Wood Stain Colors: Choosing the Right Stain for Your Home


Photo Credit: Moosicorn on Flickr

The first step in choosing the right exterior stain for your home involves deciding how much of the wood grain you want to show. You also should consider the amount of protection you desire and previous products applied. Stain comes in various levels of opaqueness and protection. Finally, it will be time to narrow your color choices.

Exterior Stain Products

Olympia offers four different exterior stain products, each with a different amount of color added to show or mask wood grain. They are:

  1. Clear-The full grain and texture of the wood show with this stain, which allows wood to weather to gray naturally.
  2. Toner-With this product, you add a hint of color to your exterior while letting the natural beauty of the wood show.
  3. Semi-Transparent-The amount of color goes from a hint to subtle with this stain, which allows grain and texture still to show.
  4. Solid-The texture shows through this product, but the color covers the grain.

The amount of color in a stain also determines the length of protection. Simply put: The more color, the longer the product will protect the wood from the elements.

You also should keep in mind the previous stains applied to your home when choosing a new one. If you have painted the wood, you will want to use a soild color as the grain has already been masked.

Color Choices

Once you decide which product you want to use, you need to choose a color. Some factors to consider include the colors of existing architectural elements such as your roof, foundation, fencing, landscaping and any other features that will not be stained. With stains, more color options exist with solid stains than clear stains.

Benjamin Moore, for example, offers its natural/translucent and transparent shades in six colors, and its semi-transparent and semi-solid stains come in 75. You can custom tint the paint company’s solid stains with any available color. Sherwin-Williams sells three transparent, 24 semi-transparent and 48 solid stains from which to choose. Behr offers nine transparent options and 60 each of semi-transparent and solid stains.

After selecting a few favorites, narrow down your choices using the tools available each of the paint company’s website. You can color match and/or see your home with a particular stain online. Nothing replaces good old-fashioned stain samples, though, as each stain reacts differently to each wood exterior. Ask your professional painter to apply samples to your home’s exterior so you can see how it works with the grain of the wood and how the color reacts in the varying shades of light in any given day.

Prep for Exterior Stain


As part of the process for applying stain samples, your painter may want to perform prep in that small area so you can see the exact finished product before making a decision. Just as with regular paint, prep proves an important step when staining. Poorly done prep can result in an unsightly stain job, one that won’t last as long as you would like.

If you see black dots on the surface of your wood exterior, it could be mildew or dirt, soot or another pollutant. Your professional painter will clean the wood prior to staining during prep. He or she also will remove fibers that become loose as the current stain ages. And if you have a redwood or cedar exterior, your painter will look for tannin bleed as the blotches will show through a new stain just as they do the old.

Take your time to choose the right product for your home, both in terms of opacity and color, and perform proper prep to get a stain job you will love for its long lifetime.

Specializing in exterior and interior painting, on residential and commercial projects, ProTect Painters provides local businesses and homeowners across the country with highly-skilled, trustworthy, and fully insured and licensed painting professionals who provide superior craftsmanship. Utilizing a myriad of paint options and finishes, combined with flawless customer service, ProTect Painters guarantees a stress-free home improvement experience for its customers.


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