Over 50,000 Satisfied Customers
Onsite and Offsite Service

Best Outdoor Wood Sealers

Outdoor wood surfaces need protection from weather extremes. You can restore faded surfaces, treat new wood, or add a splash of color. Using the best surface coatings as part of a maintenance schedule will help save you money in the long run, maintaining the natural beauty of the wood while limiting the need for labor-intensive restoration. Our Teak Master team shares popular options and how they could meet your needs for keeping your outdoor wood surfaces in top shape.

Which Types of Sealers Are Available?

Wooden deck that just had a sealer put on it

Joe Lillibridge is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

Homeowners have many options when selecting wood sealers, ranging from oil-based to water-based and transparent to opaque:

Oil-Based Sealers

Oil-based sealers work well for wood that absorbs liquid quickly, like pine, oak, ash, and cedar. Oil-based sealers typically offer better UV resistance and an even appearance once dried.

Water-Based Sealers

Water-based sealers, a more environmentally friendly alternative, work best for woods that don’t absorb liquids quickly, like maple, birch, and alder. The faster drying time for water-based sealants could lead to an uneven appearance, but they allow the wood product to be used sooner.

Dark Sealers

Darker or opaque sealers offer better UV protection and a more even appearance, though they may hide some of the natural beauty of the wood. Semitransparent options let some of the wood grain show but offer less UV protection and are susceptible to fading after a couple of years. Clear sealers may offer some UV protection while allowing the natural appearance of the wood to show. Clear sealers also limit the sanding needed since dark sealers may wear unevenly.

How Do I Select the Best Sealer for My Home Project?

Consider a few key features when finding the best sealer for your situation. Your local climate, sun exposure, frequency of use, and the look you seek to maintain all go into deciding the best sealer for your home. Find a good sealer and apply one coat since additional coats will be blocked by the first coat that keeps all liquids out.

Consider water and mildew resistance, which keeps moisture out of the wood’s fibers to prevent mildew growth, discoloration, rot, and cracking. Poorly sealed boards may also warp. For sunny spaces, pay extra attention to UV-blocking properties. Darker colors and oil-based options are typically the best in this category.

Think about how you’ll apply the sealer and how long you can keep the surfaces from being used. Most homeowners use paint brushes or rollers, but some sealers may be applied with a sprayer. Oil-based products take longer to dry, but water-based products may dry too quickly, leaving an uneven appearance. Cooler weather with limited sun may help with an efficient application.

Consider the environmental friendliness of the sealer, especially if you have concerns about runoff, fumes, or exposure to pets or kids. Water-based products typically are the safest.

Which Highly Rated Products Should I Consider?

Your best choice for sealer may vary depending on your unique needs, but a few options stand out as products to consider based on their protection. Check labels and product websites to compare and contrast what’s in the marketplace. Options vary from non-toxic water-based finishes to deep-penetrating oil-based sealers that offer additional protection from UV rays.

  • Seal-Once Nano + Poly: This clear water-based sealer protects against moisture, mold, UV rays, and abrasions. This formula requires two coats, but it dries quickly. The non-toxic protectant is safe for kids and pets and works well in high-traffic areas.
  • Seal-Once Marine Penetrating Wood Sealer: This water-based sealer protects against moisture extremes and even salt water. Easy to apply, it soaks into the wood and creates a layer of protection from rain, snow, and mildew. Seal-Once has a six-year warranty for horizontal surfaces and 10 years for vertical surfaces. This product has clear and color options, with a longer curing time that offers enhanced protection.
  • Star Brite Teak Oil: Teak oil provides deep protection and dries quickly. The viscous oil may be rubbed in with a rag or applied with a brush or roller. Star Brite Teak Oil can bring back the luxurious look of quality woods like teak.
  • Rain Guard Water Sealer: This concentrated, clear sealant must be mixed with water to protect from moisture, mildew, rot, and UV rays. 
  • Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer: This oil-based semitransparent option provides an even finish and has 10 color options. It takes longer to cure but offers high resistance to UV rays while keeping moisture and mildew away.
  • Thompson’s Water Seal Advanced Natural Wood Protector: This water-based sealer dries quickly, offering protection from the elements with one coat. The semitransparent product is easy to apply and lasts about two years.
  • Eco Advance: A water-repellent liquid concentrate that mixes with water and soaks into the wood surface, creating a solid layer of protection. This product applies white but dries clear within a day or two. The eco-friendly product is affordable and easy to use.

Do New Surfaces Need Different Sealers?

New wood surfaces offer homeowners the option to achieve their desired color, opacity, sheen, and overall look. Use quality sealants and follow the recommendations for the wood and the product you select. New wood surfaces allow you to set a regular maintenance schedule to keep the beauty consistent from year to year. Proper maintenance can pay for itself since restoration work or wood replacement can be extensive.

How Do I Keep Wood Surfaces Protected?

Remove the buildup of dirt, mildew, and other spills promptly with a cleaning solution, applying new sealants when needed. Maintenance needs and sealant life vary depending on climate and conditions like sun, shade, and nearby plants or trees. Sealants provide a translucent protective layer and enhance the grain, pattern, and colors. Sealants, unlike varnish, don’t create a film that can blister or peel and is easy to re-apply when needed.

Another option is a marine varnish that forms a protective film and is available in finishes like satin, high gloss, and matte. Film-forming coatings require multiple coats over a base coat of stain, offering long-lasting protection from the weather. They work best on vertical surfaces like doors, trim, and some siding applications. Stains provide diverse color options and a transparent, semi-solid, or solid coverage of the wood grain and work on almost any surface.

Need To Speak to an Expert?

Our Teak Master team is here to answer any wood refinishing or restoration questions. Contact us at 888-513-5638 or via our secure online form to get started.


Bring Life Back to Your Wood Investment