Best Exterior Woodstain to use on your home - a simple guide

Best Exterior Woodstain

By Mike Gregory


As a professional decorator I quite like using exterior woodstain. Some may think it’s a little old fashioned, but I love giving timber a new lease of life without taking away its character. There are so many brands out there, how do you know which is the best exterior woodstain to use on your property? The thing is, I can’t just point to a product and tell you it’s the best. It completely depends on what you need the stain to do. Use this blog as a simple and honest guide out of the mouth of a professional.



Dulux Ultimate Exterior Woodstain


Dulux ultimate woodstain has by far the best opacity out of any on the list. This product dries faster than the other oil-based alternatives too. Unfortunately, these plus points come with a downside. Dulux Ultimate doesn’t level off very well and you can often see brush marks. That isn’t to say it’s not a great product, because it is. There is a time and place when Dulux Ultimate woodstain comes into its own.


If you aim to restore and recoat previously stained timber work that has taken a battering or has a few chips, then Dulux Ultimate is perfect. As part of your prep you should die any bare wood within the chips on the timber. Then because Dulux Ultimate covers so well, it tends to blend everything in again and make it look solid. All you need to do is take care when laying off to avoid those dreaded brush marks. It isn’t very good for large panels.



Sadolin Extra Durable Woodstain


Sadolin Extra Durable is and easy woodstain to write about. Great finish but very slow drying!! For bare timber you should build up the depth if colour with another product such as Sadolin Classic woodstain. It is worth mentioning Sadolin have a great reputation for longevity and although I haven’t tested these products side by side and left them to weather, Sadolin Extra is the one I think would outperform the others against the test of time. This is the woodstain I use on the exterior of my own house.




Good old reliable brand of woodstain, Sikkens is now owned by Akzo Nobel who also own Dulux. Sikkens Filter 7 Plus is the exterior stain you need; however, it has poor opacity so it is best using it to recoat previously stained timber, or to topcoat over Sikkens Centol HLS Plus. So, for bare timber you need to apply two different products.


Although the opacity can be a pain, the overall finish of Sikkens Filter 7 plus is to die for. You will find it slow drying, so it is best to apply the stain on a warm day. Brush marks level off nicely and you will be left with an even, rich glossy colour over your timber. Honestly, the finish is stunning.



Water-Based Alternatives


Every brand I have mentioned up to this point comes with a water-based counterpart. These do come with certain benefits; They are quick drying, easy clean up, better for the environment and a lot easier to use. In fact, they fly on (it does look a bit dodgy before the stain is dry).


There are also a few negatives with water-based stains opposed to oil. Adhesion between new and previous coating can on occasion be poor. Your water-based woodstain may start to flake after a year or so, particularly if the previous coating was oil-based, or your prep wasn’t up to scratch. Even if it does adhere, your finish won’t last as long as an oil-based would.


That being said, it is still a viable option and can look great. Ronseal is probably the best water-based woodstain on the market, but they are all similar.



Osmo Oil


I didn’t know whether to include Osmo Oil or not. It isn’t a stain, but it is very popular for exterior timberwork and can look good. It is used on cedar as the soft wood tends to absorb the oil well. There are a few limitations. Osmo oil can’t be applied over previously sealed wood unless it was sealed with Osmo oil. You will need to apply extra coats when going over new timber to help with longevity. Plus, you have to re-coat every couple of years because it just doesn’t last. Only apply thin coats or the product will fail and try to work it into the timber.


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Best Exterior Woodstain