Best exterior wood stain – [Reviews & Guide 2022]

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Getting a stain for your exterior wooden surface can extensively increase the durability and quality of your project. Not only do stains infiltrate the grains but it also acts as protection or coating on the wooden surface from harsh circumstances and hostile weather.

Nonetheless, getting the best commodity is very significant because all the stain mixtures are not formulated equally. This is the reason we are here, in this article, we will go through the 10 best stains for exterior wood, it’s various characteristics and what to look out for when buying the best mix.

  1. Best for Patios: DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
  2. Best With Sealer: Ready Seal 130
  3. Best oil-based Stain: Rust-Oleum Varathane 307416
  4. Best Water-Based Stain: THOMPSON’S WATER SEAL TH.041851-16
  5. Best without Sanding: Ready Seal 125
  6. Best for Painted surfaces: Old Masters 24991
  7. Best on Woodgrain: #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
  8. Best as wood Preservative: Olympic Stain 79552 Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer
  9. Best for Sheds: General Finishes Oil Based Penetrating Wood Stain
  10. Best for Fence: KILZ L832211 Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain

1. DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain – Best for Patios

This commodity by Defy Extreme is a water-based exterior stain. It is environmentally friendly and it also has features that are primarily made for wooden patio furniture, pressure-treated wood, and decks. When used on products, the user’s wooden grains would show through a semi-transparent coating with boasts of a matte finish for the best natural look as possible. High-Grade Ingredients in this formula add durability against scratching and weather. The ingredients also give it a fair chance to fights against fading. This product also has zinc nano-particles which is a perfect mold control.

Users do get a lot of value from this product on wooden surfaces that experience constant moisture. It will lock in and protect your wood against these elements incredibly well. This product is also best used on pressure-treated lumber that is created for external use. The resin in the product’s ingredient hinders fading, so users would get long durability from this choice when used on decking than most of the other products mentioned on this list. Cleaning up after use is very easy due to the fact it’s water-based. You can use a normal brush during application. Sanding is also Required during application.

One disadvantage with this product is that you can not apply it to an already existing finish if it’s not from the same brand. Maintenance of this stain is quite easy and it is durable, lasting for a very long time.

  • It is very easy to clean.
  • The resins are UV Resistance.
  • It is perfect for Pressure Treated Wood.
  • It is Environmentally Friendly.
  • it requires Low-Maintenance
  • It requires Minimal Sanding.
  • A Defy Wood Brightener is needed during Maintenance.
  • It is Not Suitable For Covering Other Stains.

Overall Impression

This product is a bit different and complicated when applying compared to other products. You need to apply your coat evenly so you can get the best mildew-resistance on your project. Stripping when maintaining is not needed, but users have to get the Defy Wood Brightener which needs to be applied before any maintenance coating can be done. Otherwise, this is a perfect product for your exterior wood and I recommend it.

2. Ready Seal 130 – Best With Sealer

This exterior wood stain from Ready Seal doesn’t require any primer before you make use of it. One thing users love this product is that you can apply this exterior coating at any temperature. It has an in-built sealer and it also comes in a one-gallon container. This exterior product is an oil-based all-in-one stain and sealant which is more convenient than other products on the list.

Ready Seal has really improved with the introduction or rolls out of this stain product. It has all of the things that a professional woodworker needs packed al in one package. It offers one of the free-formulae runs which is perfect for beginners, newbies or hobbyists that want to use this product to even practice their skills.

The built-in sealant deeply soaks in the wood surface thus giving users this exceptional water resistance on their wooden projects. It also features anti-mold and anti-mildew properties which are more convenient for exterior wooden surfaces. This exterior stain even protects against the wood from harmful UV rays which may destroy and fade it over a period of time. Users can use this product at any temperature with no difference in the outcome too.

It’s worth using as an external wood stain, especially on wooden fences which are prone to the dangers of weather. It’s a medium-bodied mixture with an above-average pigment. Users tend to get a lot of their purchase value for the price of this commodity. Sanding is not really a must but for most perfect results, sanding gives it a more professional finish.

  • This includes an All-In-One Sealant/Stain
  • It is Ideal for Wooden Fence
  • No Priming or Sanding Required
  • It has an Anti-Mildew/Anti-Mold as well as a UV Protection.
  • It Deeply Penetrates the wood.
  • It is Great Value for the price.
  • It is very Tough to Cleanup.
  • It is not required For Thinning.

