Best Outdoor Wood Sealers – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Wood is my favorite material to work with because it’s accessible, affordable, naturally beautiful, and usually very durable. However, it can degrade and lose its visual appeal if it’s exposed to the elements.

Woodworking projects that remain outside can be treated with a wood sealer to maintain their integrity and appearance. I put together these reviews and a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you choose the best wood sealer to protect your work.

Best Outdoor Wood Sealers – My Top Picks may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.


SEAL-ONCE MARINE Penetrating Wood Sealer

As the name implies, SEAL-ONCE specializes in one-coat treatments for protecting wood from water and moisture.

This sealer is water-based, which makes it thin and effortless to apply. You can brush or roll it on, but the easiest option is to use a spray gun. It’s light enough for HVLP sprayers and even garden sprayers, so it’s one of the most straightforward sealers to use.

It soaks deep into the wood and builds a robust waterproof layer from the inside out. I would feel comfortable using this on decks and outdoor furniture, as I’ve found that it offers excellent protection from rain and snow. It resists mold growth and can help prevent excessive expansion in response to moisture changes.

SEAL-ONCE stands behind this product with a lengthy warranty: six years for horizontal surfaces and ten years for vertical surfaces. If their product’s waterproofing capabilities fail within that time frame, they agree to replace or refund the can you previously purchased. I do not doubt that this sealer will continue to protect for that amount of time.

It comes in 1-gallon and 5-gallon buckets, so you can save money on larger projects and limit waste on smaller ones. It doesn’t need to be mixed, which will save you time in your preparation. Each gallon will treat around 300 square feet.

This sealer dries clear and won’t affect the natural beauty of wood projects. It also comes in stain form with 11 different color options, so you can use it as a one-application finish on raw wood.

It takes 48 hours to cure, so you will need to limit exposure to moisture, water, and foot traffic for quite some time after application. This can be a bit inconvenient, but I generally find that longer curing times mean better overall protection.

This product contains comparatively few VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are detrimental to the environment and unsafe to inhale. As such, this is one of the safer sealers to use, and it’s noted to be safe for use around pets, plants, and marine life. However, you should still take proper safety precautions and always work outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

It’s relatively expensive on a per-gallon basis, but I feel that it still provides excellent value for the money.

  • Very easy to apply
  • Creates a powerful waterproof layer
  • Resists mold growth
  • Includes a lengthy warranty
  • Comes in large quantities
  • Provides good coverage
  • Comes in clear and colored options
  • Relatively low concentration of VOCs
  • Takes a long time to cure
  • Contains some VOCs
  • Relatively expensive

Eco Advance EAWOD16CON Water Repellent Liquid Concentrate

Eco Advance offers various wood sealers that are both reliable and safe for the environment.

This is a water-based sealer that is super thin, which makes it very straightforward to apply. You could opt for a thick brush or roller, but I recommend using a paint sprayer or a garden sprayer for the fastest work possible.

It soaks in between wood fibers and adds a robust layer of waterproof protection. You can actually see the water bead up on the surface after it’s cured, so you’ll be able to tell that it’s doing its job. It’s permeable and breathable, so you can apply it to new wood. However, you shouldn’t apply to wood that is wet from rainwater or snow.

This sealer comes in a small, 16-ounce bottle, so you’ll need to purchase several if you have a very large job or multiple surfaces you want to be sealed. It comes in a concentrate, so you need to mix it before applying. The process is simple, but it’s another step that will cost you some time.

Once mixed, the bottle creates one gallon of sealer, which will cover about 240 square feet.

It doesn’t come with a warranty for waterproofing protection. I’d recommend resealing your projects once a year to be safe, but this product will likely provide protection for up to two years.

This sealer takes one to two days to cure fully. You’ll want to keep your project covered during that time to prevent water from washing away the sealer.

It goes on white, but it dries entirely clear. It won’t change your wood’s appearance at all, so you won’t have to worry about discoloration or a yellowish tinge, which is common with some other products.

It’s formulated to be eco-friendly and contains no VOCs. It’s safe to use around pets and children, and you don’t need a face mask when applying.

This is an affordable sealing option, but keep in mind that you will need to reapply more often than some of the more permanent sealers.

