Tuesday, June 25, 2024
blogging painters logo

Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Review Update

A half mile of cedar…

Benjamin Moore Arborcoat was under testing for review at Topcoat Review for over a year before any assessment for publication was produced. We watched the weathering patterns on the test project through four seasons of observation. At that point, it was submitted for publication in American Painting Contractor magazine

In addition to the main project under study for review, we thought it would be good to run some gallons of the semi-solid version of Arborcoat on about a half a mile of cedar in our shop, for a new construction project. Due diligence. This product was not provided to us by the manufacturer. It was purchased for our professional project by the end user.

By continuing to cycle test products through different stages of projects at different times, and even in different sheens or types within the same line, we begin to get a more complete picture of the product technology as a whole.

As an exterior oil stain user for most of my life, I had never had positive experiences with any waterborne exterior stains prior to this, with the exception of Cabot ProVT. Arborcoat is a bit more intriguing though, because of the number of variations within the product line.

Also, if any readers of Blogging Painters have experience with Arborcoat, please leave a reply in the comment section below. I would like to hook up with other professional Arborcoat users that I might be able to quote in my APC article.

It is always helpful to have additional shared experiences about products, and Arborcoat has certainly yielded different results for different folks. Please contribute to our ongoing knowledge base. Thanks.


Editor’s note: Scott published an update to his findings on Arborcoat at TopCoat Review

Editor’s note: Scott published an in depth review in the July 2012 American Painting Contractor

154 thoughts on “Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Review Update

  1. We found Arborcoat has its challenges. When one guy is cutting-in and the other is doing the main section of deck you get lap marks. We even tried doing two boards from end to end and had the same results. When its wet it looks fine, but when it dries, it looks terrible.

    I am no longer doing deck due to the poor quality in stains.

    1. Those are good tips. We actually did some of our test decking one course at a time. Definitely have to keep it wet, which is challenging on a warm summer deck. Decks are not the easiest thing. Thanks for the input, Kevin.

  2. Did a front porch and steps in a solid stain for a family with young kids. Lots of traffic and Canadian winters with plenty of shovelling and scraping of those stairs. Visited last week, relieved and happy at how they looked. Spring is around the corner and we’ll truly see how it faired.

        1. Paul, and the result after 2 year? We are looking fore Arborcoat semi transparent for new rought cedar siding! And yet only found bad review 🙁

  3. Im getting ready to install a raised vegetable garden using all cedar lumber. Any thoughts on which Arborcoat I should use… And if anyone has any tips, please let me know… Thanks

    1. Dan, Are you planning on having the bare cedar against dirt? If you are there is no product out there that will protect the wood from rot. Not even Arborcoat.

  4. Our crew just completed Benjamin Moore’s Stain Certification program and for the first time ever, we are looking forward to deck season. The biggest thing we all got out of the course was understanding how proper construction and the proper preparation of a deck before staining impacts the end results.

    We got a good understanding of the full line of Arborcoat products and are looking forward to using them this year in a more significant way but regardless of the product how we assess a deck and its problems have changed dramatically.

    Thanks for the article Scott. I look forward to exchanging results with you this summer.

    1. That’s great Heidi. I’m taking the course on Thursday. As you said, its a good way to head into deck season.

  5. About 4-6oz of Benjamin Moore Extender will help keep the wet edge so you can avoid those lap marks. I hope this gives your job the professional look your customers expect.

    1. Jim is correct. Like with pretty much every new product out there in BM exterior line you need to be adding extender to it. It can give you just enough work time to avoid laps.

      Just started using Arborcoat last month, and have three large exteriors lined up that will be done in it as well.

  6. Very disappointed with this product. Applied solid last summer to 600′ cedar deck after careful prep (in Collingwood area). Stain does not penetrate. Very difficult to apply. Appearance is shiny and plasticky (it’s based on acrylic). After one winter whole sections are blistering and peeling and we are pursuing a complaint with BM. Our only option is to remove all this stain and use another product. There are similar reports coming out about this product.

      1. We cleaned the deck with the BM solution using a stiff brush. We allowed it to dry over one week. We applied the stain in two stages, first we rolled it on then followed while it was still drying with a brush, trying to work it in (which was difficult). The BM rep says of course it is the deck and that it had “particles” on the surface and “sediment” that prevented the stain from bonding with the deck. We have photographs that disprove this and sheets of stain are coming off.

          1. It was the solid stain. I’ve noiced a lot of complaints about peeling on various websites. We are looking at major cost removing it (unless we just live with a peeling deck for the next few years). BM offered to replace the product! As if we would ever apply it again.

    1. I have a similar problem, I put on waterbased solid stain arborcoat late last summer and it is already peeling in a number of spots. I spent a lot of time sanding the entire surface and cleaning with deck cleaner and it didn’t seem to matter. I applied it with one of those spongy pads.

      I am new to this, but I thought I was doing everything right so it is pretty disappointing to have it peel so fast.

    2. same issues with the solid stain, applied in Mass. – plastic look, and peeling and blistering over 50% of the deck after one winter

    3. We are not professionals..but have had pros do our deck…deck built in2009it ..btw a nice deck! 25K worth…this product ruined our brand new deck. Let it weather the first year…spring 2010 a pro painter did all the right stuff. Did the cleaners, brightners..etc. looked beautiful the first summer but after ONE winter we had a mess…peeling, blistering…had another pro come out that tried to clean it up…used a power washer at to strong of a psi and gouged the deck!…we then had to power sand it to get the gouges out.. then had a new pro restain it…after firing the power washer one…he again did the cleaners etc before restaining because mind you the top arbor was also done with this product..it held up ok that first few years…so we thought ok, we need to stay with the same product so it looks uniform…it weathered the winters of 2011 and 2012 fairly well, places had peeled but at this pont we just touched up those spots each year…put our new top coat on, which we were told to do each year..and just said it is what it is. Now after the winter of 2013…i just want to know how to get rid of this product…we are being told we have to use strippers that are so powerful they are going to kill any vegetationa and are harmful to children and pets..AND what is it going to do to the brick patio that is right off this deck??. Waiting for a BM rep to come look at it now…I feel this product was the root of ruining a 25K deck.

      1. After a year plus, I am now SWEEPING up the peeling arborcoat from my formerly beautiful deck. This is the WORST solid stain I have ever used, expensive, and less than useless. My hope is that finally what little remains of the stain will eventually bubble off, and then I can restain with a different brand. I trusted Benjamin Moore, and paid top dollar, but never again – I painted my house in the fall with a different brand due to this disaster.

        1. Sorry to hear that, we have had great results in Southern Florida where it never freezes the two times it was specified.. We also used transparent Arborcoat on vertical surfaces, not a deck. You can view the results on or web site. One project is on our exterior portfolio, the other on our company blog review page.

          Sharon G.


      2. The problem with Arborcoat has to be regional. We have had excellent results the two times we used it.here in South Florida where temperatures NEVER freeze. It should also be noted that the product was applied to vertical siding, not a horizontal deck, maybe another reason it hasn’t worked for you.

        1. And I have had horrible results with it in SouthWest Florida. Had it professionally applied after prep and it blistered and peeled after less than one season. Each time it rained, more blisters and peeling occurred. Totally ruined the porch, IMO, because it did not protect the wood and had to be removed. Expensive and time consuming.

    4. Horrible experience with Arborcoat wore off in less than a year. A B MOORE rep came to the house and saw the mess. He gave us new product but I had to scrape it off and reapply. This two step process is a pain. Don’t like the way it dried! I am looking for a different brand to but over it.

    5. I hear ya. I am to the point of tears. Hired someone to do the job and now my deck looks like it’s made of plastic.

      1. I just paid for my redwood deck to be power washed, then had semi solid redwood stain applied. It is so bright and garrish!!! I had put it on samples beforehand and was concerned it was too bright but my trusted advisor at local Benjamin Moore said it would
        fade and darken in a few weeks.
        I dont know whether to change it now or put my furniture back and hope it looks better in time. Any advice?

