If you don’t like the color of wooden objects around your home, such as decks, tables, patio, etc., you can easily change them using wood stains. Available in a variety of colors, this special paint can emulate the appearance of walnut, mahogany, oak, etc. It also comes in colors such as pink or blue but is not very common. However, shopping for a wood stain requires understanding different types of formulas used for interior vs. exterior objects.
One of our top picks is the Olympic Semitransparent Stain and Sealant as it provides a six-year warranty and is also a budget-friendly choice. As this article focuses on exterior wood stains, it will help you narrow down your choices and take your pick from the nine best brands.
Olympic Maximum Semitransparent Stain + Sealant
If giving high-quality protection to your exterior wood surfaces is a priority, this product surely takes the cake. It is an economical choice that you can use to protect your fences, decks, etc. Additionally, it offers a six-year warranty on decks and protects your wood grain from Ultra Violet rays.
It is undoubtedly one of the best exterior wood stains and sealers that gives your furniture a rich color.
- Damp wood friendly application
- Provides a 6-year warranty on wooden decks
- Suitable for application from temperatures of 35 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
- Comes in seven colors
KILZ Exterior Waterproofing Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
The KILZ Exterior Waterproofing Semi-Transparent Wood Stain provides a 5-year warranty on siding and fences. Moreover, it is also waterproof, making it an easy clean job. If you are particularly concerned about the environment, it also has eco-friendly properties. Additionally, it is a budget-friendly option that also dries quickly and has mildew-resistant properties.
- Provides a 5-year warranty on siding and fences
- Provides a 3-year warranty on decks
- Has mildew resistance
- Has fewer color choices
- Only has a semitransparent option on some online shopping platforms
#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain
If you are looking for reasonably priced exterior wood stains, then the #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain is a great option. Moreover, it protects your outdoor furniture from turning gray and fading. It also specializes in protecting many different types of wood such as redwood, treated pine, cedar, and fir. There are also many options to choose from in terms of semitransparent colors.
All your exterior wood surface needs is a good power wash, after which you can stain it. You can use this formula for small and large projects as it is available in two different gallon quantities.
- Works well on damp wood
- Has low VOCs
- Has eco-friendly properties
- Gives your surface a natural finish
- Provides five colors to choose from
- Heavier on the pocket than other options
- Isn’t available in five-gallon size
DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain
This formula is water-based and easy to apply on exterior decks. It is also environmentally friendly and gives your wooden surface a natural matte finish. Moreover, it is made using zinc nanoparticle technology that helps reflect UV rays, and preserve the color of the wood. It stands out as one of the best wood stains because it is made using high-quality resins. Except for California, sellers can ship this product to all states.
- Provides seven colors to choose from
- It’s water-based
- Environmentally friendly
- Gives your furniture a natural matte finish
- Protects your surface from UV rays
- Can’t be shipped to California
Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer For Wood
This brand can reach its true colors within 14 days and can be applied using paintbrushes, rollers, and sprayers easily. It works well on most exterior wood surfaces and does not need priming before stain application. You can directly apply the Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer For Wood to get your perfect weather-proofing solution.
- Offers eight different colors
- Works on most exterior surfaces
- Gives results in terms of color within 14 days
- Does not need priming before application
- Made in the USA
- Come in one and five-gallon containers
- 14 days can be long for people who want immediate results
- Drying time is longer as compared to other products
- Does not come in quantities smaller than one gallon
STORM System Penetrating Sealer and Stain Protector
Among one of the best wood stains, this stuff can give your wooden fences, decks, and siding a new look without much hassle. From a price point of view, most homeowners find it to be a reasonable pick. Moreover, it is versatile and can be used on hardwoods, softwoods, and all types of wood grains. Since it comes in various colors, there’s a lot you can mix and match.
It also prevents your wood from getting gray and provides UV protection.
Ø Comes in five different colors
Ø Protects from UV rays
Ø Acts as a stain as well as sealer
- Not very eco-friendly as it’s oil-based
- Has high VOC content
- Offers only six lighter colors
Cabot Wood Toned Deck and Siding Stain
This brand has some of the best quality translucent oil stains that will provide additional color to your exterior wood surface. It provides lasting color and is also water repellent. Moreover, it is an excellent choice for short projects as it also comes in one-gallon quantities.