  • Straightforward application
  • Provides excellent protection from water
  • Can be used on new wood
  • Provides adequate coverage
  • Should provide protection for 2 years
  • Dries entirely clear
  • Eco-friendly and no VOCs
  • Affordable
  • Shouldn’t be applied to moist wood
  • Only comes in small quantities
  • Needs to be mixed before application
  • Takes a long time to cure

Olympic Stain Smartguard Concentrated Multi-Surface Sealant

Olympic has been a trusted name for deck stains, sealers, and other protective products for decades.

This is a water-based sealer concentrate, and the thin consistency makes application to large areas very straightforward with the use of an HVLP sprayer or garden sprayer. You could opt to use a brush or a roller, but I don’t recommend it, given how much time you’ll spend painting it on.

It soaks quickly into wood, brick, or concrete, so you can use this on multiple types of material. It creates a protective layer from the inside out and repels water to the surface, where it has less of a chance of damaging your wood. After it has cured, you can see water beading on the wood you’ve protected, so it’s easy to see it working.

Olympic doesn’t offer a warranty, but I’d trust this sealer to provide protection for about two years. However, I would recommend adding a single re-coat each spring to be safe.

This only comes in small, 15-ounce pouches, but it can handle medium-large projects without a problem once it’s mixed. You’ll need to add the entirety of the pouch to two gallons of water before applying. Mixing is more or less instant, but it’s still an additional step you’ll have to take. Each pouch can cover about 500 square feet.

It cures very quickly in about an hour, so you can comfortably seal in the morning even if you’re expecting afternoon rain. In fact, you can spray this directly onto wood that is still wet from previous rainfall, so the flexibility in the timing of application makes using this product very convenient.

This sealer isn’t quite as safe as some of the eco-friendly options that have no VOCs. A respirator or face mask is recommended during spraying. However, it’s safe to be around within an hour of using it, so there is a minimal time where it could be dangerous.

This is a relatively inexpensive sealing option, and it provides good value for the money.

  • Very easy to apply
  • Suitable for wood, brick, and concrete
  • Provides a durable waterproof layer
  • Provides excellent coverage
  • Cures very quickly
  • Can be sprayed onto moist wood
  • Typical requires annual application
  • You need to mix it before using
  • Contains VOCs

Thompsons WaterSeal TH.A21711-16 Natural Wood Protector

Thompsons specializes in high-quality, highly reliable sealing products for a variety of mediums.

This sealer is water-based and effortless to apply. It’s most comfortable to use with a garden sprayer or HVLP sprayer, but you could apply it with a roller if you desired.

To see how easy it can be to apply this product with a pump sprayer, check out this video:

It soaks into wood rapidly and offers durable waterproof protection that you can trust. Once it’s cured, it causes rain and any spills to bead on the surface of your deck or project. You can see it working, and the visual feedback makes it easy to know once it’s time to reapply.

In addition to protecting your wood from water damage, this sealer resists UV radiation and will help keep your projects from fading and losing their natural beauty. It also helps reduce mold growth, which is common on wood exposed to the elements.

Thompsons doesn’t include a warranty with this sealer, but they do state that it will provide protection for two years. I think one year is a safer bet, so I would plan to reapply this once every spring or summer.

This comes in small bottles that you’ll have to mix with water before using. It will cover about 200 square feet per bottle after properly diluting the concentrate. It’s ideal for small projects, but you can purchase multiple bottles if you have a deck or larger workpiece to seal.

It cures fully in about 24 hours, so you’ll want to protect the surface from precipitation for a day after using this product. However, you can put it on damp wood, giving you some freedom when you can use it.

It goes on clear and adds little sheen, but it does create a slightly yellow, cedar-like look on your wood. I recommend against using this if you don’t want the appearance of your project changed at all.

This sealer has minimal VOCs in it, but you will need to be careful not to inhale the fumes while applying it. It’s not as safe as some no-VOC sealers.

This product is relatively expensive for the square footage it can cover, but I think the added protection from fading makes it worth the extra cost.

  • Easy to apply
  • Provides excellent protection from water
  • Protects from UV radiation
  • Helps reduce mold growth
  • Typically protects for up to 2 years
  • Offers decent coverage
  • You can apply it to moist wood
  • Needs to be mixed before use
  • Takes a long time to cure
  • Tends to yellow wood a bit
  • Contains some VOCs
  • Somewhat expensive

Star Brite Premium Golden Teak Oil

Star Brite has been producing stains and protective coatings for wood on boats, RVs, and around the home for many decades.

This is an oil-based sealer that soaks very deep into the wood and naturally resists water penetration. It causes water to bead on the surface of your projects, so you can see when it’s working and when it may need to be reapplied.