    6. I had my entire new cedar fence painted w/ solid Arborcooat because it was the top stain I Consumers Report. I am SO disappointed–bubbles everywhere, chipping, cracking. I just paid my painter another $400 to sand and repaint the trouble areas. I wish I had stuck w/ the Behr solid I used on past decks–it was so much better. I would NEVER use the Arborcoat again.

    7. I have had the same problem… took a year, they spot treated and now bubbling and peeling again. This does not act like a stain. I am so disappointed.

      1. I had my rough cedar siding home on Cape Cod repainted with BM oil base semi solid stain in the spring of 2014. The prep was with bleach/water and a low pressure washer. The BM was sprayed on and backed brushed. When I arrived in the summer the finish look a bit plastic looking (gloss) and the color (new cedar) a bit brighter fthan I expected. I came back in the summer of 2015 and the surface was no longer glossy but was flat and the color was toned down. The way I wanted it to look. So far no peeling. I will look this summer 2016 to see if it is holding up. Previously I has used Cabot Semi-solid that lasted nine years but my painter said that he was having a lot of problems with the cabot with the reduced VOL’s. Perhaps every paint manufacture is having problems because our government decided to protect us again. I remember 20 years ago when low flow toilets were required and they didn’t work very well. Well today it’s not a problem. Perhaps that is the same problem with the VOL’s.

    8. I had the same experience with Arborcoat solid stain at high alitude in Colorado. The treated lumber deck previously had an oil based stain which was sanded and washed. The Arborcoat was applied during the summer when the temp was about 75. By the following Spring the floor and top rail were peeling like crazy although upright surfaces are fine with no peeling.

      1. Benjamin Moore makes a big mistake by selling a solid latex stain as a decking material. It would probably only hold up in a perfect scenario, a very textured super absorbent deck one coat only. At best it will still only last for a while but maybe it won’t peel in that situation. Going over any previously stained deck with a solid latex topcoat is a recipe for disaster. I use Arborcoat all the time and it is a great product for vertical surfaces. I know of no other product that is solid latex that would hold up on a deck anyway so it’s not just a Benjamin Moore problem. Oil based only on decks but nothing will look great for very long anyway.

  7. I used ArborCoat on my deck. I live in Chicago suburb. The coat lasted one season. Peeling and blistering occured in the Spring. I brought this deck to bare wood, and still had bad results. The finish also looks purple.

    Very disappointed.

    1. Same experience Chicago suburbs. Totally prepped according to specs, stained summer of 2012 – by spring the first year already significant peeling. Very expensive and very disappointing.
      In this climate NO solid stain seems to last through a winter….makes me wonder WHY to go through all the prep work if it’s not going to last anyway.

      1. I live in the south suburbs of Chicago. I had the EXACT same thing happen. I can’t afford to fix it, either. I am involved in a class action law suite.

  8. We used Arborcoat on a knotty cedar siding house in very hot Southern Florida with great results. We removed decades of weathered top coats by power sanding then applied a coat of Arborcoat transparent cedar colored stain then a coat of Arborcoat clear sealer on top. The result was a spectacular finish that appeared brand new. Almost two years have passed and the job still looks fresh.

    We did have some efflorescent problems when applying the Arborcoat clear around moisture laden areas. The fix was to apply the clear coat when the area had little or no humidity.

    You may view the project by visiting our exterior portfolio page of our painting company website.


    Sharon – Accurate Painting of the Palm Beaches, Inc.

    1. Nice job! We’re gonna try the Arborcoat on 3 decks and a kid’s playground – we have it all cleaned – need to sand and dust/clean again – then apply 1-2 coats of stain – one of clearcoat….this will HOPEFULLY be done by SUNDAY evening if we stop getting rain.

    2. My crew and I applied solid hide arborcoat to the siding on a customer’s 4500 square foot home. This customer did not want to spend the money to apply all the prep products, or pressure wash the siding. We caulked the butt joints and corner boards of the fairly well maintained cedar siding and applied 1 coat of product. I have since done other jobs gotten from the way this house looked and still looks some 2 years later. The house is in the mountains of Va., and we receive plenty of all kinds of weather. The customer works where Ben Moore products are sold and wanted this solid hide stain. I’ve used it often without incident 1! The product underneath was a solid hide acrylic stain of another brand, but to wrap this up, what I’ve been reading for the last hour seems like inexperience at work, and some uninformed product bashing.

  9. I recently used this product on two decks I built 8 years ago. Cleaned and brightened the deck and let the deck dry for a week. Used the silver grey translucent. Had planned on using the transparent, but it looked chalky in my test piece. Was told I had to apply the clearcoat over either stain. When I picked up the clearcoat, was told that I didn’t need the clearcoat over the translucent. I had already told the customer it was needed, so I felt obligated to apply it (figuring the customer would think I was trying to take shortcuts by not applying it.) Was told by the sales person that it wouldn’t hurt anything to apply it.

    The deck is now turning a yellow green color. Now the BM rep is saying the top coat was applied too heavily or the tanin in the cedar is causing it. Really? Only certain boards are turning yellow/green. Others are still the intended silver grey color. Have been told to sand off the yellow (the area of both decks is approximately 1000 square feet.)

    One deck is surrounded by numerous trees and plants, and have planter boxes built in. The other is enclosed with a privacy fence – this deck has not turned nearly as yellow as the larger one. I believe the foilage surrounding the decks has something to do with it.

    I also used this product in the semi solid form on several wooden lawn chairs for the same customer in March. This crap is already pealing off of the chairs, which were all both sanded and cleaned.

    Needless to say, I will not be using this product again. And because of the lack of knowlege by the “professional staff” at the paint company (Epco Paint in Libertyville, Illinois – supposedly owned by Benjamin Moore according the the clueless manager), I will never use another Benjamin Moore product again.

    And I won’t be shopping at Epco again either.

    1. remember if some boards are still looking great and some are bad
      99% of the time its the wood and prep not the stain

  10. Hi,

    Can I use Arborcoat solid and fresh cut 2×4’s? If not, how long should I wait? I just put up 2 interiors walls ( just 2×4’s upright that are 23″ apart) and I would love to stain them so I can put my wood in. Some people told me to wait a week, others said to wait at least 6 summer months. What is the worst that can happen if I wait a week and then stain?

    Thank you

    1. Sounds like you are describing the inside of a woodshed, which is not a super high risk scenario. Go ahead and put it on and get the wood in. The worst that can happen is that you have to redo it next year, which you may want to do anyways. How many cord you stacking?

  11. Scott,

    Stacking 17 cords. It’s a big shed so I won’t want to move the wood out next year. I just think the arborcoat solid will peel. There was water coming out of the wood when i drove nails into it.

  12. So happy to find this site! I painted our deck with a Benjamin More paint, waited a few days, and applied the clear. Had to go back and paint certain spots with a second coat One day later and its turned green in those places. Is there something I can do, or do I need to re-do the whole deck?

  13. I just had BM translucent (teak color) applied to my very expensive new redwood fence. My painters had a difficlut time applying it, and there are lap marks and brush strokes everywhere. Do you have any suggestions? I am really disappointed. Would a light second coat help?

  14. Stay away from Ben Moore Arborcoat Clear. We applied it on a log home and it turned green / yellow after 9 days. IT IS NOT A CLEAR. It has an amber color to it. It may have to be stripped and we have to start over. I will not use Ben Moore Arborcoat again!!!!!

  15. Hey John,
    You should contact your local ben moore dealer about attending the certification class, you never use the clear on vertical surfaces, maybe next time you won’t ruin a whold log cabin!!!

  16. I just finished applying Arborcoat Semi-Transparent Water-based stain to a brand new cedar fence and hated it! The stain would not penetrate the wood and dried entirely way too fast. It also foams and left horrible dark spots in its wake. Painting lattice with decent results was near impossible with this product. I am debating removing the stain and starting from scratch with an oil-based product. The thought of doing that, however, is really disheartening. I’m extremely disappointed with this product and would not recommend it to anyone based upon my experience. That being said, to this point, it is the only BM product that I have not liked.

