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Stains and finishes for lumber outdoors? NOT preserved wood.

I'm making a very large outdoor plant stand to house my houseplants on my deck for the summers. Rather like a multi-shelf baker's rack in appearance. It will be outdoors year round, screwed to the wood trim of the house.

If the wood is left UNfinished, it will get stained from the constant water, spilled soil, etc. I'll be watering mostly with the hose.

I'm mostly familiar with oil based indoor stains and varnishes from woodworking projects. Stains that soak in to the wood. Apply, wipe, let dry, reapply if needed. Top coated with oil based poly or other varnishes.

But I'm assuming that outdoor projects need something different. We were not able to find the right lumber in preserved wood OR cedar. So we had to buy ordinary pine lumber (in a nicer finish grade).

Ideally, if I can find the right product, I'd stain this plant rack dark to medium grey to coordinate with our light grey siding, or a medium brown. (Some color that won't show spilled soil or water marks). Then some top coat to seal the wood from weather, non-shiny. Satin or matte.

So what stain or finish will actually protect ordinary lumber used outdoors? Or use Thompson water seal or a similar product on top of the stain? Can it be used that way?

Someone on a DIY site suggested a powder you mix with water, "Eco wood preserver". But reviews I read say it continues to leach out every time it gets wet, and will stain the deck. That would bother me, so I'm steering away from that now.

I am not a professional woodworker, just someone who does a lot of home improvement projects and furniture refinishing. I don’t have access to any specialty product. I can’t spray a finish; it will have to be applied with brush or roller.

So I'd very much appreciate your advice. Thanks!

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