It provides a robust waterproof layer, and it has UV radiation absorbers to protect your wood from fading, even when exposed to constant sunlight. It helps resist weathering and will keep your work looking newer for longer.

The viscosity of the liquid means that you can’t apply it with a sprayer. You’ll have to wipe, brush, or roll this onto your projects, which takes significantly longer for large projects. As such, this is not the most comfortable sealer to use.

Star Brite doesn’t include a warranty for the waterproofing capabilities of this product. It will likely last for about two years, but you may need a yearly application to provide the best protection.

It comes in three size options: 1 gallon, 32 ounces, and 16 ounces. You can choose which you purchase based on the size of your project to minimize waste and overpaying. The coverage you can get from this oil is excellent, and you can expect to protect about 400 square feet per gallon. The 32-ounce bottle will cover approximately 100 square feet, and the 16-ounce bottle will be enough for about 50 square feet.

You won’t need to mix this oil before applying, which saves you a step. However, this is very thick and needs to be rubbed into the surface. This is a laborious process that takes far longer than dilution would.

It dries in just five minutes, so there’s minimal waiting time while the oil sinks into your project. It doesn’t dry quite clear and instead adds a beautiful, slightly colored look to your projects. It can bring back the visual appeal an older project had when it was new, so it’s terrific for restoring the look of expensive wood species.

This is relatively expensive, but the beauty it adds to wood will be worth the cost for many woodworkers.

  • Provides excellent protection from water
  • Defends against UV radiation
  • Can provide good protection for up to 2 years
  • Provides excellent coverage
  • Dries very rapidly
  • Too thick to apply with a sprayer
  • Takes a long time to apply
  • Colors your wood slightly
  • Relatively expensive

Rain Guard Water Sealers SP-8002 Wood Sealer Concentrate

Rain Guard manufactures eco-friendly and non-toxic water sealers for a variety of surfaces.

This water-based sealer seeps into wood quickly and dries to create a waterproof layer of protection. You could apply this with a sponge, brush, or roller, but the easiest way to use it is with a garden sprayer or paint sprayer.

I found that the waterproofing qualities last for about a year before another application is required. It causes water to bead on the surface, so there’s a visual cue that will alert you as to when you need a new coat.

In addition to protection from rain and snow, this sealer helps avoid mold growth. However, there is no UV protection.

It comes in 32-ounce jugs, and you’ll need to mix it with two gallons of water before using it. Once mixed, it can treat approximately 300 square feet. You may need to purchase multiple bottles if you plan to use the product on a deck or other large project.

This sealer takes just an hour to dry and begin protecting your wood. You shouldn’t use it on damp or wet surfaces, but the rapid drying gives you some flexibility in application time.

It goes on clear and dries without altering the appearance of the wood at all. You won’t experience any discoloration or darkening with this product.

This is non-toxic and free of VOCs. You don’t need protective gear when applying this product, and it’s safe for use around kids, pets, and plants.

It’s not the cheapest product available, but it does offer good value for the money, especially given how safe it is.

  • Straightforward application
  • Offers good protection from water
  • Resists mold growth
  • Offers adequate coverage
  • Dries very quickly
  • Won’t change the appearance of your wood
  • Doesn’t contain VOCs
  • Needs annual reapplication
  • Doesn’t protect wood from UV radiation
  • Requires mixing before use
  • Shouldn’t be applied to damp wood
  • Reasonably expensive

ANCHORSEAL 2 Hybrid Log & Lumber End Grain Sealer

ANCHORSEAL focuses its efforts on protective coatings for wood, and its products tend to focus on sealing solutions for new wood.

This is a water-based sealer that is thicker than most others of its kind because it has wax and plastic polymers mixed into it. This is not meant for large surfaces of wood and is instead intended for the end grain. It helps prevent end-checking or cracking. As such, this product is most useful for sealing the cut ends of decks or lawn furniture.

This shouldn’t be applied with a sprayer and instead should be used with a brush. It takes less time than others to apply, but this is only because you’ll be using it on a much smaller work area.

It provides some excellent waterproofing capabilities, and it adds significant protection from splitting. Checking is typical across the end grain of aging wood, especially if it is exposed to constant moisture changes outside.

This sealer is likely to last for a year or two, and I’d recommend annual reapplication to keep your projects protected.

