Best Stain for Outdoor Furniture

I Tested 5 Stains for Outdoor Furniture: Here are the Best (2024)

If you’re like me and enjoy being outdoors when the weather is right, there’s nothing better than some great furniture to relax in.

But there’s one problem – outdoor wood furniture has to hold up against the elements and look good at the same time. That’s where a stain and sealer comes into play. Here are the best stains for outdoor furniture that I’ve tested!

The best stain for outdoor wood furniture is the Ready Seal Exterior stain. This stain provides tremendous protection for your furniture and it looks fantastic. I highly recommend it for furniture, decks, and other exterior wood surfaces.

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Best Stain for Outdoor Furniture

1. Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer – #1 Best Overall

Ready Seal

One of my favorite wood stains for outdoor wood furniture is the Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer.

This is a semi transparent exterior stain that’s oil based, which provides an extremely durable and long lasting finish for your furniture that looks great.

This stain can last for years without fading so you can show off your furnitures natural beauty while keeping it protected.

The formula is streak-free, so you won’t have to spend time going over areas with streaking.

This stain doesn’t require a primer, meaning it’s less work to apply than some others.

It also comes in several colors depending on the look you’re going for, so it can suit just about any style.

What I Liked:

  • Comes in many different colors to match any style
  • Very protective and long lasting so you don’t have to re-stain your furniture in a year
  • Pretty good coverage with only a single coat
  • Doesn’t require a primer, which saves you time and money

What I Didn’t Like:

  • More expensive than other exterior stains
  • Can take longer to dry than other stains

My Thoughts:

If you’re looking for the best stain for outdoor furniture, I highly recommend the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer. This is an extremely high quality product that will last for years, and it comes in an assortment of color options depending on the look you desire. The only downside is that it can be more expensive than some other options and it requires a bit more time to dry, but I think it’s worth it.

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2. DEFY Ultra Outdoor Wood Stain – Highest Quality

DEFY Wood Stain
DEFY Ultra Semi Transparent Exterior Wood Stain - Premium Stain & Sealer, 1...
118 Reviews
DEFY Ultra Semi Transparent Exterior Wood Stain – Premium Stain & Sealer, 1…
  • Flexible 1 or 2 Coat Outdoor Wood Stain – Apply 1 coat of this semi transparent wood stain for a lighter color and flat finish. Apply a 2nd coat to add a deeper wood stain color &…
  • DEFY Sealer Becomes Rainproof in 4 Hours – Don’t let the rain ruin your project. DEFY Ultra dries in 1-2 hours and is rain-ready in just 4 hours. This product can also be applied to…
  • Advanced UV Protection With Zinc Nano-Technology – Zinc nano-particles are like sunscreen for your wood to block harmful UV rays that cause fading, graying, and color loss

If you’re looking for a quality wood stain, the DEFY Ultra Outdoor Wood Stain is a great option that I recommend.

This wood stain is perfect for outdoor furniture for a few reasons.

First, it offers excellent protection against the elements. While it’s not quite as durable as the Ready Seal above, it’s not far behind. And it’s manufactured to resist fading, so it’ll stay looking good for years.

Second, this stain is an oil and water base mixture, meaning it’s more eco-friendly than a true oil based option – which I’m always a fan of.

Lastly, this stain comes in several different colors that can give you the look you want. It’s a semi transparent stain that reveals the wood grain of your furniture and looks amazing. If desired, you can apply multiple coats for a more satin sheen.

With that said, don’t expect a super dark color to your furniture if you use this stain.

It’s worth noting that you do have to use a primer or stripper before applying this stain for the best result.

This stain is similar to the DEFY Extreme stain, except it’s more UV resistant – so it offers better protection.

What I Liked:

  • Solid protection that will last for years
  • Water based stains are more environmentally friendly
  • Comes in several colors so you can get the look you want
  • Faster drying than oil based stains
  • Made in the United States

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Must apply a primer or stripper before using
  • Slightly more expensive than others

My Thoughts:

Ultimately, if you specifically want a water based stain, the DEFY Ultra Wood Stain would be my top recommendation. It offers great protection for your furniture, and comes in several colors that look amazing. It’s worth noting that the Ready Seal Wood Stain above comes in about 9 different colors while the DEFY only offers 6. One thing that’s nice is that if you don’t like how light the stain is after one coat, you can add another for a darker color. It’s not quite as durable as the oil based stain above, but it’s still a very high quality stain that will last for years.

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3. Minwax Penetrating Wood Finish – Great Value

Staining Treated Wood

I’m a big fan of all Minwax products, including their Penetrating Stain. This stain is slightly different than the others in that it’s not strictly meant for exterior applications. You can use it for both indoor and outdoor applications, which can be convenient.

This is an oil based stain that’s durable, protective, and yields a beautiful finish that reveals your furnitures natural wood grain.

This stain comes in a wide variety of color options to give you the exact color you’re looking for. It requires just a single coat, making it one of the faster products to apply. That said, you can apply more coats to darken the finish if desired.

