Best Outdoor Wood Sealers – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

outdoor wood sealer

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Top pick


Thompson’s WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector


The Best Outdoor Wood Sealer


Thompson’s WaterSeal is a trusted brand. Its Advanced Natural Wood Protector provides the strongest protection against harm conditions for your outdoor decks and wooden projects. Thompson’s guarantees satisfaction.

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Wood has always been mankind’s favorite building material, but it has always had one major problem. Because it is an organic material, wood will always rot, whether sooner or later. That’s a natural problem, but the modern world has provided an elegant and convenient solution.

I am talking, of course, about the various wood sealers on the marketThompson’s WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector is my top pick which ensures that the project you’re working on maintains its integrity for a long time.

Below, I’ve listed the top 13 outdoor wood sealers to help you choose which one is right for your outdoor wooden project. So, let’s take a quick look at my top picks.

Best Outdoor Wood Sealers in May, 2021

 Wood sealerCovers (quart)Dry time (minutes)Sheen 
1Thompsons WaterSeal
Editor's Choice
75 sq ft120satin Check Price
2Rainguard Sealerup to 50 sq ft60satin Check Price
3Thompsons WaterSeal Wood Protector100 sq ft60satin Check Price
4Agra Life Lumber-Seal
up to 150 sq ft30satin Check Price
5DEFY Crystal Clear Sealer 50 - 75 sq ft120 - 240matte Check Price
6Waterlox Original Sealer125 sq ft24 hourssatin Check Price
7Anchorseal 2up to 100 sq ft60matte Check Price
8SEAL-ONCE Wood Sealer62,5 - 87,5 sq ft180 - 240matte Check Price
9Olympic Waterguard62,5 - 87,5 sq ft120satin Check Price
10Agra Life Clear Cedarup to 200 sq ft45satin Check Price
11DeckWise Ipe Seal 500 sq ft60-120satin Check Price
12Acri-Soy Sealerup to 150 sq ft30-60matte Check Price
13SEAL-ONCE Wood Exotic62,5 - 87,5 sq ft180 - 240satin Check Price

1. Thompson’s Advanced Natural Wood Protector – Best Outdoor Sealer for Pressure Treated Wood

Thompson is definitely one of the more respected names in this industry, so I have high hopes for this product. It’s a water-based formula that is meant to be used on the toughest exterior surfaces.

Built For Speed

Like a sports car, this product is built for those who want to go fast. It dries in slightly less than an hour and takes only 24 hours to cure fully. This is a great feature because it adds a lot to the convenience factor. No one has time to waste on products that take forever to dry.

On top of all that, this sealer has a thick, goopy consistency that makes it easy to apply thickly. Once applied, you should not need to recoat. Unlike some of the products on my list, this one requires no mixing, which saves you even more time. Add an easy clean-up process to the equation, and you have a product that is almost certain to save you some time.

A Little Bit Expensive

This product is a little bit on the expensive side, but not that bad overall. A larger problem comes from several customer complaints that I found. A few people said that this sealer turned yellow. Still, there were only a few such complaints.

  • Dries within one hour, cures within a day
  • Contains ingredients that inhibit the growth of mold
  • Usually does the job in a single coat
  • Easy to clean with soap and water
  • No mixing required
  • A little on the expensive side
  • Some have reported issues with yellowing

2. Rainguard Concentrate Premium Wood Sealer  – Best Eco-Friendly Outdoor Wood Sealer

This is a sealer that focuses on one thing, and that one thing is rain resistance. It seems to do a good job in this department, causing water to bead on the surface of a deck after almost a year. This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that it’s one of the cheapest items on the list.

Effective And Well-Secured

Not only does this stuff keep the rain out, but it also contains ingredients that resist mold and mildew. Those are two of the worst enemies of outdoor wood, so that’s always a handy thing. Even though this article is focused on wood, I am glad to see that this product works on other surfaces as well.

As the icing on the cake, I might mention that this product is eco-friendly and comes with a 10-year guarantee. Although there are a few conditions to this offer, it shows a high degree of confidence on the part of the manufacturer.

Mixing needed

The only problem that we can see here is the fact that this product needs to be mixed with water in a certain ratio, which is why you can make two gallons from one quart.

Wood Sealer Water Repellent Protection For Wood Surfaces

  • Exceptionally good water resistance
  • 10-year guarantee
  • Resists mold and mildew
  • Most inexpensive on our list
  • Works on just about any surface
  • Has to be mixed

3. Thompsons WaterSeal VOC Wood Protector  – Great Surface Compatibility for Decks and Fences

As this is one of the cheapest sealers on my list, it gets a few points right off the bat. For those with large projects to do, this sealer offers a chance to save a few bucks. Most buyers seem to agree that it delivers everything they need in a good sealer.

Functionality without gimmicks

Several people commented on the thick consistency of this sealer. Although this makes it impossible to use in a sprayer, the thick consistency has a couple of advantages. First of all, you are unlikely to need more than one coat. Second of all, it’s very easy to apply the product to the wood. Watery products tend to run and leak a little bit.


Based on a quick look at this product’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), it may not be quite as safe and non-toxic as advertised. Some of these chemicals are a little concerning, even if this product is less harsh than most.

Some people have also complained of an oily, grimy scum being left behind after the product dries. Many of those same people said this scum was hard to remove without damaging the finish.

Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Wood Protector – Clear Aerosol Spray Can

  • Doesn’t really change the color of the wood
  • Nice, thick consistency
  • Price is a pretty good value
  • Good functionality with no gimmicks
  • UV and mildew resistant
  • Some complain of an oily scum left behind
  • Might not be quite as safe and non-toxic as advertised

4. Agra-Life TriCoPolymer Lumber Seal – Great Overall Clear Wood Sealer

Here we have a sealer that focuses a lot of its attention on environmental concerns. They have made it about as safe and non-toxic as a product of this sort can ever be.

This Sealer Can Swim

While all sealers will provide a waterproof surface, this product takes it to another level. It is rated for flood resistance, which means that it can be left underwater for long periods without ruination. I find this pretty impressive, and we wonder why this feature isn’t seen more often.


Apart from the relatively high cost of this sealer, I can see one consistent complaint. At least three reviewers have complained that this product does not cure properly and remains tacky and sticky. Most have not reported these problems, however, which leads us to believe that this finish will have trouble hardening under some conditions.

  • Doesn’t require re-coating as often
  • Rated for flood protection
  • Compatible with most types of paint
  • Not very toxic or harsh at all
  • No reported issues with yellowing
  • Kind of expensive
  • Some have reported problems with curing

5. DEFY Crystal Clear Composite Deck Waterproofing Sealer – Sealer with Zinc

This product offers a few distinct advantages that are worth examining. First of all, the whole thing is water-based. That means you don’t have to worry about toxic fumes, toxic runoff, or any other environmental concerns. Water-based compositions like this one are also much easier to clean up when you are finished.

The Zinc Factor

The advertising for this product makes a big deal about the fact that it includes zinc. Zinc is a metal that is often used for coating steel, but it also has some useful chemical properties. It helps the deck to resist both UV damage and mold/mildew. The sun’s UV rays can have a harsh and degrading effect on your deck finish, and mold and mildew are also a major problem. By keeping out more of the sunlight, this product creates an environment where mold and mildew cannot grow.

Should Last A Long Time

Perhaps the biggest selling point of this item is its increased longevity. This product will normally last a year or two longer than most other products, and this is mainly due to its large amounts of protective ingredients. The manufacturers claim that they chose only the highest-quality resins for this product, and I think they are probably honest about that.

The Downsides

I can see a few problems with this product as well. For one thing, a lot of reviewers have claimed that this product doesn’t work. I found several negative reviews that mentioned this problem, saying that they could not tell any difference after using the product. Because most users did not report this problem, I have to conclude that this product requires multiple coats in order to be effective.

