Arguably, wood is the most versatile building material one can use. It also has exceptional strength and visual appeal, making it ideal for constructing not only indoor fixtures but also outdoor structures such as decks.
The question is, if the wood is naturally beautiful and strong, why does it need sealing?
Well, as strong as this material may be, we can also not deny the fact that it is fibrous. It is prone to tear and wear over time, and a sealer creates a protective cover that helps to maintain its integrity for years.
So are you in search of the best outdoor wood sealer? Be with me, and I’ll help you discover the top 10 picks in today’s market.
Stains and sealers are two different products, although they both work to protect and preserve the wood. Both products can be applied to outdoor fixtures such as fences, decks, and wood sidings to protect the planks from untimely weathering.
Sealers are typically transparent or clear. They either create a clear film over wood planks or penetrate the wood to lock out unwanted moisture or to reduce water intrusion.
When wood gets exposed to moisture, this causes fungal growth and rotting. Ultimately, the integrity of the planks is compromised, and their longevity is endangered.
It is crucial to understand that some sealers do not protect the wood from the damaging UV rays of the sun. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight causes fading and graying. The sun also sucks out the natural oils in the wood, leading to splits and cracks.
Wood stains also have water-resistant qualities offered by sealers. However, stains have an extra tone or pigment that can range from solid to semi-transparent.
This pigment has UV blocking capabilities that help to minimize sun damage. The darker the stain pigment, the stronger the sun protection offered.
Stains come in a range of tones and shades, including cedar, natural, redwood, and walnut. When choosing the product to use, you need to aim at selecting a tone that can enhance the overall beauty of your planks.
At the same time, the ideal sealer will provide dependable water resistance and UV protection.
Why Should You Use A Sealant?
Irrespective of the type of wood you use, a sealant can make it smooth and prevent unsightly scratches. A quality product will reduce the risk of splinters popping up.
It is of paramount importance to ensure that all your outdoor wooden structures and fixtures are sealed to prevent untimely breakdowns caused by rotting and warping.
What a sealant does is that it gets absorbed into the pores, sills them, and hardens them. This makes them impervious to water, and the hardened plastic boosts the strength of the wood. The water, wax or oil-based formula makes the wood harder and sturdier than it was in its natural form.
So, Stain or Seal?
Well, it is crucial to do both staining and sealing. Usually, wood sealants are applied after the project is complete. This means that you can use them after staining your wood to create a water-resistant, transparent film over the planks.
When used on unstained wood, the sealant penetrates the pores and seals them to make them more solid. Additionally, you can paint sealers over oiled wood. In this case, the protective coat will help you dodge the periodic maintenance that oiled wood requires.
The rule of thumb is wood sealing is crucial when you want a structure to stand the test of time. If you want it to last longer and still look beautiful, you should stain the planks before applying a sealant.
Best 10 Outdoor Wood Sealers in 2020
Dive in, and let’s study the top 10 deck and outdoor furniture sealers. We have sieved out the products that do an excellent job at enhancing the aesthetics of wood while offering protection against rotting and fading.
First on our review is the Minwax water-based sealer. This is the best wood sealer for outdoor furniture because it offers a clear protective finish. You can use it on windows and doors to protect them from rain, moisture, and sunlight. This product also prevents warping caused by temperature changes.
Because this sealer dries quickly and is easy to clean, you can also use it on indoor fixtures such as countertops and cabinets. The crystal clear finish ensures that it blends well, even on stained woods.
I find it more convenient to use sprayers instead of a brush or roller. Sprayers do not offer much control, although they make the project easier and quicker to complete.
One of the key factors I consider when choosing a sealer is its viscosity. The thickness of this sealer is somewhere between water and warm syrup. Therefore, its application process is remarkably comfortable, even when using an airless sprayer.
When in search of an ally that can help you protect your deck from decay and fading, this is the best option you have. This advanced wood protector keeps exterior woodwork looking aesthetically appealing and free of defects caused by weather elements for longer.
It creates a protective barrier that keeps UV damage, fading, mold, and mildew at bay.
I find this to be one of the easiest sealers to use. After all, you can apply it on damp, dry, pressure-treated or fresh wood planks without any problem. A single coat is enough to waterproof your exterior furniture, deck or fence.
This WaterSeal formulation is water-based, and this brings about one significant benefit. It makes wooden fixtures easier to clean so you can strip off dirt and dust using water and soap.
The Tricopolymer brand has a reputation that commands a grand following among home improvement experts. This easy to apply product offers a plastic-like coat that is VOC free and non-toxic. For young families with kids and pets, this is the best exterior wood sealer to use.
Because the sealer is eco-friendly and both toxic and VOC free, it is usable on just about all wooden structures within your compound. You could even use it to protect the planks on your livestock fence, dog house, or birdhouses.
