Paint Versus Stain: Which Should You Choose?

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Deciding to paint the outside of your home, or elements in your yard such as decking, fencing or pathways, throws up enough questions of its own. Aside from simply choosing your color palette, you also need to consider the finish you would like, and the suitability of the paint you choose in regards to the surfaces being painted. However, throw the option of staining into the mix and you might feel a little like you’re making life even harder for yourself. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, and when you know the pros and cons of both paint and stain you’ll be far better equipped to make a more informed decision that will leave you as pleased as punch with your newly decorated home or garden.

Paint and stain have one thing in common: both consist of the same ‘ingredients’ – pigments and a vehicle – that coat a surface in a protective layer of color. However, there are a number of intrinsic differences, the main one being that paint lies on the surface of the item being painted, whereas stain is absorbed into it.


Here we take a look at the pros and cons of both paint and stain:

The pros of using paint to decorate your home

  • Paint is thicker than stain, so generally needs fewer coats. Stain can be deceptive, and you may need to use a lot more than planned if a surface is particularly absorbent.
  • Paint also comes in far more color options than stain.
  • Paint is more uniform in its covering.
  • There are also more sheens and finishes available in paint.
  • You can paint over previously painted surfaces (after preparation) whereas you cannot use stain over paint.

The pros of using stain to decorate your home

  • Stain is normally cheaper to purchase than paint.
  • It is easier to apply stain, as well as to re-coat surfaces that need a touch up.
  • Stain is quicker to apply than paint, because you don’t always need to prime surfaces first. It also only usually needs one coat.
  • Wood surfaces are enhanced, rather than covered up, by stain. Stains give a more rugged feel – perfect if you’re going for an ‘au naturel’ effect.
  • Paint is liable to peel, crack or flake, whereas stain is more resistant to chipping.

Which should you choose: paint or stain?

If you’re covering concrete or raw wood surfaces, such as shingles and sidings, stain can provide a complementary warm, rustic and natural finish. You can also choose whether to use a stain that is close to (or an exact match with) the natural surface, or to enhance it by using a tinted stain.

If a bolder, more dramatic look is more to your taste, then you may well prefer to take the paint route. Remember, though, if you are choosing to paint the outside of your home and are thinking of opting for an ‘unusual’ color, check with local authorities to ensure you’re not infringing any local bylaws.

Ultimately, deciding whether to use paint or stain to decorate your home comes down to personal taste and the suitability of the surfaces you are covering. Talk to the team at Sharper Impressions Painting and we’ll be more than happy to help you find the perfect option for your home.