Mold, rot, fading, flaking, and other issues are common in outdoor living wood spaces due to their exposure to a variety of harsh elements. The best exterior wood stain will help you avoid these problems while also improve the appearance of your outdoor wood furniture.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.; Requires no back brushing and will nerver leave runs, laps, or streaks.
Bestseller No. 2
Krylon K03601000 Exterior Semi-Transparent Wood Stain, Cedar, 12 Ounce
Krylon K03601000 Exterior Semi-Transparent Wood Stain, Cedar, 12 Ounce
Premium, durable stain; Water repellent and UV fade protection; Fast, even coverage; Model number: K03601000
Bestseller No. 3
General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Wood Stain, 1 Quart, Black Walnut
General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Wood Stain, 1 Quart, Black Walnut
Product can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed; soap and water cleanup
Bestseller No. 4
DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone
DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone
100 VOC COMPLIANT - Ships to all states including California

Top 8 best exterior wood stain on the market

Cabot Australian Timber Oil

Cabot 140.0003400.005 Australian Timber Oil, Quart, Natural
Cabot 140.0003400.005 Australian Timber Oil, Quart, Natural
  • This item is a Cabot Australian Timber Oil Penetrating Oil Formula Natural 1 Qt
  • Purpose of use for Painting Supplies, household-wood-stains
  • This product is manufactured in United States
Applying a stained layer over the wood’s surface often goes along with altering its natural color. And this is an unexpected result if the natural beauty of the wood is something you want to show off.

You do not need to worry about this problem when using Cabot Australian Timber Oil. Its translucent color makes it the best exterior wood stain for outdoor furniture when you love the natural color of the wood surfaces.

Another outstanding feature of this wood stain is its 3-way oil protection. This is achieved thanks to a special formula including linseed oil, tung oil, and long-oil alkyds.

This combination not only protects the wood from extreme weather but also enhances the texture and the wood grain.

In addition, the iron oxide pigments are also integrated with the stain to help absorb UV rays from the sun.

PROS
  • 5 wood-toned colors are available
  • Protect the wood surfaces in 3 ways
  • The translucent finish does not obscure natural wood grain
CONS
  • Not available for interior

Ready Seal Stain and Sealer for Wood

Ready Seal 112 1-Gallon Can Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
Ready Seal 112 1-Gallon Can Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It reaches its true color in approximately 14 days. Do not apply Ready Seal over painted or newly stained surfaces. Sealed surfaces inhibit penetration.
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.
  • Requires no back brushing and will nerver leave runs, laps, or streaks.
  • Requires no wet-line application, the product will blend itself and can be applied in any temperature range for proper application.
  • Requires no diluting or thinning prior to spray applications.
This Ready Seal wood stain is simple to use. Unlike most stains on the market that require primer and sealer, this oil-based semi-transparent finish combines stain and sealer in one.

As a result, it cuts out unnecessary steps during the application process, saving you time and money. You may also apply the stain with a brush, roller, or sprayer.

Despite its simple application, it still provides excellent coverage for wood surfaces.

Before applying this stain, you should clean and strip your existing porch first. By doing this, the unique formula of the stain allows it to penetrate deep into wood in minutes regardless of the outside temperature.

This is believed to be the best exterior wood stain for pine because the semi-transparent color allows the pinewood grain to show through and enhance its natural look.

In addition, the combination of oil stain and sealer would give full protection for softwood like pine.

Just keep in mind that you should wait at least 45 minutes before applying the second coat and that the cure period will take anywhere from 3 to 4 days, depending on the weather and the porosity of the wood.

PROS
  • There are 8 semi-transparent colors
  • No streaks or runs
  • Available to many types of weather and temperature
  • Suitable with other paint tools (roller, sprayer, brush)
  • Biodegradable
CONS
  • Drying time is lengthy (48 to 72 hours)
  • All previous stains must be removed.

