The best paint to use on wooden decking is California Fresh Coat Velvet Flat, according to Consumer Reports in 2010. Other top-rated paints include Behr Premium Plus Flat and Valspar Duramax.
California Fresh Coat Velvet Flat is an exterior paint that resists mildew, cracking, fading and weather damage. Behr Premium Plus Flat also retards mildew growth. Both brands work best when applied over primer.
Valspar Duramax Satin and Duramax Flat are self-priming exterior paints, which means that they perform well when applied to bare wood. These paints have a thick texture and intense pigmentation that dries to a smooth, even finish. However, some shades exhibit minor fading in sunny locations.
Behr also produces a highly rated deck stain called Behr Deck Plus Gold Solid Color Deck, Fence And Siding. This product withstands severe weathering and comes in many shades. A similar product, Sears Weatherbeater Solid Deck, Fence And Siding is less expensive than the Behr stain and produces similar results. However, this stain is prone to mild weathering in extreme conditions.
The Behr and Sears stains are water-based products that wash out of brushes and rollers with soap and water. Other premium stains, such as Sikkens Cetol SRD Semi-Transparent, are oil-based. Removing oil stains from brushes and painting equipment requires mineral spirits.