It comes in 1-gallon cans, and they are relatively expensive. Each gallon can only cover about 100 square feet per gallon, but considering you’ll only be applying this to end grain, one can is plenty for just about any project.

It soaks into the wood surface rapidly and feels dry to the touch within 3-4 hours. I’d recommend a second coat after 6 hours.

You can either mix this product with water or apply it as-is. A mixture will go further but provide less protection. Even when applied without dilution, it dries entirely clear. It may darken your wood slightly, but there are no significant changes to the appearance.

This sealer isn’t safe to inhale, so make sure to follow all safety precautions while you use it. Apply it outdoors unless you have a very well-ventilated area inside.

  • Prevents cracking
  • Provides ample protection from water
  • Can provide protection for up to 2 years
  • Dries very quickly
  • Dries clear
  • Only intended for end grain
  • Too thick for application with a sprayer
  • Expensive
  • Minimal coverage
  • Contains VOCs

TotalBoat 482869 Lust Marine Varnish

TotalBoat offers a line of protective coatings for boats that are formulated to resist fading and corrosion from salt.

This is an oil-based spar varnish that soaks deep into the wood and produces a durable waterproof barrier. It’s relatively thick, so you likely won’t be able to use this with an HVLP sprayer or a garden sprayer. You can opt for a roller or brush if you don’t have an airless spray gun, but it will take much longer to apply than many other options.

This varnish dries rapidly, and you’ll only need to let it cure for about an hour in between coats. This makes applying several layers a breeze, and you’ll spend less time waiting around and more time getting the job done.

It goes on thick, but most of the varnish soaks into the wood. Once it’s cured, it’s totally clear and won’t change your wood’s appearance unless you choose the high-gloss finish.

This sealer’s waterproofing capabilities are excellent, and it also provides protection from UV radiation and salt. It will keep your wood from rotting and fading, which will help keep it looking newer for longer.

This varnish doesn’t come with a warranty or guarantee. I’m confident the protection will last for about two years before you need to reapply it.

It comes in 1-pint, 1-quart, and 1-gallon sizes, so you can choose how much you need based on your projects to minimize spending and waste. Each gallon covers an impressive 375 square feet. However, while it offers the most coverage, it’s also the most expensive sealer I tested. I do feel that it is a good value for the money given the multifaceted protection, but it may be prohibitively expensive for some woodworkers.

This sealer contains VOCs, so you need to be cautious when you apply it. Make sure to wear a respirator and use it in a heavily ventilated area, and keep it away from children and pets until it cures. Thankfully, it will be dry and safe to interact within just an hour.

  • Offers excellent protection from water
  • Dries very rapidly
  • Won’t change your wood’s appearance
  • Provides excellent protection from water and UV damage
  • Protects for about 2 years
  • Offers excellent coverage
  • Requires brush or roller application
  • Takes a long time to apply
  • Very expensive
  • Contains VOCs

Ready Seal 112 Exterior Stain and Sealer

Ready Seal manufactures a variety of highly protective sealers for wood projects.

This is an oil-based stain and sealer in one, and it soaks deep into your wood to add color and heavy protection from the elements. It creates an excellent waterproof seal while remaining breathable, so it won’t crack or split. It also adds UV protection to keep your projects looking new for longer, and it’s mildew resistant.

The formula visibly resists water penetration, and you will be able to see rain beading on the surface of your deck or other projects. This will offer a visual cue as to when your wood needs to be resealed. I found that the UV protection is even better than the waterproofing, and I noticed no fading even with long, constant exposure to the sun.

This stain will offer protection for about two years before the surfaces need to be resealed. I’d recommend adding a secondary sealer annually on top of this stain for the best protection. As good as this project is, you won’t be able to use it more than once to renew the protective layer because the stain will darken with each application.

This comes in 1-gallon cans, and each gallon will cover about 125 square feet. It’s best for medium-sized projects, especially because the high price may make staining larger areas prohibitively expensive.

It feels too thick for a garden sprayer, but you can apply this stain with a brush, roller, foam pad, or HVLP sprayer. It’s effortless to use, won’t leave streaks, lines, or runs, and doesn’t need sanding afterward. Ready Seal recommends two coats within about 45 minutes, which means you’ll spend very little time waiting for it to dry. It may take three days to cure fully, though, so set aside time to allow it to sit uninterrupted after application.

This product will drastically change your wood’s appearance, as it includes stain in addition to the sealer. There are eight colors to choose from, so most woodworkers will be able to find one that suits their preference and project.

