How to Darken Deck Sealer: The Best Products to Use 

 March 26, 2023

By  Dale Keese

You don't have to be a pro to make your deck look refreshed. Stain and sealer can give even the most worn-down outdoor decks a new life. But what if you just want to darken the existing sealer on your deck? You don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars for a contractor to get the job done. All you need is to know the right products to use and follow the instructions. 

You can use commercial stain or dye products specifically designed for decks. If you prefer a more natural approach, you could also invest in tea bags or coffee grounds as these ingredients are known to provide a darkening effect when mixed into the sealer.

This blog post is all about how to darken deck sealer: the best products to use, so keep on reading to unlock the secret to making your deck look like new!

Can Sealer Be Darkened?

Darkening sealer can be tricky and controversial, as the outcome largely depends on the specific sealer you have already applied to your deck. Some homeowners may wish to darken their existing sealers while others prefer to replace them with a darker option altogether.

On one hand, many argue that darkening an existing sealer is possible provided you choose a product specifically designed for this purpose. Wood finishing experts recommend tinted solvent-based stains to darken existing sealer. This type of stain ensures even application and the desired appearance without disruption to the waterproofing qualities of the sealer. This approach will not obstruct the penetration of water, sunlight, or oxygen which are essential in sustaining a healthy deck. Keep in mind that this will only work if the sealer has been fully cured before applying the tinted stain.

On the other hand, there are good reasons to completely remove a light colored or clear sealer from your deck prior to re-staining it. If it's an oil-based set sealer, attempting to darken it without removal can card it much more difficult than with an acrylic product. It's important to understand the properties of each sealer before making any decisions on how best to darken it.

No matter what approach you decide to take towards darkening your existing sealer - whether it be adding a tinted stain or replacing the product altogether - it is important that you do thorough research beforehand and make sure you use a weatherproof product that won't damage or discolor your deck over time. With that being said, let’s explore some great finishes that allow you to successfully deepen the hue of your wooden deck surface in the next section.

Finishes to Darken Deck Sealer

Using a finish to darken deck sealer is a great way to quickly and easily enhance the look of your outdoor space. Finishes provide added protection against UV rays and wear and tear. They also allow you to alter the color of the wood, giving it a darker appearance.

One of the most popular wood finishes is penetrating oil, especially on outdoor decks. It penetrates deeply into the wood fibers and can be used for both cleaning and preserving. As an added bonus, it offers some degree of water resistance that allows it to protect against rain damage. It can darken the wood grain slightly, but it's not a good choice if you're looking for a dramatic change in color.

Another option is semi-transparent stain. This type of stain soaks into the wood slightly, changing its color in much the same way as oil does. The advantage is that it offers better protection with less maintenance over time than penetrating oil does. On the downside, semi-transparent stain can be difficult to apply and is generally more expensive than its counterparts.

The final option is solid-color stain. This type of stain offers maximum protection from discoloration and wear while also providing complete coverage on the surface of the wood decking. Solid color stains are great for those who want an easy way to darken their deck sealer without having to worry about any complicated application processes or clean up afterward.

Clearly, there are many options available when it comes to finishes that can darken deck sealer, each with its own advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs. Now let's move onto staining - one option that may work better for those seeking a more dramatic transformation in their outdoor space.

When looking to darken deck sealer, there are three main options of finishes: penetrating oil, semi-transparent stain, and solid-color stain. Each finish has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the desired effect. Penetrating oil is a good choice for protection against UV rays with some degree of water resistance, but it does not change the color of the wood significantly.

Semi-transparent stain can be used to alter the color slightly, though it is difficult to apply and more expensive than other options. Solid-color stain offers complete coverage for maximum protection from wear and discoloration, but does require some level of application process and cleanup afterwards.


When it comes to darkening your deck sealer, staining can certainly be an option. Staining gives decks a warm, lustrous finish and brings out their inherent beauty. Many homeowners prefer staining because it helps enhance the natural color of their wood while offering protection against water damage.

The main argument in favor of staining is that it’s long-lasting, can be applied quickly and easily, and offers significant protection from the elements. It’s also relatively affordable. On the downside, some people find staining to be labor-intensive since you need to reapply it every few years. Additionally, some people don’t like that stains rarely provide an even covering of wood with some boards being noticeably darker than others.

Ultimately, when considering whether or not to stain your deck sealer, ask yourself two questions: Do I want to preserve the natural look of my wood? If so, staining is probably a good option for you. Do I want more consistent coverage on my deck? If so, you should consider paint or coating instead of a stain.

Now let’s move on to discuss paint or coatings as another option for darkening your deck sealer.