That’s a little bit of a problem because this is one of the more expensive products on the list. When you are forced to use multiple coats, the price per job becomes even more. Also, this sealer doesn’t leave the same kind of super-shiny finish that we see from some others, but some users may like that.

  • Easy cleanup
  • Non-toxic
  • Includes zinc for increased resistance to UV rays
  • Also resistant to mold and mildew
  • Superior longevity
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Often requires multiple coats
  • Not a lot of shine

6. Waterlox Original Marine Sealer – Marine Grade Outdoor Sealant

This is the only marine sealer on the list, which means that it will probably offer superior protection against water. If you don’t know what we mean, marine paints are suitable for watercraft. Thus, they are held to a much higher standard in the area of waterproofing. Some marine paints are meant to be used above the waterline only, but this one seems to be fine for general marine use.

Made From Tung Oil

This sealer is made from a natural substance called Tung oil. Tung oil was first used in ancient China and is obtained from the nut of the Tung tree. This substance falls under the category of a “drying oil,” meaning that it will dry to a hard finish (most oils do not do this). Tung oil provides a rich shine that is second to none in terms of beauty. Thus, for jobs in which appearance is paramount, this is a fine choice indeed.

The Downsides

Like many other marine paints, this one does not dry to a perfectly smooth finish. Its texture when dry is a little bit rough and lumpy. Because of this, it might not be the best choice for your deck. You will have to use a buffer (or some similar tool) if you want a smooth finish. Because of this extra work, you should not get this product unless you live in a particularly wet/humid area.

This one is also a little bit expensive. It comes in a quart can, but it’s actually more expensive than some of our gallon-size options! Because it is handmade with natural materials, we should probably expect a higher price. Still, not everyone can afford that kind of money for a sealer.

  • Made for maximum water resistance
  • Made from natural Tung oil
  • Creates a deep, rich shine
  • Good coverage
  • Can be applied over most stains
  • Usually requires buffing
  • Kind of expensive
  • Toxic until cured

7. Anchorseal 2 Green Wood Sealer – Ideal Against End Grain Checking

Anchorseal’s sealer has been used by professionals for decades. It is most widely known to protect wood against end grain checking. End grain checking is the term given to the splinters that you see at the end of wood planks that most often happens right after the wood is cut.

Keep in mind that as long as your piece of wood has some kind of end grain on it you can use this sealer. I’ve been using this sealer on all of my green wood blanks for about a year now and I definitely like it. Anchorseal does reduce cracking by quite a bit: the sealer really cuts down on checking, it actually decreases cracking by 90%. The quality is really good and it’s totally worth it.

Anchorseal is the top choice for most contractors when it comes to fixing end grain checking; after applying 2-3 coats, you will likely never have to worry about the splintering of that piece of wood again! It is most effective when applied right after the cut is made into the wood-hence the name “Green Wood Sealer.”

How Anchorseal works

To put it as simple as possible it is just a mixture of water and wax. As the sealer dries the water evaporates leaving a nice solid wax film over the end grain. It’s very simple to apply – just take the sealer and brush it to the end grain.

This product is almost wax-like when dried, so it is not made for sealing all kinds of projects. For example, you’d apply it to the end of the wood on your newly constructed deck, but you wouldn’t use it to stain the entire thing.

Also, be aware that this product should only be used to seal the ends of your wood project; it is not a stain and its waxy texture is not the right fit for areas that you’d walk on or frequently touch. It will also likely darken whatever wood that you apply it to, though it does dry clear.

So Anchorseal is a great solution to protect your wood against end grain checking. I’ve never had any problems with it.

  • Does a fantastic job of sealing end grain checking
  • Inexpensive
  • Once multiple coats are applied, no touch-ups are needed
  • Does not dry quickly
  • Not appropriate for larger project finish, like a deck or furniture

8. SEAL-ONCE NANO+POLY Penetrating Wood Sealer – Long-Lasting Exterior Sealer

This is a premium wood sealer, which means that its maker has put a little more effort into its quality. Of course, it also makes for a higher price, but that’s perfectly normal.

Meant For Long-Term Use

This product earns its asking price by providing a longer lifespan than most other sealers. While most sealers will need to be re-applied every 1-3 years, this one is supposed to last 6-10 years. That’s quite impressive, but we aren’t sure if this product has been around long enough to prove such a claim. The manufacturer promises ten years for vertical surfaces and six years for horizontal ones.

The Downsides

This product will be too expensive for some people, but that’s the price of high quality. Still, I can find a few failings with this stuff. According to both the company and many customers, this sealer will allow the wood to turn gray over time. While this is natural, it can result in an ugly deck. Thus, you need to add some kind of tint to this sealant unless you like the look of greyed wood.

Some people have also reported storage problems, saying that the product would separate into two layers after sitting in the can for a while. However, I’m suspicious of these claims, because such a problem could easily be solved by shaking the can.

  • Lasts for 6-10 years
  • Penetrates deeply
  • Water-based
  • Provides good scratch resistance
  • Pretty expensive
  • Allows wood to turn gray over time
  • Some have reported storage problems

9. Olympic Stain Waterguard Waterproofing Sealant – Cheap Option for Exterior Wood

This is one of the cheapest items on my list, so it’s automatically a great option for those on a budget (as long as it works). It claims to have all the same protections that we have seen on more expensive brands, like UV protection, mildew resistance, and all the other standard perks. I do like the fact that this product is specifically designed for decks (among other jobs).

A Mix Of Traits

This product is mostly a water-based sealant, but it does contain a little bit of linseed oil. Because of this, it has a high shine to its finish. It’s much less harsh than an oil-based sealer, but it can achieve a level of sheen that is comparable to an oil-based version.

The Downsides

When we take a look at various reviews, we can see one complaint that repeats itself: This product has apparently been changed from its original form. Those who have made this complaint say that the product is much more watered-down than it had previously been. As a result, they say, the effectiveness of the product has suffered. It could be that they went too far in their desire to be eco-friendly.

Because this is a bargain product, you should expect that it won’t be quite as nice as the more expensive kinds. It won’t have those special features and perks, but it will provide basic functionality. At the same time, you will probably have to use a lot of coats because this one is a little too thin.

  • Cheap option
  • Good for untreated or pressure-treated lumber
  • Protects against UV rays and mildew
  • Shines like an oil-based sealer
  • Product may have changed
  • Some reviewers say it’s too weak

10. Agra Life TriCoPolymer Cedar-Seal – Great Product to Treat Cedar

If you want a flat and nonreflective surface, this is the sealer to check. Some people just don’t want a shiny surface for whatever reason, and this product gives it to them with no fuss. In spite of its relatively high cost, this is a product that boasts a few advantages

The Advantages

This is a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) formula, which means it has very low toxicity. You certainly wouldn’t want to drink this stuff, but you shouldn’t have to worry about getting sick from its use. Overall, this is one of the least toxic choices we have.

I also like the fact that this sealer allows the wood to “sweat” a little bit. This keeps moisture from being trapped inside, where it will surely cause rotting. I was also surprised to learn that this stuff works in a sprayer. Most products of this type are too thick for a sprayer, so this is a significant advantage.

The Problems

I ain’t that concerned about the price, but I am concerned with something I saw in the advertising for this product. We are told that the wood will gradually turn grey if this product is used as a stand-alone coating. This can be dealt with by adding a dye to the sealer, but it’s pretty bad that this product requires that as an extra step.

  • Pretty safe for people and nature
  • Works on treated wood
  • Allows the wood to “sweat”
  • Provides a nonreflective surface
  • Can be used in a sprayer
  • A little expensive
  • Requires a coloring agent

11. Deckwise Ipe Seal Hardwood End Grain Sealer – Nice Waterproof Product to Protect Exotic Hardwoods

This is a very specialized type of sealer, making it different from our other choices. This one is specifically designed to prevent cracking at the ends. When a piece of wood begins to split, it always starts at the end, so this product can be used to stop a problem in its infancy.

