5 Best Exterior Wood Stains For Longer Deck Life

Last updated on January 2nd, 2023 | By: Grady Galvez

With each passing winter, preparing for a DIY job to fix up the fencing, decks & siding damaged by harsh winter, has been like a normal routine during my childhood. I’d heartily join my Dad to help paint or stain the exterior wooden features of our sprawling home.

While deck stains help in maintaining the integrity of the wood, protection, and enhancing aesthetic beauty, it also makes them look alive highlighting the natural grains. These exterior wood stains are wonderful applications that provide protection to your wood against weather, water, mold, mildew UV rays, and scratches. So let’s jump to find some of the best wood stains options available in the market today.

Best Outdoor Wood Stain Brands Reviewed

     ★ Best Overall ★       

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon

best wood deck sealer

Highest Quality

High Technology

Extremely Durable

     ★ Best value ★       

KILZ L211101



Long Lasting

Best For Sprayer

     ★ Premium ★       

Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon

best exterior stain

Natural Cedar

“Goof Proof” Application

Apply In Any Temperature

5 Most Recommended Exterior Wood Stain

1. Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer


  • When the wood stain is applied, it is dark in color and the true color becomes visible in about 14 days.

  • The stain should not be applied on sealed, newly painted or stained surfaces, as this inhibits penetration.

  • It can be applied on the wood surface by a sprayer, roller or a brush.

  • An amazing one that doesn’t require any sort of back brushing and leaves a smooth finish without any streaks, laps or runs.

  • This blends itself in any temperature range and omits the requirement of any wet-line application.

  • This goof-proof application may include a paint care recycling fee.

  • Doesn’t require any diluting or thinning before preparing spray application.

The Ready Seal adds so much beauty and luster to the wood while keeping it visible. This is best suited for exterior wood surfaces and projects, as it is oil-based, semi-transparent stain and is a sealer too. The texture and grain of the wood are enhanced with this amazing wood stain, click to see the final finish that you get after using it.

A premium quality wood stain that penetrates deeply in the wood surface and prevents damage from mold, mildew and harmful UV rays. All types of wood surfaces can be stained with the Ready Seal.


  • This exterior wood stain gives a professional-grade finish.

  • Provides protection against mold, mildew and UV rays.

  • This is an all-in-one sealer and stain.

  • This one is ideal for wooden fences and all wooden surfaces.

  • Deep penetration quality.


  • This is not suitable for thinning.

  • Tough to clean.

2. DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

The DEFY Extreme is a deck stain that is water-based and an environmentally friendly formula. This one is suitable for decks, patio furniture (wood) and pressure-treated wood.

This semi-transparent wood stain helps in providing protection against weather and scratches and is a very durable one. it gives a matte finish for an amazing natural finish. A big thumbs up for this product,  also see the most authentic user review here.


  • A semi-transparent and water-based deck stain.

  • This environmentally friendly wood stain is like a sunscreen for your wooden surfaces.

  • Can be easily applied on siding, playsets, fences, wooden decks, outdoor patio furniture and more.

  • Zinc nano-particle technology helps in preventing any premature graying and color loss of the wood.

  • The high-quality resins provide extreme durability and enable fading and darkening resistance.

  • A premium quality stain that lasts longer than the other competitors in this range.

  • The mold and mildew resistance provided by this is a great feature, and the zinc nanoparticles help in blocking the UV rays too.

  • A single coat of this exterior wood stain is sufficient and rules out the requirement of any maintenance coat.

  • There is no need to use sander or paint stripper.

  • This is quite easy to clean and maintain.


  • An environmentally friendly wood stain.

  • Is made up of zinc nano-particle technology.

  • Provides mold, mildew resistance.

  • Suitable for all kinds of surfaces.

  • Doesn’t require any maintenance coat.

  • Sand or stripping is not required.

  • Very easy to clean and maintain.


  • Requires a wood brightener.

  • This is a complex application.

3. KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer

The KILZ is again an exterior wood stain that is durable and maintains the integrity of the wood along with keeping it beautiful and waterproof. This is an Acrylic formula (100%) and can provide long-lasting protection to your wood from snow, rain or sun damage. The finish this provides is mildew resistant and UV protected.

