWP semi transparent--but this is my go to product from now on--really looks great (makes me think I can put of re decking for quite awhile)
            THANKS!