Offers ten different colors to choose from
- Gives a translucent oil-finish
- Has low VOC content
- Has five wood-toned colors
- Does not come in five-gallon quantities
- Slightly heavier on the pocket than other products
- Inhaling vapor can be harmful
Thompson’s Waterseal Th.041851-16 Transparent Waterproofing Stain
This unique brand has some of the finest exterior wood stains that also act as sealers. It allows you to save money. As it comes in five different colors, you can enhance your exterior wooden surface through this all-in-one protection formula. It exceeds the industry standards and shows natural wood grain and texture post-usage. Moreover, it only takes a few hours to dry.
- Prevents water damage
- Provides a fade-resistant color
- Protects your wood from mildew, mold, and UV rays
- Can be applied on dry or damp wood
- Available in five different colors
- Manufactured with polymers that protect the color from fading
- The wooden surface requires prep before application
BEHR Waterproofing Stain
This brand is known for its paints more than the stains. However, its quality speaks for itself concerning the rest of the stain brands. Additionally, it has many positive reviews by customers as it acts as a stain and a sealer. Apart from having a great quality, it is also known for preserving your furniture’s appearance for years to come.
- Can resist mildew
- Has the ability to protect your surface from harsh weather conditions
- Has a well-reputed name in the market
- Resists water very well
Ø If the sun isn’t cooperating, the water may not dry quickly and may not penetrate your wood.
Major Types of Stains
There are four major types of wood stains.
Clear toners cannot be peeled and do not leave any surface film. They contain iron pigments that help block the sun without concealing the wood’s grain. However, you must recoat annually.
This type of wood stain appears as a flat paint and hides the wood’s grain. However, it doesn’t hide the wood’s texture. If it is not applied correctly, it can form a film and peel. Moreover, recoating is required after every five to seven years.
It contains a lower quantity of pigments as compared to a solid-color stain. Therefore it only conceals the wood’s grain partially. Since it does not leave any surface film, it doesn’t peel. Moreover, recoating is required after every 2-4 years.
It has a sufficient amount of pigments to change the color of the wood but not enough to conceal the grain. It does not leave any surface film and doesn’t peel. Moreover, recoating is required every two to three years.
Where to Use Exterior Wood Stains
You can also use exterior wood stains on:
If you would like your doors to have a distinctive grain appearance, clear toner is the best choice as it blocks UV and brings out rich colors.
Cedar tables and chairs
If you have rot-resistant cedar tables and chairs, using wood stains would help to repel water. Coating hard-to-reach surfaces become easier by spraying on the finish.
If your deck is inexpensive, a semitransparent stain can end up giving it an upscale look. A clear toner is the best choice for new cedar or redwood decking.
Most stains made for decks are also useful for sidings. Additionally, they last longer on sidings than on decks because sidings have vertical surfaces.
While clear toners make the wood grain appear more, semitransparent stains show the fence’s design. You can apply both types with a pump sprayer.
How to Choose the Best Exterior Wood Stain
There are many important factors to consider before purchasing an exterior wood stain. Here are some of them listed below.
The biggest perk of exterior wood stains is that they come in various colors, giving users the choice to opt for whichever goes best with their aesthetic. However, there are still many reasons why you should choose one over the other.
For surfaces such as decks, keep in mind that they are exposed to the sun all day. Therefore dark wood stains would be able to absorb more heat, and dark colors are also easier on the eyes.
On the other hand, light colors reflect more light, which means it can be uncomfortable to look at them in bright sunlight. For fences, lighter stains will give your backyard a brighter look, and darker stains may give them a cozier feel.
The way you intend to use your stain has a lot to do with choosing the right stain. Outdoor surfaces such as chairs, fences, deck, or siding require exterior-grade wood stains. This is because they help in preserving your wood even in rough environments. Interior-grade stains are not equipped enough to provide the same amount of protection.
Some stains may also be more suitable for decks than others. Since decks tend to be flat, they are better at resisting standing water and UV rays than other wood surfaces. Most outdoor furniture uses wood with grain patterns. This is why a transparent stain is better at protecting it without blocking the grain.
Type of stain
There are some options for exterior wood stains, such as oil-based, water-based, and hybrid.
Most water-based stains make use of water to form the base liquid. They’re usually easy to apply and can also be cleaned using water and soap. Due to low VOC content, it does not cause respiratory issues.On the downside, they are not able to penetrate wood the way oil-based stains do. Therefore, they are not likely to last long.
Oil-based wood stains are comparatively longer lasting. As they soak into the wood grain, they strengthen the wood fiber bonds and protect from within. Moreover, oil-based stains make the wood grain apparent but cleaning them up can be a hassle as they require mineral spirits. Since oil-based stains can irritate your respiratory system, it is recommended to wear a mask while using them.