Overall Impression

This commodity can’t be thinned at all so don’t bother getting it if you require to thin it. If users add mineral spirits they will impair the sealer thus reducing its performance against the weather. Most users also find it very hard to clean up, so if you are using this product, you need to be exceptionally cautious during use.

Once you purchase this product, you will see a lot of value in it. It makes the process of wood staining a breeze with quality and an exceptional end result.

3. Rust-Oleum Varathane 307416 – Best oil-based Stain

Varathane 307416 has an oil-based formula that permeates the wood pores and is favorable for use on pressure-treated lumber. Please note that you shouldn’t try to correlate this stain over painted or sealed surfaces due to the fact that the liquid won’t be able to properly stay on the surface. It is reasonable to dab it over formerly stained wooden surfaces, but the surface should be appropriately cleaned and wiped first. Many users say that this exterior wood stain remains active for almost a year or two and it offers waterproof safety for numerous years before requiring reapplication.

The advantage of Varathane 307416 wood stain for exterior wood is the certainty that it doesn’t need a wet-line plaster. Rather, the mixture will incorporate easily into itself. Users can also put this product up via a paintbrush, sprayer or roller. Users praise the goof-proof nature of this product and always report that it yields an even, rich tint that still permits the texture and identity of the wood surface to show through. While users have been enticed into omitting the second coat of exterior stain due to the fact that the results looked so decent originally, they should know that they will risk the endurance of the product.

  • It is good for both interior and exterior surfaces.
  • It dries very fast, less than an hour.
  • It is ideal for one coating.
  • It gives your surface a natural wood feel.
  • It is a high-performance product with nano pigment particles.
  • Most users complained the hue was too dark.
  • It is not on the cheap side.

Overall Impression

If you are planning for an exterior wood stain that lasts long and is durable, this product from Rust-Oleum is a great choice. This semi-transparent smudge is also considered as a sealer due to the fact that it is developed to maintain the raw impression of your wood products while protecting its surface against moisture, mold and UV rays.

4. THOMPSON’S WATER SEAL TH.041851-16 – Best Water-Based Stain

This water seal stain from Thompson’s water seal is a bit different because it is regarded as both a wood stain & sealer all in one. This illustrates both savings in labor and cost. This unique mixture counteracts the need to first stain the wooden surface and then a second commodity to protect and seal the exterior stain. It is made specifically for use on all exterior wood surfaces.

This WaterSeal Stain product is delivered in 5 different color choices which give users choices and each of those shades comes with a natural wood grain hue. Thompson’s waterseal is an exterior timber stain and wood guard that permits some raw wood grain to reflect through while improving the guise by adding delicate natural hue to the exterior part of your wooden surface.

One of the best reasons why users choose Thompson’s WaterSeal is that it is an all in one formula. Users avoid the stress of needing to do two stages of both stainings and sealing your exterior job.

This product also adds a measure of certainty to know that the commodity outperforms Industry Standard ASTM D-4446 for waterproofing wood. Also, the same polymer that gives it the waterproof characteristic also gives fade-resistant pigment. This product is also mildew resistant and gives immunity from UV damage from the sun. It also dries as low as 1-2 hours.

  • It helps prevents water damage
  • It boasts of Advanced polymers which provide fade-resistant color
  • It meets the Industry Standard for Waterproofing timber
  • It Can be Applied to Wet or Dry Woo.
  • To get the best out of this product, wood preparation is needed initially before application.

Overall Impression

This waterseal stain does not have any obvious negatives. The only trait that has merit in indicating as a disadvantage is the stain’s coverage and appearance. Although this product is said to be transparent, the company stated that it will permit “some” natural wood grain makeup to show through. Apart from that, it is much recommended just like any of the products on this list.

5. Ready Seal 125 – Best without Sanding

Ready seal is highly-regarded for their extraordinary quality stains and paints and this 125 1-Gallon can of dark walnut stain is one of the best stains for exterior wood on the market. This clam concentrates on being a stain and a sealer and is intended for single to multiple coat usage. It accentuates a sharp weatherproof utility coating with a medium-bodied density that will shut the grains against water and assist fill occurring cracks.

This stain seals against leaks and water damages. You can apply it with any standard brush fairly easily. The mixture is viable enough to restore holes and cracks in tough to reach places when used well. A standard dressing will most likely dry within one day after coating. Users can expect to get a great transparent hue from a single coat. This stain works best with exterior wood surfaces.