This stain won’t last as long as other stains on this list. Because it’s not a strict exterior wood stain, other options can last much longer – which is worth considering.

What I Liked:

  • More affordable than other wood stains
  • Available in tons of different colors – 28 to be exact
  • Fast drying so you don’t have to spend all day staining

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not quite as durable or long lasting as other exterior wood stains
  • Not as eco-friendly as a water based stain

My Thoughts:

If you want an affordable, yet effective stain for outdoor furniture, I would recommend the Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain. This stain comes in several colors and provides an amazing looking finish that shows off your furnitures wood grain. You can also use it for indoor projects, which is handy. My only hesitation with this stain is how durable it is for exterior use. It doesn’t provide as much UV protection as some of the other stains. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a wonderful wood stain, especially for the price, but you may have to reapply every few years. It’s worth noting that this stain is much less expensive than the others, so it’s difficult not to recommend.

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4. Thompsons WaterSeal Stain

Thompson WaterSeal

Thompsons WaterSeal Stain is a terrific semi transparent stain that provides great coverage and protection for outdoor wood furniture and other projects. This can be used on furniture, decks, sheds, and other wood surfaces that need added protection.

This is a stain and sealer in one, meaning you won’t have to apply a primer before using this product which is super convenient.

It comes in a few different colors, but not as many as other stains and sealers.

Another thing I loved about this stain is the fade-resistant formula. I found that it fades much less than other stains (like the Minwax stain) which is great.

What I Liked:

  • Sealer and stain in one product, so you don’t have to spend time or money on a primer
  • Perfect for just about every wood surface, including furniture, decks, fences, and more
  • Excellent protection against UV rays and weather elements
  • Quality, fade-resistant formula that yields a great finish

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not as many color options as other stains

My Thoughts:

Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with Thompson’s WaterSeal Stain and Sealer. This is one of the best exterior wood stains that can help add protection to your furniture while revealing an amazing finish. This is a stain and sealer combination, so you won’t have to mess with applying a primer first. It comes in a few different colors depending on your style and can last for up to 6 years once applied. My only gripes with this wood stain is the lack of color options.

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5. Olympic Stain Maximum Wood Stain

Olympic Maximum Stain and Sealant

Olympic makes a wide range of wood stains that are extremely high quality products. They offer transparent stains, semi transparent stains, and solid stains that can give your furniture a new look.

Depending on the type of stain you opt for, it can last for decades once applied – which is crazy! Never having to restain furniture? Count me in!

Their transparent and semi transparent stains won’t last quite as long, but can still hold up for almost 8 years – which is still a long time for an exterior wood stain.

What I Liked:

  • Some of their stains have a lifespan of up to 25 years
  • More budget friendly than some other stains

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Didn’t love the colors offered
  • Didn’t provide as good of coverage as I’d hoped

My Thoughts:

The Olympic Stain Maximum Wood Stain is a fabulous product that yields an amazing finish with great protection. If you opt for a solid stain, it can last for up to 25 years on some wood surfaces which is crazy. It’s also pretty affordable compared to some others. I don’t love the color selection offered, but if you can find one you like, go for it. It also didn’t give as good of coverage as some of the others but this is still one of the best exterior wood stains you’ll find.

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What to Consider When Choosing an Exterior Wood Stain

Amount of Protection Desired

There’s no denying the amount of protection is the most important consideration when choosing a wood stain for outdoor furniture.

Because your furniture be sitting in the elements for years, having solid protection will ensure it lasts as long as possible.

Some stains can last for decades, while others might only last a few years – so unless you want to restain in a couple of years, this is important to consider.

In most cases, oil based stains will give you a more long lasting finish when compared to water based stains. While this isn’t necessarily always the case, I’ve found it to be accurate for most stains.

Are you looking to stain another wood surface? Check out these stains for pressure treated wood!

Color of Stain

The color and appearance of the wood stain is another important aspect to consider. Some stains come in a wide assortment of color options while others might have a limited selection.

Finding a stain the offers the color and look you want is crucial.

The darkness of the stain is also worth considering. With some stains, you can add an additional coat for a darker look, but this isn’t the case with all of them.

Check out my Cabot vs Ready Seal stain comparison to find out which is best for your project!

Ease of Application and Coverage

If this is your first time applying a stain, this is important! Listen, staining or painting exterior furniture isn’t a fun task. There’s a good chance it’ll be hot outside and it’s a ton of work.

That’s why finding a wood stain with excellent coverage is so important. This will mean less work for you, and it can help you save money by using less than others.

The best exterior wood stains will produce a nice, even cover that doesn’t require tons of coats.


The price of your wood stain is another consideration when picking the right product.

There is a wide range in prices when it comes to wood stains, so be sure to explore several options to find one that suits your budget.

I always believe that you get what you pay for, so in many cases, a less expensive option won’t last as long or look quite as good as the more pricey choice.

Are you looking for a brush to apply your stain? Check out these best brushes for staining wood!