Penetrating vs. Film-Forming Stains
Different products have the ability to protect wooden surfaces in different ways. For example, some products protect your wood from UV rays and moisture from within, while others act like protective barriers on the wood to cover it. Regardless, they both have their pros and cons.
Ø Film-forming products
These products protect wood like a shell and do a good job of concealing any less attractive areas. But they require more reapplication as their bond can break down over time. It also depends on factors such as foot traffic, deck board condition, and hours in the sun.
- Penetrating products
Such types of stains seep into the wood pores and protect them from inside by strengthening the bonds. They’re also more durable and last long. But they are unable to hide mismatched or blemished grain.
The best exterior wood stains come in many colors, with different degrees of penetration and transparencies. It is important to keep the transparency factor in mind.
· Transparent stains rarely change the wood color and are see-through. If you have exotic and expensive exterior woods, these stains types work best as they do not hide any wood grain. They also work well on common types of wood but do not last long.
- Semitransparent stains are long-lasting and blend in blemishes much better than transparent stains. They also hide more of the grain.
- On the other hand, semi-solid stains blend the grains of various woods well and do not remove the texture altogether. They also last longer.
- Solid stains last the longest compared to any other types of exterior wood stains. They hide the wood grain and are a great choice for using once your furniture is replaced.
How to Stain and Paint Outdoor Furniture
To achieve ideal results, follow these steps to stain and paint your outdoor furniture
1. Prepare your surface
Ensure your wooden surface is dry and free of mildew before thinking of staining or painting your outdoor furniture. Always make sure to check the undersides too. Use a premium cleaner to prepare the surface if it is old and has stains from mildew. If the case is mild, you can prepare your solution using three parts water and one part household bleach. Use it to rinse the furniture and make sure it’s dry before putting the stain.
In case of cold weather, move your furniture inside so it can dry well. If the weather is rainy, keep it under some low-key shelter, such as your garage. Make sure to not cover it with a tarp or plastic as it won’t let it dry well.
2. Sand your surface
If your old finish is still in good condition, you can simply roughen it. Start with sandpaper that’s coarse-grade, and then move on to finer-grade sandpaper till you obtain the desired finish. If you have an orbital hand sander, it is perfect for the job. On the other hand, if your old finish is not in good condition, you can remove it down to the bare wood.
3. Assess whether priming is required or not
If your old stained surface is still in good condition after sanding, you can skip priming completely because the first coat acts as your primer. A primer is not required at all if you are staining with opacity. This is because primers are usually white and will appear through transparent or translucent stains.
4. Use your stain/paint
Staining outdoor furniture requires a strong product that can protect your decks. Go for wood stains that that protects your surface from UV rays and harsh weather conditions.
Put your furniture in a well-ventilated, dust-free, and clean area so it can dry well. Keeping it outside to dry may result in dust and particles deposited on the surface.
Once it is completely dry, keep it in a place that isn’t under a drip line or tree limb. Wash it light occasionally with warm water and dish detergent, and there you have your freshly stained furniture for many years to come.
In conclusion, choosing the right wood stain will give your wooden surface its desired finish and help in the painting process. By doing your research well and figuring out what would suit your surface best, you can avoid many blunders with your precious outdoor furniture.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is natural to have more questions even after knowing enough about the best exterior wood stains. Here are some of the most asked questions about exterior wood stains.
What is the difference between exterior and interior wood stains?
Exterior stains protect your furniture against moisture and UV rays, while interior stains only change the wood color. There isn’t much protection offered in interior stains.
Will stain protect wood outside?
Exterior wood stains are made to keep furniture safe from the effects of UV rays..
Can exterior wood be stained with interior wood?
Exterior wood can only be stained with an exterior wood stain. Once you have selected your stain, there are many choices in liquid bases, colors, and transparencies.
How is the exterior wood prepared for staining?
Remove any loose paint and finish by sanding. After that, pressure wash the surface and sand it again to remove contaminants. Once it is dry, you can apply the stain to your deck.
How are exterior wood stains applied?
You can use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply exterior wood stain. It is similar to painting. However, you must avoid running, pooling, and lap marks. Try to work in a small area at a time.
With that said, you now have all the bases covered to help you find the right exterior wood stain for your furniture. Make sure you do your research to make sure your outdoor furniture lasts a long time.