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone
DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone
  • WATER-BASED SEMI-TRANSPARENT WOOD STAIN – This environmentally friendly, water based deck stain allows the wood grain to show through with a beautiful semi-transparent, natural matte finish. It's great for staining wood decks, fences, siding, playsets, outdoor patio furniture, and more.
  • FORTIFIED WITH ZINC NANO-PARTICLE TECHNOLOGY– It’s like sunscreen for your wood. Tiny zinc particles dispersed throughout the stain reflect damaging UV rays, preventing premature graying and color loss.
  • EXTREMELY DURABLE, QUALITY THAT LASTS – DEFY Extreme wood stains are made with the highest quality resins available that have better resistance to fading and darkening. The result is a quality semi-transparent deck stain that typically lasts a season or two longer than competitive products. Keep your deck, fence or siding looking great for longer by using DEFY premium wood stains.
  • EASY TO MAINTAIN – When it’s time to do a maintenance coat, there’s no need to sand or strip the surface again. Simply brighten the wood with DEFY Wood Brightener and apply a single maintenance coat of DEFY Extreme Wood Stain.
  • 100 VOC COMPLIANT - Ships to all states including California
A water-based wood stain like DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent would be the best exterior wood stain for cedar and other oil woods. This is because oil woods are naturally water repellent. Therefore, using an oil-based stain is not necessary.

The finish, which uses zinc nano-particle technology, acts as a barrier, reflecting ultraviolet rays from the sun and preventing your wood from graying and losing its color.

This water-based stain also requires simple maintenance. Firstly, it allows you to clean your wood quickly just with soap and water. Furthermore, when the wood becomes dull and you want to recoat the area, you do not need to sand or strip the wood surface, just a quick scrub with soap and water is enough.

PROS
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Built-in sunscreen technology
  • Many different colors to choose from
CONS
  • Very limited coverage (100 to 150 square feet per gallon)

Read More:

KILZ Waterproofing Wood Stain

KILZ L832211 Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain, Semi-Transparent, Redwood, 1-Gallon, 1 Gallon, 4 l
KILZ L832211 Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain, Semi-Transparent, Redwood, 1-Gallon, 1 Gallon, 4 l
  • A good exterior wood stain offers long-lasting protection, waterproofing and a mildew-resistant finish that maintains the integrity and beauty of wood in variable outdoor conditions
  • Our 100% Acrylic formula protects wood from rain, snow and sun damage. This stain is warrantied up to 3 years on decks and up to 5 years on fences and siding (see label for details).
  • Use on properly prepared new to moderately weathered and unsealed exterior wood surfaces (0-10 years exposure) including decks, shingles, wood patio furniture, railings, siding, shakes and fences.
  • This semi-transparent stain provides a mildew-resistant finish and UV protection. Coverage of up to 250 square feet For the first coat and up to 500 square feet For the second coat.
  • This is a 1-Gallon can of KILZ exterior waterproofing, semi-transparent wood stain in Redwood.
If your wood has defects or its natural color is normal, then KILZ Waterproofing Wood Stain would be a wise choice. This is because the opaque color of this stain will cover all of them and bring your wood a new appearance.

This finish, which is made entirely of acrylic, protects your wood from all types of weather damage, including rain, snow, and heat, while still preserving its natural beauty.

Another outstanding feature of this product is that it has a long warranty which lasts 3 years on decks and up to 5 years on siding and fences. This would be useful for a water-based finish that needs to be preserved regularly.

However, you must satisfy a range of conditions to be eligible for the warranty.

This stain is also cost-effective when 1 gallon of stain can cover up to 250 and 500 square feet for the first coat and the second coat respectively.

Due to its opaque property, 5-year warranty, and cost-effectiveness, Kilz Waterproofing Wood Stain would be the best exterior wood stain for siding.

PROS
  • Long warranty
  • 100% Acrylic
  • Reasonable price
CONS
  • Require a lot of preparation work