Does Its Job Very Well

Whether used as an end sealer or a general-purpose sealer, this product seems to do its job very effectively. One of the most impressive things about this product is the fact that it gets about 500 square feet of coverage from a quart-sized can. This makes the product an even better bargain.

Dry Time

This one takes a full 48 hours to dry, so it’s not the one to choose when you’re in a hurry. Being wax-based, it has some slightly different properties, which could make it problematic for beginners. However, I can’t help but notice that this product offers no guarantee of effectiveness.

Wise Up! How to Prevent End Checking

  • Made to prevent edge cracking
  • Very good coverage for its size
  • Non-hazardous wax-based formula
  • Easy to use
  • Soap and water cleanup
  • Needs 48 hours to dry
  • No guarantee of any kind

12. EcoProCote Acri-Soy Penetrating Sealer – Multi-Use Sealant

This one is very different from the other sealers on my list, as it is made from soybean oil. This natural formulation makes the product a lot less toxic and a lot less stinky. You probably won’t even have to worry about a dust mask when using this stuff. For such a specialized product, its price is actually quite low.

Safe And Versatile

This product has two main selling points. For one, it’s a lot better for the environment than most other options. For another, it is said to last a lot longer. In fact, the advertising says that the finish will probably outlive you! I am skeptical of this claim, as only time will tell if it is true.

Long Dry Time

The biggest problem here is the factor of time-efficiency. This product takes days to fully dry, and some say that it can take weeks. Some of this will probably depend on your method of application, but that’s still a long delay. On top of that, this sealer has a thin consistency, so you’ll probably need multiple coats.

  • Provides a finish with exceptional longevity
  • Very safe for the environment
  • Seals any porous surface
  • Can be used below or over paint
  • Finish is very hard and durable
  • Takes 48 hours or more to dry
  • Usually requires multiple coats

13. SEAL-ONCE Exotic Sealer – Sealer for Exotic Wood

This is a water-based wood sealer from SEAL-ONCE, and there are several good things about that.

Non-Toxic, Long-Lasting, And Crystal Clear

First of all, you won’t really have to worry about choking your guts out from the fumes, as this product is pretty mild. You wouldn’t want to go sticking your nose in the can, but its odors aren’t that bad at all.

This product is specifically formulated for use on hardwoods, especially tropical hardwoods like teak and mahogany. These woods are so expensive that you would be crazy to leave them uncoated. If your target object is made of oak or walnut, you should see excellent results as well.

The Problems

There is no self-leveling feature with this product, and I can tell the difference. It’s not a huge difference, but it is a little harder to avoid putting brush strokes in the final finish. Obviously, these strokes will have to be buffed out (which is a pain), so be a little more careful when you use this sealer.

I should also mention that this product isn’t the best choice for softwoods. It is made for harder woods and may raise the grain of softer woods. By the time it dries, the wood has had time to absorb a lot of water, locking it inside forever as the sealant dries.

  • Great for hardwoods
  • Eco-friendly and non-toxic
  • Provides deep and lasting protection
  • Does the job in one coat
  • Does not change the appearance of the wood
  • Not well suited for soft woods
  • A little bit hard to level

Buyer’s Guide

The sealers listed above should give you a much better idea of what is available. Now it is time to cover some general information about wood sealers so that you can get a better idea of what you need.

How Does Wood Sealer Work?

best wood sealers buyers guideLike most other sealer products, wood sealers work through penetration. When you apply the product to your surface, it soaks into the wood while still a liquid. Thus, when it hardens, it hardens, fills and reinforces the surface of the wood. Depending on the porosity of your wood and the consistency of your sealer, the penetration should be pretty good.

Although there are products that combine stains and sealers, it’s important to realize that they are two different things. Stains are meant to color the wood while sealers are meant to provide moisture protection. Sealers are also distinct from varnishes, which only provide a water-resistant coating.

Types Of Wood Sealer

Like most products of this type, wood sealers are available in water-based or oil-based options. Water-based products seem to be the most popular, and there are several reasons for this fact. First of all, water-based products tend to have less odor and less toxicity. We have already seen some alternative-formulation products, and we can see that most of them are water-based.

A water-based finish will be a little bit harder, but it can sometimes give a cloudy finish that changes the color of the wood and obscures its natural grain. Still, this usually won’t happen unless you are using an expired can of the stuff. Some say the best thing about water-based finishes is their quick drying time.

Oil-based sealer products are the option for people who are a little more concerned with appearances. Oil-based finishes bring out the grain of the wood by darkening it and providing a high level of shine. When you see wood that is so shiny that it reflects the sunlight, you are probably looking at an oil-based finish.

Buying A Sealer For Outdoor Use

fence sealerAs you might guess from the title, this article is focused on sealers that are intended for outdoor use. Obviously, these have to be a little bit tougher than the others. They will have to tolerate all sorts of weather, and that warrants a change in the way you choose your sealer product.

Always make sure you get an outdoor sealer that offers strong UV protection. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are one of the main factors that cause your paint job to crack, peel, and flake away. Some people say that the UV radiation breaks down the finish at the molecular level, but this is false. UV radiation degrades paint and finishes by drying out the resin component.

You should also look for something that is a little more eco-friendly. You will probably be using this product outdoors, and it is almost inevitable that you will spill a drop or two. If nothing else, there will be some dripping from the end of the brush. So, unless you like having bare spots in your yard where no plants can grow, I would recommend that you either use a non-toxic sealer or seal the item indoors.

Applying Wood Sealer

As a first step, you should check the weather forecast for your area. Most sealers require somewhere between 1-3 days of curing time before their work is done. During this time, the sealer has not yet formed a hardened layer, so it is vulnerable to moisture. So, unless you want a bunch of ugly water beads trapped in the sealer, make sure you will have 2-3 days of dry weather.

The second step is to prepare the working surface. This will include a thorough cleaning with soap and water, and you might also have to remove the remnants of the old finish. If there are any other problems you want to deal with, this is the time to do so. Remember: If you put down sealer without fixing the underlying problems, those problems will be sealed in place forever.

Once your surface is clean and bare, you should lay down some plastic to protect the surrounding area from the overspray. No matter how careful you are, there will be some overspray, so make sure you cover any nearby plants that you like.

Finally, you paint the sealer onto the surface with a soft brush. Sprayers are not recommended because sealers are usually too thick for them, and rollers tend to leave too many streaks and marks. You have to be more careful about leaving streaks and marks because wood sealers will usually dry pretty fast. While this is very convenient, it also means that you don’t have a lot of working time.

Frequently Asked Questions

deck patioWhat is a wood sealer?

Wood sealer is a plastic-based product that is used to coat wooden surfaces. This protects them from moisture and creates a smooth, transparent surface. Sealers work by penetrating the pores of the wood. When the sealant hardens, it hardens the entire surface of the wood at the same time.

How to apply wood sealer?

The usual way to apply a wood sealer is to use a brush. You should use a soft brush and spread it onto the surface, just as you would do with paint. It is recommended to use fast, brisk strokes because this stuff usually dries pretty quickly. Before you get started, it is important that you give your deck a good washing. Any dirt or debris that might be present will prevent the sealer from adhering to that spot. Thus, there will be a weak point in your deck’s protective armor. It’s also important to protect adjacent areas from any potential overspray.

In many cases, you will need to do some basic restoration before you can apply your wood sealer. If the deck is damaged in any way, a sealer will only trap the problem inside. First, go over the surface of the deck and drive any raised nails that you might see. As wood swells and contracts, it pushes the nails upward. That creates snags and will ruin the nice flat surface that you need. Use a hammer and punch so that you don’t have to strike the surface of the wood.