  17. I used this stain last July put on 2 coats on my cedar deck that dose not get heavy use. This stain is no good I have spots all over a lot peeled off. For the price of 79.00 per gal this is a rip off. I am going to contact BM and send them pic of my deck let’s see what happens.

  18. I’m preparing to apply this stain to more decking with great results. I will be at 25 gallons so far with great results after 18 months since first application. NO peeling. I’m using semi-t in Barn Red color. I’m using over PT pine 5/4 deck , 5/8 PT pickets and PT 1/4″ lattice. This stuff is tough and stays put. I pressure wash the deck first. I use a cheap sprayer for the pickets and lattice and that is working out great. It looks great.

  19. I am in the process of building a cedar treefort for my kids. A 10×6 deck frame sits 8 feet above the ground. I plan on puting a 5×6 house on top of the deck. The part that is currently in the tree is the frame. The deck boards, posts, railing, and wood for the fort/house is in my garage. It was purchased in the past few weeks. I plan on sanding it very thoroughly this week. I would like to stain sections before assembling and installing. I am using about 6 colors and rather not cut or work 15 feet off the ground.

    I have a few questions. I wanted to use a dyed tung oil that is made and sold in CA by Barbara Butler, she makes treehouses out of redwood and uses a nice product she sells. Google her name and check out her work. Pretty amazing stuff. Anyhow, I do not want to spend $140. a gal. So I am looking at Arboroat semi solid. Should I pay the money for a tung oil? If I use Arborcoat how should I prep my cedar and how long before I stain? I am using colors such as mohagony, blue note, one of their greens, darker stains. I do not want to fix peel problems in the future.

  20. Scott
    as it relates to the arbor-coat video,they told me at bm the two part system is for horizontal surfaces only.your using on vertical?

    1. Alan, I would consider that to be inaccurate advice. We have used this exact product combo vertically with success for 2 years. My published review in APC was based on a log cabin restoration in which we used it vertically, and the mfr was aware that this was one of the larger scale tests of the product.

      1. Scott,
        This recommendation was straight from the bm tech-line and my local dealer..huh..
        reason why i ask is i’m embarking on re-staining my rough sawn cedar house again this year (19 years old) and 4 coats of alkyd semi transparent (2 p&l and 2 bm ) and theres plenty of color but it still needs coating for all the other reasons and i was thinking of that system because you can use the clear coat like you said its the sacrificial coat. the house is already a semi solid now so i was hoping to prevent anymore buildup after this coat of stain. but as I said bm said not to use it even in their oil.my 1000 sq ft deck will need a coat too,but there has been a lot of talk on these pages about dissatisfaction with that product so it makes me a bit leery.so I.m still looking but it seems my options are limited these days with all the voc laws getting more stringent.

        1. Alan, thanks for the explanation. I will check with my contacts at BM. Their website says this: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/paint-products/benjamin-moore-arborcoat-exterior-stain?OVMTC=Exact&site=&creative=12343235753&OVKEY=arborcoat&url_id=133406193&adpos=1t1&gclid=CKKsg8S2mrcCFUJx4Aod9B8A7A#advs=0&tab=2

          Basically, they are saying that their clear (636) can be used over their transparent, semi-transparent and semi-solid . I do know that you do NOT want to use their clear over any other products, for sure. But I am fairly certain that Arborcoat is intended for use on siding as well as decks. They do stamp it right on the front of the can. I will see if we can get some clarity direct from BM.

          1. Scott
            Do you have any other suggestions based on my explanation of the previous 4 coats of alkyd for my house ? What about thinning the current mix with more tint base to make it more transparent so it doesn’t build more color ? I’m having difficulty finding anyone in my area with knowledge about this . All the new voc laws have really changed all the products.
            And im not finding any products with the color i need in their premixed products
            Thank you in advance

          2. So, I have been thinking more about this, Alan. Just to be clear, Arborcoat is not the right product choice for your situation, because your existing coats are oil. My paint contracting company has several customers with 12-18 year old homes that have original semi transparent oil coatings. These are very difficult to work on because the semi trans oil has faded over the years, the customers love the look of it, but they know it needs fresh protection, and they don’t want the look to change. Even if you continue with semi transparent oil, the look will change, but that is probably the best option if those products are available in your area. If not, we have done others where we computer color matched the general tone of the weathered siding, and switched the product to an acrylic stain, such as Sherwin Williams Woodscapes, or Cabot ProVt. However, most acrylics are solid, and can’t really be thinned to emulate an semi transparent oil. So, in those cases, we do alot of sampling and help the customer to realize that in moving to an acrylic, the house is not going to look “painted” (most people’s biggest fear), and that the grain of the wood will still show, but it is going to be a solid color version of the tone they have grown to love. Overall, it is an awkward time in the history of coatings as people like yourself struggle with how to move forward on a home that has the semi transparent oil look. There is no ideal solution yet, that I am aware of.

          3. Scott
            thank you for taking the time to consider my problem.
            so I think at this point I don’t have much choice but to use the same product (c328)
            but the local stores told me to thin it with more un-tinted base so it doesn’t build too much more color like you said do you feel this is ok ?
            say 2-3 parts base to 1 part mix? the tech line said no they don’t recommend anything other than there own colors.this doesn’t make too much sense to me as long as the folks at the local dealer use their tint with the minimum they use with their own formulas i cant see what the problem could be.I guess id just have to figure out how much to thin it so its fresh but not too much more color to make it more solid .i do know im putting off the inevitable i will soon have to use a solid i guess.
            separately my deck ( also cedar ) will be stripped again after two years the same product ( c 328) is peeling for the first time.( it never peeled before) any recommendation for that ? i’m not sure i would use c 328 after last time but then from all the different opinions on arbor coat as much as I love the sacrificial coat idea , i’m still worried about it not turning out right.but then iv’e looked at cabots , sikens you name it,i’m dumbfounded about what to do with my deck.if i thought if it would turn silver i might leave it to the weather at least that way i could just bleach it to get rid of the mold or what have you but not worry about stripping.i wonder if you have a lot of that going on in your region since i think you are know for that look i think.anyway thank you for all you time and if you have anything else to add ill be listening!
            thank you Alan

          4. Last year I specifically asked BM as well as read online BM documentation to confirm whether the ArborCoat Clear can be used on on other finishes and was told that it will work. I did use it over Siikkens SRD on two decks and it is still holding up fine, so did something change in the formula or is it more of a BM “protect their ass” tactic vs anything chemical. It is understandable to have this policy given the variety of products and conditions that can’t possibly be tested. Acrylics stick to just about any clean, firm surface, free of waxes or oils. So, why would there be a problem with any other dried deck stain?

          5. Steve, in testing this product, I was in communication with BM R&D facility alot. It was made pretty clear to me that the 636 clear was specifically built to work as a topcoat on the transparent and semi transparent formulations, which are oil modified. My guess would be that they take a conservative approach in recommending that people use the product outside of it’s intended purpose. I certainly share your interest in the appeal of a good exterior waterborne clear.

  21. I used the arborcoat system last year. I followed the exact guidelines from the how to video. Soon after my clients noticed water stains, concerned I contacted Benjamin Moore. We decided to deal with the issue in the spring when the rainy season was over. It had gotten a lot worse and the stain was peeling in many areas across the deck especially over the knots. I had the sales representative from Benjamin Moore come have a look at the situation. He claimed the product was not supposed to be used in such a rainy climate, which is weird since originally they recommended it to me. He also claimed the product was not supposed to be used on wood with knots in it, which I also find weird cause in their how to videos they are staining a cedar deck with knots in it. The exact material I used. Anyways they are not doing anything to reimburse for all the extra work I will have to do to remove this inferior product and replace it something else. Benjamin Moore and the ArborCoat system are making me work for free as well as damaging my reputation. I would not recommend this product or any other Benjamin Moore products for that matter as they do not stand behind their product and are happy to make the small guy work for free.