SaverSystem #1 Deck Premium

#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, & Siding - 1 Gallon (Light Walnut)
#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, & Siding - 1 Gallon (Light Walnut)
  • PROTECTS AGAINST COLOR FADE AND PREVENTS GRAYING - #1 Deck Protects Wood From Damage Caused By Exposure to the Elements. Can Be Used On Pressure Treated Pine, Cedar, Fir, Redwood, or Most Other Softwoods. Hardwoods Will Require More Frequent Maintenance Coats.
  • BOTH A DECK STAIN & DECK SEALANT IN ONE - #1 Deck Stain Is a Dual-Purpose Stain & Sealer. It Adds Color to Your Wood and Seals it, Preventing Damage Caused by Water Penetration.
  • ALLOWS THE WOOD GRAIN TO SHOW THROUGH - Available in 5 Beautiful, Semi-Transparent Deck Stain Colors That Dry to Flat, Natural Looking Finishes That Will Enhance the Beauty of Your Exterior Wood.
  • BETTER FOR THE PLANET, EASY SOAP & WATER CLEANUP - With Less Than 50 g/L VOC Content, #1 Deck Sealer Is a Better Choice For Our Planet. Clean Up is Super Easy - Just Use Soap and Water.
  • WORKS ON DAMP WOOD, MINIMIZING THE WAIT TIME BETWEEN CLEANING AND STAINING - Once Your Wood Deck Is Visibly Dry, It's Ready to Stain.
Are you fed up waiting for too long so that your wood can dry completely before applying the stain? If yes, Deck Premium stain is the one for you.

This stain works very well on damp wood. This means after cleaning and brightening your wood you just need to wait for only one day to apply the stain.

When it comes to protection, this water-based stain is created using the latest technology to enable the stain to penetrate deeply into the hardwood. As a result, it not only protects your furniture from UV rays but also resists mold, rot, and algae.

Another point that’s worth mentioning is that this stain requires simple application and maintenance. For application, the combination of stain and sealer allows you to add colors to the wood and seal it with just one step.

Besides, when the wood gets dull, simply clean it with soap and water before applying one coat to bring it back to life. This is a typical advantage of a water-based stain.

That being said, this stain is very thin and will be soaked into the wood very quickly. As a result, you may need to purchase a large number of gallons to complete your project.

PROS
  • Work on damp wood
  • Causeless harm to the environment
  • Easy and simple cleanup
  • Do not affect the natural wood look
  • Dual effect
  • Low VOC content
CONS
  • Quite thin

Olympic Stain Maximum

Olympic Stain Maximum Deck Stain, Cedar, 1-Gallon (411010)
Olympic Stain Maximum Deck Stain, Cedar, 1-Gallon (411010)
  • Enhanced Waterproofing Protection To Help Make Sure Your Wood Is Protected From Cracking Due To Water
  • It provides enhanced waterproofing and sunblock UV defense to strengthen, protect, and condition wood fibers, ensuring the wood's natural beauty lasts.
  • Olympic Maximum With Weather-Ready Application Is Also Specifically Formulated To Allow You To Stain When You Want, Not When The Weather Dictates All While Getting The Same Excellent Results
  • Item Package Weight: 9.34 Pounds
Do you live in a harsh area where it’s difficult to find a suitable time to stain your wood? Then, you can consider the Olympic Stain Maximum.

This stain helps you to complete this project regardless of whether the weather is hot or cold, or even if it rains.

To perform well in harsh environments, this stain is enhanced in terms of waterproofing protection and sunblock. This shields your wood from the effects of moisture and UV rays.

Moreover, this stain also combines stain and sealant into one to reduce application steps and save user’s time while beautifying the look of your wood.

This wood stain comes in three different sizes: a gallon, a quart, and a five-gallon container. This makes selecting the appropriate size for a project much easier for users.

PROS
  • Simple application
  • Can be applied regardless of the weather
  • Excellent waterproofing protection
  • Advanced sunblock
CONS
  • Quite expensive

SEAL-ONCE NANO

Sale
SEAL-ONCE Nano Penetrating Wood Sealer & Stain (Clear) - Water-Based, Low-vOC waterproofer for Fences, siding, Beams, Furniture & Log Homes. … (1 Gallon)
SEAL-ONCE Nano Penetrating Wood Sealer & Stain (Clear) - Water-Based, Low-vOC waterproofer for Fences, siding, Beams, Furniture & Log Homes. … (1 Gallon)
  • Water-based sealer with advanced penetrating nanotechnology. This premium wood sealer performs like an Oil-based product, without any noxious solvents or toxic chemicals
  • Great investment to enhance and extend the natural life of wood. Protects against water damage for up to 10 years on vertical surfaces & 6 years on horizontal.
  • Ultra Low-VOC wood sealer will not harm people, pets, plants or marine life. Easy to apply with soap & water clean-up. Save time with wet on damp application.
  • Prevents warping, cupping, wood rot, mold, mildew, staining, decay & will not peel like many topical sealers that only form a top-coat.
  • Can be tinted in 11 different semi-transparent wood stains. Tinted stains give added UV protection against fading. Clear formula allows wood to turn gray naturally
Seal-Once Nano stain employs nanotechnology to provide unrivaled protection against acid, mold, decay, and UV rays for your wood.

