Home Decorating Tips

Stain or Paint for Wood?

difference between staining and painting wood

Home Decorating Tips

Stain or Paint for Wood?

Posted on October 3, 2015

From time to time, certain pieces of furniture and house elements need revamping to keep a neat and vibrant look. For wooden fixtures, it’s all about keeping an updated and glossy appearance. And, unless you’re a beginner in DIY projects, you should know that there are two ways to go about it. You either use stain or paint for wood. To help you make a decision on which suits your project, here’s a slightly deeper look into the differences of stain and paint for wood.


When it comes to function and purpose, stain and paint are pretty much the same. You can rely on both to spruce up your furniture with color, as well as to protect it.

The differences are in the makeup and how these finish options work. On one hand, a stain will always be thinner and will penetrate into the wood when applied. On the other, paint will create a thin film of color and stay on top of your wood substrate.


One of the advantages of paint is the wider variety of colors to choose from. Even so, Island Paints’ stains such as Natura NGR Stain and Natura Penetrating Dye come in a set of Red, Brown, Yellow, Orange, and Black to offer a little more than the standard set of stain colors.


While paint for wood offers a bigger set of options for sheen, the stain has semi-transparent and solid finishes. Best for when you want a rustic effect, semi-transparent stain dramatically enhances and brings out a wooden surface’s natural beauty and texture. It only follows that the quality of the wood material affects the end look of your project. Almost like paint, solid stains are usually used on structures or parts where seeing the wood’s texture is not so important.


Stain wins this round of the battle as they usually require minimal to no surface preparation. Oil-based stains such as Natura Oil Wood Stain and Natura Woodtek are optimized for maximum penetration. It may take a while when it comes to drying, but oil-based stains are reliable on intricate projects.

Similar to your normal wall paint, paint for wood will highlight dents and unsightly deformations. Island Wood Primer & Sealer has excellent filling and sealing properties to hide surface imperfections and improve topcoat adhesion.

Much like other decisions in home improvement, the details of the project should be considered in gathering proper tools and equipment. The desired outcome of your project and the quality of your subject should help in choosing whether to go for stain or paint for wood.

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