It could also come in handy when seeking to add a few more years to your fencing, shingle siding, or wood siding.
This is a flood grade sealant that preserves the integrity of wood by preventing water seepage and slowing down the drying rate. It is unfortunately not ideal for decks because the glossy finish tends to pose slip hazards when wet.
If you want to dodge the time, money, and elbow grease required when applying a primer, this is the right product to use. It’s a stain and sealer that can be applied at any temperature.
Whether you are a DIY woodworker or a professional home improvement contractor, this runs-free streak-free formula is bound to knock you off your socks.
When applied, the sealant with anti-mold and mildew properties penetrates the wood to offer dependable water resistance. This formula also protects against the UV rays of the sun.
In terms of viscosity, this is a medium-bodied sealant. It is not designed to be thinned, so you should avoid the temptation of adding mineral spirits to make the product less viscous. Thinning the sealant degrades its formulation and causes performance deficiencies.
This is one of the latest products from SaverSystems, and it has hit the market with a bang. It is a versatile formula that is perfect for adding a protective coat to your wood siding, fencing and gazebos. This semi-transparent stain penetrates the wood with ease, providing maximum protection for longer.
You can use this product on dry or damp wood. Either way, it shields the planks from the damaging UV rays that cause fading and also offers resistance against mold, mildew, and algae growth.
Applying the stain over your wooden fixtures is easy. To achieve the best outcome, ensure the surfaces are cleaned and dry. All the coat needs for maintenance is routine sweeping and cleaning with water and soap to remove dust and dirt.
The majorities of sealers require you to get the wood prepped before application. With this wood treatment, however, prepping is not necessary.
One of the vital bragging points that make this the best wood preserver is that one application offers a lifetime of protection. Your wood will never require flaking, scraping, or reapplication.
Here’s the deal, this product can provide treatment that lasts a lifetime because it penetrates deep into the wood grains before changing its structure. It triggers artificial aging, turning the coated surface into a permanent, appealing brown or silver color.
For you to enjoy this permanent treatment, apply it on un-prepped wood. If your planks are already treated, you should sand them to allow easy penetration of the Tall Earth formula.
You can use this product for indoor or outdoor projects. It does not contain harmful ingredients and does not emit toxic fumes. The application process is simple, and you can use a sponge, roller, sprayer, or brush.
Designed to insulate wooden surfaces and prevent water penetration, this is one of the best waterproofing for wood that we could find. The formula consists of top quality ingredients, making it ideal for application on different types of wood.
This product offers incredible value to those in search of a wood protector that offers longstanding results.
Irrespective of the texture of wood or even its porosity, this sealer deeply penetrates the pores to provide complete insulation. It is hence ideal for use on furniture pieces and wooden structures found both indoors and outdoors. The product works perfectly on stained, painted, and even weathered surfaces.
One application offers a three-way protection level. Your planks will get protection from moisture, UV rays, and temperature changes. The hard protective layer created prevents mildew, wood rot, warping, cracking, shrinkage, splitting, and wood fading.
The consistency of the sealer is also reliable. Even though it is highly viscous, it is smooth and consistent. Consider using a paintbrush or roller for easy application.
Another top-notch preservative designed to protect decks and porch floors is the Rust-Oleum. It is mainly ideal for exterior woodwork and below ground structures. What gives this formula an edge above other wood preservatives is the fact that it two times the insecticidal chemicals in other products.
Depending on the area you reside in, it may not make any sense to protect your wooden structures from moisture and UV rays if they lack protection from pests. This product also offers high fungicide capabilities, and once applied, you can stain or paint your planks.
After the treatment dries, you will notice a transparent, green hue over your structures. Don’t worry about this because the color gradually fades away. It is perfectly okay to paint or stain your wood once the treatment dries.
Just like other SaverSystems products such as the #1 Deck stain, Defy products are also a darling to millions of woodworkers across the world. The extreme wood stain in specific is one of the most advanced formulations that performs better and is more durable than other competing products within the price range.
This product has zinc oxide particles that do an outstanding job at blocking out the damaging UV rays of the sun. They reflect direct rays to protect the wood from graying.
State of the art Nano-particle technology is used to retain the natural color of the wood. The zinc oxide particles are not visible with the naked eye. These particles also prevent fungus, mold, and mildew growth.
Even though the DEFY Extreme is crystal clear to maintain the natural appearance of wood, there are 6 other finishes you can order. They include cedar tone, natural pine, butternut, redwood, white walnut, and driftwood gray. All these finishes make the grains pop out, making wooden planks more appealing.
I’ll wrap it up by sharing some facts about the Star Brite premium-quality wood preserver, sealer and stain. This product uses ultra-refined natural oils that are chemically modified to create high molecular polymers that can hold up to extensive exposure to saltwater and damaging weather elements.
