Now that spring is in the air; our attention can turn to the outside living spaces of our homes. Whether you have a small outdoor area or a large garden, it is likely that you have some exterior wood that needs maintaining after a hard winter. Now is the time to get out that sprayer, brush or roller and bring the natural beauty back to your exterior woodwork.
For some, this can be a daunting process, and the DIY store is filled with preservatives, stains, sealers, and all-in-one products that can make our heads spin. Fear not, however, as there are some great products out there to minimize the pain and maximize the beauty of your woodwork.
What Are Wood Sealers and Stains?
A sealer is a product designed specifically to seal the wood to prevent water absorption. This protects it against rot and fungus, as well as warping and discoloration. Sealants can be transparent or colored.
A stain is designed to color the woodwork by penetrating the grain. This can be as strong or as subtle as you choose. A stain will not necessarily preserve or protect the wood against the elements.
Some products combine stains and sealants in a handy all-in-one product, and there are ones designed for application to dry, damp or new wooden items around your home.
List of the Best Wood Sealers and Stains
#1. Ready Seal 512 Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer
Ready Seal 512 is an all in one stain and sealer. It is formulated to add color and seal the wood in one step. This has the benefits of eliminating extra cost and saves time during the application process. It gives a high-quality finish. This sealer does not require a primer and can be applied directly to new wood. Sealed surfaces such as painted or new stained surfaces will inhibit the penetration. The formula is designed to penetrate deep into the wood to preserve it from the elements, mold, mildew and UV rays.
Ready Seal 512 can be applied using a brush, sprayer or roller and can be applied either wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry with no shading issues. It is darkest when first applied, lightening over 14 days to its end color. It can be applied in any temperature and comes ready to use, no need to thin or dilute. This product does not contain linseed oil and will not stain hands. It is biodegradable in soil or water.
Conclusion: This is an easy to use, a one-step product that gives a semi-transparent seal and color to your wood.
#2. Thompsons WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector
This protector provides a long-lasting natural-looking coating to your exterior woodwork. It can be applied to new, pressure-treated, damp or dry wood with equal ease. It needs just one coat to provide a waterproof coating to decks, fences, exterior furniture or other woodwork. Thompsons WaterSeal is water-based and is easy to clean up using soap and water. It provides a long-lasting barrier against mildew, UV damage and fading, allowing the timber to retain its natural color.
Conclusion: Can be applied to new, damp or dry wood, providing one-coat waterproofing.
#3. Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, & Wood Siding
This easy to apply stain is formulated to penetrate deep into the wood grain, to promote a long-lasting result. It will protect your decks, fences, siding, outdoor furniture, gazebos, playsets or any other exterior woodwork from UV fading, and does not promote mold or mildew growth. Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain is semi-transparent, allowing the grain to show through. Its eco-safe formula has a low odor and is easily cleaned up after application with soap and water. This stain can be applied to dry or damp timber and soft or hardwoods. Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain has a low VOC content and is compliant with all US states and Canadian requirements.
Conclusion: An easy to apply, semi-transparent stain for all types of exterior wood.
#4. Defy Extreme Wood Stain
This water-based stain is semi-transparent with a natural matte finish, allowing the wood grain to show through. It can be used to stain decks, fencing, siding outdoor furniture, playsets, and all other exterior woodwork. Its formula prevents UV damage, including greying and color-loss of the woodwork, and deters mold and mildew growth. Defy Extreme Wood Stain’s formula includes the use of high-quality resins which maintain the color of the stain longer than some other products. When it is time for maintenance, this can be applied without the need for sanding or stripping. This is a water-based stain making brushes easy to clean following application.
Conclusion: A long-lasting, semi-transparent, matte finished stain.
