Best Exterior Wood Stain – [Reviews&Guide 2023]

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, its various characteristics, and what to look out for when buying the best mix.

I recently tried out the DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain and wanted to share my thoughts on it. The formula contains high-grade ingredients that add durability against scratching and weather, which is important for protecting my outdoor wooden surfaces.

I was impressed to learn that the ingredients also give it a fair chance to fight against fading, and the addition of zinc nano-particles makes it a perfect mold control solution.

Living in an area with constant moisture, I need a product that can lock in and protect my wood against these elements incredibly well. DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain has proven to be effective in doing just that. I found that it works best on pressure-treated lumber that is created for external use. In fact, the resin in the product’s ingredient hinders fading, so I’m confident that I will get long durability from this choice when used on my decking. It has even outperformed most of the other products I have tried in the past.

Another thing that I love about this product is how easy it is to clean up after use, since it’s water-based. I was able to use a normal brush during application, and sanding is also required during the process.

Overall, I have found that maintenance of this stain is quite easy and it is durable, lasting for a very long time. I’m happy with my purchase and would recommend DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain to anyone looking for a reliable and effective solution for protecting their outdoor wooden surfaces.

  • Effortless Cleaning
  • UV-Resistant Resins
  • Ideal for Pressure-Treated Wood
  • Eco-Friendly Formula
  • Low Maintenance
  • Minimal Sanding Required
  • Requires brightener during maintenance.
my impression
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain is my go-to solution for protecting my outdoor wooden surfaces against weather, scratching, and mold. Its high-grade ingredients and zinc nano-particles make it incredibly effective at fighting fading and locking in moisture, outperforming other products I have tried. With easy cleanup and long-lasting durability, I highly recommend DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for anyone looking to keep their wooden surfaces looking great for years to come.

Ready Seal 130

Best with Sealant

The second great wood stain that I recently tried out Ready Seal 130 and I must say, I am impressed. The best part is that this exterior wood stain doesn’t require a primer before use, making it very convenient. I love that it can be applied at any temperature and it comes in a one-gallon container. This oil-based all-in-one stain and sealant is a real game-changer.

One thing I appreciate about Ready Seal is the in-built sealer that deeply penetrates the wood surface and provides exceptional water resistance on my wooden projects. It also has anti-mold, anti-mildew, and UV-resistant properties that make it perfect for exterior wooden surfaces. The free-formulae run is perfect for beginners, newbies, or hobbyists that want to use this product to practice their skills.

The medium-bodied mixture with above-average pigment gives excellent results when used on wooden fences, which are prone to weather damage. The price is also very reasonable, giving users a lot of value for their purchase. Sanding is not a must, but it certainly provides a more professional finish. Overall, I recommend Ready Seal 130 as a reliable and effective solution for protecting exterior wooden surfaces.

  • All-In-One Sealant/Stain
  • Ideal for Wooden Fences
  • No Priming or Sanding Required
  • Anti-Mildew/Anti-Mold and UV Protection
  • Deep Penetration into the Wood
  • Great Value for the Price
  • Difficult to clean up.
  • No need for thinning.
my impression
I highly recommend Ready Seal 130 for anyone looking for a convenient and effective exterior wood stain. With no need for a primer and the ability to be applied at any temperature, it’s a real game-changer. The in-built sealer, anti-mold, anti-mildew, and UV-resistant properties make it ideal for outdoor projects, and the medium-bodied mixture provides excellent results on wooden fences. Plus, at a great price, it’s a fantastic value for your money. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, Ready Seal 130 is a reliable solution for protecting your exterior wooden surfaces.

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, in 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.
my 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 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.


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 a 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 their exterior job.

This product also adds a measure of certainty to knowing 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 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.
my impression
Thompson’s WaterSeal stain does not have any obvious negatives. The only trait that has merit in indicating 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.

Ready Seal 125

Best without Sanding

Ready Seal is highly-regarded for its 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 damage. 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 UV Protection.
  • It Deeply Penetrates the wood.
  • It is very hard to clean up.
  • It cannot be thinned.
my impression
It 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.