  • It Comes as All-In-One Sealant/Stain
  • You don’t need to Prime or Sand.
  • It has an Anti-Mildew/Anti-Mold as well as a UV Protection.
  • It Deeply Penetrates the wood.
  • It is very hard to clean up.
  • It cannot be Thinned.

Overall Impression

It’s is suitable for both exterior and exterior wood projects. Although the focus should only be on exterior projects. It might be easy to apply too much so you have to be careful not to spoil your finished product. I recommend this product.

6. Old Masters 24991 – Best for Painted surfaces

This exterior wood stain is highly pigmented and it is solely oil-based. The priority of this commodity is delivering severe pigments on practically any exterior surface. Users can utilize it on both exterior or interior endeavors. It’s reasonable for metals, woods, fiberglass, and composite textures. A solitary coating is all that’s required in most dressings. This container comprises one-quart of exceptionally-rich Dark Stain.

The decent characteristic of Old Masters products is their extremely vibrant pigments. This merchandise is incredibly thick which gives rise to its perfection for exterior use with least fading over a lengthy span of time. Buyers can mimic a realistic wood grain on surfaces using the Old Masters Wood Graining product. It’s easy to use and isn’t inclined to trickle down from your brush applicator.

After application, users need to wait for a minimum of 24 hours of curing period before strengthening it with a top-coat. During application, you also have to sand the surface of any project before you involve the first coating of stain. Buyers who want very unique pigment and don’t heed to the additional work involved will find this product really helps.

  • It has a Thick Formula
  • It is Resistant To Fading
  • It comes in Heavy/Rich Colors
  • It can be used With Brushes, Rollers, Sponges, And Cloths
  • It is Great For painted or coated Surfaces.
  • It has a 24 Hour Dry Time Before Top-Coating.
  • sadly, it is Not Weather Resistant
  • Sanding is needed and Required.
  • It has a Tough Cleanup step.

Overall Impression

Sadly, this choice is not resistant to the weather. The hues last for a long period on outdoor surfaces, but users completely need to enhance it with a defensive sealer layer. You can’t also add any thinning solutions to this product. Cleaning is tough and users need to make use of a powerful solvent to clean up any spills if they make a mistake.

7. #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain – Best on Woodgrain

This product from SaverSystem is an all-in-one stain and sealant. This #1 Deck Premium is a semi-transparent stain finish with a steady and raw glance. It’s environmentally friendly due to the fact that it is a water-based mixture. Users should utilize this product mainly on softwoods in exterior operations. It preserves water and UV sunlight. It retains a low scent and is effortlessly tidied up with just a rag and soapy water. It is considered by most users as an average product without any other characteristics that make it stand out from most products on this list, but it doesn’t suffer from any tremendous disadvantages either.

Before we forget to mention, this product is required for exterior use only. Users can’t partake in thinning it with thinning mixtures else the stain and sealer mixture will be disintegrated. This is just an average type of product. There aren’t any considerable benefits or apex cons to utilizing it. It’s someplace in the middle and will be best fitted for rapid exterior projects.

  • It acts as both a Sealant And Stain.
  • It is resistant to Moisture Resistance
  • It comes with a Uv Protection.
  • suitable for only Exterior Use.
  • It is Not Eligible For Thinning.
  • It is Not Suitable For Interior use.

Overall Impression

SaverSystems has produced excellent and quality, water repellents and defensive coatings for about 30 years now. They make coatings for an assortment of surfaces including concrete, wood, and masonry. Although it doesn’t have any special features, it also doesn’t lack an exterior stain coating. It is considered by most users as an average type of exterior wood stain but it would help you fulfill the initial use of a wood stain. I recommend this product.

8. Olympic Stain 79552 Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer – Best as wood Preservative

Regain time and efforts by selecting an exterior wood stain with sealer. This Stain and Sealant product is a well-rated and outstanding choice for staining and maintaining your exterior wooden surfaces from mildew, moisture, and UV rays. Moreover, this strain can be used under a vast spectrum of climate conditions (about 35 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit) and even wet wood.

This exterior stain saves time by barely needing a single coat and no need to seal it. If the surface is wet from a rinsing or recent storm, this won’t stop your application endeavors (although you need to closely follow the guide provided by the manufacturers). While few users have been dissatisfied with the variety of hues between containers, most folks discover that the simple application and long-lasting assurance of this commodity are worth the premium rate.