      1. Brand new deck with semi-clear cedar with some knots in it. No finish on it previously brand new wood. Sanded the wood with 80 grit sandpaper and made sure all sawdust was removed before applying stain. I also used the clear coat afterwards. I am just finishing up sanding off the stain. I also had to take apart all the railings to be able to sand them also. Going to be applying penofin ultra premium here soon. If you would like to see pictures of the deck and all the work I can send them to you. It is actually a really nice deck with custom glass railings in a cedar frame. The clients were really happy until they noticed the stain peeling. I have learnt my lesson and will not listen to the sales associate anymore. I wish I had found this review prior to using the stain as I would have not used it cause of all the bad reviews.

        1. Hey Justin,

          My crew and I applied Semi-trans with a clear coat three years ago on a massive deck and dock complex. The home borders an inland swimming and sailing lagoon and I can’t emphasize enough the ridiculous mess I am dealing with now. I don’t mind when a deck stain fails, we just wash and re coat. We are on the ocean so maintenance is normal and expected by the clients.

          However…Arborcoat transparent silver grey with a clear topcoat comes off in strips of rubbery latex that wraps around every plant and crack and crevice on the property and my guys are spending half of each day picking it out of the planter beds and scraping it off of flagstone where it STICKS after drying for an hour.

          Benjamin Moore Arborcoat deck stain with a clear topcoat is unique in that it sticks to the surrounding surfaces after removal via pressure washing yet does not stick worth a fart to the intended surfaces after application.

          This deck coating “system” is criminal. Really. A joke. A nightmare.

          I’m on my way now to actually buy hundreds of square feet of filter cloth which we are going to place ON TOP OF THE WATER to catch the failed Arborcoat which when it hits the water STICKS to the bottom of the lagoon without degrading whatsoever and appears bright white like a trash dump which means that long handled pool skimmers are now in my kit and a guy on my crew is getting the hang of fishing Arborcoat from the sea as we now prepare to add wetsuits and KAYAKS to our gear in the van.

          Worst product ever invented.

  22. Put arborcoat semi-trans. On P/T pine front porch and stairs last year. Topped with the clearcoat. The P/T pine was raw and not touched for over 6 mos. The stain and clear is still looking great on porch ( not a lot of traffic) yet the finish on stairs started to fade and peel badly. I just stripped and prepped the stairs and am going over with arborcoat semi-solid. Tough winter here in MA, and I hope this solves problem. The semi solid is the terra mauve color, pretty close match to the original. Seems that this stuff is not great for heavy foot traffic, probably best left for rails and fences.

    1. Chris, semi-solids in general don’t seem to do so well on decks, it seems. We have done a couple in the transparent and semi-transparent with the clear finish and they have done well over the past couple of years, but do require maintenance.

  23. We had a brand new cedar deck built and stained with the ArborCoat. It was a dark color stain. After less than one summer all the stain bubbled off. We then had our BM rep and contractor back to take a look at it. In the end I received more of the stain for free but had to pay to have the deck restained. The next year all the stain came off. Contactor blames Benjamin Moore and the Benjamin Moore blames the contactor. Me I have a deck that looks terrible and has cost me a fortune. Buyer Beware, I would not recommend this to anyone….sorry.

  24. I’ve heard enough. Sounds like another lousy BM product. BM is riding off their old reputation and charging top dollar for mediocre product. Looking for a good, long-lasting deck stain? I think I’ve tried ’em all here in MA including highly-regarded Penofin (also a poor performer, doesn’t peal but turns black) and TWP 100 is the best. Only a few colors and you may have to smuggle in the high VOC version into your state (have not tried the lower VOC version yet), but you won’t be sorry.

  25. Thanks for everyone taking time out to express your thoughts. It has made me rethink the idea of semi-t staining my new home’s siding! I saw a home on Houzz.com that the architect said that they mixed solid with 50% transparency?? so I went looking at SW but did not receive much help. I bought a couple cans at Home Depot to test out on some cedar. When I was waiting for it to dry, I went online to see how many coats I needed and there were many BAD reviews for their own line of weatherproof stain. So I went looking for BM as I had heard how wonderful all of their paint was. Thanks to you and posting all your comments, I think I will save $$ and just paint the house a solid color using paint and not any stain. I was trying to achieve a certain look as in this link: http://www.houzz.com/photos/3042323/Klein-Residence-traditional-exterior-other-metro
    But I think I should give it up. Any suggestions on the best exterior paint product on the market nowadays?? Brand? Type? It’s going to be in rainy Alaska… using Alaskan yellow cedar as our siding. Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated as this is a first for me and have no idea how I’m going to do it! Praying for a period of no rain when it comes time for painting…however, it’s a rainforest!! 🙂

    1. By the way, that color on the image is SW 3012 Meadowbrook. I’m just afraid of spending lots of $$$ to have the stuff blister and peel. Maybe this semi-t business is meant for the sunny states?? 😉

  26. Also, I just found this site. Has anyone heard of “Earthpaint”? Any comments or experience with their stains?? Thanks!

  27. I find interest information.

    ARBORCOAT® Wood Stain ARBORCOAT Semi Transparent Deck and Siding Stain (638) with WATER BASED , and also top coat with ARBORCOAT® Wood Stain ARBORCOAT Protective Clear Coat (636)

    ARBORCOAT® Wood Stain ARBORCOAT Semi Transparent Deck and Siding Stain (638) with OIL BASED WHICH DO NOT NEED WITH TOP COAT ARBORCOAT® Wood Stain ARBORCOAT Protective Clear Coat (636)

    Now , I have been reading alot of comments, it sound like to prevent me to use this brand . I have been doing alot of work with deck when I have been remover finish, cleaner, brightener and then some sanding.

    My deck pressure treated is 25 years old. I am looking for semi transparent with out clear coat because I do not want to take care of touch up in every year because water based and clear coat tend to do this in every year in some areas which it need to fix it to cover up.

    I like the color is Hidden Valley but now I am not sure I do this work with Benjamin Moore. I need your help.

  28. I’m in the process of doing my house siding. Cedar shingles done 6 years ago and originally protected with Cabot’s oil based translucent stain. I want to go over that now with a solid colored stain. I have cleaned with TSP and power washing. The arbor coat was recommended by a dealer who sells BM and Cabot’s. I’m not sure which way to go on a vertical surface after all I’ve read. Any help?

  29. Don, if you scroll up through the comments to the video I posted earlier, I put Arborcoat on cedar vertical overhead doors. Approaching the one year mark without issue. I also put AC on a log cabin over 2 years ago in my published APC review of the product. No issues. Sometimes, folks who have issues with any product are really victimized by something going wrong in the prep, or incompatibility with previous coatings, or lack of maintenance.

  30. For my newly-purchased 1950s ugly house, covered wth blackened/discolored oil stain and mold, I invested in a $1400 professional powerwashing. Low & behold, lurking under all the muck were gorgeous red cedar clapboards! I have spent the summer staining and protecting the entire exterior with Arborcoat Semisolid Natural Cedartone: I couldn’t be happier with the results. I am certainly glad I did not rip the clapboards off and replace with cementboard as I planned to originally when I first laid eyes on my “haunted house.” Beautiful what a good scrubbing and bright stain can do for a house!

    1. Glad to hear that your project was a nice improvement, Winifred. It is important for people to be as diligent in sharing positive results as disappointments – with any type of product or service. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Wish I could figure out how to upload before and after photos to your site: Three years later (almost) my house still looks fantastic. No failure of color or adhesion. (I did most of the painting myself.) The only redo was the exposed deck floor, on which today I am putting a final coat of BM Porch paint. Semi-solid held up surprisingly well on that floor, but given our ferocious winters of ’13 & ’14, the wear and tear on flooring (including by shovel,) is to be expected.

      I have absolute confidence in BM and herald it to any who will listen. (I painted with Aura inside with equally satisfying results.)

      My neighbor who paints houses for a living admired the transformation of mine so I recommended BM to him.

      If Benjamin Moore were a real guy, I’d kiss him!