Paint or Coatings

Paint or coatings are effective in darkening decks. The traditional method of using paints and coatings is not only economical, but also provides a wide array of options to choose from. Paints offer a more uniform appearance and can be easily chosen to match the rest of the house’s exterior color scheme. Because paints provide a thicker coat, they help reduce stains that may penetrate the wood over time, which isn’t always the case with sealers.

However, when it comes to painting or coating decks, there are also some downsides. Paints and coatings can become slick and slippery when wet, making them hazardous for walking on if proper anti-slip additives have not been incorporated into the paint or coating. In addition, unlike deck sealants, paints, and coatings must be religiously maintained to keep their original color and protect the wood beneath them; otherwise they will quickly deteriorate due to UV ray exposure and harsh weather conditions.

There is no definitive answer as to what product is best suited for darkening decks; it all depends on your personal preference and the individual needs of each deck. Ultimately, you must decide on a balance between cost, maintenance requirements and desired performance results.

Now that you are familiar with both sealers and paint/coating materials that can darken your deck, let's look at other factors you should consider when selecting a deck sealer: such as longevity, ease of application, and environmental impact.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Deck Sealer

When selecting a deck sealer, there are various factors to consider. For one, homeowners need to compare different types of finishes and assess which is best for their specific needs. For example, there are common sealers such as clear penetrating sealers, toners, semi-transparent stains, and solid stains. Each has pros and cons when it comes to providing protection from moisture. While a penetrating sealer can deeply penetrate into the wood’s fibers for a natural look, it will require multiple coats that must be applied regularly. On the other hand, a solid stain offers better protection but has more of an even tint rather than a natural woodgrain appearance.

In addition to the type of sealer chosen, it is important to consider the UV protection capabilities. UV rays are extremely damaging to outdoor surfaces, such as decks or patios, so finding a sealer with high levels of protection can help maintain its beauty and longevity over time. Furthermore, color should also be taken into account when selecting a deck sealer – while some may prefer going darker, others may opt for a lighter hue instead. In any case, all of these factors must be weighed out before making a decision on the most appropriate deck sealer for the home.

Finally, it is vital to research the best ways of preserving a deck in order to maximize its lifespan and keep it looking beautiful for years to come. The next section will provide helpful insight into methods that help preserve deck sealer and keep it looking top-notch over extended periods of time.

Methods that Help Preserve Deck Sealer

Preserving deck sealer is just as important as choosing the right product and application method. While choosing a high-quality sealant to start with helps ensure your deck will remain protected for longer, it’s also best to do what you can to extend the life of the sealer.

Regular maintenance is key when it comes to preserving deck sealer. Experts recommend scrubbing away any dirt or mildew that has accumulated on the affected area using a mild detergent and warm water. Always be sure to avoid using pressure washers, steel brushes, or wire brushes that might ultimately lead to damage.

When cleaning, it’s important to first use a soft bristle brush before using anything more abrasive, as this will give you a better idea of the condition of the sealer itself – and how easy (or not) it will be to remove loose particles. A quick sweep of the boardwalk should suffice in most cases, but if there are stubborn patches of dirt remaining feel free to use a heavier duty cleaner.

One of the primary benefits of applying deck stains or sealers is that they offer UV protection while simultaneously protecting against fading and discoloration due to prolonged exposure to the elements. Although many products already contain some form of ultraviolet light stabilizer, extra protection can be achieved by coating decks with an additional sealant or protective wax finish, both of which act as a shield against excessive sun rays.

Regular inspections are also recommended during periods of especially harsh weather, such as during winter months when snow and rain accumulate more frequently. This will help you spot any potential damage earlier on and allow for more effective treatments when necessary. Remember that even small cracks in the surface can lead to bigger issues down the line if ignored.

No matter how well you preserve your deck sealer, individual products have unique lifespans that should be taken into account before making any decision – especially when dealing with outdoor surfaces exposed to frequent weather changes over longer periods of time. Taking care of your deck sealer now will ensure it stands up well against all kinds of wear and tear for years to come – so proper upkeep should never be neglected!

By understanding these methods, you'll be able to keep your decks looking just like new over time. However, it's still important to look into additional ways to protect them from UV rays and other environmental factors. In this next section, we'll go more in depth about UV protection specifically for decking materials - stay tuned!

UV Protection

UV protection is incredibly important for most deck sealers to be effective. This type of protection guards the wood from fading and warping due to prolonged sun exposure. There are a variety of UV protection options, so it is important to understand the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

One popular option for UV protection is water-based sealers. These use a UV stabilizing chemical that is designed to protect against fading, mildew, and other forms of damage caused by extreme temperatures and humidity levels. They are easy to apply and can usually last up to six months without the need for re-application or maintenance. However, some customers report difficulty in scrubbing off dirt that may have built up since being applied.

