Even if you have narrowed down that your wood project will need a stain, there are still additional options. Is an oil-based or water-based stain better for your project? Both oil-based and water-based stains are similar in what they do to the wood, but the application, effect and ease of use can differ between products. Learn more about the difference between oil-based and water-based stains below. 

What are wood stains? 

While the primary function of stains is to alter the color of the wood, stains can also highlight the wood grain. Wood stains can also provide a light layer of protection for the wood, depending on the type of stain. Staining wood can help protect against UV rays, and can help hide scratches on the surface of the wood. 

Advantages of Water-Based Stain

Water-based stains are, in general, considered slightly easier to work with than oil-based stains. While water-based stains do not provide as much protection for the wood as oil-based stains, they allow the applicant more flexibility and safety. Water-based stains emit less of an odor than oil-based stains, making them a little less potent as oil-based stains. Additionally, they are not nearly as flammable as oil-based stains. 

Water-based stains dry quickly. Keep in mind with quicker drying you may need to consider the time in which you decide to apply the stain In addition, they can also adhere to wood that has previously been stained with an oil-based stain, making these types of stains ideal for a quick fix. 

Water-based stains also allow air to move in and out of the paint, which means the paint will not trap water or cause decay. These types of stain also maintain quality of color longer. 

Advantages of Oil-Based Stain 

Oil-based stains may be a little harder to work with than water-based stains, but they are more durable and stand up against the elements better than a water-based stain. If you have a project that needs to stand up to the test of time, an oil-based stain may be the better option. 

Oil-based stains are not easily penetrated by the elements and are much more durable than water-based stains. These types of stains require less long-term maintenance. While oil-based stains dry more slowly, they maintain a more even finish, making the stain look nicer in the long run. 

Tips For Staining Wood 

Regardless of the type of stain you choose, some things will stay the same. The basic function of stains is to alter the color of the wood. Wood stains are made up of pigments to alter the color of the wood, a carrier, which helps flow the pigment onto the wood, and a binder, to allow the pigment to stick to the wood. Stains work by attaching pigment to the large pores of the wood. Whether you are planning to stain your wood deck or log home using a water- or oil-based stain, follow these tips for easier wood stain application

  • Stir stain thoroughly before starting the project, as well as throughout staining wood, to prevent pigment from settling at the bottom of the can. 

  • Test your stain on a piece of scrap wood or an inconspicuous place first to ensure you like the final color. 

  • Apply stain using a brush or rag. Rub the stain into the wood in a circular pattern, then wipe it with the grain to prevent any markings. 

  • Stains add some protection for UV rays, but do not prevent scratches, insects or other damage, so it is best to use some type of sealant to protect your project. 

Choosing the Right Products 

Are you preparing to stain a wood home or log deck, and looking for the right product? While the above provides good guidelines for deciding if you should use an oil-based or water-based stain, you may have additional factors you want to consider such as the wood properly absorbing the stain. Contact the team at Lovitt’s Coatings for additional assistance on choosing the right wood stain for your project.