  31. I’m considering using the Arborcoat solid on an exterior door system. The surface is has never been painted and I believe it is a type of fir. Any thoughts? Thanks

    1. Dave, I don’t think I would recommend it in that situation, unless you want a finish with not much sheen. I would prefer a primer/paint system on that for better long term durability and aesthetic.

  32. Scott, I think it’s great that you are putting yourself out there with this blog. Unfortunately it seems that you have found yourself in a position that you hadn’t initially expected which is dealing with a Benjamin Moore product that most people are having a serious problem with. I know that you and your team continue to respond with concerns about installation practice but the truth is that any product that requires such intense & diligent preparation and still has a mid to high level failure rate is just simply not acceptable. Im sure you work for Benjamin Moore but after reading this blog and so many others on the Internet I think the best way for you to preserve your integrity on this issue would be to seriously question this product. If you keep putting this products failures on the installers you’re simply showing that you’re hocking a product that nobody believes in. Benjamin Moore is a beloved brand because they make products that people love… Why would they even want to keep a product around that people for the most part are seriously unhappy with. As a very high-end professional contractor I consider Benjamin Moore to be “my” product and I personally do not think Arborcoat makes the cut.

    P.S. If you’re wondering what my personal experience with Arborcoat is, I have none. With 80% of the reviews online being terrible why would I?

    1. Hi Dan, thanks for sharing your concerns. So you know, we don’t work for Benjamin Moore, nor do we “hock” products. We simply share our experiences on how we use products and what the results are. That said, yes, it is obvious that Arborcoat has had a lot of problems, as many new deck products do. I do know that BM has changed some of the formulations, and hopefully they can put a better product in the future that better serves more people. While we are using some of the new formulations, we are not formally testing the product at this time.

  33. Hi Scott!

    I have been reading this page and reviews from BBB and various other sites regarding the Arborcoat product. From my findings, I see that most of the issues are with the Solid & Semi Solid Products or miss use of the clear products. I have not seen a lot of bad review on the Semi Translucent product. Any Bad reviews I have seen on the Semi Transparent I have found are on NEW Deck Application. I have read is not very good to use on a new deck. Based on your history of use and findings, do you think my findings are correct?

    I am about to do our deck over which I believe is 10-15 years old (Not sure, just bought the house). The deck is still in good shape so we don’t need to use a Rustoleum or Deckover type product, and we also didn’t want to use a traditional stain. We found this product to be a good middle ground and it will help us to easily get our deck all back to one color- We have a lot of sun variations on it because parts of it are under a huge tree.

    I purchased a test can of the Cordovan Brown Arborcare Semi-Transparent and tried it out on a pieces of the wood from the deck. It looks great! I even put on a second coat of the Semi Transparent, is this ok to do to achieve a darker color? I don’t think I want to go with Semi Solid.

    Please let me know your thought! Thank you so much!

    >> New Homeowner <<

  34. I had a new mahogany deck stained with Arborcoat transparent stain last summer/fall ’13. It over wintered horribly, and I had to have the entire deck sanded and stained again using the same product. Hopefully 2nd time is a charm. If the stain fades and peals the way it did the first time, I’ll be looking for a new product. Maybe I’ll have better results with Cabot’s Australian Timber Oil.

  35. I have a home on Cape Cod, MA. The exteriors is ship lap vertical cedar. The first coating came from the factory as a transparent coating. It needed to be redone in 1999 or in about two years. My painter recommended Cabot semi-transparent oil base. This time it lasted until about 2004 or about five years. We then used the Cabot semi-solid oil base. It is now 2014 and the house finally needs another staining but lasted 10 year! My painter said that the Cabot along with other name brands have been “reformulated” for the VOC compliance but moreover to compete in the “big box” retail enviroment ie $30/gallon products. I normally look at Consumers Report but found out that they do not test products that cannot be purchased from a local outlet negating many other manufacturers. After doing a bit more research I found a stain manufactured by Armstrong Clark.This along with TWP have great reviews but of course are not carried by the big box stores and therefore are not tested by CR. Now my painter wants to use the BM Arborcoat semi-solid. After reading, I am not sure I want anything from BM on the exterior. Any expereience with the Armstrong Clark or TWP?

  36. I installed a new deck (~500 sq. ft.) a little over six months ago. Last week I thoroughly power-washed and cleaned it. Ready for stain. I stained the deck with Arborcoat semi-trans, a very light/natural miracle gold tint. The deck is select pressure treated pine with no knots. The Arborcoast was applied with the recommended BM brush; it goes on easy and fast. Although I believed I was applying it liberally, one gallon covered almost 400 sq. ft. – the label estimates 200-400 sq. ft. of coverage.

    The semi-trans stain appears to have absorbed well and it dried relatively fast. The majority of the deck was stained in the morning (shaded) to avoid staining in the direct sun.

    After reading the reviews, I’m debating whether or not to put on the clean coat (637). Is it the clean coat that is peeling in most cases? Or is the underlying stain peeling off?

    1. Tough to say, Greg. A lot of the people experiencing the problems with Arborcoat are not stating which product they used, and there are many formulations in that line. I have used the clear over the transparent with good success (3 years with no failures), but your mileage may vary. If you do apply it, don’t put it on too heavy. In either case, you will have to maintain it in the future.

      1. Thanks Scott. I asked the BM store owner too but he hasn’t used the product himself. He did say he hasn’t rec’d any complaints about the clear coat. He did say if you apply it too thick it will peel. He also stated the surface prep is key to these types of products whether it is BM or another product. He also recommended waiting until the wood is completely dry before application. Again, thx.

  37. Scott,
    I have a two level cedar deck built in 2005. The lower part is about 18-24 inches above ground but is well ventilated on three sides. The upper part has a three step stair to get from ground to deck. I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (2.5 hours straight north of the ND/Montana border). We have hot summers and brutally cold winters with a fair bit of snow these past two winters.

    Two years ago (May 2012) I stripped off the original Sikkens stain which had weathered badly and when touched up looked horribly blotchy with very light and very dark areas. I had committed myself to the BM Arborcoat 2 step system and I followed all BM specifications and used all BM products. I carefully followed the BM training videos as I like to do jobs right the first time.

    First I stripped the old stain with the BM stripper as directed and power washed the old stain and weathered wood off. I let it dry a few days. I power sanded to get all remaining stain off. I vacuumed and then mopped the deck to get rid of any dust. I used BM Brightener as recommended. I applied BM Arborcoat semi-solid stain as directed, being careful not to apply in direct sun and used it at the right temperatures. I recall it was difficult – even in complete shade – to apply without lap marks and even with two people working on continuous boards. It just dried exceptionally fast.

    We applied the clearcoat, As you have noted – that goes on like a breeze. The deck looked fabulous by early June 2012. Most of this deck (75%) will get direct sun for the hottest part of the day. Some parts, next to the house are in perpetual shade. I was aware by the fall of 2012 that the water was not beading as well on the sunny areas but BM store suggested that I not apply another clearcoat too early so I waited the recommended 1 year and re-applied the clearcoat in May 2013. The winter of 2012-13 was brutal here. Very cold and record breaking snow that did not vanish until mid-May/13. I reapplied the clearcoat as soon as weather permitted according to directions. I could tell there had been some minor fading of the colour of the stain in the sunny areas but overall the deck looked really good last May/13.

    Another long cold winter just left us. (Last snow-fall was April 29/14) A little less snow overall but an unusually cold winter lasting better part of 6 months. When we got out to sweep off the winter dust and debris from the deck a few weeks ago we noticed the clearcoat and stain was peeling off badly – right down to the wood – in many many areas of the deck. The consistent factor was this: all the areas where the bad peeling exists are in the sun. The areas that are predominantly in the shade are not peeling at all. Where it is peeling it is coming off like a film, exposing bare cedar that soon will start to gray. When you are sweeping, the peeling just continues down the board.