  • Offers excellent protection from water and UV radiation
  • Mildew-resistant
  • Protects for about 2 years
  • Comes in 8 colors
  • Affordable
  • Drastically changes the appearance of your wood
  • Only suitable for a single application
  • Doesn’t offer the best coverage
  • Too thick for application via a sprayer
  • Takes a very long time to apply
  • Takes a long time to cure

#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

SaverSystems, the company that produces #1 Deck products, specializes in sealing compounds for wood, bricks, and other materials.

This is a water-based sealer that is thin and very straightforward to apply. You can use this with a rag, brush, foam pad, roller, HVLP spray gun, or a garden sprayer, so you’ll have options for how quick and easy you want the job to be. I was able to get good, even coverage with just a pump sprayer, which is what I’d recommend using.

This is a stain that soaks into the wood and provides a decent amount of waterproof protection. I’ve found that it’s not quite as water-resistant as other sealers, but it still does a good job, especially for the cost. It also provides some UV protection, and it naturally resists mold growth.

I would strongly recommend applying a different sealer annually after this stain is used to maintain adequate protection from the elements. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use this product more than once because each stain application will make your wood progressively darker.

It comes in 1-gallon and 2.5-gallon jugs, and each gallon will cover about 100 square feet. It’s relatively expensive when you consider the small coverage area, so it’s best for smaller projects that won’t require more than one container.

This sealer takes about 30 minutes to dry before you can apply a second coat, so it’s great for those with minimal time who don’t want to wait hours before continuing to work. I’d recommend waiting about 24 hours before exposing the treated wood to foot traffic or water.

This is a stain, so it will have a significant impact on the appearance of your project. Only use this if you’re looking for a stain with protection. It comes in five different colors, so you will have some options for how your project will look.

  • Very easy to apply
  • Provides good coverage
  • Protects against UV radiation and mold
  • Dries very quickly
  • Comes in 5 different colors
  • Not as water-resistant as many other options
  • Can only be applied once
  • Requires annual treatment
  • Doesn’t offer good coverage
  • Expensive
  • Drastically changes the appearance of your wood

Buyer’s Guide

Some wood sealers are easier to apply than others, provide better protection, or maintain the natural look of your wood rather than coloring it. Make sure you pay attention to the below factors to choose the best sealer for your project.

Difference Between Sealer, Stain, and Paint

A wood sealer is a product that soaks deep into your wood and creates a waterproof seal. It often contains oils, polymers, and other compounds that bind to wood fibers and make them water-resistant. They are clean or mostly transparent and usually don’t change the appearance of the natural wood.

Stain also soaks into the wood, but pigments dissolved in the stain bind to the wood fibers. The process changes the color of the wood. Unless it’s mixed with a sealer, stain doesn’t add any protection to your project.

Paint doesn’t soak into wood and instead sits on the surface. It bonds with the exposed wood fibers, leaving a layer of color on top. Paint completely changes the appearance of wood. It may offer some waterproof capabilities or anti-mildew properties.

Types of Wood Sealers

There are three main kinds of wood sealers you can choose based on how you want your final project to look.

Solid or Opaque

Solid sealers act like paint and will create a protective layer on top of your wood. They cover up the natural color and grain of your wood, but they also offer protection from water on and beneath the surface.


Semi-transparent sealers aren’t entirely clear, but they still allow you to see through to the wood grain. They may somewhat change the color of your project but won’t appear as if you painted the wood.

Clear Wood Sealants

Clear or transparent wood sealers soak into your wood and leave little residue on the surface. They may go on milky white, but they dry entirely clear and leave your wood looking as it did before treatment. They still offer protection from water and can provide UV and mold resistance as well.

Oil-Based or Water-Based

Oil-based sealers are generally thicker and can be more challenging to apply. You can always use a brush, foam pad, or roller to coat your wood, but they might be too dense for an HVLP sprayer. A more expensive airless sprayer is usually an option.

Water-based sealers are often significantly thinner and can usually be applied with an HVLP sprayer or even a pump-action garden sprayer. The application is very straightforward and takes minimal time. Water-based sealers can be challenging to use with a brush because of how little it will get soaked up by the bristles.

Water and Mildew Resistance

A wood sealer’s primary job is to provide water resistance, but some sealers offer better protection.

