Armstrong, Benjamin Moore, Flood Company, Olympic and Ready-Seal are manufacturers who make exterior stain. Sherwin Williams, Thompson, Sikkens, Gemini, Penofin, Messmers and Woodrich also make exterior stain.
Stains are different from paint because stain penetrates the surface to preserve the natural texture of the surface being painted, while paint just coats the surface. Exterior stains are generally used on shingles, decks, wood sidings, outdoor furniture and other structures. It's important to buy high-quality stain because of the harsh conditions that exterior stain is exposed to from being outdoors, including moisture, wind, direct sunlight and temperatures that fluctuate. High-quality stains provide long-term benefits.
There are two types of stains to choose from: water-based stains and oil-based stains. Water-based stains will adhere better to surfaces that have been previously stained or painted with oil-based stain or paint. Water-based stains are good for woods that have a natural resistance to rotting, like cypress, redwood and cedar. Water-based stains won't trap the moisture because they are breathable.
Oil-based stains are recommended for areas that are exposed to very harsh conditions, such as decks. There are some latex-oil stains that offer both the benefits of oil-based and water-based stains. Oil-based stains offer more durability and protection.