    I spoke to the BM store that supplied it and they initially said I must have a moisture problem. I showed them that it is peeling all over the deck but only in areas that are sunny. Then they said that they have been getting lots of complaints – saying it was a bad winter – and offered to replace all the product. I told them that this is a three week-end project here and said the new product will not replace the time. Moreover, I don’t want to be back with this problem in another two-years. They put me in touch with the BM rep. I could tell that he had heard similar complaints. He is coming out to look at it but said to me that you really can’t expect a deck stain to last more than two years in this environment. I found this shocking. No one tells you that when they are loading you up with all the BM product to “do the job right”. What people want and what they are selling is a product that is said to only require this clearcoat every year – not back breaking stripping, sanding and re-staining every 2 years.

    This has been a dismal failure. We don’t know what to do. We simply do not have the time to perform this major re-do every two years. Our summers are short enough as it is. RIght now we have a deck where 75% looks old and beaten because of the peeling. We are told that their stripper will not easily remove the areas where there is no peeling. It looks like another wasted month of stripping, sanding and re-staining awaits us.

    The reading I have done over the past few weeks suggests that this is not an isolated user-error problem.

    1. John,

      You are definitely not alone on this one. I have heard about failures with different lines of this product, it does seem that there are some types of climates and applications that it has not worked well in. I would recommend renting an up right floor sander and some low grit discs for it. Sand it out and go to a different product. Hopefully there are other major mfr products available in your market. Decks are high maintenance, but going through a full strip and refinish every two years would be unacceptable, unless it is a product that is designed to weather out and brighten back up easily, which is not the case here.

      1. Thanks for you reply. With respect to the sander – are you referring to an upright drum sander or a plate sander? (My cedar decking is 5/4 X 6.) Also when you say get “low grit discs” do you mean lower number (more abrasive) or less abrasive? If you could suggest the grit number that would be great.

        Lastly, any suggestions on an alternate product? I was looking at Cabot semi-transparent. Thanks.

        1. Whichever you are comfortable with. We have done deck stripping with upright drums and with upright multi head orbitals.

          On product, if you are looking to stay acrylic, SW Deckscapes. If oil, Armstrong Clark is very good.

    2. Michael Burton
      June 5, 2014 at 6:22 am
      Hey Justin,

      My crew and I applied Semi-trans with a clear coat three years ago on a massive deck and dock complex. The home borders an inland swimming and sailing lagoon and I can’t emphasize enough the ridiculous mess I am dealing with now. I don’t mind when a deck stain fails, we just wash and re coat. We are on the ocean so maintenance is normal and expected by the clients.

      However…Arborcoat transparent silver grey with a clear topcoat comes off in strips of rubbery latex that wraps around every plant and crack and crevice on the property and my guys are spending half of each day picking it out of the planter beds and scraping it off of flagstone where it STICKS after drying for an hour.

      Benjamin Moore Arborcoat deck stain with a clear topcoat is unique in that it sticks to the surrounding surfaces after removal via pressure washing yet does not stick worth a fart to the intended surfaces after application.

      This deck coating “system” is criminal. Really. A joke. A nightmare.

      I’m on my way now to actually buy hundreds of square feet of filter cloth which we are going to place ON TOP OF THE WATER to catch the failed Arborcoat which when it hits the water STICKS to the bottom of the lagoon without degrading whatsoever and appears bright white like a trash dump which means that long handled pool skimmers are now in my kit and a guy on my crew is getting the hang of fishing Arborcoat from the sea as we now prepare to add wetsuits and KAYAKS to our gear in the van.

      Worst product ever invented.


  38. Hello,

    We bought Arborcoat translucent mahogany and our painter is very concerned about the chunky material in the product. The BM store put the can on the shaker and a day later the chunks were still there. They either never broke up during shaking. Or, they reformed in less than 24 hours.

    What is the best method to mix the stain for application? Should we stir manually? Use some sort of powered mixer/paddle?


  39. Hi,

    I am about embark on re-staining our 10 year old pressure treated deck. After proper cleaning we were planning on using BM’s semi-sold Aborcoat stain (“Dragon’s Breath”). From reading the comments above it seems as though semi-solid’s do not hold up. Scott – would you second these comments? How did it hold up on your own testing? I live in Southern California so snow/freezing temperatures will not be an issue. However, there will be foot traffic and general wear/tear, etc. Any feedback is appreciated!



    1. Sean, for our testing, we didn’t put the semi-solid on decks, just the transparent. We did put the semi on vertical siding, which was fine. Based on the experiences of so many others, I would rethink your plan. My company puts a lot of Sherwin Williams Deckscapes on aged pt decks with very good success. It does not come in semi solid. Go solid, and maintain it.

  40. Hello-I have just used Arborcoat semi-transparent, (Hidden Valley color), oil based.It was no where near the transparency I expected in semi transparent. In fact, it was the equivalent of solid. I followed can directions and applied with a brush. My customer was very dissatisfied and I will have to sand the areas that I have stained. I will never use an Arborcoat product again.

  41. Iwas sold arbercoat as the replacement stain a& m product we have used since 1987 supplier did not say it was only for new or stripped ceader siding. Now we have a shiny mess on our home and b&m will take no responsibility. Would not buy or recommend this product to anyone. Find another co that has a stain to use on older ceader siding
    I only hope it does not peel as others have said.

    1. My vertical cedar home on Cape Cod was restained with the semi-solid stain in early April 2014. The color was a lot brighter than I expected and had a number of those shiny spots as noted above. The stain has begun to tone down and now looks like something that I expected and those shiny spots are beginning to turn to being a flat finish matching the rest of the house. My painter that has stained my house over the years said that it was the oil base that caused the shiny surface and that the oil base was beginning to dry out over the past few months. My only reservation is that the stain does not peel as noted above.

  42. Very confusing information posted here because Arborcoat comes in two chemistries.- Classic Oil and Waterborne. After reading lots of comments, it’s not clear which product most of your readers are referring to nor was it clear what product you tested. The comment from C. Rutz 2 days ago appears to be the classic oil. I am using classic oil semi-solid and it is difficult to work with.
    I replaced an entire south facing side of cedar bevel siding on my home rough sawn showing. I first stained each board on the back and front. About 1000 linear feet was painted before putting up the siding. Two things I noticed:
    1. The paint store does not mix it very well. I found 3/4″ of solids on the bottom of 3 mixed cans that I bought and they were very difficult to mix in. I brought the 3rd and 4th back and had them re-shake it, but they were unaware that the gunk on the bottom was part of the stain. They thought I let it settle until I brought the can that they just made back. .Needless to say that there are a dozen rows of painted cedar on the house that are lighter than the rest. So ensure that your paint store mixes it well – check it before leaving the store.
    2. It is difficult to maintain a wet edge so there are shiny overlaps no matter what you do. Try maintaining a wet edge 22 feet up a ladder. It would be nice if BM would recommend an extender to minimize this, bit it is not clear if the stain is simply thicker at the overlap area and needs to dry more thoroughly.
    I have a lot more house to paint (previously done with Cabot semi solid 10 years ago. On over painting the old stain BM tech support said this Arborcoat classic oil was meant for raw wood, but did not/could not offer an alternative.

    1. UPDATE: I spoke with 2 different BM tech reps on their help line today. The first tech told me that I can not put a second coat of Arbor coat 329 classic oil on the siding, now or anytime in the future! Since I need to even out the color of the siding, the first guy said that my best choice would be the arbor coat water based solid stain now. He then suggested that if I put another coat on the newly stained cedar, the stain will bead up and be repelled, since the boards are now sealed. He suggested I try this in a small out-of-the-way area to see what happens.
      Well I took one of the scrap pieces of already stained cedar, and applied a second coat. It went on very nicely over the rough sawn cedar. It also went on very nicely on two small sections of the old siding with the weathered Cabot stain.

      After thinking about it, I decided to call again and a different tech came on. He said I can’t use the waterborne arborcoat over any stain new or old; the only solutions are to 1) sand down the entire house to bare wood then use the classic oil arbor coat again. or 2) use their 315 stain remover product on the entire house to remove the stain down to bare wood. There are no other recommended options.
      But talking more with him he admitted that if the old stain is really weathered, it will probably work ok but no telling how long it will last. The new siding with the 1st coat of arborcoat could possibly be evened out using a very thin coat, with no overlaps or double coats.