#5. THOMPSONS WATERSEAL Transparent Waterproofing Stain
This all in one product stains and waterproofs your exterior woodwork. Its formula contains advanced polymers to provide a long-lasting fade resistant color. It is resistant to mildew and UV damage. Thompsons Waterseal can be applied to freshly cleaned dry or damp wood with equal ease. This product stains and protects your woodwork, while allowing the natural texture and wood grain to show through, giving a subtle finish to any exterior timber it is applied to. It can be applied with a brush, roller or sprayer and is touch dry in a few hours.
Conclusion: A good all in one product that stains and protects wood in one easy step.
#6. ToughTimber – Waterproof Deck Sealer, Wood Sealer
As its name implies, this is a tough industrial grade, high-end sealer, designed to protect for several years. It can be applied to wooden decks, cedar rooves, shingles, fencing or any other exterior woodwork. It penetrates deep into the wood, reducing water uptake by 95%. It protects against mold and mildew and is also stain resistant to oil, gas, and anti-freeze. This product seals in one coat. It is cloudy when first applied, drying to a clear, slightly glossy sheen on the same day. Tough Timber Wood Sealer can be mixed up to a 1:4 ratio, depending on the level of protection desired, making it ideal for large areas of application.
Conclusion: A high-grade wood sealant for tough weather conditions.
#7. Cabotstain Australian Timber Oil
This product is an oil treatment for premium, exotic, hardwoods such as mahogany and teak. It provides a translucent natural patina finish, ideal for decks and outdoor furniture. The oil penetrates deep into the resin-rich, dense woods and accentuates its natural color and beauty. The formula includes translucent iron-oxide pigments, giving great UV ray absorption. The oil dries to a flat, translucent finish. It can be applied with a cloth or a brush, and excess should be wiped off quickly to avoid leaving a sticky residue.
Conclusion: A natural-style product, providing color and waterproofing to hardwood exterior items.
#8. Woodlife Coppercoat Wood Preservative
This preservative is designed to protect your deck or other porch floor end cuts and can be used on other exterior woodwork, including below-ground. Its formula includes almost double the insecticidal preservative of other products, protecting your wood against damage by termites, rot, and decay. Once dry it leaves a transparent green color that fades naturally over time. It can be over-painted and stained. Woodlife Coppercoat Wood Preservative is EPA registered.
Conclusion: A hard-working preservative that can be used below ground and can be painted and stained.
#9. TallEarth Eco-Safe Wood Treatment
This treatment is non-toxic, children and animal-friendly and VOC free. It can be applied in one easy application using a brush, sprayer, roller, sponge or dipping with little or no preparation work involved. It can be used on both indoor and exterior wooden projects as well as marine applications. TallEarth Eco-Safe Wood Treatment penetrates the wood, leaving a long-lasting silver or brown aged finish with a soft sheen. It is ideal for creating an artificially aged look. It protects against mold and fungus as well as dry and wet rot. It contains only naturally-sourced ingredients and will leave no harmful residues in soil or water. It is quick drying and easily cleaned up after application with the use of water.
Conclusion: This is a natural, eco-friendly product designed to protect interior and external wood.
#10. Bond’s One Time Stain / Sealer
Bond’s One Time Stain / Sealer is specially designed for use by DIYers and professionals. This preservative stain and sealer rejuvenates the color of any exterior wooden surface. It has a non-drip formula, making it easy to use and will not overlap, crack, flake or chip. This product is formulated to be applied in a thin coating, leaving a glossy sheen that reduces over time. The stain and seal should last seven years without the need for further application.
Conclusion: An easy to use, long lasting stain and sealer all in one product.
There are many products on the market to suit every need. Whether you are looking for a preservative, stain, sealant or all in one product, there is one for you. You can choose between high-grade industrial strength products, or eco-friendly products using natural ingredients.
Check for preparation needs, and for how long the product will last before needing to be redone or maintained. Look for ease of application, the area of coverage, depending on the wood you are working on, and how quickly the product will dry and allow you to walk on or use the item.
These products come in a range of finishes, from natural patina, through soft sheen and gloss. Choose a finish that will suit your style and your outdoor environment. Once you have completed the work, sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor.