Does Wood Stain Protect Wood?

The natural look of wooden furniture and construction can be very appealing. But wood is also notoriously weak, and it can easily be damaged. So, you’re likely trying to find some wood stain to preserve your brand new wooden creation. But protecting a large investment like your new deck can be confusing, with so many products on the market. We have carefully researched if wood stain will actually protect your wood.

Some wood stains can protect your wood from harmful UV light. Other stains can also provide some protection against liquid absorption or discoloration. But pure wood stains cannot naturally protect your wood. Wood stain is just a type of paint that is mainly intended to change the color of your wood. You will still need to seal your wood with something to ensure it is fully protected. Stained wood can still be subject to big issues such as rot.

Wood can be very beautiful, but it is also going to be highly vulnerable. Simple, everyday things like water or the sun can cause serious problems. With unprotected wood, a little moisture can result in an unstoppable process of rotting and destruction. Keep reading to learn how to stop wood rot, and how to properly use wood stain.

A cropped view of male carpenter applying stain to wooden furniture, Does Wood Stain Protect Wood?

Will stain keep wood from rotting?

Wood stain soaks into your wood and emphasizes the natural grain in the material. This is a great way to color your wood without losing the natural look, which gives wood its personality and style.

However, because wood stain soaks directly into the wood, it does not provide a protective coat. This means that pure wood stains cannot keep wood from rotting. Wood stains are not naturally equipped to seal the wood. They are only a type of paint. However, it is still very easy to be confused about the actual benefits of staining your wood.

This is because the majority of wood stains are now combined with some kind of sealant. As such, you can purchase many different kinds of wood stains that will automatically seal your wood. Just bear in mind that this kind of product won’t work over wood that has already been stained, or even painted. Wood stains that are combined with sealant will need to penetrate an untreated wood material.

What stops wood from rotting?

In order to stop wood rot, you should understand how wood rot actually works. Wood rot begins when water or moisture is allowed to remain on your wood for too long. This watery buildup is a perfect home for fungi. These fungi will then eat away at the wood. In fact, there are multiple types of fungi that can attack your wood in a variety of ways.

As such, the best way to prevent wood rot is to stop the rotting before it even begins. True, there have been attempts to treat existing wood rot. For example, borate is considered to be a decent fungicide to rescue festering wood. But it is always very difficult to keep the fungi from spreading on wood. Even careful treatments aren't fully reliable.

This means that your best bet is to use a wood sealer on any fresh wood. The primary use of wood sealers is to apply a protective coating over the wood. This is often designed to prevent moisture, which will then save your wood from rotting.

Do I need to seal wood after staining?

It is essential to seal your wood after staining. You don’t want to waste all of the hard work you put into sanding everything down. Because your wood stain doesn’t create a protective coating, you need a wood sealer to guard against things like discoloration, scratches, and even water damage. If you just want to repaint finished wood, you can read this post about how to properly paint over stained or finished wood.

There are different kinds of wood sealers. In order to waterproof your wood, you will typically have to choose between polyurethane, lacquer, shellac, or varnish. However, there is also a natural alternative.

Natural Finish

It is possible to successfully protect your wood with an all-natural wood finish. This would typically consist of a natural oil. This oil is extracted from either tung trees or flax seeds. A natural finish is sometimes considered the most beautiful sealer.

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Click here to find this tung oil natural wood finish on Amazon.

But the greatest benefit of a natural finish is that you can feel certain your wood coating will be non-toxic. This makes a natural finish ideal for interior wood. You will be able to have peace of mind for your pets, children, or wooden kitchen materials. Some tung oil wood finish can even resist alcohol.

Just keep in mind that a natural finish will usually need to be applied by hand. Most natural oils need to be wiped onto the wood. So, a natural wood finish isn’t always going to be ideal for larger jobs.


Polyurethane is the most common and effective way to seal wood. But it comes with some serious problems. Firstly, polyurethane creates an unusual amount of clarity. This means you will have to sand down even the tiniest imperfection in your wood before you seal it.

But the largest drawback to polyurethane is its chemical nature. Reliable studies have shown that polyurethane can produce fumes that negatively affect your lungs. This means that polyurethane wood sealers are likely unsafe during the drying process.

However, people still use polyurethane to finish their wood. This is because polyurethane is generally considered to be the most durable wood finish. Also, polyurethane can be easily applied to the wood by spraying it.

This kind of finish even allows you to add any level of shiny gloss that you would prefer. Further, a water-based polyurethane sealer can typically dry up within just a couple of hours. Meanwhile, a natural alternative could take as long as a couple of days to dry. This can be very frustrating when you have already waited a while for the wood stain to dry.

Click here to find this wood stain & polyurethane combo on Amazon.

What is the best stain for exterior wood?

Exterior wood is going to be subjected to every kind of damaging substance possible. It is always going to be exposed to harsh weather conditions like consistent rain, a blazing sun, or pests.

This means you will need to find the most powerful wood stain for exterior wood. Fortunately, it is easy to find a hybrid wood stain. This kind of wood stain is designed to combine both oil and water-based stains. But it uses only the strengths of either stain type. Even Home Depot agrees that a hybrid wood stain removes its weaknesses.

Click here to find this hybrid wood stain on Amazon.

A hybrid stain will soak deep into the wood, ensuring a long lifespan. They are also reliably durable, and you can also simply use water and soap for a quick cleanup job. You can read this post about how to disinfect wood furniture without damaging the finish.

What wood stain lasts the longest?

You should keep in mind that a wood stain’s transparency has a direct relationship with lifespan. If you want to preserve the clarity of your outdoor furniture looks, you may have to sacrifice the lifespan. For example, reliable experts have found that semi-transparent wood stains won’t last as long as a solid stain.

You should also consider using oil-based wood stains over water-based wood stains. This is because oil-based wood stains are designed to penetrate the wood. This will extend the lifespan of your stain.


With so many options for a wood stain, it can be hard to select the best stain for you. But wood is easily damaged, and woodworking is hard work. So it’s always worthwhile to protect your gorgeous new wood. Now that you know the benefits of using a wood sealer, you can choose a great wood stain and keep it protected just the way you want it.

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