      Further discussion led to the future: What can I use on the house once the arborcoat has been used and it needs to be refreshed. Basically, there is nothing. I told him that there must be a future plan because the arborcoat wont last forever. He said I could use the BM 315 stain remover down to bare wood, then prime with Fresh Start, and put down any of their Latex or Oil based exterior.

      So now I feel like I’ve painted myself into a corner: try the classic oil now and see how it goes, or remove the stain entirely (new and old) and start from scratch. If I start from scratch, I can use Arborcoat again, or prime it and go for a latex or oil paint.

      I’m leaning toward simply going ahead with my current plan and if it turns out badly in a couple of years, strip it, prime it and find another brand. This is really unacceptable from a top brand like BM. I have no path forward after the first coat of arborcoat that they recommend except starting from scratch.

    2. Bob,

      The links in the first paragraph of the article will take you to the review referenced. The products tested were 636 and 637. It is definitely a good idea to stir your stain, even if it was just shaken at the store. You can feel with a stir stick anything that has settled to the bottom. As far as wet edge issues, try to find another person to help you connect longer runs. Sometimes ladder brackets and planks or staging can help alot. It is difficult to do solo on extensions ladders, and an extender won’t do much for you on rough siding. Hope this helps.

      1. Scott,
        Thanks for the advice. So far my tests show a second coat appears to go on well and stick fine. My concern is 2-3 years down the road which I have no idea what to expect.

  43. I live in Monmouth County, NJ and have a 14 year old cedar deck which for the first 10 years I’ve used Cabots semi-transparent deck stain. The deck never looked good. Quickly after it would get full of mildew and became porous to rain water and snow.
    Then I went to my local BM dealer for advise and they told me to power wash and sand the deck, apply BM exterior oil primer, Arbocoat solid stain and finish with Arbocoat Clear.
    Well, my deck never looked so good and has been mildew free ever since. It’s been 4 years now and I am replacing a couple of rotted boards (no fault of Arbocoat). And plan on cleaning it and applying a fresh coat of clear again. After visiting the BM website I’m realizing they should not have told me to use the Clear over the solid stain, but I guess I’m just lucky because I haven’t had any peeling or other problems.

  44. Still happy a year later with my BM Arborcoat Semi Solid Natural Cedartone painted on 60 year old clear red cedar clapboards. Terrible fierce and long winter here in the Northeast and the Arborcoat still looks fantastic. So happy with the way my house looks!

  45. Scott,

    I am about to apply BM / Arborcoat Translucent waterborne exterior stain to my 6 foot pressure treated fence. The fence was built last year. The way I prepped was by spraying a fence cleaner on the fence, scrubbing and then power washing. I let it dry for over a week. I did the water test by throwing a bit of water on the fence to make sure it did not bounce off and it soaked right up. My question is: After reading all these comments, I am scared to put this on my fence. I paid $45 a gallon for this stuff and will be applying it on 250ft of fence in and outside. Should I do anything else? Should I return this stuff? I don’t want to put it on my fence and have it go bad. I think for sure I will not be placing this on my new deck. Thanks for the help!

  46. I am a contractor on Long Island for almost 30 years. I use Arborcoat all the time. it’s really my favorite and most dependable product. That said you have to be smart about what you are using it on. I love it on siding and I most times use the solid stain. If its re coat work most times one coat will do but on color changes usually 2. It is supposed to mostly be a one coat product though. Less is more when it comes to painting in many situations. As far as decking goes, that’s a whole other deal. Any solid decking stain is a crap shoot. I don’t care what company or product it is. Lets face it you’re only coating one side of an existing deck. It gets wet all the time and then the sun forces the moisture along with the top coat off. Anything that has a texture to it has a better chance of survival. The semi solid and thinner products will have lap mark problems very easily. I generally don’t use them. Also EVERYTHING needs to be cleaned first and you have to kill the mildew.When we do come across a deck that has only one option left ,that being a solid stain.we will try to give the deck some texture with the powerwasher.We have also used a an oil primer for bonding purposes, but that could also cause a problem. All bets are off when it comes to decking but 90% of the time the problem is not the stain I’m open to questions if anybody is interested. There is too much to say about this topic.

    1. Rob, thanks for so well stating best practices for working with really any exterior product. It seems Arborcoat has had an uphill battle, whether in consumer education or whatever, there have been lots of folks upset with it…certainly moreso than the average product. For me, both personally and professionally, I can say that I have not seen it fail. But, it is largely a function of what you just described above. The product is only as good as the situation.

      1. I think the major problem with Arborcoat is that they were calling it a decking stain. Like I said, I mainly use it for siding over just about anything. The problem most people are talking about and most seem to be retail customers is that they all feel their deck needs to be protected or it has to look perfectly uniform. It’s a deck, it’s not a piece of furniture or the wood floors in your home. I could make the argument that not putting anything on your deck could actually make it last longer. Decks are too much in the weather and are almost always damp underneath. Putting anything solid on it is like putting plastic wrap on something. Moisture builds up underneath and it will eventually fail and sometimes fairly quickly. My deck in my backyard has nothing on it, neither does my brothers. I clean it every year, it looks good again and I’m done. Cost me nothing. Every house is also not like all the others. You can’t just put any product on your house because your friend or neighbor did. There are too many variables from deck to deck,siding to siding etc.. People still want me to work on their decks though and I do because I have to survive. I try my best to be 100% realistic with them about what to expect. I also rarely follow any label directions. I might look at them if its a product I’m not familiar with which is rare. Less is more when it comes to decks. The thinner the better. The product needs to be part of the wood as much as possible, not sitting on top holding on by it’s finger tips

  47. One more with peeling in the Northeast (Cape Cod) over mahogany; the deck was stripped/brightened, sanded, let weather for 2 weeks, and then had a professional painter apply Arborcoat translucent (623), which was recommended as the new standard in hardwood product, in perfect fall weather. I don’t know if it was the hardwood, or the winter weather that followed, but the stain looked incredible a few weeks after it was on, and had come off in sheets by the spring.

    Prior the deck had Timberoil, but the new low VOC mix we had used wasn’t the greatest either (too much tint and wasn’t holding up).

    This was in 2012, and since BM has come out with the classic oil version of Arborcoat, I haven’t heard reviews on this vs. the water based, but I’m faced with another strip and not sure how to proceed. Try the Arborcoat oil, or maybe Penofin though many have had mildew issues with that in my area. At this point I’m just trying to salvage my deck.

    1. Mahogany is too hard for any latex to hold onto unless its so thin there is like no film. We’ve been using Penofin only on just about every deck that has not been stained or has only been oil coated in years past. Have not tried the arborcoat oil but I’m sure I will at somepoint. If the stain isn’t penetrating and becoming one with the deck, all bets are off

      1. I wouldn’t have tried it had it not been touted by multiple sources as the new standard for hardwood decks specifically. I know several pros in the area who used it just for that reason, based on BM rep claims, and had to eat the cost of a strip and redo.

        Do you find the penefin to have darkening issues? Any color of penefin that looks best on the mahogany?

        1. Looking for some feedback. Have been reading a bunch of reviews and I’m not sure where to go. Was considering Arborcoat(Solid) for my deck and T111 siding. Mixed reviews and application sounds challenging.

          Read about a California Paints product called Storm and it seemed pretty positive. Any input would be appreciated. Have had great success with sykkens in the past. Very meticulous with prep.