It will also be necessary to remove any remnants of the previous finish. These little bits of peeling paint will keep your sealer from doing its job, so all of it has to go. This can most easily be done using a pressure washer. If that doesn’t take care of the problem, your next step should be to apply a deck cleaning solution. If this is done, be sure to wet the grass and plants around your deck thoroughly. That way, any runoff will be diluted and made weaker. If you don’t do this, it’s very easy to kill your grass.

What is the difference between wood stain and wood sealer?

In some cases, you can find products that function as both stains and sealers. However, most people choose to use them separately. Staining and sealing are two completely different jobs that are done for completely different purposes. Stains are used to change the appearance of the deck by changing the color (or at least the shade). Sealers are generally transparent, so they don’t change the color of the wood. They do provide a nice shine, but sealers are meant to be functional rather than decorative.

What is the best sealer for a wood deck?

There are many potential answers to this question, as every situation is different. That is why I recommended many products instead of one. You will have to choose the best product based on your needs. I would advise you to think about the scope of the job, the price of the materials, the type of wood involved. You should also think about the average rainfall in your area, and the average humidity level as well.

How often should I seal my deck?

Nothing lasts forever, and a wood sealer is no exception. It is generally recommended that you re-seal your deck every 1-3 years. Of course, that’s a big range, so you should think about your conditions and materials when choosing a re-sealing schedule. Obviously, areas with more rainwater and harsher weather conditions will cause sealers to deteriorate more quickly.

What is the best way to seal a wood deck?

I provided a good answer to this question earlier, but this is a good opportunity to mention another method that some people recommend. Rather than applying the sealer with a brush, some people choose to use a garden sprayer as a way to deliver the sealant to its target.

You don’t want to try a paint gun because a sealant will clog the tip very quickly. A garden sprayer may also get clogged from time to time, but they are a little easier to clean. If you go with this option, I would recommend that you use a brush for the railings. The garden sprayer should work fine for the deck surface, but using it on the railings will just cause too much overspray.


Wood sealer may be a fairly simple product, but its purchase should be considered carefully. You might think that no manufacturer could mess up something so simple, but it does unfortunately happen. That’s why you should stick with products that have a good reputation (asking your friends is never a bad place to start, we’re also recommending checking our questions page for further consultation). I hope that we have given you a good start on this process and that you will come back again for more of my advice (you can always ask us a question directly, or comment below).

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  1. Hi there!
    It’s spring so I finally decided to finish my porch decks to make them last longer. I’ve studied many wood finishes to find out the best solution and I suppose stains and sealer are what I exactly need. But actually they have many similar properties and that’s confusing me. Which one do I really need? Hope you will glad to help me, thanks!

    1. Hi, Sonya, good to hear from you. Yes… newbies often walk into a trap of choosing between those two different kinds of finishes because they think they are the same. Yep, sealants and stain have something in common. For example waterproofing and rot protecting properties. But those are the only similarities.

      Stain is a pigment the main purpose of which is coloring the wood. Yes, it also protects wood from moisture, weather, and decay but stain does it worse than sealant. On the other hand, the main task of sealer is sealing the wood (who would have thought). Sealer does sealing much better than stain. Sealers are clear, they aren’t intended to change the color of the wood.

      So, if your main goal is to protect your project then sealer is great for you. Otherwise, choose wood stain But as I said earlier stains don’t provide the best protection. Wait for stain to dry and apply a sealer so that you can make sure that your work is reliably protected.

      1. Good evening,

        Could do with some advice if possible.
        I’m torn between sealers, stains, oils etc etc.
        My project is a simple decking made from 3.9 m scaffold boards. Wood frame ( best method to preserve?)
        Scaffold boards, burnt sanded then oiled. Best product I’m not sure on. So many available.
        Many thanks

        1. Hello Mark.
          There is no single answer to what is best. If there was the best product, everyone would just buy it and there would be no others. However, there is the best product for you and your project.
          To find it you need to answer a few questions:
          What do you want to achieve as an end result?
          What do you want it to look like? What style do you like? Do you like the tree to look absolutely natural? Or you want it to be painted in some color. Combine the appearance of the boards with the rest of the exterior.
          Do you want the project to be low budget?
          Do you want your project to be environmentally friendly?
          Do you want to do this and do nothing more for at least 5 years?

          Each product has its advantages and disadvantages, the question is which disadvantages you can accept to get the advantages.
          Clear unnecessary thoughts and doubts, drive boldly forward!

  2. The first time I made a wooden chair in my garages from a Youtube video I had no idea that I needed to seal it. It got completely ruined within a week. Never going to make that mistake again.

  3. What is the point of sealing wood if it has to stay inside as Rust-Oleum requires? Isn’t the point to make it water resistant and able to be outdoors all the time?

    1. Hi, Harold. Yes, sealers are used for exterior wood most of the time. Interior sealers are intended for woods that are in constant contact with water: bathroom door, bathroom cabinets, wood next to the kitchen sink, etc. Also, they are very useful if you want to make the surface of your wooden project smoother. You can apply sealer before topcoat to prevent wood moisture from penetrating into topcoat. Or you can apply it over the finish to protect it. For example, you can seal stained wood to prevent it from bleeding.

  4. I love being able to do my wood projects in half the time, especially with Rust-Oleum sealant. I don’t use any other brand with my woodwork because every their paint just takes too much time. However, do you know if they make kinds like this for outdoor use?

    1. Hi, Tristen. I’ve seen nothing like that so far. For exterior I think it’s better to choose some different brand rather than Rust-Oleum.

  5. I have been trying to figure out what sealant to use on our new hardwood floor but my big thing was just the time it was going to take. Since we have two dogs we can’t keep them out of the house for too long. Would you recommend I use the Zinsser Bulls Eye Seal Coat because it dries faster? Is it actually a good sealant?

    1. Glad you asked me, Jami. For floors I would recommend Bona ClassicSeal. It’s designed just for floors, Bona is more durable option in comparison with other sealers on the list since it has to deal with high traffic. So Bona is the best for you even though it dries 2-3 hours which 2-3 times longer than other sealants do.

  6. So we recently redid the flooring in our basement and the company actually used the Agra-Life sealant and now we can’t even walk downstairs. It’s just way too slippery. Now we have to pay to get them redone and I don’t want to make that mistake again. I will definitely be asking the next company what they are going to use on the floor first.

    1. Hi, Kelly. Yep, Agra-Life isn’t the best option for sealing floors. Bona would’ve been much more suitable for you as I mentioned earlier. Try to use it the next time, it will be perfect the result.

  7. I thought we had found the perfect sealant for our flooring outside so we got and applied the Agra-Life sealant. However, it really does change darker and discolors over time. We haven’t had it too long and it’s already looking rough. I might have done something wrong…

    1. Hi, Oliver. I used Agra-Life for exterior pieces and they still look great. I suppose you applied too thin coat which is a common problem of this sealer. Although I didn’t use it for floors and deck since it’s slippery. Use Thompsons Waterseal instead, it’s great for outdoor pressure treated wood.

  8. Does the Agra-Life sealant really protect again sun? Does that mean fading in color or actually keeping the surface from getting super hot?

    1. Agra-Life like all wood sealers protects wood against the sun beams which means it prevents wood from fading. Temperature is out of context here.

  9. I really just don’t see how anyone can justify the price of Waterlox Original Sealer over other sealants. Does it really do that much of a better job?

    1. Hi, Jensen. Actually it’s because Waterlox comes only in gallon size which means it’s price by default 3-4 times higher since most of the other options are 1 quart volume. If you don’t need so much sealer you don’t have to overpay.

  10. I use the Waterlox Original Finish for all of the wooden toys that I make for my Etsy shop. It works so well and dries so great. I’ve never had a problem with it.

