The results of staining and painting both have their own unique look, and it is up to you to decide what type of aesthetic you want at the end of your project. When it comes to fences, decks, log homes, or siding, staining offers a beautifully preserved and natural look to the wood material. There are also other advantages when it comes to choosing exterior stain colors versus painting, including:
- Minimal surface preparation as staining does not require priming
- Stains do not peel or chip as paint might
- Projects usually require only one coat of stain
- Stains are easy to reapply and recoat when needed
Choosing exterior stain colors is a little different from picking out paint. Here are some things to consider.
When looking at exterior stain colors, it’s important to consider the type of wood you will be staining. Not all stain colors will look the same when applied to different types of wood, and some wooden surfaces will absorb stain colors better than others.
Oak, ash, and chestnut all have larger pores and are very easy to stain. Other types of wood that have tighter grains, such as birch and maple, are harder to stain. Pine is another type of wood that can be finicky to stain because it tends to have an uneven grain. Most woodworkers would recommend staining pine a lighter color because darker stains may create an unnatural look.
As with paint colors, it is always a good idea to test your stain color before you move on with your project. When it comes to testing exterior stain colors on wood, it’s important to find a wood piece that resembles the type of surface you are looking to stain in order to get the most accurate results from your sample.
Types of Stains
Transparent stains are the clearest and least opaque out of them all. If the wood of your project already looks the way you want it and you just need a way to protect it from weathering too quickly, then consider using a transparent stain instead of one with pigment. Transparent stains should be recoated annually.
Semi-transparent stains have just enough pigment to accent the color of wood while still showing off its grain. You should recoat semi-transparent stains every 2 to 3 years.
Semi-solid stains have more pigment than semi-transparent stains and could be a more desirable option if your wood is old or turning gray. Every 2 to 5 years semi-solid stains should be reapplied.
Solid stains are the most similar to regular paint as they completely cover surfaces so you cannot see the wood grain underneath. However, you will still be able to see the texture of the material. You should recoat solid stains every 5 to 7 years.
How to Choose a Stain Color
Once you’ve figured out which type of stain you want to use, it’s time to choose a color. When it comes to stains, there are fewer color options than paint because most of the colors available are meant to accent the natural look of wood. For the most natural look, check out stains with the same name as the color of the specific type of wood you are going to stain. If your deck is made of oak, consider Dark Oak. If your project involves redwood, you can choose between a more vibrant Redwood or the lighter Natural Redwood.
Even though there are fewer color options than paint, there is still a variety to choose from. If you’re not as concerned with keeping the color of the natural wood, you could also choose between Rustic, Vintage, or Weathered browns, depending on what type of look you want.