Unlike other stains, which use a sealant to provide an exterior protective coating for the wood, the nanoparticles in this stain create a breathable barrier that covers the wood fibers at the cellular level, deep beneath the surface.

This flexible barrier not only protects the wood from external hard elements but also gives room for expansion and contraction. It also allows any water trapped inside to vaporize and go out.

The fact that this stain protects your wood from both inside and outside influences makes it the best wood stain for fences, siding, and other furniture exposed to rains and sunlight daily.

PROS
  • Performs like oil-based stain without any toxic solvents or harmful chemicals.
  • Works well on damp wood
  • Easy clean-up
  • Work on finished and sealed wood
CONS
  • Wood turns gray over time.

Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey

Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey Exterior Penetrating Stain - Caspian Clear - Gallon
Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey Exterior Penetrating Stain - Caspian Clear - Gallon
  • Ships Within 24 Hours. Arrives within 3 Business days, to most locations
  • LOW VOC
  • Water- and heat-resistant, ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Eco-Friendly, durable finish
  • Natural Ingredients
If you do not want to breathe in chemicals, Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey would be the top choice.

This wood stain is made of natural and renewable ingredients and has an extremely low level of VOCs. You could barely smell anything even when you are applying it.

This is the reason why it’s considered the best exterior wood stain for a bench. You do not want to smell any harmful chemicals when sitting on a bench, right?

So, how does this natural stain work? Well, it works wonders just like other oil-based products to protect your wood from moisture, mold, rot, heat, and harmful UV rays.

However, to achieve that high performance, you have to do quite a lot of preparation work. It’s also a little tricky when the manufacturer says that you should apply the second coat when the first coat is still damp.

PROS
  • Low level of VOCs
  • Eco-Friendly
  • Natural Ingredients
  • Water- and heat-resistant
CONS
  • Not recommended for exotic wood
  • Takes a long time to cure

What to consider when choosing exterior wood stain

Stain and Sealer

They are quite the same. The biggest difference is that while the stain has color, the sealer is transparent.

Oil-Based and Water-Based

Oil-based stain is better than water-based one in terms of durability. Oil-based stains are water repellent naturally. So, it will not let water get into and damage your wood.

On the other hand, water-based stains are more eco-friendly and human-friendly. This kind of stain does not require a solvent or toxic chemicals in its ingredients. As a result, it has a lower level of VOCs which do harm to the environment and human health.

Stain opacity

stain opacity

The stain opacity determines not only the final color that you like but also the level of protection for your wood.

Normally, four basic opacities are available on the market including toner, semi-transparent, semi-opaque, and opaque. The level of pigment increases with this order.

And remember that the more pigments a stain has, the less wood stain can show through and the longer the wood is protected and vice versa.

Level of protection

protect wood stain from water

A good wood stain has to protect your wood from water, UV rays, and the growth of white and black molds. So, when you are looking for a wood stain, do not forget to look for those levels of protection.

Best way to apply exterior wood stain

Besides choosing the best stain for your project, applying the stain to your wood in a proper way is also important because it helps maximize the effects of the stain.

Here are some notes that you should keep in mind when doing this DIY project:

  • Always check the weather forecast before getting started

Although some brands claim that their stains can work well on damp wood, it is always best to apply stain when the wood or weather is dry.

  • Apply the stain when the temperature is not too hot or not too cold

You should not apply stain under direct sunlight and the perfect temperature would fall into the range of 10-32 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the stain has time to penetrate before drying and there would be no overlap.

  • Do not leave any surface uncovered

The uncovered spots can be where the moisture and water are absorbed into the wood. Therefore, it’s important to seal any cut or damaged areas and to coat all surfaces if possible.

Final words

We hope that after reading this article, you already have some ideas about the best exterior wood stains for your project. An oil-based stain would be a perfect choice for exterior projects and among the above-mentioned ones, Cabot Australian Timber Oil comes out as an outstanding candidate.

Apart from giving 3-way protection thanks to its unique formula, this stain also contains iron oxide pigments that help absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun and enhance the natural beauty of the wood.