If you need a formulation that is mainly ideal for fine woods such as marine teak, this is the best one you can find. It has high-tech additives that provide superior protection from UV rays while enhancing the visual appeal of wooden surfaces at the same time. This is an ideal product to use on outdoor furniture and structures such as decks.
For you to get the best out of this sealer, your surfaces need to be clean and dry before your project begins. The idea is to allow the wood to absorb the oil effectively, and because dust or dirt particles can hinder proper penetration. Make sure you rub in the oil in the direction of the wood grains.
Factors to Consider While Buying an Outdoor Wood Sealer
To find out what is the best exterior clear coat for wood, there are several essential factors you must consider beforehand. Let’s discuss these factors briefly to ensure you can select a product that is able to perform as desired.
The climate zone you live in will play a significant role in determining the sealer that will work best for your deck. If your area enjoys normal climate ranges, it is perfectly okay to buy the first sealer you can find.
More caution is nonetheless needed if your area experiences extreme climates. It pays to ensure that you choose a product that is formulated to deliver optimal results within your climate zone.
Cleaning a tweezers is not difficult. Ensure that you clean your tools after every use. Additionally cleaning with alcohol can disinfect and kill off germs. Also, make sure always to close the tip with a safety cap in between use.
• Volatile Organic Compounds
Some wood sealers contain VOCs, and this means they emit toxic fumes that may cause health complications to pets and humans. If a product is not VOC free, this means that you and anyone close to the surfaces that need preparation could suffer from chronic headaches and throat irritations.
Products with high VOC levels are also known to cause central nervous system and kidney damage.
• Area of Application
Sealers are not created equal, and not all of them work perfectly on certain materials to deliver desirable results. The quality of wood that needs sealing is an aspect that must not escape your attention.
For instance, some sealers can penetrate denser materials, while others only work well on materials with lesser density. If you are working on your deck, first take note of its wood composition.
Even though most sealants are transparent, some of them offer a distinct finish. For instance, products like the SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium serves as both a stain and sealant. It is semi-transparent and available in Dark Walnut, Cedar, Light Walnut and Natural finishes. Make sure your product of choice offers the color payoff you desire.
• Application Mode
Sealers also differ in their mode of application. Fortunately, most products only require you to have a sturdy brush. Others will even so require you to use other options such as spray bottles or paint rollers. Make sure you are comfortable with the project demands dictated by the wood sealer you purchase.
Because sealers do not work in the same manner, they also tend to differ in terms of their longevity. Some products are stronger, more expensive, and require little maintenance in the long haul.
Others are cheap and reliable but can only last for a limited while. You must assess these qualities for you to make an informed purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I estimate the amount of sealer I need?
1 gallon of deck sealer can cover between 200-300 square feet. This will highly depend on the thickness of the coat you want. For you to make an accurate estimate of the number of gallons to purchase, you must first measure the square footage of your deck.
2. How much time does a sealer need to dry?
Assuming that your deck receives adequate amounts of direct sunlight, it should take at least 48 hours for the wood sealer to dry. More time is even so needed when working on decks that are located under huge tree canopies. In this case, the coat will be completely dry within 72 hours or so.
3. How do I apply my outdoor wood sealer?
It is essential first to ensure that your deck is clean and dry. After this, consider the mode of application of your product. Using a brush gives you more control during the application process. You simply need to make long, steady strokes, using the same techniques you use when painting walls.
Paint rollers help to get the job done faster, although you have lesser control. It is easier and faster to use sprayers, although they offer the least control over the application process.
Irrespective of the mode of application you use, double-check all areas, including in between the boards before you wrap up your project.
4. What is the recommended frequency for reapplying a deck sealer?
Most sealers should be reapplied after each one year cycle. Stained decks will, however, need sealing at least two times annually. This will help extend the lifespan of the stain.
If you are not sure whether it is time to get your structure sealed, there is a simple test you could do to find out whether the planks are protected or not.
Sprinkle some water on them and check out whether the water beads remain on the surface or they sip into the wood. A wood sealing project is long overdue if the water gets soaked into the planks.
5. How do I seal untreated outdoor structures?
Untreated wood is prone to mold and mildew growth. It is hence best to first check for these elements and remove any that you may find using diluted bleach. Let the wood dry properly and sand the surfaces. Vacuum clean the fixture to remove dust and begin the sealant application process.
If you desire to give your deck a facelift and turn it into a breathtaking extension of your interiors, all you need is the best outdoor wood sealer. You can select any of the 10 brands we have mentioned above.
Sealing projects are inexpensive, yet they play a significant role in enhancing the appearance and longevity of your wood.