Sherwin Williams Woodscapes Stain Review

Updated on April 6, 2019
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

Woodscapes Stain vs. Paint

Woodscapes is an exterior wood stain made and sold by Sherwin Williams. The solid finish is the only stain I use for staining fences and cedar siding. The stain is available in both an oil-based and waterborne version, but my review is based on the waterborne option.

When re-coating siding, or a fence, a common question is whether stain or paint should be used. For wood surfaces, especially cedar, that have already been stained, Woodscapes performs very well. You can also apply this product over previously painted surfaces.

Stain penetrates wood, soaking into the grain to protect it and accentuate it's beauty. Paint forms a thick layer on top that takes away from the natural beauty of wood. Painted siding can also be a nightmare to prepare for a repaint when it starts to fail. With proper surface prep, Woodscapes will only fade over time, instead of peeling off in layers like paint. Stain also doesn't require a prime coat over bare wood like paint does.

Mildew Resistance

If your fence, or siding, is shaded most of the day, mildew is much more likely to form and spread. Using a mildew-resistant product is important. I have found that water-based Woodscapes resists mildew really well when applied to clean wood.

Before applying the stain, I first spray a mix of bleach, water and detergent onto existing mildew, allowing it to soak into the wood for about ten minutes, followed by a thorough power washing. I have returned to homes I stained many years ago, using this product, that show no signs of mildew growth.

The oil-based version of this stain though is a different story. While I haven't personally used it, there are complaints about mildew forming not long after staining. This is because the resins in oil-based stain and paint actually feed mildew, which is why I typical use water-based products. Oil stain also tends to peel more than fade.

Peel Resistance

In my experience using the water-based Woodscapes in the solid finish, the stain hasn't peeled where I have used it. Like any product, the surface needs to be power washed and scraped if the previous coating is loose and peeling. After power washing, the wood should have two or three days to completely dry before applying the stain.

Although I haven't used the oil-based Woodscapes, there are complaints about the stain peeling and attracting mildew. When in doubt, I recommend going with the water-based option to avoid problems.

Wood Knots and Tannin Bleed

Tannin bleed is a huge eyesore when it happens on cedar siding stained a light color. Wood knots leak a dark discoloration into the stain that looks horrible. If you're staining your house siding a light color, I recommend spot priming the wood knots first before using this product.

While this product is self-priming, it won't completely seal wood knots to prevent discoloration from showing up in a light colored stain. I once stained a cedar sided home a light cream color with this product and the knots did not cover in two coats.

If you're staining the house a darker color, then this doesn't matter. What I always do is spot prime the wood knots with BIN shellac primer first. This prevents bleed-through and increases durability.

Is Woodscapes Solid Stain Worth It?

I can vouch for the water-based, acrylic option, but not the oil one. For cedar fences and siding, it is probably one of the best products to use for durability and appearance. It restores faded siding and looks excellent with two coats. It also dries very fast, allowing the second coat to be applied the same day.

Like most of the premium coatings at Sherwin Williams, the per gallon price isn't cheap. The cost is $57 per gallon, as of this writing. That is the regular retail price without a sale or discount through a store account. Sherwin Williams has an exterior coatings sale several times per year, typically for 30% to 40% off, that can save you a lot of money.

Darker colors in this product don't touch up well in my experience, especially blue and green. Two coats are a must to hide wood knots and prevent flash marks where the brush and roller overlapped.

This product sprays really well through an airless sprayer. The thin consistency makes brushing and rolling easy. Most importantly, this product has been very durable on the vertical surfaces I have used it on, or I wouldn't continue using it. Even outside of cedar application, I have sprayed and rolled it on T1-11 siding with excellent results.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • Your review speaks about solid stains, but what about Sherwin Williams' semi-transparent for a new cedar fence? Any thoughts?

    The solid finish will last longer, but semi-transparent is fine too. If the cedar is brand new, though, the wood may need time to dry out before applying the stain.

