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Paints vs. Opaque Stains

They can create similar opaque finishes, but the products are designed for very different purposes.  Which is better?

First, we can look at what each product is designed for.  A solid color stain is designed to penetrate like a stain, but give you the look of paint.  The result is a long lasting, colorful product that still shows the natural wood grain.  

They key here is that the solid color stain must penetrate the wood to work effectively.  This makes it ideal for new exterior siding, and previously stained finishes.  Because it penetrates, it won’t peel like paint.  Yet because it has an opaque finish, it protects like paint.   So if you have new wood, or wood that has been previously stained and in good condition, a solid color stain offers the best of both worlds.  

So if your home was previously stained with a transparent stain and you want a fresh, colorful look, then solid color stain is the way to go, right? Not necessarily.

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The exterior siding on a home starts to degrade over time- especially if it hasn’t been stained or painted often.  These result in cracks where moisture can get in and start to warp, rot, and in some cases delaminate siding.  Solid color stains are too thin to seal up the surface.   Some of these problem areas may require patching and repairs which solid color stains will not adequately cover up.    And if you choose a light or neutral body color, these cracks may show up dramatically.  In some cases this can actually make to siding look older, since the cracks and holes become more visible.  Even multiple coats of solid color stain cannot fill most hairline cracks.

This is where an acrylic paint shines.  A high quality primer bonds to the wood, providing a strong, penetrating adhesion.  This provides the grip for true water, UV barrier- either a flat, or low sheen acrylic paint.  This type of application allows for multiple coats, and a thick-enough coating to seal the old, damaged siding and provide an even, new-looking finish.

So for new siding and previously-stained siding that is still in good condition, a solid color stain is going to provide the longest lasting, maintenance-free finish.  Otherwise, paint is the way to go.
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Exterior Paint & Stain
With such a host of products on the market today, which best suites the need of your home?
 Paint and Stain FAQ
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