Sherwin Williams Woodscapes Stain Review
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 vertical surfaces like fences and 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.
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.
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.