best stains for mahogany decking

5 Best Stains for a Mahogany Deck in 2022

In Exterior Wood by Jamie

Mahogany is one of the more expensive options for decking, but it’s worth the price. It’s an amazing looking wood and it is known for being very tough. But even though it has a lot of natural moisture-resistance, you should still protect your deck with stain to keep it in perfect condition. 

This guide will answer any questions you have about staining a Mahogany deck, and which products you should use.

Does a Mahogany Deck Need Stain?

This depends on the look that you want. Mahogany is a durable hardwood with very few knots and a nice tight grain. As such, it doesn’t let much water in at all, which is why it’s often used for boats and other projects where water-resistance is key. When used for decking or outdoor furniture, it holds up very well. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect it.

Horizontal surfaces like decking collect a lot of water and even the most durable wood species will succumb to moisture damage and mildew over time. So, if you want your decking to stand the test of time, you should put a protective finish, like wood stain, on it.

Stain is not your only option. A lot of people like mahogany because of the aesthetic, and they don’t want to cover it with a stain. So, they opt for a clear finish like lacquer instead. You can also use wood oil to accent the natural grain of the wood without coloring it too much. 

That said, stain is still an excellent option for mahogany decking because it gives it additional moisture protection and most stain products contain UV inhibitors. These will prevent graying and fading from the sun. You also have lots of color options for your deck.

Does the Stain Color Matter for Mahogany Deck?

There are no solid rules here because it’s your deck and it’s up to you what color you want. A mahogany deck will stain nicely in almost all colors. However, mahogany has a lovely natural appearance. It’s a shame to cover the nice reddish-pink wood and the interesting grain with a very dark stain, so opt for something lighter. Semi-solid stains are much better because they let the grain shine through instead of covering it with a block color.

It’s best to avoid anything that is too heavily pigmented with mahogany because the tight grain means that it doesn’t absorb stain that easily. Stains with lots of pigments often give a patchy finish because they don’t soak in properly, so be careful with this.

Often, mahogany looks best with a clear stain that protects it while maintaining the original aesthetic of the wood.

Does it Matter What Type of Stain You Use on Mahogany Wood?

One of the most important things to consider when staining mahogany is the absorption. The tight grains make it harder for stain to soak in, so you need a product that has good penetration, so you get a nice finish. In the past, oil-based stains were preferable because they penetrated the wood much better.

That said, a lot of new water-based stains also work well on mahogany because they are specially formulated to improve absorption. So, it’s not really a case of deciding between oil-based or water-based, it’s more important that you find a quality stain that penetrates deeply and evenly.

5 Best Stains for Your Mahogany Deck

1. Woodrich Hardwood Wiping Wood Deck & Fence Stain Hardwood Wiping Wood Deck & Fence Stain - 1 Gallon - Woodrich Brand - Great on All Exotic Hardwood Like Ipe, Garapa, Teak, Mahogany, & Cambara - Covers up to 300 Square Feet (Amaretto)

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Woodrich Hardwood Deck and Fence Stain is specifically designed for use on exotic hardwoods like mahogany, so it will penetrate the wood nicely and give you a good finish. It can be applied easily with a brush or sprayer, but it’s important that you wipe it afterwards to give even coverage (hence the name, wiping wood deck and fence stain). 

This stain does have a high pigment content, which can be problematic for mahogany. However, as long as you follow the application process properly, you will get a nice finish because the pigment is semi-transparent and won’t come out blotchy. Make sure that you don’t apply too heavily and avoid applying it on a particularly hot day. It’s a good idea to do a test on a scrap piece of wood so you can get used to how it goes on before you start on the deck.

Although it’s not the easiest to apply, the results you get with this stain are definitely worth the hard work as the protection and the rich color are excellent. The coverage is very good too, so it’s an affordable option. 

2. DEFY 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Deck Stain for Hardwoods DEFY 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Deck Stain for Hardwoods, Cedar Tone

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DEFY products are always reliable and their specific Semi-Transparent Deck Stain for Hardwoods is a prime example. This is one of the best water-based stains on the market in terms of the level of protection it gives. It’s particularly good at protecting against UV damage compared with other products because it utilizes revolutionary zinc nano-particle technology. When you’re working with a beautiful mahogany deck, you want to preserve the natural wood as much as possible, so UV protection is key.

