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Exterior Wood Stain Review: Sherwin Williams vs Benjamin Moore vs Behr

There’s a long standing debate as to which is the best paint for its money. Sherwin Williams? Benjamin Moore? Or Behr as its usually less expensive than its counterparts.

I needed to paint our outdoor furniture on our beachfront. We live on a river, have nasty cold snowy & very windy winters, hot humid summers, and our furniture gets a beating. Not literally but the stain on all the furniture looked worn and non-existent. The picture below shows how our beachfront looked in all its uglyness. Is uglyness a word? lol

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I went with a water based exterior wood solid stain due to our weather conditions. Also I was painting over previously stained furniture for most of the pieces, and I didn’t want to mess about with oil. Most experts say you should restain your deck or furniture every 2 – 3 years, especially if you live in a high humidity or high volatile weather area. Since we fall into both categories, I’ll probably be restaining or repainting the furniture in a couple of years. So I went with the full coverage water based exterior wood stain. Plus I was changing the color so it just made sense to go with the solid wood stain. If you like the color of your furniture or deck, and you want to refresh with the same color, this type of stain may or may not be your best option. You may want to check out some of the other exterior stains finishes like transparent or semi-transparent.

Most experts say you should restain your deck or furniture every 2 – 3 years, especially if you live in a high humidity or high volatile weather area.

Behr Exterior Solid Stain Review

Once I knew what type of wood stain I wanted, my next choice was color. All the three companies offer the latest trends in exterior wood stains plus some traditional colors as well. Behr was my first store I went to and it was good I went there first, because they’re the only paint company that didn’t mix the wood stain to one of their color chips. They have a ready made selection, quite extensive for colors, and I choose their version of deep navy, called Atlantic, SC – 101.

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I used a combination of a roller and brush to put the stain on. The first coat took a fair bit of stain, but true to its name, it was solid. The reason, I believe it took a fair bit of stain was due to the condition of the chair, and not a reflection of the product since the other companies did that as well.

Once the first coat dried, I applied the second coat. The second coat went on alot faster and didn’t take as much stain. The final product was stunning! The Atlantic blue was gorgeous and many neighbors complemented me on the color.

I was surprised at the price of the product. It was more expensive than I thought it would be being a big box store product, but the quality of stain was definitely good.

Solid stains hides the imperfections and almost completely hides the wood grain which was what I was looking for. Because of our harsh weather conditions, both in winter & in summer, I knew that I will likely be staining or painting again in a couple of years. I wanted something fast, that looks great, and with as little fuss as possible. If you’re not wanting a solid stain, then there are other options where you can see the grain of the wood such as transparent and semi-transparent stains.

Benjamin Moore Exterior Solid Stain Review

With Benjamin Moore, I choose their exterior water based solid stain, just like I did with Behr. Benjamin Moore has many trending & traditional colors to choose from just like Behr. But unlike Behr, Benjamin Moore will tint their stain to a color of your choice. Since we live on a river, I was going for a fun beach vibe and I choose Benjamin Moore’s Hawthorne Yellow HC-4 as my choice for my next painting assignment, an unfinished | untreated pine bench, and a couple of lounge chairs.

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The first coat for the pine bench used ALOT of stain because the wood had not be treated, which I was aware of. So this was no surprise for untreated wood and was expected. The loungers that had been previously stained did not take up as much stain as the bench. After I applied the second coat to both pieces of furniture, they looked great, super cute. And again, I received many complements from neighbors on the color.

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The price of the gallon of stain was $10. more than the Behr stain. I didn’t see a huge difference in the quality of stain between the two products, ease of use or the look of the final product. They were quite comparable except for the price. But I got to choose the color I wanted with Benjamin Moore which is not an option for Behr.

Sherwin Williams Exterior Solid Stain Review

For my final project, a small picnic table, I chose Sherwin Williams exterior solid stain in the water based product, just like I did with Behr & Benjamin Moore. Sherwin Williams like the other two companies, offer a wide range of stain colors that are both trendy & traditional. But to complete my cute & trendy beach vibe, I selected Sherwin Williams SW 6767 Aquarium.

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The picnic table was virtually bare of any previous stain, since it had gone through a harsh winter as well. The first coat went on better than expected, given my previous experience with the other two paint companies. I didn’t use as much stain for the first coat as I did for the other two projects using Benjamin Moore & Behr. I applied a second coat and it looked great. Again, the color was a big hit among my family & friends at a gathering we had.

