Blog Solid Color Stain vs Paint

Published on March 31st, 2013 | by Grant Barnard


What Is The Difference Between Paint And Solid Color Stain?

Should you be using paint or solid color stain is the “question of the day”. There are differences between the two even if you cant see the difference. We mainly use Acri-Shield Paint and use Acri-Shield Solid Color Stain. Grants Painting offers deck and fence staining in Indianapolis and Greenwood.

Sheen Availability of Paint or Stain: Paint is available in many sheen’s. Solid color stain is only available in its own sheen. For most products this will usually be close to a matte finish.

Applications of Paint or Stain: Stain is ONLY meant for wood that has not been previously painted. Paint can be used on wood plus many other surfaces like plastic shutters and stucco.

Why Use Stain Instead of Paint: There are a few instances that you will always use stain instead of paint:

  1. Stain is more water permeable. Water is absorbed by untreated wood that is on the underneath of you deck. Stain will then let that moisture escape from the wood through the coating and not cause rotting by trapped moisture.
  2. Stain is made to take foot traffic. Foot traffic results in more abrasion than regular paint is designed to take.

Will Paint or Stain Last longer

Paint will last longer than stain. However, stain will protect wood better by letting the moisture escape if moisture is allowed into the wood.

Does Paint or Stain Block Tannin Oil Better

Tannin oil bleeds through coatings displaying yellow or brown stains. These tannin oils also harm the coating as they soak through it. Solid color stain is designed to block the tannin oil better on its own. A paint system will require a primer to stop tannin bleed.

Benefits of Solid Color Stain:

  • Lets moisture escape from wood
  • Formulated for abrasion from foot traffic
  • Self adhering to wood
  • Blocks tannin oil bleed without a primer

Benefits of Paint:

  • Comes in many levels of gloss (sheen)
  • Works on metal, stucco and many other surfaces
  • Comes in high grade acrylic formulas for superior longevity
  • Brighter and the darkest colors are possible

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About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

  • Carol

    is there any reason why we couldn’t use solid color stain for new wood shelves and cupboards instead of latex paint?

    • Grant Barnard

      Hi Carol.
      Sure you could but with the low sheen of the stain it wont be that durable for shelves and cupboard abuse. Its not the best option but it will certainly bond well.

      • Carol


  • Brenda Conover

    I have a wood deck and it is painted. If I sand the deck can I use a solid color stain? I was told by Shermim Williams I could. What do you thnk?

    • Brenda. If you sand it all the way down you can put any type of stain on it.
      They may have been telling you to sand enough to scuff the surface. That would help adhesion but you will still have issues because the paint below is not meant to take foot traffic and horizontal surface abuse.

  • moviegourmet

    Our deck was last stained in 2010 with Behr Premium Solid Color (Russet) Weatherproofing Wood Stain 100% Acrylic Formula. We are re-staining this summer and I’m looking at one of the grays in the Porters Acri-Shield Color Stain line. Are you still using this product? Have you ever used it on top of the Behr product? If so, how did it go?

    • Grants Painting

      Its not the best if the behr is still thick in spots. Other than that it should work fine.

      • moviegourmet

        Thank you. If we decide to go with the Porters product I’ll post how it turns out.

        • moviegourmet

          I asked my contractor to use Porters, but there was a time lag between our conversation and the actual job and he forgot and used the Behr! Ugh! He did a great job fixing up a deck that was poorly built in the first place. I hope the Behr holds up.

  • Imrran Wahid

    Hey Grant. I’m still on the ‘fence’ trying to decide on whether to stain or paint my cedar fence. The fence was put in last year and I just had it power washed. I would like to use a solid color (white). I’m leaning towards paint. Can you guide as to which products worked best for you and which didn’t?

    • Megan Wright

      why would some one put up a beautiful cedar fence and then paint it white?! That should be a criminal crime 😛

  • Karen Schimmel

    I’m getting ready to restain my deck. I have Previously used Behrs solid stain. My contractor uses Sherwin Williams products.
    What preparation needs to be done before reapplying another solid color stain over the existing solid color stain.?

    • Grant Barnard

      Just a decent power washing

  • Karen Schimmel

    Which brand do you recommend?

    • Grant Barnard

      Pittsburgh has ultra solid color which has been our go to for many years. Now they have Paramount which is not as heavy bodied but will outperform anything else.

      • Deb Moschel Fenendael

        I hope its a good solid stain, I just put this on our newly built deck with cedar boards, however I did not do the railing because it is treated, how long before I can apply the solid stain to the railings? I live in Door County WI. Love the Color choices I did a charcoal gray, on the deck & also on my fence. LOVE IT!

  • Bruce

    I have removed carpet from interior stairs and removed most of staples. Is it better to use a solid color stain or paint

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