Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Siding and Deck Stain

Arborcoat Stain

Update: Arborcoat Review Published in APC

How We Tested Benjamin Moore Arborcoat

August 2011: The initial application of Arborcoat on our log cabin restoration project is nearly complete. Meticulous preparation of all wood surfaces set the perfect palette on which to apply the stain system. We are filing away our stain application process notes and footage and will be watching the weathering patterns on the log cabin, which is set in a full sun exposure mountainous location. We will return in the spring to apply a maintenance coat of the clear component of the Arborcoat system. We are using Arborcoat on other residential projects as well, and will be compiling a full review in the future.

We have heard lots of different types of feedback from other users of Arborcoat, and it seems that the critical points in considering use of this line of stains is to understand the different types of products that are in the Arborcoat line, and to select the one that is best suited to your application. Then, follow the instructions for use…particularly as regard surface preparation and maintenance requirements.

Arborcoat is designed for use on decks and siding, and these are two of the harshest exterior surfaces to apply finish to. So, this is no place to take a shortcut. Arborcoat is a new type of technology for these applications, so it is critical to use the product as it was designed to be used, and it is especially important not to compromise in surface preparation. It seems to be human nature when paying a higher price for a premium product, to expect the product to take care of everything. This is not reality. The user is still the biggest variable standing between product success and failure.

[Click here to view our Demo Video on How to Apply Arborcoat]

Please leave any feedback or questions on Arborcoat application characteristics that you may have.




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  1. Kerry Whale says:

    Will it hold up on the nail heads

  2. Jonny says:

    I’ve been using arborcoat since its inception several years ago. Over the last 20 years I’ve used many different stain products, and far and away the arborcoat has shown superior results. Each time we’ve used arborcoat (all finishes), we’ve properly prepared/ cleaned the surfaces and I (as well as my customers) have been greatly pleased with the outcomes.

  3. Sean McHugh says:

    Yes, I thought I’d try the arborcoat waterborne stain on 3 different jobs last year. Got a call back on one and drove out to the other two. It didn’t hold up at all. So disappointed. I have been painting and staining for 30 years, guess I should have known better to try a different product. 12 gallons and labor gone.

  4. Pat Jacobs says:

    Hi Scott, I built a deck last year and applied the semi with clear coat on inside boards, and the solid on borders and railings. The reviews here look horrible. The deck looks amazing right now, lasting through the Chicago winter. Should I put the clear coat on the solid, even though BM says it is not for the solid?

  5. Deb says:

    I also found the Benjamin Moore people less than not supportive, he did not care, was rude, and provided no recommendations. (I believe some of the disrespect was because I was a woman and a homeowner, not a contractor.I am retired, due to a disability.) However, I told them I ran my own contracting business and had almost 30 years of painting experience, with no complaints and was hired for multiple jobs by almost every client. I used the Arborcoat products on a brand new deck that had meticulous prep. In winter, the deck was very slippery, causing several falls, and the clear coat began peeling rather quickly. What surprised me the most, however, was the peeling of the stain, peeling in sheets — started by, of all things, shoes (sneakers and sandals). It peeled where people were sitting. I have let the finish go, as I need start from the beginning. I still have material left and am not sure how to proceed. Do I try again with the Arborcoat system, or just trash it all? The professional who painted my house, was shocked at the failure, because the prep was so careful; and stated that Benjamin Moore had to make it right (I am retired, due to a disability). What does making it right for Benjamin Moore actually mean? I chose this system because it was highly recommended by my paint store. I have never had a problem with Ben Moore products before. Now I feel that I can never trust the company or the quality of any of their products. I also feel I need to warn others who are taking on a deck product to avoid Arborcoat.