  • It has waterproofing features.
  • It can be applied in any weather condition.
  • This product boasts of both a stain and a sealer in one.
  • It protects your wood against the sun.
  • The company didn’t clearly state whether it’s oil-based or water-based.

Overall Impression

This exterior wood stain from the Olympic stain is one of a kind due to the fact that it combines both the power of stains and sealant all in one formula. This means you don’t need to seal after staining. This makes it a desirable choice for most users. I recommend it.

9. General Finishes Oil Based Penetrating Wood Stain – Best for Sheds

This wood stain by General Finishes is one of the most popular wood stains you can get in the market. It’s a strong formula that only permeates almost below the skin of your wood projects. It is an oil-based stain that’s manufactured to curtail spillage and jagged coating. Nevertheless, users can apply it with any basic foam or brush for staining.

This commodity functions very well for more tough to stain exterior woods like pine. Oil-Based Stains like this one are tremendous for woods that generally soak up a lot of stains. Users can waste less mixture from spilling and over-absorption.

The hue, as well as the shade, leave a proficient finish with least touch-ups. A sole coating will deliver a nice finish, and 3 times will produce the utmost richness that this manner of stain can achieve. Drying time is about eight hours before users can proceed to add another layer. Also, in addition, this product is perfect for exterior wood.

  • It is Easy To Apply.
  • They are Great For exterior Wood.
  • Requires a foam, rag or Brush Application.
  • Risk of Over-Applying.
  • it needs Extra Sanding.
  • It is not Adequate For Thinning.

Overall impression

Individuals who do not have much knowledge in staining woods will be eligible to effortlessly work with this product without messing up the place because it applies instantly with just a brush. Users should be careful however when applying this mixture by ensuring they don’t over-coat. It may need more sanding than usual too. I recommend it.

10. KILZ L832211 Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain– Best for Fence

Kilz L832211 is formulated to care for and protect outdoor wood surfaces. The mixture is fully acrylic and it gives protection from weather damage for decks, fences, railings, shingles, siding, shakes and patio furniture. This stain proposes many advantages. It delivers a strong waterproof coating and mildew-resistant polish that can protect it from rugged outside conditions.

It preserves exterior wood grain from UV, rain and snow damage and it comes with a warranty for up to three years on patios and about five years on siding and fence. The stain also delivers waterproofing characteristics. Users should know that while this stain can be utilized on an exterior wood product that varies from new to fairly ridden out and unsealed for wooden surfaces that amass anywhere from 0-10 years of exposure; nevertheless unless the surface is new and neat users require extra preparation job before being ripe to move along with the staining procedure.

  • IT provides UV protection for wood surfaces.
  • The acrylic mixture protects it against rain, snow, and sunlight.
  • Warranty available for about 3 yrs on decks/ 5 yrs on siding and fences.
  • it won the Designated Paint Brand of the Year in 2015.
  • For decent results, wood preparation has to be achieved before applying the product.

Overall Impression

This Product is offered in a variety of colors. Each appears comparable to normal wood grain hues. The listing of color varieties does not particularly state what wood type the manufacturers are trying to imitate. They do not precisely establish what wood type the pigment is indicating; pine, walnut, maple or oak.

Buyer’s Guide

There is a feeling you get when you put an exterior stain on your natural wood giving you goosebumps as you view the grains of that wood pop.

If it comes to stains for your exterior spaces, you can truly have the best features of both realms. Users can get a long-lasting product that gives their product this professional finish with constant management during dressing.

How to specify the kind of your wood

The first thing users are required to do is to discern what sort of wood you want to apply your exterior stain to. Soft wood’s such as pine will soak up stains much faster than hardwood and therefore it could come off looking a bit darker even if it’s just one coat of exterior wood stain. Hardwood such as cherry and oak, on the other hand, does not soak up the stain as well and each user may need to apply numerous coatings to actually get it to darken up to the right shade.

So with this, you can get to know which type of wood you are working with, determine if its a hardwood or softwood. It’s very easy to differentiate just by looking at the grain of the wood. With most types of hardwood, users should notice the grain of the wood is rather uniform throughout the surface while in softwood, it can be frequently blotchy which means the grain isn’t uniform throughout the length of the bore.

What level of protection should you choose?

For all exterior usage, you should just select the product that is the best glaring exterior stain with the most shielding characteristics possible.