For example, I would trust a sealer like the SEAL-ONCE MARINE Penetrating Wood Sealer to last for several years, and the manufacturer guarantees protection for more than five years. Some other less potent sealers provide less protection and will require reapplication annually. More powerful products may cost more upfront but could save time and money in the long run.

Many sealers also offer mildew resistance, which is helpful for wood that is exposed to water and moisture continually. If you live in a humid area or one with excessive rainfall, mildew protection might be necessary.

UV Protection

Your outdoor projects will be exposed to sunlight daily, and the UV radiation from the sun can quickly cause wood vibrance and beauty to fade. Some sealers offer protection from ultraviolet rays and can make your projects look newer for longer.

Coverage & Cost

Depending on the type of sealer and application method, the coverage can vary wildly. Some sealers provide just 100 square feet of coverage per gallon, while others seal close to 400 square feet. I recommend you measure all of the surfaces you plan to treat before deciding on a sealer.

The coverage area can have a significant impact on your total project cost. For example, a small container of a concentrated sealer that gets mixed with water before use may be more expensive than a gallon of another option. Still, it may go further during application and end up costing you less. Going by the total coverage area and accounting for how absorbent your wood is will help give you an accurate cost to stay within your budget.

Coats & Dry Time

Like the SEAL-ONCE MARINE Penetrating Wood Sealer, some sealers only require a single coating to get adequate protection. Others may need two or three coats before your project is sealed.

The need for multiple coats will add to your total working time, especially if you’re sealing a large project, like a deck or a piece of lawn furniture.

Additionally, the sealers that do need multiple coats can have varying drying times required before the next one is added. Make sure to account for both the total application time and the time you’ll need to wait between coats.


Some wood sealers are entirely transparent and won’t change the appearance of your wood. Those that do alter the look can do so in two ways.


Sealers that contain pigments or dense oils can change the color or darken the appearance of your wood. Topical, solid sealers and stain and sealer combinations will have the most significant impact, while clear, oil-based sealers may just tint your wood darker or slightly yellow. Additionally, sealers that add color tend to darken with each additional coat, so you’ll be drastically changing the appearance of your wood if you want the best protection.


Some sealers that soak into your wood may offer no shine at all, but others that come in different finish options can change the look of the surface. A matte finish won’t change much about your project’s aesthetics, whereas semi-gloss, gloss, or high-gloss will give a more polished look.

Ease of Use

Sealers can vary quite a bit in how easy they are to apply. Some of the thinner sealers, which are often water-based, can simply be added to a pump sprayer and sprayed onto the surface. Thicker, oil-based sealers require an airless sprayer or brush and roller application. A garden sprayer is the easiest and cheapest option that will save you time and money.

Some thick sealers may soak more easily into the wood grain. However, they can drip or run, making use on vertical surfaces challenging, and they may require a more forceful application to get good penetration.

Environmental Concerns

Many wood sealers contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that give them superior waterproofing capabilities but are dangerous to inhale and can be detrimental to the environment. Some eco-friendly options, like the Eco Advance EAWOD16CON Water Repellent Liquid Concentrate, contain no VOCs.

Sealers with no VOCs are safe to use around pets and children, and you don’t need a respirator or mask when using them. The seal they provide is often less robust, but keeping yourself and your family safe may far outweigh having to reapply annually.


Many wood sealers require some preparation prior to use, which often includes cleaning the wood surface and ensuring that it’s dry.

Check out this video for information on how to clean a wood project before sealing:

With outdoor projects that are too large to be moved inside to seal, the requirement to apply to dry wood can be challenging and restrictive. You can’t control the rain, and covering your project with a tarp to keep it dry may not be practical.

Other sealers, like the Olympic Stain Smartguard Concentrated Multi-Surface Sealant, can soak into wet or moist wood, so you have complete freedom in when you can use it.

Special Recommendations

It’s challenging to select a wood sealer, but it’s even trickier to choose one if you have particular circumstances. I’ll offer some recommendations for different situations that you may run into below.

Wood Sealer for New Wood

New wood is challenging to seal because you need to maintain good breathability to allow the moisture trapped in the wood to dissipate. I recommend the Olympic Stain Smartguard Concentrated Multi-Surface Sealant for new wood. Its ability to protect isn’t affected by moisture in the wood, and it allows for moisture exchange between the wood and the air as it ages.

Weathered Wood

For wood that is already damaged by the sun and rain, I recommend Star Brite Premium Golden Teak Oil. When you use this in combination with Star Brite’s restorative products, it brings natural beauty and shine back to just about any project.

