Paint vs. Stain

When it comes time for a homeowner to determine whether they want a wood project painted or stained, there are several factors to keep in mind before making a final decision. Paint and stain are applied in different situations and produce not only different effects but also different results over time. Before deciding on whether you want to paint or stain a wood project, here are some points to consider:



A stain is used to highlight the natural beauty of the wood. It brings out the natural grain and emphasizes the most detailed features. The downside of this is that stain will also highlight every flaw, dent, scratch, and defect. Stain highlights the mistakes in a poorly constructed project.

As a result, a stain should only be used on meticulously crafted, high-quality wood projects. Stain also shouldn't be applied to profoundly flawed or wood look-alikes.


Almost any project can be painted. FIller caulk and putty can be used as needed to hide gaps and nail holes, and create a smooth surface for paint to adhere. Paint comes in a multitude of colors, textures, and finishes. Paint is the easiest material to apply to projects because of is forgiving nature.

The effects

Stain and wood have different effects on wood surfaces. Stain is absorbed into the surface of wood, while paint adheres to the surface of wood. There is a big difference in the finished look. This difference comes to be a factor with woods such as maple, which can be hard to stain. The effect of paint on wood also has to be considered since some finishes show more flaws than others. For example, a matte finish paint is generally more forgiving than high gloss paint.


Over time, stain, even when a clear finish is applied, will gradually wear away and require another application. In contrast, paint can peel. Therefore, the paint may require scraping and possibly extensive prep work before it can be repainted.


The elements of each project should be considered individually, in terms of the type of wood, the look the owner wishes to achieve, and the maintenance of the surface after the project.

Before the start of a project, it may be helpful to discuss options with a painting expert. A fully informed consumer can reach the best possible decisions for their own needs.

M & B Painting, a Father-Son family-run business, has a proven record of Service Excellence in residential and commercial interior and exterior paint projects. Call us at 623-289-3366 for all of your painting needs!