What else one can expect? This can last easily and carries a warranty for the decks and fences for 3 to 5 years respectively. This can cover up to 250 square feet of the area when the first coat is applied and can cover about 500 square feet on the second. Wood cleaner and brightener is used for neutralizing the wood, click here to see a stained deck.


  • A great exterior deck paint for old wood that is also best suited for patio furniture, railings, shingles, siding, fences and more.

  • This provides mildew resistance and UV protection.

  • This is 1-Gallon in capacity and a semi-transparent wood stain in redwood.

  • This can easily be used for coatings that are faint and loose fibers can also be removed.

  • After a drying up time of 24 hours, the wood stain should be applied for best results.

  • In case of any remaining wood fibers, light sand can be done.

  • A pad applicator, pump sprayer of superior quality and or a nylon polyester brush can be used.

  • The company is a pioneer in manufacturing this product and are delivering their best for 40 years.


  • This acrylic formula provides protection from sun, snow and rain.

  • The company has a successful history of 40 years.

  • This comes with a mildew resistant finish and is UV protected.

  • Can be easily cleaned with water.

  • Comes with a warranty of 3 years (decks) and 5 years (fences).


  • Needs preparation before applying.

4. #1 Deck Premium Wood Stain

The #1 Deck Premium is a semi transparent or solid deck stain that is of premium quality and performs amazingly. This makes look your wood beautiful as gives a flat and natural look. This is an environmentally friendly and water-based solution. This can be used on exterior softwoods, and also protects against moisture and harmful ultraviolet rays.

This comes with an easy cleaning feature (soapy water) and has a very low odor. It requires no thinning and might be destroyed due to it. This is a product that is average with no extra advantages or disadvantages but can easily be used for any quick projects.


  • This can protect your wood from harmful UV rays.

  • A water-based deck stain that comes with an easy cleanup.

  • It gives a dry, natural and flat finish to your product and is available in 4 varieties.

  • This has low VOCs (<50 g/L).

  • It is suitable for all types of softwood such as pressure-treated pine, fir, cedar or redwood.

  • The product is manufactured with strict quality standards.

  • This one saves your wood and is an innovative solution to use.


  • This is a good product for exterior use.

  • This provides UV protection.

  • Also has moisture resistance.

  • This is a sealant and stain both.

  • Comes with an easy cleanup feature.

  • It comes with a low odor.


  • This is not a suitable product for thinning.

  • Cannot be used for interior applications.

5. Thompson’s Waterseal Th.041851-16 Transparent Waterproofing Stain

The Thompsons outdoor wood sealer is again a unique brand and is sold as a wood stain and a sealer both. You can just save your cost and labor with this unusual product. This is used on exterior wood products and is available in 5 different staining colors for you to choose from. It just gives a natural look to your wooden surface along with providing protection and enhances the appearance.

This is again all-in-one protection. The product boats of exceeding the industry standards ASTM D-4446, and is worth a waterproofing wood. It shows some of the natural wood texture and grain after use, though categorized as transparent. This dries up very quickly in a few hours.


  • A great transparent stain that prevents water damage.

  • It is made of advanced polymers that provide a fade-resistant color.

  • It can be applied with freshly cleaned up damp or dry wood.

  • The coating of this stain is mold and mildew resistant and protects from UV damage.

  • This exceeds the industry standards ASTM D-4446.

  • After applying this wonderful stain, the appearance enhances along with providing protection.


  • After finish, it resists mildew and protects from UV rays.

  • It can be applied on damp or dry wood.

  • This amazing product exceeds the industry standards as a water-proofing stain.

  • This prevents water damage and is available in 5 different colors.

  • This is manufactured with advanced polymers that prevent fading.

  • A wonderful all-in-one application.


  • The surface of the wood needs to be prepared before applying this stain.

The Points To Ponder Before Purchasing The Best Wood Deck Stain

When anyone applies a coat of exterior stain on any natural wood then the woodgrains pop, the excitement occurs, isn’t it! Once choosing you should go for a best quality wood stain, a durable product and should be taken care of before applying.

Determining The Wood Type

The type of wood you have matters a lot, as any sort of softwoods absorbs stain quicker than the hardwood surfaces. Just after one coat application, they come out dark. Oak and cherry hardwood type require a number of coats for making the base look dark. You can yourself find out the type of wood, for e.g. the hardwood surfaces are smoother than the softwood ones. The softwood surface can be blotchy and have inconsistent wood grain.

best stain for outdoor furniture

Choosing The Level Of Protection

When you choose a deck stain, it’s much obvious that you should go for the best quality exterior stain, that possesses the maximum protective features.

