Clear Deck Sealers. Do they work?

Most deck owners know that protecting a deck with a water repellant coating is important to the deck's appearance and wood integrity. But because some enjoy the "natural look" of a wood deck they decide to use a clear sealer or finish. There is no doubt that a natural looking deck makes for a beautiful structure. So is using a clear sealer the best option in this case? Let's find out.

The problem with clear deck sealers is that while they do provide adequate water protection they do not provide any UV protection. UV rays are essentially what cause a wood deck to turn gray and can also lead to board splitting and cracking.

This lack of sun protection happens because a clear deck sealer does not contain any pigment. So while a clear sealer will repel water for a year or more, harsh UV rays can start turning the deck gray within a few months. This is certainly a downside for anyone trying to keep that new natural deck look and trying to increase the life of the deck.

The solution is to use a deck stain. Deck stains are basically deck sealers with a little tone added. A semi-transparent deck stain will give you water protection and will protect against harsh UV rays because of the added pigment while allowing the wood grain to show through. The little bit of tone can also help enhance the natural wood grain and certainly still give you that "natural look" you may be longing for.

Clear deck sealers may be right for some but if you are looking to keep the new deck look a clear finish will not hold that look for long. The lack of sun protection allows the deck to gray and leads to sun damage. Look at using a deck stain for an enhanced natural look while giving the wood both water and UV protection that will last.

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    The Sealer Store · 09/02/2016
    Best to remove first so the stain is able to soak into the wood grain. Use a stain stripper like our Restore A Deck Stripper and pressure wash. Use the RAD Brightener after to neutralize.
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    Jon Sharpe · 09/01/2016
    I have already applied couple coats of Thompson's water seal and it has only lasted 2 months; is it OK to go over it with a pigmented stain sealer or do i have to sand down all the wood surfaces ?.
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    The Sealer Store · 06/01/2016
    Try Defy Composite sealer:
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    Angelo · 06/01/2016
    I'm looking for a clear deck sealer to apply over a wood composite decking. I live on the water in SW Florida. My deck is a maintance free wood composite deck made by a company called Evergrain. I lightly cleaned the deck with a soapy cleaner and lightly power washed it. I'm looking for a product to apply over the entire deck to protect it. I will only use something with a clear finish. For years I've been using Ducksback. They are no longer in business. Do you have a product that would work for me.
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    Richard Champagne · 10/28/2013
    We have a client that has a sizable deck and dock area that is approximately 5 years old. The deck material is Dura Pine pressure treated 1X 6 material and has been treated annually with Thompson water sealer except for last year when it was treated with Olympic water sealer. The point is after reading the above article regarding UV protection and the gray color returning after only a few months, we wish to do something better and would like your recommendation as to which semi transparent stain / sealer we should use. The project is in a very upscale neighborhood and quality and longevity are very important. Thank you, any help would be appreciated.