Should you use a water-based stain on your deck or fence? You should only use it if somebody previously painted it with a water stain. Once that damage is done, you have no choice but to go back over it with that type of stain. Putting oil over wood painted with a water-based product is not an option. In most cases, stripping it off with a chemical solution is not worth the work.
While water-based stains hold the color longer, they don’t penetrate the wood cell structure, preventing moisture from causing the wood to split, crack, twist, and warp. And they will peel and flake off, making maintenance much more difficult.
Maintenance: no matter what material you use, it must be maintained or repainted every two to three years. I am still looking for a product that will hold up longer than two to three years. Except for some front doors, I have done with Rubio MonoCoat. Check out the review here. (https://youtu.be/ZPpgNQqNvmc ) The verdict is still out on that.
However, if you use an oil stain, When it’s time to repaint, You will not have to deal with getting the flaking paint/stain off. It may need cleaning, but you can go over it with the stain without worrying about the prep work to remove the previous flaking paint.
It looks better: Oil-based stains showcase the beauty of the wood grain. If you prefer a more solid look- go with a semi-solid oil stain. It will still show some of the wood grain but less. Why would you not want to see the beauty of the wood? Note: If your fence is pressure-treated pine, then an oil base stain will not look as good as if it is cedar or redwood. But, you can use a semi-solid stain to remove the “not so good” look of the low-grade pressure-treated pine wood.
Any wood structure, like a deck or fence, should always be treated with oil unless someone previously painted it with a water-based stain.