The Type Of Stain To Buy: Two main factors here

The level of quality varies for different surfaces when you choose. Supposing, an outdoor furniture piece that is constructed with fine wood needs be given a perfect finish than the decks and fences that are not so noticed.

Since the product is used on outdoor and exterior surfaces, then they should completely incorporate with mold, mildew and UV resistance along with waterproofing. You should go for combination sealant and stain for giving the maximum protection to your wooden surfaces. So, choose the best one that your wooden space deserves.

How To Prepare Exterior Wood For Staining

Preparing The Wood For Staining

There might be unevenness on your softwood and it may be blotchy, so it is good to apply a pre-stain cleaner on the surface before applying the stain. If needed, the wood can be sanded for the best results.

The sandpaper makes it more difficult for the wood to absorb and gives a lighter appearance. The coarser grade will absorb better and the surface will be left darker after applying.

What Is To Be Stained

A wide brush is required to stain decks and fences. Any exterior surfaces that are small, require a foam or a regular brush along with disposable rags and a lot of rags. Keep smaller drags, so that they shouldn’t spoil or wipe the stain that you apply. Smaller drugs are easy to control and can be cut in smaller pieces.

Precautions For Safety Before Staining

A sponge brush, a regular stain brush and rags can be used. As the brushes can absorb the stain so they can provide an even spread over the wood. It is difficult to get off the stain from your hands so always pair it with vinyl or latex gloves, as protection for your hands. As the stains emit strong fumes, preferably open and well-ventilated area should be chosen for staining your wooden surfaces.

Applying Exterior Stain On Small Projects

The exterior stain needs to be applied on the brush prior for soaking up. After that it should rubbed along the wood line or grain. The stain should be applied liberally for a good finish and should be kept for 5 to 15 minutes approximately. The hardwoods require a lot of time for absorbing the stain, so you should wait for a longer time. More coats have to applied on hardwood surfaces.

A time duration of 5 to 15 minutes should be used to make it rest and later to be wiped down with a rag. For applying the second coat according to your requirement for darkening the surface, 4 to 6 hours should be waited for and applied again in the same direction that you did prior for a good finish. The drying time should be about 15 minutes and the excess stain can be wiped off then. After the desired darkening of your wooden surface or project let it sit for 8 hours or so.

The Last Verdict

Do you want your wooden projects to look rough and dull? I am sure, no.

Applying a superior quality wood stain is a great way to keep your wooden spaces look lustrous, well-protected and durable. After going through the products, buying tips you can easily decide the type of wood stain your wood deserves.

Frequently Asked Question's

Q1. Which Deck Stain Lasts Long?

Ans 1. The deck stains that are solid and dark in appearance tend to last long. Most of the deck stains discussed above last for at least three years or more. Behr is supposed to be the deck stain with most long-lasting quality and is a solid deck, fence and aiding wood stain.

Q2. How Many Coats Of Stain Are Required?

Ans 2. Softwoods require one good coat for staining and the hardwoods may require a maximum of 2 coats, as the absorption takes time while dealing with hardwood surfaces. It depends on the type of wood you use. The deck stain should be liberally used while applying.

Q3. How Often Should The Deck Be Oiled?

Ans3. It is extremely important to maintain your deck and keep it looking fresh. The oiling should be done every 6 to 12 months to add life to your wooden deck. Your deck will look best throughout the year as will be well kept by a regular oiling schedule. Take good care of your deck by oiling it regularly.

Q4. Can Sanding Be Done In Between The Coats Of Stain?

Ans 4. You can sand in between coats to give a smoother finish, though the final coat should never be sanded. Water-based coats can be used for sanding after drying up. After the surface is dry after the first coat you can use 220 or 240 grit sandpaper can be used for lightly sanding the surface.

Q5. Do Oil-based Stains Need Sealing?

Ans5. Oil-based stains should or should not be sealed, depends on the features of your wood stain. Sealing gives more protection and a long-lasting finish. Most of the deck stains mentioned in the article are stain and sealer both. Though sealing brings more clarity on the topcoat of the stain.