Environmental Friendliness

One of the big benefits of water based stains is how environmentally friendly they are. Because they don’t contain any VOCs, you can feel better about coating your furniture in this type of stain.

Clean Up

Cleaning up after staining can sometimes be a mess, especially if you’re using an oil based stain.

If you’re using a water based stain, you can easily wipe away the stain with a damp rag. With an oil based stain, you’ll need to break out the mineral spirits in order to remove it and clean up.

Ultimately, this is a minor consideration compared to some of the other aspects, but it’s worth considering nonetheless.

Types of Outdoor Wood Stain

Semi-Transparent Stain

Semi transparent or semi solid stains are some of the most popular when it comes to exterior wood surfaces because of the unique color it offers. Instead of completing hiding the wood underneath, a semi transparent stain will accentuate its wood grain and provide an awesome finish.

Opaque Stains

Opaque stains are also known as solid stains that completely hide the wood underneath. These stains provide the highest level of protection for your wood, and they can still offer a great appearance – but you won’t be able to see the wood underneath.

Clear Toner Exterior Stains

Clear toner exterior stain is a completely clear colored stain which offers no color so you can fully see the woods grain.

Some people may prefer the look of a clear wood stain for their outdoor furniture

Oil Based Stains

Oil based stains are manufactured with oil, which typically offers greater protection and durability as it can penetrate deeper into the wood than a water based stain.

Oil based stains can be more difficult to clean up, as it require mineral spirits to remove and they take longer to dry.

Water Based Stains

Water based stains are a more environmentally friendly stain that offer great protection against the elements without the need for harsh chemicals. Water based stains typically feature bolder colors than better resist fading and they dry quickly and can be removed with just soap and water.

How to Apply Wood Stain on Furniture

Gather Supplies

Before applying stain, take the time to lay out your supplies and ensure you have everything you need. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop staining to run to the hardware store to get missing supplies. Not good!

Instead, make sure you have these supplies:

Check the Forecast

Most people forget this step, but it’s critical. You need to make sure the weather cooperates when staining furniture, a deck, or any other surface. You should not stain your furniture when it’s raining under any circumstance. You want to look for a mild day with no rain in the forecast.

It’s also important to make sure that the wood you’re coating is completely dry when staining. So if it’s rained in the past few days, be sure to let it dry out before starting.

Prep the Surface

Prepping the surface of your furniture is critical when staining it, especially if it has an old stain covering it.

Before you apply a new stain, you’ll need to remove the old stain and sand the surface for the best coverage. To remove an existing stain, you can use a stiff brush with a deck stain removal product. If you’re painting furniture with peeling paint, you might need a paint scraper tool that can be more effective at removing the chipping paint.

Once the stain has been removed, take your sander and give it a light sand across the entire surface. This will ensure your stain can better penetrate the wood for a long lasting finish.

Apply the Stain

Once you’ve stripped and sanded the wood surface, you can start the application process. First, be sure to mix your stain well with a stirring stick and give it a good shake.

Next, you can brush or roll your stain across the furniture until the entire surface has been evenly coated.

If there is excess stain sitting on the surface – try to wipe it away with a cloth.

Allow it to Dry

One applied, it’s essential to give it time to dry. The amount of time wood stain takes to dry can vary depending on several circumstances, but in most cases, around 24 hours should be enough. Be sure to check the instruction label of the stain you’re using for an more exact timeframe.

Apply Second Coat (If Desired)

If you want a darker appearance, you can now apply a second coat of stain to your furniture and allow it to dry.

Before applying additional coats, it’s critical that the first coat is completely dry so be sure to double check the surface of your furniture before getting started.


What type of stain is best for outdoors?

The best stain for outdoors is an oil based stain like the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer or a solid stain. In my opinion, this is the best exterior wood stain thanks to how protective and durable it is. It can easily last for 5 or more years on your surface and it looks amazing.

What is the best finish to put on outdoor wood furniture?

The best finish to put on outdoor wood furniture will depend on your color preference. If you want a more natural look, go with a semi transparent stain like the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer. If you want a bolder color, go with a water based stain like the

Is oil or water based stain better for outdoor wood?

For outdoor wood surfaces, I always use oil based stains because of the appearance and longevity of the stain. However, if you want something that’s more environmentally friendly, I highly recommend the DEFY Ultra Outdoor Wood Stain that’s an oil and water mix.

What is the longest lasting exterior wood stain?

The longest lasting exterior wood stain that I’ve found is the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer. It can last for years on many wood surfaces and offers superior protection compared to other stains on the market.

Final Thoughts

Staining your outdoor furniture is one of the best investments you can make to improve the look and longevity of your outdoor space.

If you’re looking for a stain for outdoor wood furniture, I highly recommend the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer because of how protective and durable it is. It’s available in several colors so you can find one that suits your style.

My second pick is the DEFY Ultra Outdoor Wood Stain because it’s a water and oil based mix stain that provides great protection in many colors.

If you’re on a budget, the Minwax Wood Finish Wood Stain is another great choice, although I found that it doesn’t last nearly as long as the others.