    1. Thx Teresa, for the comment, we should publish a dedicated article for finishing wooden toys soon. We’ll make sure to cover Waterlox’s product there as well.

  11. You can never go wrong with a product that has been on the market for as long as Waterlox. I feel like it’s so simple and yet works so well. No crazy selling gimmicks just good products.

  12. I love how you can kind of manipulate the color of your sealant with the Rust-Oleum brand. I’ve accidentally changed the color too much on my floor and all I had to do was sand a bit of it up and the color went back to what I wanted.

    1. Hi there, Samuel. This is true not only for Rust-Oleum, you can do the same trick with most of the sealers on the market.

  13. A bunch of my wood making friends says they really don’t recommend the shellac Rustoleum because it can get really uneven. I really want that thick look though and I haven’t found anything that matches the look I’m going for except this stuff. How do you recommend I apply it?

    1. It’s pretty simple. Apply it using a fine bristle brush and for it to dry. Now, if the coating is uneven you simply have to sand it until you get desired level.

  14. What is the cheapest sealant you have on this list? I just need to seal up a project I have recently done. Doesn’t need to be nice or pretty just water resistant.

  15. Why is Thompson’s WaterSeal only to be used outdoors? Is it toxic or something? Why would I want that on my deck if it’s toxic anyways?

    1. Exterior finishes have to deal with harm conditions. That can be achieved using strong chemicals. It doesn’t mean that exterior sealers are toxic, but they are preffered to stay outdoors so that their chemicals don’t harm you in any way even if their impact is minimal.

      1. I am hoping to make an outdoor lighting feature from an old water weathered hollow oak log. I’d like to use an epoxy resin to fill in the cracks and knotholes, (not the entire inside of the log, just a 1/2″ – 3/4″ layer). Any idea as to the compatibility of resin with sealants? After reading the reviews, I’m leaning towards the Thompson’s product.

        1. Hi Karen, you will have truly original and beautiful lighting outside.
          I’m not sure how well the resin and sealant will be compatible. Sanding the resin before applying the sealant will significantly improve adhesion and the sealant may work.
          To be sure of compatibility you can use marine-grade varnish like this one by TotalBoat.
          Epoxy resin is often applied to boats and then protected with a similar varnish, I think it will work well and you will get a good result.
          One tip: when you’re not sure about compatibility or in the end, you can test on a small plot and see if you like the end result before moving on to most of the project.

  16. Actually, you have to sand the cabinet and then seal it using fine bristle brush. The main trick here is to apply sealer evenly. I haven’t written article about sealing yet but you can find a couple of guides on the internet by yourself, not a big deal 

  17. If a con of the sealant is that it will yellow the wood then why is it even on the list? There are plenty of sealants out there just like Thompson’s WaterSeal that don’t have that risk associated with use.

    1. Actually, Tompsons is the best sealer for exterior decks, furthermore it’s the only option designed especially for that purpose. Yes, some customers reported yellowing (I didn’t seen that though). Even if it yellows a little bit for some kind of wood it’s not a big problem for pressure treated decks.

  18. Would you recommend using one of these sealers before an epoxy project? Will the epoxy still adhere to the wood through the sealer or should I just seal the wood with two to three thin coats of the epoxy? How will it affect the color of the wood through the epoxy?

    1. Nice to see you here, Partick.

      You need sealer when a project has some parts what can ‘bleed’. It may cause penetrating of dyes, inks, pigments, etc. into epoxy and change its color. A sealer can prevent that.

      Most of the times, there is no need for a sealant if the only thing you have is a piece of wood except for the wet, rotting or high porous wood. But in that case, it’s better to get an applicable piece of wood you will be working with.

      All the times I used sealer it didn’t change the color of epoxy but only since I used very little of it locally.

  19. Well I’ve read your articles and am more confused, or at least not able to make a decision on what is best. I wanted to redo an old wire spool into a table, but for outside on our covered patio.I know to sand and seal but then I wanted to “decoupage”-modge podge some concert tickets into it and then cover with acrylic resin. Any advice?

    1. Hi, Linda.

      Very interesting project, you know. I suppose it’s going to be looking something like that: null

      I’ve never used decoupage technique but I think it isn’t so difficult. It seems to be like any other epoxy resin project but there is one thing you must keep in mind. If I understood correctly, concert tickets, I don’t know what they are made of. If they are made of plastic, it’s okay, but if it’s a paper (or something that must be protected from water) then they need to have a protective coat (some kind of laminating or something) just to make sure epoxy won’t ‘blur’ the picture. Make sure the tickets are protected and you’re ready to go.

  20. Great review! What would you recommend as the best sealer for a stained wood bathroom vanity top with a vessel sink? Obviously, waterproofing is the #1 priority, but I also want to avoid yellowing with a gray-toned stain. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Susan.

      I would recommend using Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish (#5) for your interior vanity. It’s kind of expensive but it’s worth it. It provides great protection against water and moisture. All sealers I used, including Waterlox, changed the color of the wood slightly making it look warmer. I would recommend staining some piece of wood using your gray stain and then sealing just to make sure the wood will look like how you want it to.

  21. Hey William,
    I am making the bottom of a portable disc golf basket which needs a base so I can move it from place to place. I have selected what is basically a round table top and wanted to seal this for longest life. I live in North Carolina and it will be sitting directly on the ground so needs serious protection from rot. Which of these do you suggest?

    1. Thanks for asking, John.

      If protection is your #1 priority then I suggest choosing Thompson’s Advanced Natural Wood Protector (first on the list). Well-known brand, great protection, suitable for any exterior wood, not only decks.

  22. We are restoring as volunteers an outside area in washington Crossing State Park, in Pennsylvania. There are cut popular log pieces (cookies), that we would like to retain as seats. Is there a sealer that helps, all the end grains are facing up right , and in the woods.

  23. thanks for your article. i have an unusual problem. i have a large exterior dome (7 metres or 23 feet in diameter, and 11.5 feet high) made of marine ply or possibly simply plywood (5 ply).
    the dome structure has 2 skins (= 4 surfaces). in addition, endgrains are exposed where circles are cut out of the main surfaces..
    it needs to be protected against subtropical rain and sun. (I am in Australia)
    and because it is so large and complex, i need the protective surface to last for at least 5 years, i cant contemplate re-doing it more often.
    can you suggest what to use to protect from it rain and sun please?

    1. Hi, Margrette.

      Basically, there are 2 types of exterior protective finishes: sealers and varnishes. Varnishes are denser so they don’t penetrate into the wood. Instead of that, they form a protective coat on a surface that protects against the water and sun but will peel and crack without annual maintenance. On the other hand, we have sealers that aren’t so dense as varnishes so they do penetrate into the wood, it’s better to apply several coats (2-3) of sealer to form many protective layers. Sealers last longer than varnishes, they may stay for 3-10 years. So, in your case, I would use a sealer, namely Thompsons WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector (top1). Several coats should do the trick.

  24. For exterior of porch with mahogany structure and screen frames (all vertical surfaces) 300 yds from salt water bay, plenty of sun and rain I’d like these characteristics: A. 1 coat application with minimal prep and pretty easy re-application in subsequent yrs; B. Won’t darken mahogany much or at all; C. Controls mildew; D. Some greying of wood ok.

    We just sanded all surfaces after another product that we weren’t happy with after 2 yrs, so now we’re ready for a new better approach.

    What are your recommendations?

    1. Hi, Erin.

      I think spar varnish is the best option for you. Varnishes are like sealers, they provide great protection against the sun, moisture, mildew and salt water: they can be used for boat finishing. Try Totalboat Marine Spar Varnish. Don’t worry, spar varnishes can be used for all exterior wood, not only boats. Totalboat meets all your requirements except that it needs 1-2 coats.

