Having to stain any type of wood such as some building parts, furniture, etc. is something that one must do after using such items for some time. There are various reasons why we use this protective as well as decorative product when the need arises.

It could be that you moved into a new house and you did not like the stain you found there or it might not be as vibrant as you want or maybe, your wooden furniture is fading. Whatever the reason might be, the bottom line is that you will need to get the best stain to restore the beauty of that item.

This might sound easy, but it is no simple task given the number of brands and products in the market. Thankfully, we are here to make this task simple by providing you with important factors to consider when choosing the best wood stain.

Without further ado, let’s get started…

1. Type

There are two major types of this product according to their base substance. Hence, we have oil-based and water-based stain. In the past, the former was considered better than the latter. However, since they contain volatile organic compounds, they have begun to lose their popularity because of the harm they cause to the environment.

Apart from that, certain laws have been put in place regarding these compounds which made the formulas of these products to be changed by their manufacturers. As a result, some of them are no longer effective as they used to be.

On the other hand, their water-based counterparts have enjoyed technological advancements that have caused them to last longer than some of the oil-based types. These water-based types have another advantage in the sense that they can be cleaned easily with just water and soap.

2. Transparency

There are four options when it comes to stain transparency which includes clear, semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid. Let us discuss them quickly…

i. Clear

This transparency allows the wood’s natural grain to stay exposed. They don’t have any pigment which means they don’t change the natural color of your wood. However, they can still offer your wood protection from UV rays, mildew, and mold. Click here to learn more about the structural changes that occur to wood when exposed to UV light. It is also waterproof to an extent.

ii. Semi-Transparent

Just as the name implies, the grain of the wood can still be seen despite the slight color addition of the stain. It has excellent penetration and can last up to 3 years before you have to reapply. We would advise that you go for water-based types of this transparency rather than the oil-based types because the former performs better.

iii. Semi-Solid

This has a higher pigment concentration, but you will still be able to see the grain. This version is popular due to its amazing ability to protect against UV rays.

iv. Solid

This type is also called opaque stain and can last for more than 3 years before you have to reapply. Instead of penetrating the wood, it sits on it. It is perfect for covering any type of wood flaw as it perfectly covers the grain which makes them similar to normal paint. A major con of this stain is its tendency to peel off when used on a vertical surface.

3. Color

When it comes to this factor, personal preference takes priority. In other words, you can choose whatever color you like. You can do a little patch test in a not-too-visible area to see if you will like the color before making a purchase.

The semi-transparent types are produced in colors that are already pre-packaged. Some brands although provide some colors that you can custom-tint. Solid versions, on the other hand, can be custom tinted to any color of your choice which makes them similar to paint. Visit https://pitneypainting.com/paint-or-stain-what-is-the-difference/# to learn the difference between stain and paint despite their similarities.

4. Coverage

A rule of thumb is that a quality wood stain will cover more than 100 square feet for a single coat. It is important that you get quality and not just a product that has a wider coverage which is why we mentioned the recommended coverage area above.

If you make use of wood brighteners and wood cleaners, take note that the average coverage area may reduce. This is because these products will open the wood pores, thereby causing the absorption rate to increase. Hence, you might end up using more stain, but the advantage is that its longevity on the wood will increase.

5. Price

We saved this for last because many folks end up making price the ultimate and final deciding factor when it comes to making any purchase. However, this shouldn’t be the case.

If you choose to get a cheap stain, then you will get exactly what you paid for: A cheap product that is not efficient and will require reapplication in the shortest time you can imagine. While the most costly is not usually the best, the higher price is an indication of the product’s quality.


With all that we have discussed so far, we believe that the selection process of getting a wood stain won’t be a herculean task anymore.