    Please advise. I thank you.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Deb

      Sorry to hear of your poor experience. Without knowing the particulars (wood species, prep method, application sequence, humidity and other application conditions), it is nearly impossible for me to diagnose the cause of the failure, which is how we then recommend the remedy. It sounds as if stripping and starting over would be the general course of action. As to Benjamin Moore, it sounds as if you are not getting the dealer support you need. Typically, the best course of seeking manufacturer support is to ask your BM dealer who their regional representative from Benjamin Moore is, and requesting that they check out your situation. I am assuming you haven’t taken this step yet. For any manufacturer, deck coatings are the highest risk and most likely to fail. That is why they (all paint mfr’s) spend alot of R&D resources on trying to develop better ones. We (my paint company) have not seen Arborcoat fail yet. Also, it is worth noting that Benjamin Moore does have a stain certification program for contractors, which is specific to Arborcoat application. It is probably most advisable to consumers to use a contractor who is certified in high risk applications such as this. Please let us know how your situation evolves.

  6. John says:

    John S. and Dakota have it right. This product is not good. The clear coat is awful and will turn colors depending on what color it is applied over. Ben Moore has not been supportive at all and is causing thousands of dollars of damage. I will not use it again.

  7. Dakota says:

    Hi Scott, I used Arborcoat semi-solid + the clear top coat. The semi-solid looked great, but wherever my application of the clear coat overlapped, creating second or third coats, the product turned opaque, looking like swaths of whitish/green gunk on the deck as it dried. How can I remove the clear coat and re-do it without having to strip the deck stain as well? The finished look is really disappointing as it stands.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Dakota, I havent had this happen, but you should be able to scuff the clear coat – maybe just in the lappy areas and feather it back in. You could do it by hand or with an orbital sander. I would start at 150 grit on a couple of the affected areas and see what happens.

  8. Mike Pope says:

    Any updates on your tests Scott?

  9. John S says:

    We pre-stained before installing decking on all sides and all cuts prior to installation. Gave the deck a 2nd coat after installation. The product didn’t hold up more than 4 months. What’s worse is the attitude of the Benjamin Moore rep-not their problem.

  10. Leanne says:

    I too, used Benjamin Moore Arborcoat for my new cedar deck. I did a lot of research on line before choosing this product.

    I meticulously followed the instructions and was very pleased with the result.

    But, after going through the winter, I noticed that the top coat is peeling off in some places. We did have a little bit of snow this year that sat on the deck for a few days. I’m not sure if this is what caused it to peel.

    The color still looks great, but I guess I will be sanding and re-doing the top coat again this summer.

  11. nick dunse says:

    Hate to be the one to whole hearty disagree but we have bad luck with Arborcoat waterborne deck coatings as well as a couple other of my fellow contractors. The newer oil formula they have is alright but we will not use the waterborne system. It discolors and will flash big-time you cannot maintain any kind of wet edge on horizontal deck surfaces if brushing and rolling.
    The so called clear coating will peel from prolonged sunlight or after snow sitting on top. As with any product some have success and some don’t just my 2 cts. We do allot of decks and I have personally used all kinds of deck stains,over the last 20 years.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks for the feedback Nick. We are watching our test surfaces closely, and will be including its performance in the review later this year. I agree that the wb dries fast, we were able to keep it wet running 1-2 courses at a time on decking, mostly because the surfaces were quite warm. On vertical siding it was no problem because it is easier to work in the shade on cooler services, which is standard procedure for us.

    • Nick, you said you’ve done alotta decks, what product have you had the best results from ?

      • Nick Dunse says:

        That all depends on what type of wood is on the deck. When we do have to use a solid stain say on PT we like the Arborcoat solid stain. As for using a semi trans or a wood toner etc we have a couple of favorites like Armstong Clark or TWP oil.

  12. Paint Track says:

    I used two coat system Arborcoat last year to restore a few pressure treated wood decks. We went back for applying the maintenance coat this year and I was surprised by how well the stained performed. There was no discoloration and the clear coat was still on the surface. More importantly there was no sign of black mildew as it used to be the case with oil stains.

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