Should I Paint or Stain Wood Siding?

Should I Paint or Stain Wood Siding?

Have you just finished painting your kitchen, living room, or other rooms in your interior? Are you looking to add some color to your exterior décor? Maybe you’ve just completed a DIY or woodworking project and want to add the “finishing” touches.

There are plenty of projects that can involve painting or staining as the final step. The only question is – which should you choose, and why?

Painting Versus Staining I: Appearance

In determining whether you should paint or stain something, it is important to know how applying either can impact a given surface. For example, while both paint and staining cover wooden surfaces, paint is more surface-level. It covers the whole surface of the painted area, but it does not seep into the wood. 

By contrast, that is precisely what most types of staining does. Different types of staining penetrate to different depths, which can be beneficial depending on how deeply you want the wood treated. That said, while staining penetrates into the wood via its pores, it can be either solid, opaque, or somewhere in between in terms of its surface-level application.

By contrast, paint is wholly opaque. If you are looking to cover the whole wooden surface up, therefore, paint is preferable. If you want to add some color yet allow some of the natural wood grain color and texture to show through, staining is probably the way to go.

Painting Versus Staining II: Application

When applying either paint or staining, you need to make sure that you are using a brush or roller that is dry, clean, and in the case of brushes, is not brittle or starting to lose its bristles. Both require smooth, even strokes or rolls up and down or across a surface so as to get a nice, neat application of paint. However, it should be noted that paint typically takes a lot longer to apply given that it takes longer to dry. In addition, paint often requires extra preparation in terms of priming to avoid common problems such as blistering, cracking, flaking, and peeling.

By contrast, you typically do not need to prime a surface before applying stains.

Painting Versus Staining III: Protection

How well do painting and staining protect wooden surfaces?

Part of that answer traces back to the fact that staining penetrates deep into the wood, whereas paint is surface level. This means that staining can help guard the interior of the wood against moisture penetration. However, the level of penetration can make a huge difference in how much protection it is able to provide. While a couple coats of a high-penetrating stain can protect your wood for up to 10 years, a single coat or less penetrating stains may offer significantly less protection.

By contrast, with paint, you have a much more solid idea of what you’re going to get protection-wise. Add a couple coats of paint with primer to something like your siding and you should be good to go for the next 10 years.

Both staining and paint do a good job of shielding your wood from naked exposure to sunlight as well.

So, which is right for you?

That will depend on the type of work you want to do and what you’re looking for aesthetically and protection-wise.

By reviewing the ins and outs of either option, you can feel empowered to make the choice that’s right for you.

Scroll to Top