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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    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!
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    Delia Lynn · 09/19/2019
    Can you tint this product to a black?
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    JACM · 09/15/2019
    I have a 14 year old cedar deck. Stripped it of old stain and sanded but still some spots were the stain will not come out. We previously used the Cabot Australian Timber Oil. We want to try your semi solid stain. We have not brightened the wood yet. But actually looks pretty bare except for the stubborn areas. On steps and side pieces.
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      Armstrong · 09/15/2019
      Strip off as much as you can and then brighten for final prep before using the AC.
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    Jason · 09/06/2019
    Hi. I have a 20-year old deck. I just power washed it for the first time in five years. All of the old stain came off the outside stairs, but a good amount of stain remains in the enclosed porch (which doesn't get sun). I really don't want to sand. Can I use one of your Semi-solid stains (thinking Woodland Brown)? Or will it not adhere to the parts where the old stain remain? I can't tell if the previous stain was a solid or semi solid/transparent stain. Thanks, Jason
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      Armstrong · 09/06/2019
      The AC cannot be applied over this stain. You would have to remove it all first.
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        Jason · 09/06/2019
        Would it be okay to use a deck stain stripper, power wash it again - then use one of your products?
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          Armstrong · 09/06/2019
          Strippers will probably not remove all of this old coating as it looks very thick. You may need to sand as well tot get it all off. Brighten the wood after.
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    Mike Ott · 07/22/2019
    We finished building the attached deck in late June. The deck wood is a treated 1" deck pine, it seems to be drying out fast even with the rainy weather and the very hot summer. The boards have gone thru a shrink down already and are bleaching out quickly. The boards were fastened with the CAMO system. What is the soonest I can apply your 'Semi-Solid' stain? I would like to do it prior to winter. Thank you in advance for your help.
    Mike Ott

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    Ned · 07/09/2019
    We have a 15 year old pressure treated deck that we just had professionally sanded to take off all the rough edges and old stains. We also have new stairs being put in.
    Would you recommend solid or semi solid so both woods will match (when we can eventually stain the new wood)
    Also, should we use a wood conditioner so it stains evenly?


    Thanks,

    Ned
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    Jimbo · 06/11/2019
    I have stair treads 4 X 12 that were milled and planed last year and stored under cover. Can I stain immediately or should I let them age once installed?
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    Gina Lagore · 06/09/2019
    Hi - We have a 25 year old pine deck that had been maintained every 3 years (7 times total in 21 years) up until 4 years ago by cleaning and pressure washing the deck and re-coating with Cabot semi-solid stain. It looked great for 21 years. Only now, 4 years later, was the deck flaking in areas such as on the railings. The floor is more worn off than flaking. We have cleaned and sanded the entire deck railing and it looks and feels great (to us) and appears to be ready to accept new stain. We simply cleaned and pressure washed the deck floor. From what I can gather from reading other posts about deck refinishing, am I correct in assuming that the only way to proceed from here is to use another semi-solid oil based stain? Cabot has reformulated the semi-solid oil based stain that we used for years and because we live in Pennsylvania we no longer have access to that particular formula stain. I understand the new formula is not nearly as effective or long lasting as the old one so I'm looking for an alternative. I certainly appreciate any guidance you can provide. Thanks so much for your time. Gina
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      Armstrong · 06/09/2019
      Did you remove all the Cabot semi solid stain? Feel free to post a picture.
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    C J Basham · 05/30/2019
    Cabot recommends using semisolid stain on our bare wood outdoor furniture. Why does Armstrong say not to use its semi solid? I was hopeful to buy your product!
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    Valerie · 05/18/2019
    Does mountain cedar turn red on treated pine... I need a brown with no red tint! The woodland brown appears to have some orange tones. If espresso would work is there any way to lighten the color?
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    Mary · 03/18/2019
    We started out using Rustic Brown semi-transparent stain on deck and loved it! Now we are putting up pre-made lattice panels for privacy screening. We REALLY want Rustic Brown in semi-solid, because 'cheesy' wood doesn't accept stain uniformly. Available?