  25. Hi there,
    Thanks for the article, good information.
    We’re building a new cedar fence and looking for weather protection to extent the look and life of the wood. The Agri Life Cedar-Seal sounds great as we will have fruit plants growing next to the fence, so non-toxic is pretty important. However, since there will be plants, it won’t be easy to sand and reapply the seal. The con, “Fades faster than comparable products,” is worrying me a bit. Would you still recommend the Cedar-Seal or one of the other sealers?

    1. Hi Man Y Li,

      There is also the Rainguard Concentrate Premium Wood Sealer. It’s a great eco-friendly option. But for you, I think Agra-Life would be better since it’s designed especially for cedar even though it may fade faster (because people don’t read the instructions). Anyway, cedar needs reapplying every 1-2 years for it dents to grey by itself, sealer slows this process. You may try Agra-Life, if you don’t like the results reseal using a different product in one year. But I think everything will be ok.

    1. Hi Ann.

      Definitely, playhouse sealer needs to be environmentally safe. For you I would recommend Rainguard which is non-toxic sealer, good choice for children safety.

  26. Hey Guy,

    I have just finished 2x spotted gum decks, I’m chasing a sealer that doesn’t not change the colour of the timber. Is it possible to get a sealer/oil that makes the deck look wet all year round? and bring the massive colour variations out in the timber. what would be the best product to help achieve this results?

    Cheers Justin.

    1. Hi Justin.

      I think it’s kind of tricky to get all of that. Sealers tend to yellow the wood, as well as oils.

  27. I have a question, I removed the varnish, stain from kitchen cabinets and like the color of the natural wood, I was told they are birch . I do not want to stain them so what do I put on them to protect them. Do not want too much shine on them. First time doing this, how far down do I sand can I go too far? Thank you

  28. I have an exterior bar that I just built. It has a burnt wood finish that I would like to keep its look. What kind of sealer or polyurethane would you recommend. I would like a non yellowing clear finish that doesn’t have to be applied every year

  29. Hi William,

    If you were to seal or oil a spotted gum deck what product would you chose or recommend?

    Cheers Justin

  30. Got a summer house that’s letting in water through gaps. Is there any sealer you would recommend to help to seal the gaps and make it water proof

  31. Looking at Lowes website , the Thompsons bad reviews are horrible??
    I have a new treated privacy fence put up today and the fence builder said to stay away from Thompson products? I went to the Lowes site and sure enough, the low reviews are bad, I’m confused on what to use.

    1. Hi Randall,

      Thanks for the comment. Thompsons may have changed its formula recently or something. I will check the comments and update this article accordingly. Try Rainguard instead.

  32. Hi! We just built a small deck around our hot tub and used a semi transparent sherwin williams deck stain. However we don’t feel that it water proofed the wood much. Can we put the Thompsons water proof clear over the stain we used? It was a water based stain and we put two coats.

  33. Very good review. I have a question regarding re-coating a pressure treated deck that is two years old that was originally coated with an oil based sealer (Thompson’s I believe). Can I use a water based sealer now over the original oil based sealer or must I always use oil based sealers?

    1. Yes, you can use a water-based sealer over the oil-based sealer. It shouldn’t be a problem since the oil-based sealer has been on your deck for a while. It would only be a problem if the oil-based sealer wasn’t dry yet.

    2. Yes, you should be able to color match the paint or get something very close to it. For the durability and waterproofing of the wood, I would use a wood sealer or spar varnish which can be found online or at any hardware store. Yes, the Kilz paint will work to repaint your deck as long as you make sure its exterior paint.

    1. Since it is a desk you shouldn’t need anything too fancy. A simple polyurethane topcoat should seal it well enough. I would recommend this Minwax polycrylic protective finish from Amazon. If you want ultimate protection for your desk from water and sunlight I would use a varnish such as spar varnish.

  34. What’s your choice of sealer for a wood chicken coop? The description says the wood used is Fir. Thanks

  35. WARNING – Thompson’s water seal in aerosol spray cans has been recalled by the manufacturer because the product reacts chemically with the metal can, which could result in the can rupturing spontaneously. Since the product is highly flammable, this could result in an explosion if it is stored near a fire source. See Note that only the aerosol spray form of the product is impacted by the recall.

  36. Removed paint from DF siding on 1920s home. What can i apply to condition or preserve wood before oil base primer?

  37. Hi. I used Thompson’s water seal on a cedar porch swing. Do you know what I can do to either get rid of the oily feel or what I could paint over it with to stop the oily feel? Thanks much.

    1. You can use dish soap and water to help remove the oily feel on the wood. Depending on how aggressively you scrub you might have to reapply the seal if necessary, but you should be good.

  38. Hi: Your article was very informative; however, I still am alittle confused as to what to use. I have a cedar 10×12 gazebo. I recently discovered that I have carpenter bees!! Never heard of them but found that they are quite common. I have treated the carpenter bees but have been told that I should seal my gazebo because they don’t like the “smell of the sealer and therefore, wont come back. Which sealant do you recommend? I definitely don’t want the graying….the wood is a beautiful natural color. HELP!!

  39. Thank you for the informative brush-up, William. Possibly related follow-up question that i’ll attempt to make short… Finished rapidly greying salvaged wood planks (unknown type) with basic floor poly and need a recommendation for a sealant that wont advance the greying of the wood if possible. Thanks much.

  40. I have an older White Mountain wooden electric ice cream maker. On the bottom of the wooden tub the glue like sealant is pealing away. I contacted the customer service department, but she was unable to recommend a solution. I found your website, and hope you have some suggestions. Thanks

  41. Hi I enjoyed your articles but I am also confused as to where to start. I have old 60 year old gates that hung outside for 30 years and then were stored in my shed for 30 years. I have re hung them at my farm entrance on an electritonic gate opener. They need to be stained and sealed or varnished. It is not a project I want to do annually. What do you suggest??

  42. Thompson’s water seal now has a new product teak oil .I don’t hear you mention it.I have a new pressure treated deck,what is your opinion on a sealer only?

    1. The new Thompson’s teak oil is a good product. I would use teak oil on smaller projects, rather than a deck but it will still work. The teak oil will bring out the wood grain, protect from UV radiation and water stains. The only thing about teak oil on a deck is you would most likely have to reapply it over time more often than you would like. To keep your deck protected well over a longer period of time, I would suggest using a waterproof sealer by Thompson’s or by Defy.

  43. Hello,
    We just purchased an outdoor dining table with an Arcadia wood top. It’s on a stone deck and we’ll have an umbrella up, but only when we’re using the table so it will be exposed to a lot of direct sunlight.

    Can you recommend the best oil or treatment to help protect the table? It seems Tung or Linseed oil might be best but I was confused about some of the caveats with those options especially since it’s a dining table and we have young children.

    1. Both of those oils will work, but since the table will be exposed to a lot of direct sunlight and you have children I would suggest using spar urethane by Minwax. The spar urethane will help protect your table from sunlight, water, and temperature changes.

  44. Fabulous! What a great article and you really know your stuff. I have just spent a week trying to work out the best solution for my cedar external handrail. The difficulty is with some of the products, if you get it wrong you are goosed!
    I have sanded off all the old product and the wood looks good but does need some colour so I will follow the instructions for the gates above. Thank you again.

    1. Always great to see such great comments, Thx Linda. Send us pictures of the final products once you’re done 🙂

  45. My brother and I need to seal diy walnut board and batten siding for an enclosed front porch. The walnut was harvested off our farm and has been stacked with spacers for over ten years . One side will be planed. We live in the humid mountains of the Carolinas near Brevard, North Carolina….our average rainfall is 68″ a year.

    Should I seal the ends of the boards with an end grain sealer? Because of the rainfall amount I thought about using Waterlox Marine sealer, but the Seal Once Exotic Premium Wood Sealer or Totalboat Marine Spar Varnish look promising. What would you suggest.