Wood with Existing Stain or Sealer

Not all sealers can be applied over existing stain or surfaces that have previously been treated with a wood sealer. If your project isn’t new and has been treated before, I recommend sealing with Eco Advance EAWOD16CON Water Repellent Liquid Concentrate. It has excellent penetration to get through treated wood, and it will provide good added protection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Outdoor Wood Need To Be Sealed?

Yes, outdoor wood needs to be sealed. No matter the type of wood you are using, it should be sealed for outdoor use to ensure it stands the test of time and is protected from the elements!

When it comes to sealing outdoor wood, you have a few choices. Commonly, outdoor wood coatings use water or oil. Water-based sealants and stains use tiny pigment particles and resin that adhere to each other tightly as the finish dries.

Oil-based sealants work slightly differently, where the particles fuse chemically to make a large sheet-like substance. These sealants create a harder finish and are unlikely to develop an amber color.

You can find out more about the sealant by reading the label, where it will list its ingredients and application process.

Typically, water-based sealants are considered easier to use and have a low odor. However, you will need to use more coats and it won’t last as long as oil-based sealants.

It’s worth considering these factors when choosing your sealant. Using a sealant on outdoor wood can increase its longevity and should keep moisture out! This will help keep the wood healthy and ensure that it doesn’t warp or become dangerous.

Should You Seal Both Sides Of Wood?

Depending on the item, it might not be necessary to seal both sides of the wood! Many people think that sealing both sides of wood can help to prevent warping, but that is not necessarily the case.

For tables or cabinets, for example, there is no need to seal the underside, as the likelihood of water or other damage warping the underneath is minimal.

While sealing these undersides can help to limit the chance of warping, it isn’t going to remove the chance entirely. Instead, you can focus on sealing the top of the wood or joints that are in areas where moisture could pose a threat.

For situations where both sides of the wood are exposed, like fences, then it is worth sealing both sides.

This will help to protect all of the wood from rain and other elements that could damage it, causing warping or wood rot. In these cases, treat both sides and seal them to provide maximum protection.

For household items though, it is not necessary to seal both sides of the wood. Seal the top side and any joints and you should be good to go.

We would still recommend keeping your wood in a moisture-free environment to prevent warping and keep it well maintained.

But there is no need to spend extra time and money sealing the underneath of food if it is not near moisture.

Wrapping Up: Which Outdoor Wood Sealer is Best?

As I’m sure you can tell by now, the best wood sealer for you depends on your project size, your climate, how often you want to reapply, and whether or not your wood has been treated in the past. No single sealer will be best in all situations.

However, my overall favorite is the SEAL-ONCE MARINE Penetrating Wood Sealer. It’s very straightforward to apply, offers excellent protection from water, UV, and mildew, and lasts for several years without needing to be reapplied.


Dan Simms

Dan's interest in woodworking began while watching his dad build furniture in a pieced-together home workshop. He inherited old but reliable tools from his father and quickly became enamored with the ability to make something out of nothing. Starting with a simple picture frame and moving onto building all the furniture for his house, he's proud to have begun his own home workshop, built a stronger relationship with his dad through the craft, and developed a love of all things woodworking.

1 Comment
  1. Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU for writing and sharing such an informative article. I especially like how you broke it all down and explained each aspect; very helpful for someone who has limited knowledge on the subject matter, like myself!
    After spending $20,000, I deemed it not only necessary but imperative that I properly care for and maintain my new deck.
    It was purely luck when I stumbled upon a 5 gallon, quality sealant, on sale, at my first purchase.
    It was a year later when I returned to purchase more that it, unfortunately, became Just My Luck! – – Much to my dismay, they no longer carried the product. They, nor seemingly, anybody else. I couldn’t find it anywhere.
    As luck would have it, rain was forecasted sooner than usual that year. Of course! Feeling that pressure; fearing rain before sealant got applied, I begrudgingly succumbed to purchasing another brand.
    Although at least sealed, I was otherwise displeased, dissatisfied & disappointed in the outcome of that product… the same as with every product I’ve purchased since.
    None works near as well, not even close, to the awesome of that first product purchase.
    However, equipped with the newfound knowledge you’ve provided me (& feeling lucky) I’m hopeful & confident, as I aspire to find something comparable this time.
    Thanks again. I sincerely appreciate your time & effort; am grateful for the info you shared.☺

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