Application is very simple with a pad, brush, roller, or sprayer. It dries quickly too, just be aware that on very hot days it can dry a bit too quickly, making it hard to get even coverage.

For a water-based stain, this absorbs incredibly well so you get long-lasting protection. It comes in three different color options (Cedar, Light Walnut, and Natural Pine), which all highlight the grain and give the wood a nice warm tone without taking away from the classic mahogany look. The color lasts very well so you won’t have to reapply very often at all with this stain. When you do need to apply it again, a quick clean with some wood brightener is all you need to do in the way of prep.

This is a more expensive option, but you get what you pay for and the protection is far superior to cheaper products.

3. Armstrong Clark Deck and Wood Stain (Mahogany) Armstrong-Clark Armstrong Clark Deck and Wood Stain (1 Gallons, Mahogany), (Armstrong_Clark_Stain)

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If you are not that confident with applying wood stain and you want a product that is almost impossible to go wrong with, Armstrong Clark Deck and Wood Stain is ideal. It’s very forgiving and it’s designed to be applied in high temperatures too. It is made with a unique combination of drying and non-drying oils.

The non-drying oils soak into the wood and revitalize it while the drying oils form a barrier over the top, locking in the moisture and protecting the wood. This excellent combination makes for stain that goes on very nicely, absorbs well, and gives you long-lasting protection.

There is a large range of 17 colors to choose from, including some semi-transparent options. All of the colors are deep and rich, but they still let the grain of the wood show through. The Amber, Mahogany, or Black Walnut are the best for hardwoods like Mahogany. Once the oil has dried, it only needs an hour before it can withstand the rain. It holds the color very well too, and should last 2-3 years before reapplication.

There are a lot of modern stain products that use advanced ingredients and complicated formulations, and you can get some good results. But sometimes, the tried and tested methods are the best and that’s what you get with Armstrong Clark Wood Stain; it’s just an excellent combination of traditional, non-modified wood oils that gives great results.  

4. DeckWise Ipe Oil Hardwood Deck Semi-Transparent DeckWise Ipe Oil Hardwood Deck Semi-Transparent 250 VOC Natural Finish (Pack of 2, 1-Gallon Each)

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Ipe Oil is a linseed oil-based stain with some pigment. It has become a very popular finish for hardwoods because it protects well from moisture and the semi-transparent finish is ideal for naturally attractive wood species. DeckWise Ipe Oil is specifically designed for use on hardwood, so you get good penetration. 

It only comes in a natural tone which is used for all types of wood. It gives a nice light tint to the wood and then highlights the natural colors. It’s a brown-red color, which works particularly well with the natural shade of mahogany.

This is a durable stain that gives you excellent protection from moisture, mold, and mildew. However, it doesn’t protect against UV damage quite as well as some of the other options on this list. It still gives relatively good protection but if you live somewhere that gets a lot of sun, consider a different product.

5. Penofin Transparent Hardwood Oil-Based Hardwood Stain Penofin Transparent Hardwood Oil-Based Hardwood Stain 1 gal.

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Transparent finishes are excellent if you like the natural look of the wood, but you still want to protect it and increase its longevity. Penofin Transparent Hardwood Oil-Based Stain is a great choice here. Even on a neglected deck, it will bring the wood back to life and hydrate it, restoring the natural oils that have been lost. It also has a nice matte finish rather than a shiny coating, making it look more natural. 

It’s relatively easy to apply but make sure you don’t put it on too thick or you will get uneven coverage. It’s better to do thin coats, and ensure you let it dry fully before you move onto the next. If the layer is too thick, it will collect dirt and ruin the aesthetic of your deck.

This is the best stain to use if you want to keep your mahogany deck healthy, and showcase the natural beauty of the wood.

Many people that consider Ipe oil and Penofin wonder how they are different, I have a complete guide where I compare and explain the differences of Ipe Oil vs Penofin.