          1. Forget about the Arborcoat solid on your deck. That’s a last resort for a deck. I would only use that if it was already coated solid and the customer just wanted it recoated and wasn’t looking for a stripping job which I would not be interested in any way. For T111 though it works fantastic. I have a job coming up that I will be using it on T111. T111 has a ton of texture and can handle a solid stain perfectly. Make sure it is lightly bleached and rinsed or powerwashed first. You also said that you used Sikkins in the past, I’m assuming on the same deck. I would just clean that as well and use a similiar product or Penofin which is my go to for oil wood tone finishes. You could send me a pic of your deck at spunk61@optonline.net. Here’s a video on Penofin if you’re interested

        2. If you used the translucent over brand new wood i guess you would have a better shot. You said in the past you used timberoil which I have used plenty of times but its oil. Difficult to strip off fully since it absorbs into the wood. Maybe the translucent didn’t bond enough for that reason. I would have stuck with a penetrating oil like Penofin which I happen to like more than others right now. I think all wood stains will darken with age. By the way I would take what the reps say lightly. Usually they are one step away from the suits and I’m not sure how much experience they have with how products really work.I have said a few times on this board that all bets are off when it comes to decks. You can send me a pic of the deck at spunk61@optonline.net

  48. Applied second coat of classic oil finish to a deck and it started blistering as soon as we finished back brushing. Only happened on part of the deck. This has never happen to me before. Tried sanding and reapplying and it blistered again. Not sure why.

      1. It was almost a month in betwwen coats. I have done 3 coats on a deck before. Advised client not to put anything on the deck. Railings turned out fine. Driveway side of the deck also fine. Lake side hundreds of blisters. It wasn’t to hot and there wasn’t any dew.

  49. A bit of a mystery I guess. IS it possible something was on the deck? which stain was it? solid? The railings always seem to be fine. Decks Can be a problem, it seems like I’m always keeping my fingers crossed.

  50. I was a builder for several years in Wisconsin (thru 2012) and we used Arborcoat semi-transparent and transparent stains on cedar siding and vertical shakes on over 15 homes, including my own. In each case we applied one coat of stain and one coat of clear over the top. After 5+ years every siding installation still looks great. Those sides that get a lot of western sun have been cleaned and recoated with clear after 4-5 years, which is a pretty easy to do.

    Would highly recommend for siding applications.

  51. I applied the Arborcoat semi-solid stain to my cedar deck in lat May. Over the years, my cedar deck had rotted out and I had to replace 50% of the boards last year.. Before I did that, I had a professional sand my deck down to bare wood. I allowed the new cedar boards to dry out for approximately 2 weeks before applying the stain. The color that I had chosen was Chelsea Gray. The deck looked good until recently when I noticed that it appeared to have mildew / mold black spots on all of the boards; the ones in the shade and the ones in full sun. I attempted to scrub the deck with Dawn and a firm brush. This did NOTHING. Yesterday I tried a 10:1 solution of bleach on a small section of the deck and that did very little as well. In addition, the stain was substantially darker than first applied as I noticed when I stained the floor of my gazebo last week. The color of this stain isn’t even close to what I completed less than three months ago. I read on the label that this stain is supposed to be resistant to mildew / mold. I have been dealing with this deck for 15 years and have yet to find a product that does not peel off. All other products were water based so this time I tried an oil base product. Any ideas?

    1. I would try a stronger bleach solution on a small area and see what happens. Oil based stains and paints tend to change color and sheen slightly almost always. Mildew also loves to grow on oil based surfaces. it is a good product and should not peal as long as the deck boards weren’t too slick after sanding. A little texture left on the wood can really help any product hold on. Everything needs to be cleaned especially decks. If you can get a little pump up sprayer, wet the deck first and then apply a 30% bleach solution and a little laundry detergent. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then spray it off with the hose

  52. Used Arborcoat semi transparent on our 18ftx32ft deck last year.
    Once dried we applied the clear coat finish recommended by our BM Retailer. I have to say after one year the deck looks great!
    Up here in the northeast we had record snow fall and a south side deck. The snow was as high as the railings! This product is awesome! We used TPW oil based in the past which didn’t last a year with alot of fading. We stripped all the oil based TPW and used the water based BM. So happy with results. Will do some minor touchups and just used the clear coat next year.

  53. Ken, it sounds like the wood may have been holding moisture even though you dried it out. Aborcoat over wood that’s wet on the inside but dry on the outside will trap in the moisture and cause mildrew/mold to grow below the stain. I’m not saying this is what happened but from your description of the problem it’s one possibility.

  54. I live in the Chicagoland area. I put Arborcoat on a new deck I built in 2014. It’s been through a little over a year and looks terrible, even sections that have no wear at all are peeling. I spent so much time building a timber-framed deck and now it’s ruined. I hate Benjamin Moore. They knowingly sell a product that is defective. Never again.

  55. Hi Scott,
    I have used Arborcoat waterborne, #640-4x Solid in a Deep dark red. It has been on for a year on cedar siding that random orbit sanded, filled, dusted off and two coated. The wall faces south sun all day, one year on no problems except moisture transfer bubbles, only a few.
    It does show laps and I have tried to alleviate with what I have learned in 18 yrs of painting. It is going to lap, finished business. My Rings End rep said you can not stop it from lapping

  56. As a painting contactor who has endless experience with the arborcoat line, I can tell you with no uncertainty that IT IS NOT THE PRODUCT’S FAULT. In my experience, arborcoat is hands down the most reliable and one of the most durable stains out there. There are many variables that a non-professional cannot account for, despite the belief that ‘I did everything right’. Stick to basic, interior painting jobs that are small in scope if you want to diy, and leave the more involved jobs to us.

      1. I am a general contractor and should have all the answers to everything? Yeah right .
        I do use arborcoat 326 exclusively on decks. Water base anything never works as well as oil, sorry low voc lovers.
        Cleaning deck by power washing without gouging it and or sanding is required for preping. Experience is the key.
        I live in central NJ and deck looks great 1st year ok 2nd year 3rd year redo. Thus is normal. Decks get dirty just like a car sitting outside.

  57. First let me say that I have been a fan of BM paint for quality for many years . However I have a cedar deck which was stained with Arborcoat semi transparent deck stain. Horrible experience as the stain didn’t last for more than a year. Disappointed in the application but more so on the longevity. The stain does not penetrate the wood at all and sits on top like a cheap nail polish. I will definitely be looking for a mores unravel deck stain this year. Bye bye Arborcoat. Any suggestions out there for a really goo semi transparent deck stain???? Regina,SK

  58. Hello Scott,
    We used ARBORCOAT classic oil finish in the semi solid for a 22 X 10 cedar deck with PT 6×6’s and PT framing. In the summer of 2014. The deck had a couple years ageing on it and was kept pretty clean. The painter (Jake) is a pro and did excellent prep work. The finish came out wonderful and it weather the first year with no lifting or flaking anywhere. The only mark was where I scuffed it with a chair. I touched it up on a dry day and you cant even see it. It gets full sun, rain and snow from the south. I liked the product so when we moved in 2016 we bought 5 gallons to do our old deck on the new residence. Later we decided not to treat the old deck due to structural problems so we removed it and rebuilt with Azek. Now we have 5 new gallons of ARBORCOAT Semi Solid Classic Oil Finish in Kingsport Gray (HC-86) It is for sale on craigslist http://vermont.craigslist.org/for/5797838171.html

  59. It is good to see that this product has issues because I think we’ll try to avoid using it going forward if we can.

  60. Considering using Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Classic Oil Finish on my weathered/unstained green pressure treated deck. Thoughts?

    1. make sure to kill any mildew(believe me,it’s there) first and powerwash clean. One coat only,less is more. Wipe off excess.

  61. I am currently fuming! Since 2004 I have run a business specializing in decks, thankfully not just staining but constructing. My supplier recently switched from Ace brand paints to Benjamin Moore which is how I came to use Arborcoat. It failed in less than 1 year! The response from the Benjamin Moore rep is totally unacceptable! To be told that the product does not penetrate the surface but relies on adhesion means THIS IS NOT A STAIN! This is the first time I have ever had a walking surface failure, chemically preping ( to remove tannins, oils etc.) the surface and pressure washing has been successful with every other brand of stain I’ve used and is the ONLY practical way to prepare older walking surfaces. To suggest sanding an older redwood deck is preposterous as every screw head would need to be set and at least 1/8th” would need to be removed to get into all the nooks & crannies! This product deserves a class action suit and I welcome anyone out there with a similar experience to add to this post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.