    Thank your for your time and sharing of information.

    1. Yes, I would suggest sealing the ends of the boards with an end-grain sealer. This isn’t necessary but it will help the wood over time. All of the products you listed are good products. Out of the three you listed, I would suggest using the Totalboat Marine Spar Varnish or the Seal once wood sealer.

  46. We just purchased an outdoor deck dining table made from acacia wood. We want to protect it from the rain/sun. What would you recommend treating/staining it with that would be low maintenance?

  47. Hi, I have zero clue what I’m doing. I just purchased a reclaimed wood tabletop for an outdoor table under an umbrella, it’s usually always open. Listing says “mix of spruce, pine, fir, etc.”. It says it has a water based urethane matte finish & is not recommended for outdoor use. I figured I would just seal it and use it outdoors.
    Can I apply a sealer over this urethane finish without sanding? I don’t want to ruin the look & stain. What product would be best to do so? Thanks!

    1. You can apply a sealer over the previous finish but for the best results I would recommend sanding it first but it’s not necessary. I would suggest using a spar urethane by Minwax to seal the wood. If you decide to sand the wood and it ruins the look I would just try to find what color stain it was or try to find the best match to what is already on the wood. You can always lightly sand to get some of the urethane top coat off if you want.

  48. Hi! I tried posting earlier, the page timed out & doesn’t look like it went through? I aplogize if it’s a duplicate.
    I have no idea what I am doing & have been reading & rereading your reviews (which are great btw). I am still unsure about which product to use & the application. I just purchased a tabletop made from reclaimed wood, a mix of “spruce, pine, fir, etc.” that lists it as having a water based urethane matte finish. It said is not recommended for outdoor use. That is what I bought for, it will be outside year round under an open umbrella. I live in the NE, in terms of weather conditions. I figured I could just seal it and it would be ok? I don’t want to ruin the stain & texture by sanding the current finish off. Can I apply a sealer over this urethane and what product would you recommend & that will also provide UV & water protection? Thank you!

    1. Hey Nikki, no worries :). Your previous comment was received properly and will be answered in the next 24 hours by a member of our team.

  49. I used copper green brown on some 6×6 cedar fence posts. Can you reccomend an oil based sealer? Thank you.

  50. Hi, I have never done any wood work before, but I inherited an wood outdoor bench and would really appreciate your advice. I have no idea what wood the bench is made of, but I suspect that is was previously stained and varnished. The bench was outside for over 10 years with no maintenance and was flaking and the wood underneath was becoming discoulored. I have stripped off the old varnish (which took many coats on the detail areas), have sanded down the wood and am now getting ready to stain and protect the bench. It will live outdoors year round in the Pacific Northwest (rain!), and I really don’t want to have to do anything to the bench for years to come as this has been a lot of work. Based on your responses to the comments above it looks like you’d recommend the Rust-oleum marine spar varnish after the stain. I this correct, or do you have an other suggestion for this situation. thanks again for your help

    1. Hi Michelle, in your case, the work of renovating the bench was too much because the bench was not maintained for a long time.
      Atmospheric conditions are a severe test for any coating, over time the coating thins and disappears. No matter what coating you use, it is good to apply a new coating at the first signs that the coating is damaged. This way your work on the upgrade will be 10 times easier, just a little sandpaper, and apply with a brush.
      Rust-oleum marine spar varnish is a really good choice for your case, the coating is very resistant to water and is plastic to absorb the natural shrinkage and expansion of the wood.
      A few things you need to know – the varnish has a yellowish tinge (this is most noticeable on white paint and other light colors) and the coating is soft and may leave traces of hard objects.

      Another option is wood oil outside Cabot 140.0003400.005 Australian Timber Oil, Quart, Natural
      – the old varnish must be completely removed
      – Easy to apply with a brush
      – Easy to maintain, no need to sand before applying the next layer (after 1-2 years)
      – The disadvantage is that it lasts about 2 years, after which it must be re-lubricated

      It’s always important to understand that similar to wood, everything around us wants attention and support to make us happy for a long time 🙂

  51. Am still sceptIcal. What is a true CLEAR oil base wood sealer? The last two that I used left a yellow tinge and only lasted (before gray set in) one year.

    1. Hi Keith,
      I understand your skepticism, manufacturers usually say durability under ideal conditions (similar to the fuel consumption of cars) but in life, there are no ideal conditions, and the coatings have a shorter life.
      Water-based coatings are less prone to yellowing (unlike Polyurethane and oil-based coatings). Yellowing is usually due to UV rays so the coating should have good UV protection (this will also help the life of the coating).
      This product by Defy has the potential for longer life and color retention.
      However, there is no way not to maintain over time and this can be done relatively easily (cleaning the dirt and applying another layer.
      If you still prefer to avoid this type of sealant you can use polyurethane varnish for water-based exteriors like this one by Rust-Oleum, customers claim it will not turn yellow over time.

  52. So, the concrete on my little back patio, that was put in back in the 60s, had finally gotten to the point of no repair. Instead of busting it out and spending a crap-ton of money on a new slab, I put together a little deck made from pallet wood. It’s roughly an 8x10ft space and the wood is a 3/4in yellow pine. I’m at a loss to decide what product to choose, any recommendations you have would be a blessing.

    1. Hi John,
      You have made a smart decision for your board, you have saved a lot of money and the wood will be more pleasant in appearance and touch.
      The disadvantage of wood is that it is difficult to withstand atmospheric influences and therefore we must protect it and maintain it when necessary.
      In your case you can use the top product from the article by Thompson one bottle will be enough for you and you will be able to finish the task in one day. This sealant is suitable for both pressure wood treatment and new wood as in your case.
      Remember that timely maintenance is as much a factor as your choice of product to keep the wood.
      If you want to apply color to the wood you can use a sealant with color or if you want a solid color paint you can look at this article.

  53. Hi, I’m building a barn and have double barn end doors faced on the exterior with pine. They are northwest facing but will get a morning and afternoon sun, as well as wind and rain/snow. I’m east of Denver, CO. I would like to stain and seal(?). Should I use a marine type sealer? Can you suggest a product and compatible stain? Thx!

    1. Hi Kim,
      Wood seals are designed for outdoor wood such as decks and furniture, so in your case, they will do a great job.
      The decks are usually subjected to harsher conditions and the seals hold well. To make sure that the stain and the sealant are compatible, it is always good to use products on the same type of base (eg water) and preferably from the same brand.
      You can use Thomson’s seals all in one so you can get a stain and a sealant in one.
      After choosing a color, you can apply more than one layer for a darker shade.
      Once you have the color you want, you can update the coating with a clear sealant like this one by Thompson.
      You can also apply it to the color sealant for extra protection.

  54. Hi, I’m reposting as my original did not seem to go through. I’m building a custom horse barn and had the builder make pine barn end doors. The doors Dave northeast and I’m in east Colorado with sun, wind, and snow/rain
    I would like a medium brown stain and the best possible finish so I do t have to sand and redo annually. Also don’t want warping! What do you suggest?

  55. We have a cedar screen door which we applied 2 coats of cedar-seal two years ago. The outside is now grey and doesn’t looks bad, It faces east so it’s in the sun most of the morning. Looking to possibly stain then seal it to keep it from turning grey again. What is the best way to get the old Cedar-seal off so it can be stained, also can I use Australian timber oil to stain then seal with Cedar-seal? We live in Wisconsin so it needs to stand up to cold weather and lots of snow. Thank you.

    1. Hi Michelle.
      To remove the old under cover you can use a detergent to remove old paint, you can try this one by Dumond.
      I recommend it if you have a thick layer of coating; if the coating is thinned by the sun you can use a sanding disc to remove paint like this one by 3M and sandpaper.
      The stages are detergent, disk, sandpaper. If the layer is thin, you just skip the preparation.
      For coloring you can use this great product by Thompson. In addition, for extra protection to cover the top with this sealer by Thompson.
      I’m not sure that Australian oil and cedar sealant are compatible, it’s good to use products on the same basis and, if possible, the same brand to ensure a good bond between the layers.