What type of exterior stain should you purchase?

There are two key features that will help you decide what type of exterior stain to go for.

The first key feature you should watch out for is the level of quality you want to see on your finished product. Fine surfaces like outdoor furniture are generally going to need to look amazingly complete using stain products. Outdoor fences and decks aren’t going to be seen as nearly as furniture products, so it really doesn’t matter.

The next key feature is going to be how durable you need your product to be. An exterior wood stain should absolutely incorporate mold resistance, UV resistance, and waterproofing properties. A combination of sealant and stain products are usually going to be your most solid option for exterior surfaces and structures. Some products that may work for exterior usage might not look very great on smoother quality woodworking surfaces. So we suggest that users choose one of the wood sealers for their exterior wood to give it the protection that it is needed.

How to prepare your wooden surfaces for staining

Because most softwood products can sometimes have a rough grain or kind of a splotchy surface, it’s better to usually use some type of pre-stain coating on the wood itself with respect to applying the stain mixture. This will allow a smoother but more even appearance. For you to actually stain the wood perfectly, it’s critical that it should be sanded to the degree that you’re looking for.

Using a Sandpaper is going to allow a more difficult time for the exterior stain to assimilate into the surface and hence you’ll have a softer look. If users use a coarser grade surface, the wood will have a better chance to soak in the stain but it will have a coarse texture so you have a darker quality but a rougher looking feeling.

What you need to stain

When staining decks or fences, it would require you to use a wide brush. For small projects, the supplies that are going to be needed may include: a regular brush or a foam brush would do, lots of rags and a pair of disposable gloves. Keep it in mind that the rags should not be too large because if you result in using a big one, you might definitely drag it while wiping the stain off. This means that the bigger the rag, the more some of it will get caught in the stain and then you’ll be dragging it all over the work surface so users would like to have more control over the rags that they use. So start out by cutting them into tiny smaller pieces that would be more convenient for you.

Safety precautions you have to take before staining

When starting out, users can make use of a regular type of stain brush or a kind of a sponge brush as well as rags. The sponge brush has the advantage of absorbing some of the exterior stain liquids so that it can allow users to spread it more evenly over the surface of the wood grain. Because wood stain products are difficult to get off your hands, it’s reasonable to utilize a pair of vinyl or latex gloves to shield your fingers from getting a smear on it. To add to that, it’s better off to work in an open space or slightly well-ventilated areas as the odor from the exterior stain products can come off as quite strong.

How to apply an exterior stain on small projects

To start the process of applying the exterior product to your wooden surface, you have to soak up some on a brush and smear it along the grain of the wooden surface. Apply a tiny amount of coating on the surface and let it sit for as long as  5 – 15 minutes. The more you wait the more time the exterior wood stain gets absorbed into the surface of your wood. Particularly with hardwoods because of the difficulty in absorbing into the surface you may need to put several coats on.

So give your newly applied coat 5 – 15 minutes of rest and then wipe it down using a rag. Use a clean cloth and wipe down the stain in the direction of the grain of the wood. If you actually want to put on another coating to darken your wooden surface up, wait for at least 4 – 6 hours and then apply a second coat again just like last time and let it dry for another give or take 15 minutes and then furthermore wipe off any extra stain. After you have got it obscured to the rate at which you’re interested, you can let this rest for as much as 8 hours.

Comparison Table

Product NameColorsSizeCoverage (Square Feet)Drying time (hours)Based on
DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon

(Editor's Choice)
71 Gallon150-3002-4Water Based
Ready Seal 130 1-Gallon
31 Gallon12524-28 Oil Based
Rust-Oleum Varathane 307416
22Half Pint701Oil Based
5Half Pint75-2002Water Based
Ready Seal 125 1-Gallon
41 Gallon12524-28 Oil Based
Old Masters 24991 80704
131 Quart150-2506-8Oil Based
#1 Deck Premium
51 Gallon100-15024-28 Water Based
Olympic Stain 79552
7 1 Gallon250-3508Water Based
General Finishes Oil Based
11Half Pint45-508-24Oil Based
KILZ L832211
91 Gallon250-30024-72Acrylic Based


We hope our buying guide on the best wood stay. have assisted you in learning further about it and the type of products we have out there in the market. We speculate that our guide would be able to prepare you on which type of stain you need for the external wooden surface you need to stain. You can research more on the option of stain products you make up your mind using.