How to Stain a Mahogany Deck (Step-by-Step)

1. Sand the deck

Sanding the deck is a crucial step, even if it is brand new. People often assume that a new deck doesn’t require sanding because there are no old finishes to remove. But during the cutting process, brand new wood can develop something called mill glaze. When the cutting blades get hot, they melt wood fibers, cellulose, and sugars in the wood and this dries into a shiny film over the surface. If you try to apply stain over the top, it won’t soak into the wood because there is a barrier there.

It’s also important to sand old decking to remove the old stain that may be flaking away. It will also help you remove any splintering rough areas, and open up the pores of the wood so it is ready to take the stain. This is especially important with hardwoods like mahogany, which don’t accept stain as readily as softwoods.

Use an 80 grit sandpaper to sand the surface, moving up and down the boards in the same direction so you don’t get too many scratch marks.

2. Clean the deck

Clean the deck

Next, you need to thoroughly clean the deck. Any dirt and grime that is left when the stain goes on will show up darker and give you a patchy finish. It can also stop the stain from absorbing and protecting the wood effectively.

Pressure washing the deck is an option, but be very careful. If the pressure is too high, it can tear the wood fibers and damage your deck. Keep the pressure between 1000 and 2000 psi to avoid damaging the wood. If you’re concerned, it’s best to do it by hand. 

Wash new decking with a soap and water combination, and scrub with a stiff bristled brush before rinsing it off. Old decking can be washed with a specific deck cleaner. Pour it on and leave it for the instructed amount of time (usually around 15 minutes), then give it a good scrub and rinse.

This will clean tough dirt and grime and get rid of mold and mildew. Just make sure you choose a cleaner that contains mildewcides. You can also use a wood brightener to revive faded, sun damaged wood before you apply your stain. This will give you a much better end result.

3. Apply the First Coat of Stain

When you are happy that the deck is completely free from mildew, dirt, and grime, give it a day or two to dry fully. Then, you can apply the first coat of stain. Stain isn’t paint, it doesn’t sit on the surface of the wood. It needs to soak right in to protect it properly and give you the color you want.

To achieve this, up and down the deck boards with your brush, back brushing to push the stain into the fibers of the wood. If it all gets soaked up right away, apply more stain until it has soaked in evenly. Bear in mind that some stains require wiping off, so check the directions on the tin first. If you leave excess stain sitting on the surface, it will dry blotchy.

4. Let it Dry

The first coat needs to dry fully before the second can be applied. If you rush it and apply stain to damp decking, it can draw out the stain and oversaturate the wood, creating a big mess. That said, there are some products that are designed for application on damp wood, so this doesn’t always apply. Just double check before you start.

Usually, oil-based stains take longer to dry than water-based. Most water-based stains will take around 3 or 4 hours to dry, but some are much faster. Oil-based stains can take up to a day or two to properly dry. Always check the drying times before you start, and allow more time in low temperatures.

5. Recoat (if necessary)

Once it has dried, you can apply a second coat, if necessary. Follow the same directions as before to get an even coverage. Just remember that some modern stain products only need a single coat, so check this first.

Now all that’s left to do is let it dry and enjoy your perfectly stained mahogany deck.

Beautiful design outdoors deck mahogny hardwood decking

How Often Does a Mahogany Deck Need Staining?

Mahogany decking needs to be stained every 1-2 years, on average. However, it really depends on the conditions and the type of stain that you use. If your deck is in direct sunlight or you get a lot of heavy rain, you should do it every year. But if the decking is covered and you use high-quality, durable stain, it could easily last longer than 2 years before it needs to be stained.

Use your best judgment and look at the state of the deck. If the old stain is peeling away then it’s time to refinish it. You also need to check whether it is still protected against moisture. If water beads up on the top then it’s ok, but once it starts soaking in, the protection is gone and you need to stain it again.

Final Thoughts

Staining your Mahogany deck is the best way to stop it from rotting and fading in the sun. Re-applying stain every 1-2 years will ensure that your deck lasts for decades. With a nice hardwood like Mahogany, I would advise something transparent or a semi-transparent stain that doesn’t cover it up with a block color. Ultimately, it’s your deck and it’s up to you, just make sure that you have the right protection against moisture and UV.

Read my related deck stain articles: 

About the Author

Jamie

Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.