  56. Hi I have used several types of stain and oil on my decking but nothing seems ok. I have three dogs who wee on the decking so need to know what to use first an oil or a sealer . The decking has been pressure washed and is now back to basic . Now I want to coat it But where to start? Thanks

    1. Hi Jaqui.
      Our pets give us a lot of joy but they also want care.
      The sealant will give you more strength on the deck surface. Make sure that you remove the oil, sand the surface, if necessary, fill the holes, and other imperfections with filler.
      Once you have prepared the wood you can apply sealant. If you want to apply color you can use a stain and sealant in one like this product by Thompson’s, it will give you good strength.
      For even more protection you can use a transparent sealant on top by Thompson’s: apply a new coating as soon as you notice the first signs of wear. This way you will keep the deck and the upgrade will be easier.

  57. I recently purchased a house that the deck had been painted. Maybe a few years ago, so it was in need of another coat. I repainted with an exterior high gloss paint, after caulking a few bad places, wondering what kind of sealant I can use over the paint. This was s lot of work, as its 16’x17’, and I don’t want to do it again anytime soon. What sealer can give me extra longevity? Thanks

    1. Hi Dawn, this sealant by Rainguard will be suitable for you.
      It blends well with the paint, does not turn yellow, and has a 5-year warranty. Don’t forget to dilute before use!
      If the paint is already well dried, it is good to sand a little with P220 before applying the sealant and to be sure that it will adhere well.

  58. About 8 years ago, I replaced some railway ties for retaining wall in my garden and around the window well. I was told that they were treated I would not have to apply anything but about 5 years ago, I noticed. that some of them are starting to dry and crack. I used a wood sealant and repeated treatment 2 years later. What would you recommend as a good water protectant and sealant? How often do I need to reapply?

    1. Hi Betty.
      This seal by Rainguard should work.
      It has excellent waterproofing, protects against mold and mildew, and has a long life.
      Apply when you notice the first signs of wear on the coating. It is difficult to say how long the coating will last, it depends on many factors but mostly on how harsh the weather conditions are.
      I think the sealant will last at least 2 years or more.

  59. hi William, i have in the past 50 years been collecting drift and other unique woods from the rivers and streams and mountains of Colorado and New Mexico. Now I am going to put these pieces together to make a waterfall/fountain. So Thanks for the wealth of your experiences with goods of the woods. I need the best sealer for submersible, soft woods that will repel molds, prevent deterioration, after dry outs. I am not worried about the color, of the evenness of the coating. But I do need something that would not change the color of the grey weathered wood. Can you advise me of the best sealant/protectant/tough finish for such a project. Thank you for your expertise.

    1. Hi Will, you have a really interesting project 🙂
      If the wood is too soft you can check out this article, the wood hardener gives additional protection and strengthens the wood.
      Then you can apply a sealant like this one by Rainguard which has excellent water resistance and long life. Remember to dilute before use.
      At the first signs of wear, repeat the coating.

  60. I have a wooden lattice plant stand that will be manly in the house.What kind of water seal would you recommend?

    1. Hi Eileen,
      This sealant by Rain Guard will do a great job for you. It is suitable for indoor use and has very good water resistance.
      Apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions and you will have long-lasting protection.
      At the first sign of wear, simply apply another coat to keep the wooden grille for a long time.

  61. I am using ash cladding in a bathroom. What products would you recommend for water proofing? The wood will be in a high moisture area but not in direct contact with water excepts for some droplets, mist and occasional splash.

    1. Hi Bruce.
      This sealant is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and has excellent water protection. Besides, it will have a long life.
      Another option is boiled linseed oil, it is a natural product, gives a more natural look to the wood, and has very good resistance to moisture. You will need to apply more often than the sealant.

  62. Please help me!! I’ve been reading so many sites I’m getting confused. I’m building a feral cat house and need to seal/waterproof it. So I need an outdoor, non toxic will work on plywood and last at least 3-4 yrs. Can you help me?

    1. Hello Stacy,

      There are many non-toxic ways to make plywood waterproof. For a feral cat house, using epoxy sealant would be the best method.
      Epoxy is quite strong and can be used on plywood that has to combat harsh conditions outdoors.

      The main advantage of epoxy is it protects the wood while allowing it to retain its natural color, it forms a hard and durable layer that is stronger than paint. Unlike paint, it can be reapplied without having to remove the older layer of epoxy.
      You can use epoxy like this one by Max GPE. You just need to sand the surface to remove any dirt, debris, and loose particles. Then, apply the epoxy sealant.

      Apply the epoxy in an even layer while it is still in a liquid state. Epoxy will dry pretty quickly once it comes into contact with a dry surface.

  63. Hi, William…

    I am very happy to have found you as an informed resource for wood sealers. Many thanks for your input and suggestions.

    I have been working on a problem/project for over 15 years at my home church, Calvary Baptist Church in Denver, Colorado. I was recruited for this project because I was the only architect in the congregation. We have an outdoor courtyard where we have placed our columbarium, a repository for cremains (ashes) for people from the church who have passed.

    Above the columbarium, we have a pergola. The pergola consists of exposed portions of the original wood framing for what used to be a mansard roof, to which we have added some 2x10s as horizontal extensions (I would be happy to share some photos or drawings, if I can figure out a way to do that). The wood framing from the original church construction (ca. 1959) was trusses made from common wood framing materials, although I do not know the exact species. The 2×10 horizontal members we added were also common wood framing members, I believe Douglas fir.

    All of the wood members were initially stained with a solid color stain 16 years ago. I do not know what that product or manufacturer was. Over time, that original coating has deteriorated, as the pergola has a southern exposure to the sometimes brutal Colorado sun. At a time when I was living in Oregon, the columbarium volunteer staff hired a young member of the church to prepare and re-coat the pergola wood. Regrettably, he did not know how to prepare the surface, or how to apply new stain. I do not know what stain he used, but it did not hold up at all. By this time, I had moved back to Colorado, and was re-recruited to help address this problem.

    I met with the local architectural rep for Benjamin Moore Paints to examine our pergola and make recommendations for remediation. Since the wood was crazed and cracked, and the coating was peeling, we agreed on scraping and sanding to get back to bare wood as much as we could, and then (as I recall) priming with B-M primer for solid color stain, and re-coating with B-M Arborcoat. Decaying wood was filled with a filler recommended by our painter. That work was completed two summers ago.

    Now, just this short time later, the Arborcoat has failed and we need to re-prepare and re-coat once again. I am very disappointed in the Arborcoat, as I was of the impression that it would require only minor touch-up for at least several years. Since that did not turn out to be true, we are now searching for a different product that will stand up to the weather conditions better than the Arborcoat. That is what has led us to you.

    I would very much like to know what you think about our pergola, and what product(s)/procedures you would recommend. I sincerely hope that you have some time to work with us on this problem, as we are a bit uncertain about who else to ask. If you can recommend someone, I would welcome that. Many thanks in advance. If you would like photos, or to discuss this further, I can be reached at the e-mail address or phone number below.

    Larry Jenks

    1. Hello Larry,
      If the wood is cracked and is in poor condition you need to fill those gaps and seal them remember to clean the cracks and remove any residual paint from cracks before filling them.

      Sand entire pergola after repairing of cracked wood is completed. a pergola was out in the weather, there is a good chance that many of the wood fibers at the surface became weathered and were no longer well-attached to the underlying wood, weathered wood should be sanded to get rid of the gray fibers before it’s painted.

      I think something like this product by Rust Oleum will work well but your mileage may vary.

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