The price of the gallon of stain was the same as Behr’s price, however, the customer service rep at Sherwin Williams told me that if I came back in a couple of days, there would be a sale on their stain for 30% off. Bonus! I went back when the sale started so I got my stain for 30% off of Behr’s price.

Who won? Sherwin Williams? Benjamin Moore? Behr?

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Behr Exterior Water Based Solid Stain

PROS:

  • Stain went on well. Its a nice finish.
  • Have a wide selection of trendy & traditional stain colors
  • The final product looked great. Received lots of compliments!

CONS:

  • You need to pick from one of their color samples. They do not mix colors for their exterior stain products
  • Was the same price as Sherwin Williams but $10. less per gallon than Benjamin Moore
  • Was expecting Behr’s to be price to be significantly less than its major competitors. It was not.

Benjamin Moore Water Based Solid Stain

PROS:

  • Stain went on well. Its a nice finish.
  • Have a wide selection of trendy & traditional stain colors
  • They will mix the stain for you so you can pick the color you want if you don’t want one of their color choices.
  • The final product looked great. Received lots of compliments!

CONS:

  • Was the most expensive of all the three brands. Was $10 more than the second highest brand.

Sherwin Williams Water Based Solid Stain

PROS:

  • Stain went on well. First coat took less stain than Behr & Benjamin Moore
  • Have a wide selection of trendy & traditional stain colors
  • They will color mix a stain for you so you can pick the exact color you want
  • Was the same price as Behr
  • Customer service rep at Sherwin Williams proactively told me of an upcoming sale in 3 days
  • Received 35% off for the equivalent product of Behr + got to choose my color
  • The final product looked great. Received lots of compliments!

CONS:

  • None

And the winner is …..

In conclusion, if I had to pick a winner it would be Sherwin Williams water based solid stain. It went on beautifully. The first coat took less stain then the other two products. It was the same price as Behr. But with the 35% discount that the rep told me to wait to buy the stain, it definitely was a no brainer. You can pick your own colors, the product looks amazing, and I received many many compliments!

The runners up, Behr & Benjamin Moore are also very good products. They took a bit more stain for the first coat, but the final product looked great and I received many compliments as well on the final projects. To be honest, you’re not going to go wrong with any of the products. For me, it would come down to price and the location of the store. If you’re not near a Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore or Behr would be just as suitable. All 3 paint companies had a good selection of trendy & traditional stain colors. But if you want to choose your own paint color, then you would choose Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. The paint companies are now offering online or in-person specials, so be sure to check out the prices before you shop!

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Feeling Overwhelmed?

Is your exterior bland? Is it in need of an update? With my online Exterior Paint Color Palette, after seeing your pictures & questionnaire, I will provide for you 3 color palettes for our front exterior paint color, front door, garage door, trim, faucets & shutters. I guarantee my work. I will make sure you’re happy. Let me help you take the stress out of choosing a paint color for you.

Click here to learn more about my online online Exterior Paint Color Palette Consult.

debi-collinson-interior-stylist-color-expert-stager-real-estate-investor

Hi! I’m Debi Collinson. Designer. Color Consultant & Real Estate Investor. 

I conducted my first color consult at the age of 7 lol for my dad. I grew up learning how to read blue prints, going on construction sites and helping my dad, an Engineer|General Contractor|Co-Owner of a Design|Build|Engineering firm pick out paint colors for his buildings. Since 2006, I have been helping hundreds of clients creating a home they love and making their home look like they belong in a magazine page whether the client is styling to stay or staging to sell. 

In my spare time, LOL, I buy “fixer uppers” to fix up & either sell for a healthy profit or to rent. I’m currently looking for my 10th “fixer upper.” Sign up to receive my e-mails of how to make your home stunning, how to sell your house for top dollar AND how to become financially independent one fixer upper at a time! Read my full story including my design credentials here.

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4 Comments

  1. Question about your “Exterior Wood Stain Review: Sherwin Williams vs Benjamin Moore vs Behr”. After 8 months, did you notice which brand held up the best of the three to the weather and elements?

    1. Hi Jim

      That is a GREAT question! I was actually going to write an update to this blog post a year later. I painted the furniture almost 10 months ago and they ALL are standing up fine going through a winter. Every brand looks as good as when I painted them. Something to note, I did NOT cover up the furniture during the winter. Our winter was mild this year compared to last year. Very little snow and not the high winds we tend to get living on the river.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to compare the different products and sharing your knowledge with us. Do you also help with paint colors on the inside of the house?
    Thanks, Linda

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