How To Choose The Right Exterior Wood Stain For Your Project

Wood-staining is a procedure that dates back to the early centuries. Can you envision finishing your deck with an accustomed wood sealant, the exterior surface looking all glossy and waterproof with a beautifully visible wood stain? Then progressively, a year or two due to sunshine and seasonal precipitation leaves the once beautiful finish peeling and cracked. Now you have to go back again condemned to spending more time redoing the work again.

What is Exterior Wood Stain?

Unlike the other film-forming finishes such as paints or sealants, wood stain usually soaks into a wood surface blending its color without corrugating layers that can easily peel or crack.

Although wood stains might not be as wear-resistant as other wood finishes, they have proven to be unique through efficient application and adequately effortless maintenance. Normally, wood stains are solvents composed of oil or water-based, which are important pigments in providing the surface with color as well as protecting it from UV rays.

Types of Exterior Wood Stain

  • Oil-Based Wood Stain

Originally, oil-based wood stains have been used on outdoor structures as well as applied on the decks for the longest time. The stains usually absorb into the wood efficiently and dry slowly, making the process easy to achieve an even, perfect professional finish. Oil-based wood stains are long-lasting and durable if applied in the proper way as well as maintenance is as simple and easy as reapplying the stain. It is also among the most economical options available.

It is important to apply an oil-based wood stain in a properly aerated area such as outdoors which is preferably perfect since it contains volatile organic compounds which evaporate into the thin air and are potentially hazardous to the environment in general and more or so to the people. Following the manufacturer’s safety recommendations to the latter will minimize the chances of using a respirator because the ventilation will be sufficient.

Take note that wood stains can potentially attract mildew over a long period, especially if they are applied as a dense coat or in a generally damp environment.

  • Water-Based Wood Stain

This type of exterior wood stain is a relatively new technology, and it offers some specific benefits. Research has it that some water-based wood stains are more resistant to ultraviolet rays as compared to the oil-based wood stains and hence they conveniently last longer without maintenance.

Water-based stains contain zinc for extra frostiness and rot resistance hence it is not easy to attract microorganisms. Application of water-based stain is rather safer and then clean up only requires soap and water.

The application of the water-based stain is rather more complex as compared to the oil-based stain because it slowly absorbs into the wood therefore it does not absorb into the wood and dries out more quickly. A careful application is required to ensure an even more beautiful finish.

  • Hybrid Wood Stain

An incorporated blend of the oil-based stain and the water-based stain brings about the hybrid wood stain. Hybrid stains integrate the long-lasting and low VOC components of the water-based stain with oil-based products which possess a high-level visual appeal and are easy to apply.

What are the Qualities of a Good Wood Stain?

Various types of wood stains have numerous overlapping properties, including:

  • Transparent: – Woodworkers lean toward applying transparent wood stains on surfaces possessing a pretty-looking natural grain. The wood stain not only dyes the wood surface but also allows it to shine through in all its greatness.
  • Semi-Solid: – The wood stain usually dries in a semi-opaque-looking appearance centering the coloration.
  • Solid: – Opaque stains are often lighter or a particular form of paint, which essentially dries completely concealing the wood grain.
  • Natural Dye or Pigment: – Natural organic compounds manufacture an extensive variety of stain colors.
  • Synthetic Dye or Pigment: – Carrying out trials with synthetic dyes and pigments has resulted in achieving more uniform, accessible wood stains as compared to the natural compounds.
  • Petroleum-Based Solvents: – These types of solvents assist in the mixing of the stain evenly, but they are hazardous because they evaporate into a toxic gas hence, they should be handled in an aerated environment and handled with care.
  • Non-Toxic Solvents: – These are environment-friendly-based solvents but are usually hard to apply.

How to Choose the Right Wood Stain for Your Project

There is no particular wood stain that is affirmative for every single project. The kind of product you choose often depends on a particular project, the experience of the wood maker, and personal preferences. You should consider the following when selecting an exterior wood stain:

  • Considering the magnitude of the sun the wood will receive, water-based wood stain offers the best ultraviolet resistance according to research
  • Understand the type and nature of the wood you intend to finish. Softwoods such as cedar or pine are very high absorbents hence, they dry quickly making the water-based wood stains a not-so-good idea to use as they will not have an even finish.
  • The climate factor plays a major role in choosing the kind of wood stain to choose on your project. For example, a warm humid climatic area makes your project prone to rot and mildew if you use an oil-based product.
  • Before applying your product to the entire surface or deck, you need to test it to see how well it works.

How to Maintain an Exterior Wood Satin

One of the principal merits of wood stains over other finishing products is the easy maintenance. Both the water and oil-based stains usually need reapplication after a few years due to wear and exposure. Considering that stains are very easy to reapply compared to other products, the job of sprucing and revamping is often an easy task.

Stains usually wear down thus a simple wash is sufficient preparation before another reapplication.


Exterior wood stains may not necessarily make deck or lawn furniture appear distinctly or luxurious in most cases but for a lot of people, it is the best balance of an outstanding appearance, easy maintenance, and protection from the elements.