Sherwin Williams Woodscapes Stain Review

Updated on December 18, 2018
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter sharing house-painting tips, related product reviews, and his experience in the trade.

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

  • 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.

  • I need to replace cedar wood shingle siding. The current ones are painted with SW Emerald latex paint. Can I use SW Woodscape to prime and paint final coat with Emerald Exterior latex?

    If you're going to replace the painted cedar siding with the same siding, don't paint it. Stain the new cedar with two coats of Woodscapes stain (acrylic). Stain penetrates cedar, soaking into the wood, whereas paint mostly forms a layer on top that will eventually start peeling, requiring lots of scraping when you repaint next time. The cedar should have been stained instead of painted in the first place, but if you must paint the new cedar, which I don't recommend, you'd need to prime the bare wood with an exterior bonding primer (oil-based) that will seal the surface, and appy two coats of your Emerald exterior paint, or Duration. Duration is very durable.

  • 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.

  • Can I use Sherwin Williams Woodscapes Stain on a screened in porch floor that has a solid stain on it now?

    No, Woodscapes is a siding stain. On a screen porch floor, either Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor enamel, or Super Deck solid stain, would be fine. If you're planning on coating the floor with a finish that has any transparency, you'd have to strip off the existing solid stain first, but if you're coating it with another solid finish, this isn't needed.

  • is it OK to prime cedar siding with Zinsser oil based cover stain and then stain with Woodscape solid stain?

    Priming your cedar with oil based cover stain primer is unnecessary. I don't recommend that. Apply two coats of Woodscapes, and you're done. First, make sure the cedar is completely prepped, power washed, scraped, etc.

© 2017 Matt G.


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    • Matt G. profile imageAUTHOR

      Matt G. 

      5 months ago

      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 

      5 months ago

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


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