Cabot Semi-Transparent Stain Review

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Matt Stone

Cabot Semi-transparent Stain

a can of cabot semi-transparent stain that is about to be reviewed

Product Description

This is a review of Cabot Semi-transparent oil-based stain

We have used semi-transparent oil-based wood stains to protect our customer’s wooden fences and decks for years. We decided to buy a can of Olympic Semi-transparent stain to test in our backyard. This review is the results of our test.

Cabot semi-transparent stain is a good option for protecting your outdoor structures. You may want to also check out some of our other stains that scored higher. See the alternatives section below.

Overall Score: 6.7/10

Single Gallons

Five Gallon Buckets


Resists Moisture

Semi-transparent pigments block UV rays

Amazing Color Options


Not the Easiest to Apply

Offers slightly less penetration than other options

Read below for our full review.

Product Overview

Cabot semi-transparent stain is an oil-based penetrating stain made for outdoor wood. It is designed to safeguard decks, fences, gazebos, and even outdoor furniture. Cabot is a respected brand for outdoor stain and tends to make high quality products.

When applied, this stain will soak into wood fibers. Since oil and water don’t mix, the stain will repel any water that gets on the wood. You should see the water bead up on the surface of the boards. Water is the leading cause of wood rot and warping so this stain will offer protection from both.

Cabot’s stain also contains pigments that will block UV rays. These rays from sun exposure damage exterior wood surfaces. By blocking these UV rays Cabor semi-transparent stain will prolong the life of your wooden structures.

Ease of Application6
Initial Appearance8
Average Rating:6.7/10

Ease of application

Cabot semi-transparent stain requires care when it is being applied. Like most other oil-based fence stains it requires both back brushing and keeping a wet edge.

Back brushing is when you run a brush over any stain that has been sprayed onto the wood. This will help even out the layer of stain and push the stain into the wood fibers. Any excess stain that has puddled will be spread out onto areas that might have gotten less stain applied.

Also, this stain required keeping a wet edge. This means you should not allow stain to dry in the area you are working on. If you but new stain on top of the dry area there will be a darker spot where they overlap. This will result in uneven color.

Application methods: Brush, Roller, Pump-Sprayer, Paint Sprayer

Requires back brushing:  Yes

Requires keeping a wet edge: Yes

Initial Appearance

two fence boards with Cabot semi-transparent stain on them.

Cabot semi-transparent stain comes in a variety of rich colors to highlight your wood grain. This color variety is one of the main benefits of this stain. It will dry to a pleasant flat finish if applied correctly. 


This stain is designed to fully penetrate the wood. Care should be taken to remove any excess that has not penetrated. The stain should be applied heavily enough that the wood can absorb as much stain as possible.


Cabot semi-transparent costs above the average for an oil-based penetrating stain.

Ease of Reapplication

Subsequent applications of this stain should be similar to the initial application. The product does not need to be completely removed if it is being applied a second time.

If the fence or deck is dirty it is recommended to wash it before a new coat is applied. Any gray color or mildew on the surface of the boards should be removed first as well. 

Resistance to Peeling

If applied correctly, this stain should penetrate into the wood and shouldn’t have issues with peeling. If it is applied too heavily, it can form a layer on the surface of the wood that can peel over time.


Cabot offers a lifetime warranty to replace the quantity of product you purchased or refund your purchase price if the product does not perform to your satisfaction. It does require you to apply and maintain the stain according to their instructions. You can find more information about their full warranty online.

Product Information

Stain Type: Oil-based, penetrating

Color Options: 100

Application temperatures: Greater than 50

Recommended coats: one

Coverage: Smooth 450-650 Rough 200-300

Dry Time: 24-48 hours

Cleanup: Mineral Spirits

Data Sheet

Manufacturer: Olympic

Alternatives to Cabot Semi-Transparent Stain

Ready Seal Exterior Stain

image of a ready seal stain can close up

Product Description

Ready Seal brand fence stain is far easier to apply than this Cabot product. It offers the same level of protection in an oil-based format. For this reason, we recommend it over this Cabot product.

Overall Score: 8.0/10

Single Gallons

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Five Gallon Buckets

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Our Verdict

Cabot Semi-transparent is a good option for protecting your outdoor wood structures. It will keep moisture at bay and protect the color of your wood. If you commit to regularly maintaining your fence stain it should keep your fence looking good for many years to come.

 There are several other options on the market that may be easier to use and offer the same level of protection. You may consider reading reviews like Ready Seal mentioned above before you purchase this product.

Single Gallons

How Much Stain Do You Need?

Want to know how much stain to buy for your next fence stain project?

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Author: Matt Stone
Matt has worked as a professional painter for over 10 years. This includes much experience with all types of wood stains. He loves to write about wood stains to help others make good choices to protect their homes and make them beautiful.