Choosing the Best Wood Stain for the Job

In order to choose the best wood stain for the job, consider the look you are going for and what conditions the wood will be under. Certain looks work better with certain stains. In addition, some conditions like exterior wood and wooden decks require specially formulated stains as well.

Stains can range from clear dye stains to solid pigmented stains.

Pigmented stains have pigments with a binder. They create dramatic color. However, a pigmented stain hides the natural look of the wood grain even though it allows the texture to show through. Even though a pigmented stain may obscure the original color of the wood, it provides much more protection.

Dye stains provide less protection but don’t hide the grain of the wood. This makes them terrific for creating bright effects using the underlying texture and look of the wood.

Differences Between Interior and Exterior Stains

  • Interior stains are designed for use inside a home and, as a result, do not provide much protection. This does not matter for most furniture, but you should still plan on applying a finish, unless you are using a colored stain/finish combination.
  • Furniture in front of a window or in a humid room does need protection from sunlight and moisture and wood stain isn’t designed to do this. This is especially true of interior gel and wiping stains.
  • Exterior stains offer additional protection compared to interior stains.
  • The darker the stain, the more U.V. protection it offers and the longer it will retain its color.

Location and Material Considerations

Certain uses require special considerations for your choice of wood stain type. For example, staining a fiberglass door requires a gel stain.

Wooden decks are a special challenge. Since they face not only sun and rain, but also foot traffic, they need extra protection. In addition, as a horizontal surface, decks collect snow and rain. This ruins most wood stains, so special deck stains are necessary. Deck stains are formulated to help the water evaporate. This results in the best protection for the wood and the stain.

Wood stains are not a one size fits all type of thing. Instead, there are specific considerations you must take into account. The color is only one thing to keep in mind. Exposure to the elements must also be considered when choosing what type of stain to use. There are differences between interior stains and exterior stains. While you could choose to use an exterior stain indoors, you cannot use an interior stain outdoors and expect long-lasting protection of the wood you are staining.

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