Ready Seal vs Wood Defender: Which is Better?

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Matt Stone

Wood Defender and Ready Seal are very similar exterior wood stain products. They are both easy to apply and offer protection for your wood fence or deck. Although they are very similar, there are some key differences that might make one the better choice for you. 

In my career staining fences, I have used both Ready Seal and Wood Defender. I recommend both products and have applied hundreds of gallons. I have not been able to find a noticeable difference in the quality of the two products or in the longevity that they offer. 

When it comes to the differences between Ready Seal vs Wood Defender the biggest distinctions come down to availability and product options. ReadySeal is sold in many big box retailers so it should be easy to find it nearby. Wood Defender on the other hand offers a much wider variety of color and product options.

Keep reading to learn more about these two exterior stains.

Similarities Between Wood Defender and ReadySeal

Wood Defender Cedar Tone stain on a cedar fence.
Ready Seal Redwood stain on a cedar fence.

Both products are exterior oil-based wood stains and sealers. They work to repel moisture by saturating the wood fibers in oil. They contain pigments that will block UV rays and prevent damage to the wood surface. They will also inhibit mildew growth.

Easy to Apply

Both Wood Dender and Ready Seal are very easy to apply. They both use very slow-drying oils in their formula. This means that the stain will even out over time as it dries. This eliminates the problems of drips and runs showing up in the finished stain. It also eliminates the need to back brush the wood which makes the job go faster.

They are meant to be applied in a heavy coat that saturates the wood. ReadySeal recommends testing to see if a second light coat will be absorbed by the fence. 

Both of these stains will not form lap marks even if wet stain is applied over dry. This is a problem with most other oil-based wood stains and a major reason why many DIY fence stain jobs don’t turn out right. These stains eliminate this problem.

Both stains will easily clean off of non-porous surfaces with a rag and maybe a little bit of mineral spirits. Because the stain won’t dry on your hands, it won’t feel sticky as you are applying it.

Differences between Wood Defender vs ReadySeal

Although the products are very similar I can think of two main areas in which they are different. These differences may be the deciding factor for you when choosing which one to go with.


ReadySeal is sold in big box hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. This means it should be easy to get as much as you need. Also, if you run out of stain before the job is finished, a quick trip to the store will get you back to staining.

Wood Defender on the other hand can be picked up at fence suppliers and some local hardware stores. This means you may not have a store nearby where you can purchase it from. You can order the stain online though. It can take a few days for it to arrive after you order it so you will need to plan ahead. Also, if you run out of stain it will be inconvenient to have to order more.

Color and Product Options

Wood Defender comes with semi-transparent color options like this sable brown.

Wood Defender will give you many more options when choosing the perfect color and stain type for your project. ReadySeal comes with 8 color choices. These may not all be available at every store so you may be even more limited. All the colors tend to be pretty transparent as well.

Wood Defender offers 8 transparent colors that are similar to the ones offered by ReadySeal. They also have a dozen additional colors in their semi-transparent line. This means you have over twice as many color options with Wood Defender vs ReadySeal.

Since Wood Defender offers semi-transparent stains you have more options for the look you want to achieve. These stains will cover up more of the underlying wood and provide a more even color. They are a great option for aged wood because they cover up imperfections. 

Wood Defender comes in interesting colors like this Cape Cod Gray

Dry Time

ReadySeal and Wood Defender’s slow-drying oils have one major downside. They are not a great option for decks or outdoor furniture. Since they take weeks to dry, walking or sitting on the stain may leave an oily residue on your clothing or shoes. If you walk into your home from the deck, you can track the stain into your house.

To fix this problem, Wood Defender has created their 200 series deck stain. It will dry within 24 hours, meaning you can get back to using your deck our outdoor furniture much faster. You don’t have to worry about tracking stain into your home. ReadySeal has yet to come out with a similar product option.

Our Verdict

Although both Ready Seal and Wood Defender are great options for staining a wooden fence or deck, we have chosen Wood Defender as the winner in this matchup. Because Wood Defender has so many more options for colors, transparency level and a fast drying version, it is far more likely you will find a fit for your specific situation.

While Wood Defender may be the best all around oil-based fence stain, Ready Seal can also hold it’s own in very specific circumstances. If you are staining your new cedar fence and you are happy with the color options, Ready Seal’s easy availability may make you want to choose their stain.

In either case, it is a good idea to learn how to properly stain a fence before you continue. Read our guide on how to stain a fence.

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.

2 thoughts on “Ready Seal vs Wood Defender: Which is Better?”

  1. Thank you for the information. Although, I was looking to see if you would make a comparison between the two concerning what type of weather you can apply the stain in or what to do and not to do concerning….again weather.

    • Hey Alicia, Thanks for pointing this out. Weather is an important factor to consider when staining. As I mentioned, the basic formula for the two stains is very similar so they react to weather very similarly. It is interesting to me that if you read the product information provided on the cans for each stain Wood Defender seems to indicate that it is more sensitive to temperature than Ready Seal. Ready Seal basically tells you that you should not worry about temperature when applying it as long as the wood itself is not frozen solid. Very low or very high temps adversly affect the drying in most stains but since Ready Seal is a non drying stain this isn’t a problem. Wood Defender works the same way and temperature shouldn’t have an effect (which has been confirmed to me by a WD rep) but for some reason they recommend applying it when temperatures are above 50 degrees. I stick with the official recommendations on this site to avoid any issues with the company honoring warranties so if it is very cold outside I would lean towards Ready Seal.

      As far as moisture goes they are identical. You need the wood to be dry, preferably under 12%. They are both impervious to water damage after about an hour or so but again curiously, Wood Defender recommends not staining if there is rain in the forecast for 24 hours. I’m not sure why WD is so conservative in their official literature.

      That is my best assessment of Ready Seal vs Wood Defender when it comes to weather.


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