Semi-Transparent vs Solid Color Exterior Wood Stain

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It is possible to buy a number of different brands of exterior wood stain, each of them offering different staining methods and suitable for use in a range of projects. The most common types of exterior wood stains that you are likely to see are the semi-transparent wood stain, known as penetrating stain and the solid color stain, which is non-penetrating.

There are a number of reasons why you should use each variety, but the requirements of your projects should influence which of these stains you use on your exterior woods. Whether you are looking to stain a large area, such as decking or board area, or you want to color a few wooden plant pots, there is a suitable exterior wood stain for your needs.

Semi-Transparent Stain

The semi-transparent stain helps to preserve the wood grain effect of any wooden furniture or outdoor buildings. These stains are often suitable for decking or chairs and tables that will be outside permanently, as they also contain an anti-fungal element which prevents mold and algae. These stains will penetrate the wood and form a bond with the fibers, making them a batter protective stain against the elements.

Use this stain if you are working on a decking area, or you want to stain your wood while keeping the same basic texture and grain of the natural product. These woods are not suitable for items that need to be colored, or that are intended to be more decorative than functional. Wooden furniture, door and window frames, and any external wood features that you would like to leave plain are suitable to be stained by a semi-transparent method. Penetrative stains are more difficult to refinish, and you may have to settle for a solid color stain on top of the older semi-transparent stain.

Solid Color Stain

These stains have been likened to a wood finish, rather than a stain, and that is a very accurate description. Solid color stains are non-penetrating, meaning that they lay upon the surface of the wood rather than bonding with it. Like topcoat finishes, this can lead to the wood becoming chipped and flaked. In addition, solid color stains do not usually contain an anti-fungal agent, and may not protect your wooden items against water as effectively as the penetrative stains.

Color stains are suitable for those projects where you wish for a more decorative than a functional purpose. You might consider using a color stain on outdoor furniture, for example, if you are not worried about leaving the natural grain. Planters and trellises are also very suitable for staining with a solid color variety.

You should not use solid color stains on your decking area, as they will not protect it against wood rot. It would be better to paint your furniture with a gloss and then add a finish over the top. Doors and window shutters can be painted using the solid color stains, but they will need redoing regularly, and you will need to check anything colored by this paint regularly for signs of flaking and peeling. Refinishing coats are easy to apply, however.

This guide will surely put you at ease. No more guessing whether a semi-transparent or solid colored stain is right for your exterior wood project.