    I ordered a sample of Sequoia because on-line it looked the closest/or darker to RB, but is way too red....as the name would imply. My bad.
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    charles · 09/22/2018
    Does AC make a solid cape cod grey stain for coastal area requirements?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 09/22/2018
      AC does not come in a solid stain.
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    Karl Bailey · 09/14/2018
    Can Armstrong-Clark simi-solid deck stain be used on a cedar fence?
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    Cindi · 08/26/2018
    I applied the semi solid stain to my deck yesterday. It still feels damp to the touch and the color comes off on my fingers. How long will it take to fully dry so we can walk on it?
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      Armstrong · 08/26/2018
      Leave it alone for a few days or until it is not "damp" to the touch. The semi-solid can take some time to fully cure depending on the temps and UV exposure.
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        Cindi · 08/29/2018
        Will the semi solid stain dry to the point that the color will not come off on fabric? It has now been three days and it still rubs off on clothing.
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          Armstrong · 08/29/2018
          Yes, it fully cures unless you overapplied. A good rainstorm will help to remove an excess as well.
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            Cindi · 08/29/2018
            I don't think I over applied. I tried to only apply enough to cover the wood. One of my decks has a roof over it, should I wash it at some point?
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              Armstrong · 08/30/2018
              The roof over it will make the curing process longer. Try removing the excess stain with rages and mineral spirits. Saturate all oil rags in water when done and lay flat to dry outside. That should help speed up the process. Saturating the wood with water and rinsing well when done will also help to "float" off the excess oil.
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        Cindi · 08/26/2018
        Thank you!
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    Doug Wullweber · 08/04/2018
    Do semi solid deck stains peel like the solid deck stains or do they act more like semi transparent stains?
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      Armstrong · 08/06/2018
      The AC sei-solids are penetrating stains and do not peel.
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    David · 08/02/2018
    I am installing new KDAT pressure treated decking. My understanding is that I should not stain/seal it immediately but should wait about 30 days --then clean and brighten it and then stain/seal it. Is this correct?
    Also--can I then apply one of your semi-solid stains on this recently installed decking?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 08/02/2018
      Yes, that is correct. 30 days and prep first for KDAT wood. Unfortunately, the semi-solid colors cannot be done this soon on new wood. AC suggest waiting a year.
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        David · 08/02/2018
        Even though it is KDAT and not "regular" pressure treated decking?
        I have been advised that it is okay/I should seal with a semi transparent product after the initial install and 30 day wait. Is this also not advised?
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          Armstrong · 08/02/2018
          You can with the semi-transparent after the 30 days and prep but you cannot with the semi-solids.
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            David · 08/02/2018
            okay--I have been told that I NEED to seal/stain the new KDAT decking after 30-60 days
            IF I want to eventually go with your semi solid product---what would you recommend I do?
            Seal it with the semi transparent product--then wait the full year --prep and do semi solid?
            OR
            just leave it as is (no sealer/stain) and then after a while prep and apply the semi solid product?
            (and if so --how long do I need to wait?)
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    Lopaka · 07/21/2018
    I have a bit of leftover stain I'd like to use for another project. How long should I wait to cover with spar urethane?
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    Madge · 07/21/2018
    The previous stain has worn unevenly in some areas on our deck. We are concerned that coverage will not be consistent and are interested in hearing from you what AC product you would suggest. Our deck is 6 years old and was previously stained with a Behr transparent wood finish slowly turned to a honey brown color after 6 months. Please advise.
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    Todd · 07/10/2018
    Forgot to mention the Dock is about 3 months old....
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 07/10/2018
      To be able to use the semi-solid, it is suggested to wait a year for natural weathering and then prep.
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    Todd · 07/10/2018
    I have a dock mostly in full sun. About how long will semi -solid last in comparison to the semi transparent? I live just SC just south of Charlotte NC.
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      Armstrong · 07/10/2018
      UV protection could be about 6-12 months longer.
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    Dale · 06/18/2018
    Can I use AC semi-transparent (or semi-solid) stain on my (gray and very weathered cedar) Adirondack chairs if I clean and brighten them as much as possible. They have different amount of mildew, stain, and natural wear. I would, of course be electric sanding them (and using the finger sander between the slats too) before applying the stain.