Another option is oil-based sealers which provide an alternative to water-base solutions. Oil-based products work well on decks made of hardwoods such as mahogany or teak, but they also require more effort when it comes time to clean or reapply them. While oil-based sealers offer greater longevity and ease of application than water-based ones, they tend to be more expensive.

The choice between water-based or oil-based sealers should ultimately come down to personal preference based on budget and convenience factors. In terms of UV protection, both types will offer superior protection with proper maintenance.

Moving on from UV protection, the next step for darkening a deck sealer is finding a weatherproof solution that will withstand harsh conditions year round.

Weatherproof Solution

When looking for a deck sealer that is going to provide extra protection against the elements, a weatherproof solution should be considered. This type of sealant creates a waterproof membrane around the wood and acts as a barrier against moisture, UV rays, and extreme temperatures that can damage deck surfaces over time.

On one hand, weatherproof sealants are more durable than conventional sealers and require less maintenance. They are also typically clear and allow the natural grain of the wood to shine through. On the other, they often cannot be applied in all climates due to their high level of protection from heat. Furthermore, they tend to come at a higher price point than traditional sealers, so it's important to weigh your options carefully before investing in one.

Overall, weatherproof sealers offer an extra layer of protection for decks exposed to extreme temperatures and are well worth considering if you want significant long-term protection for your wood surfaces. To make sure the best product for your climate is chosen, it is recommended to consult with an experienced professional. The next section will discuss how to arrive at a conclusion on which product is best suited for darkening your deck sealer.

Now that we have explored how different types of deck sealers can help protect your outdoor space from water damage and UV radiation while also changing the color of its surface, it's time to make an informed decision about what sealer is right for you.


Darkening a deck sealer can be a tricky process, and having the knowledge of which products work best can make the process easier. A combination of using the right cleaning supplies and sealing materials, along with proper application techniques, will ensure success.

When it comes to choosing the best product for darkening a deck sealer, there are both water-based and oil-based options. Water-based products tend to be more environmentally friendly and easy to use, while also providing excellent wear protection. However, oil-based sealers provide superior protection against UV damage and weather conditions, making them a viable option for those who want an extra layer of protection against Mother Nature's elements. Both water-based and oil-based sealers can be effective in protecting and darkening decks, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference as to which type is most suitable for the job at hand.

Whichever product is chosen, it is important to remember that cleaning, preparation, and proper application are key components in achieving successful results. With the right combination of products and techniques, anyone can enjoy a darker sealed deck that can last for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I darken deck sealer without changing the performance characteristics?

Darkening a deck sealer without changing the performance characteristics can be achieved by using a dark tinted clear coating. Clear coatings are typically oil, water, or acrylic based and offer protection from the elements while maintaining excellent durability and resilience. Unlike paint, these products don’t clog up the wood’s pores and leave an even layer that reflects some of the sun’s damaging rays. A tinted clear coating will provide a nice contrast in color and shape to your original sealer, darkening it without sacrificing performance. Most can be applied with a brush, roller, or spray for easy application and good adhesion.

Are there any natural substances that can be used to darken deck sealer?

Yes, there are a few natural substances that can be used to darken deck sealer. Coffee grounds are probably the most widely used, and it works by absorbing into the sealer, staining it darker. Another popular natural option is to mix boiled walnut shells with the sealer; just like with coffee grounds, the walnut shells will absorb into the sealer, making it darker in color. Finally, many people have had success with brewing black tea, and then mixing it into their deck sealer to achieve a darker tint. The tannins in the tea react with the wood and sealer to give them a darker finish.

What brands of darkening solutions are most compatible with deck sealers?

There are a few brands of darkening solutions that are most compatible with deck sealers: Olympic, Behr, and Valspar.

Olympic offers a line of “stain and sealer” products designed for wood decks. These products not only provide a rich, warm color to decks but also protect the wood from water damage and weathering. They have various shades available and are a great choice for those who want a long-lasting impregnable finish.

Behr boasts an impressive selection of professional quality stains specifically formulated to enhance the appearance of decks while providing superior durability. Their Deck Plus Solid Color Waterproofing Stain & Sealer is perfect for creating deep, vibrant colors on your deck that will last in any climate.

Valspar is another top-notch brand that has developed a range of waterproofing deck sealers to protect outdoor surfaces from UV rays and precipitation. From natural tones to bold accent shades, Valspar offers maximum protection while maintaining the look and feel of your deck’s natural grain.

Overall, these three brands offer an excellent selection of darkening solutions that are compatible with deck sealers and will last through any conditions.

About the author

Hey, I'm Dale Keese.. thanks for reading.. hopefully this article can save you some time and trouble with your sealing job. I'm also in the process of making some video walk-throughs for youtube so check back soon! thanks

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