  • We built cedar porch posts a few weeks ago and want to stain them. The Sherwin Williams staff member recommended this over the phone, but I assumed it was waterproof. Doesn’t it need to be? And does stain cover if we seal up all the cracks with silicone?

    Woodscapes is meant for cedar siding. You can use it on your cedar porch posts too without any problems with rain, it's exterior stain, but you should know that the finish of the acrylic Woodscapes is flat and dull, so dirt won't wash off as easily as it would if it were painted with glossy paint. If that's not important though, Woodscapes is an awesome product for cedar. I use it on all of my cedar siding projects.

  • When using Woodscapes solid waterborne on previously-stained trim, must I sand off all the old (different) stain down to the wood or is it enough to sand a bit to remove the glossy outer layer?

    I'm assuming you're referring to exterior stained trim. Woodscapes bonds well without primer, but if the trim is really glossy, I'd scuff sand it a little before applying the Woodscapes stain. You don't have to sand it down to the bare wood.

  • I used semi-transparent Woodscape stain on a new privacy fence, can I use the solid for the 2nd coat? I just saw you prefer the solid.

    Yes, but the solid stain must be the same type of Woodscapes, oil over oil, or waterborne over waterborne. The solid stain will also change the look of the finish. You won't see the wood grain as much as you do with the semi-transparent.

  • What is the difference between Sherwin Williams Woodscape stain for siding, and their recently acquired Super Deck? I purchased the Super Deck in a solid color to stain T1-11 siding panels installed last year on the garage that I renovated. I understand that the T1-11 is pre-primed from the factory, and was told that you could not put a stain over primer?

    You can stain T1-11 siding with Woodscapes acrylic solid stain. I've done it many times. Woodscapes is a siding stain and Super Deck is a deck stain. Power wash your new siding, if needed, and stain it with two coats of Woodscapes.

© 2017 Matt G.


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    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      14 months ago from United States

      Sherwin Williams Super Deck stain or Woodscapes would be fine, but if you're staining any deck flooring, use Super Deck stain. If the pergola wood is brand new you'll have to give it some time to dry out before staining it.

    • profile image

      J. Baker 

      14 months ago

      I have a new pergola it is ready for stain what kind should I use? The wood has knots I hate nots.

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      14 months ago from United States

      Glad to hear it worked out for you.

    • profile image

      cid h 

      14 months ago

      Great News! The Sherwin-Williams store manager, Troy is gonna give me the stain in the Woodscapes product!! (It’s a customized color for our HOA). No more worries! Probably should have called him first!

    • profile image

      cid h 

      14 months ago

      Thanks Matt...I am still worried over it...

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      14 months ago from United States

      I would have used Woodscapes for your cedar siding and trim. I don't know why the store sold you deck stain for your siding. Super Deck is a durable product that might hold up fine on your siding, but Woodscapes definitely would have been best for that. I'm not sure what the price difference is between those products.

    • profile image

      cid h 

      14 months ago

      In the past I have used Woodscapes for both the cedar siding and cedar trim on my home. Yesterday Sherwin-Williams sold me Super deck for the siding and stayed with Woodscape for the trim, do you think this will be/become a problem? And do you happen to know if there is a price difference?

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      15 months ago from United States

      No primer is needed underneath Woodscapes stain. All of the loose old paint should be removed and two coats of Woodscapes applied. The caulk tube should indicate whether it's paintable, or stainable.

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      16 months ago from United States

      Thanks Laura. To be honest, I don't remember the Woodscapes color options because it's been a while since I've used the product, but if you visit your local Sherwin Williams they usually have the Woodscapes color book in the store.

    • profile image

      Laura R. 

      16 months ago


      Thanks for your post. Very insightful. What color would you recommend for a cedar fence? Leaning towards the cedar or ember color, but I am having a hard time finding pictures.

      Thank you!

    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      21 months ago from United States

      Honestly, I'm not sure because I've never stained a log cabin, but I think it would be fine. I recommend asking your local Sherwin Williams store manager.

    • profile image 

      21 months ago

      Can water based semi-transparent woodscapes be used on the exterior of log cabins?


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