    They are probably about six to eight years old -- left outside mostly the entire time -- and in Northern Virginia (where it gets very humid in the summers and moderate snow in the winters). In short, are my chairs too far gone to benefit from your product? I'm not look for perfection, just a better looking set of chairs -- and I would love to show (whatever might be left of) the wood grain if possible.
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 06/19/2018
      Clean and brighten for the prep. Do not sand. Use the semi-transparent colors, not the semi-solids for wood furniture.
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    Rob · 06/11/2018
    I have an unstained deck approx 3 yrs old. It gets a fair bit of sun and exposure to four seasons. Based on information on the website, I should use deck cleaner and a semi-transparent color for best results.
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    Rosemary cohen · 05/01/2018
    Ok thanks for reply. One more question. I’ve read that on new decks it is generally recommended to go with a semi-transparent. Do you agree with this? In your opinion is this a more desirable look with a newer deck (it is a pressure treated deck). Also do you think I could get 2 or more years without having to restrain?
    • We will reply to your comment shortly
      Armstrong · 05/01/2018
      Semi-transparent are more popular. Really depends on what you prefer. 2 years is normal.
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    Rosemary Cohen · 04/30/2018
    I have an 11 month old pressure treated wood deck. Can’t decide between semi transparent or semi solid. What is typical time each of these lasts before you have to redo? I presume the semi solid lasts longer? Also I have a bit of a problem with uneven deck tones due to scrubbing off deck stamps with bleach I have a bunch of circles on the deck that are bleached out. I presume I have the best chance of masking this problem with a semi solid?
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      Armstrong · 05/01/2018
      Lasts about the same but the semi-solid can give longer UV protection from fading. A semi-solid will not cover/mask the circles that are bleached and blend with the rest of the wood. Best to prep so all the wood color is even before applying the AC stain.
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    Bob B · 10/05/2017
    Hello ,any dealers in New Jersey or Philadelphia?
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      Armstrong · 10/05/2017
      There is not. Shipping from our website takes 2-3 days to arrive.
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    phyllis freeman · 09/29/2017
    Best color of semisolid stain for rewoood
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    Armstrong · 09/16/2017
    Margaret Merkow:
    is there a dealer in Minneapolis MN

    There is not. Shipping from our website takes 2-3 days to arrive.
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    Margaret Merkow · 09/15/2017
    is there a dealer in Minneapolis MN
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    Armstrong · 09/09/2017
    Bob Janiszewski:
    My pine-sided home was previously stained with Sikkens oil based Cetol stain. I has deteriorated over the past 5 years with some areas peeling, and I want to re-stain. I plan to sand the entire siding area (2500 sq ft est.) and then apply Armstrong semi-solid to closely match my new garage stain. Is this a good plan? How much stain will this job require? I live in Hunter, NY. Where can I get retail suppoort for your product? Thanks!

    As long as you remove the Sikkens, you can use the AC. You will need about 15 gallons for this amount. We do not have dealers in NY but we can ship there from our site and help with any questions you may have.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    Bob Janiszewski · 09/09/2017
    My pine-sided home was previously stained with Sikkens oil based Cetol stain. I has deteriorated over the past 5 years with some areas peeling, and I want to re-stain. I plan to sand the entire siding area (2500 sq ft est.) and then apply Armstrong semi-solid to closely match my new garage stain. Is this a good plan? How much stain will this job require? I live in Hunter, NY. Where can I get retail suppoort for your product? Thanks!