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 and interior endeavors. It’s reasonable for metals, wood, 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 the 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 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.
  • It is Not Weather Resistant
  • Sanding is needed and Required.
  • It has a Tough Cleanup step.
my 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.

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 UV Protection.
  • Suitable for only Exterior Use.
  • It is Not Eligible For Thinning.
  • It is Not Suitable For Interior use.
my impression
SaverSystems has produced excellent 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.

Regain time and effort 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 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.
my 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.

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 the 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. The 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.
my 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.

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 fences. 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.

  • Positive
  • Positive
  • Positive
  • Positive
  • Negative
my 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

If you’re looking to add extra protection and luster to your outdoor wood surfaces, exterior wood stain is the perfect solution! Whether you’d like a subtle or bold look, there’s an array of options available. With so many shades and colors accessible today, selecting the right one can be tricky- but that doesn’t mean it has to be impossible! Exterior wood stains offer superior protection while enhancing natural beauty at the same time – making them an ideal choice for all types of projects.

Main features of wood stain

Enhance the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor wood structures with exterior wood stain! Specifically formulated for decks, fences and any other wooden surfaces exposed to the elements, this type of wood stain not only gives you a wide range of colors to choose from but also offers protection against harsh weather conditions. Main features include:

1. Color – Wood stains come in a variety of colors, allowing you to customize the look of your wood project.

2. Protection – Exterior wood stain provides a protective layer over wood that helps protect it from wear and tear caused by exposure to sun, rain, snow, and wind.

3. Durability – The protective layer created by wood stain can help prolong the life of wood surfaces, making them more durable and resilient.

4. Water Resistance – Exterior wood stain repels water, which can help prevent the wood from warping or becoming discolored due to moisture exposure.

5. UV Protection – Wood stain also helps protect wood surfaces from fading due to UV exposure, ensuring that the wood retains its original color for years to come.

Using wood stain on outdoor projects helps maintain the sculptural beauty of natural grain while also protecting and fortifying it, making your creations resilient against Mother Nature’s elements. With the proper application of a trusted wood stain, you can be confident that your wooden masterpieces will last for years to come!

Wood stain vs. wood sealer

Wood stains and sealers are often confused, but they perform separate duties. Wood stain is intended to give wood color tones and provide a protective coat; whereas wood sealants act as waterproofing agents that construct an impenetrable shield–particularly on outdoor projects like decks or boats suffering from moisture exposure. When faced with such conditions, it’s wise to first apply a stain before applying the sealant for added protection.

In conclusion, wood stains add color and preserve the material against wear and tear; meanwhile, sealants work to protect it from water damage. When used together, both of these products will secure wooden surfaces for many years ahead.

Wood stain vs. wood paint

Many people mistakenly interchange wood stain and paint, yet the two serve vastly different purposes. Wood stain is created to bring out the grains for a natural look, while wood paint creates complete coverage that obscures the surface of your wood material. Moreover, far greater durability is provided by wood stains as they penetrate into the fibers much deeper than regular coatings of paints do.

 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 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 do 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 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 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 them. To add to that, it’s better 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.


We hope our buying guide on the best wood stay has 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 to use.


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  1. Hi, Chris! Can I use the Rust-Oleum Varathane 307416 stain on a wooden fence, or is it better suited for other projects?

    • Hello!

      Yes, you can use Rust-Oleum Varathane 307416 stain on a wooden fence. It is suitable for use on all types of interior and exterior wood projects, including fences, decks, and outdoor furniture. This stain provides excellent UV resistance and durability, making it a great choice for outdoor applications. Just be sure to properly prepare the surface before application and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

  2. Hi!

    Why would you recommend Ready Seal 130 as a reliable and effective solution for protecting exterior wooden surfaces?

    • Hi Sharon!

      I would recommend Ready Seal 130 as a reliable and effective solution for protecting exterior wooden surfaces because it doesn’t require a primer before use, making it very convenient. It has an in-built sealer that deeply penetrates the wood surface and provides exceptional water resistance, along with anti-mold, anti-mildew, and UV-resistant properties. Plus, it comes at a great price and provides excellent results on wooden fences. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, Ready Seal 130 is a fantastic value for your money.

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