Interior and exterior wood colors stain products serve the same purpose, they’re manufactured to penetrate a woods surface and add durability to the surface itself.

Wood stains will enhance the grain and can preserve it's beauty.

Differences between the inside and outside products lie mostly in the outside coating having weather protective properties and does not require a topcoat.

Below you'll find advice on how to select and apply a stain.

Before staining your wood you may wish to use a conditioner.

Read and follow all product label instructions prior to beginning any type of project.

Test your selected stain on a similar kind of wood before tackling your main project.

Also, be sure to ask your local paint dealer for assistance in choosing the correct stain, conditioner, tools and application advice.


Interior and exterior wood colors stain products comes in water, alcohol and oil base formulas. Water base stains are easy to clean up but have a tendency to take longer to dry. Stains with water as a base can also raise the woods grain resulting in extra sanding for you.

The information below relates to both interior and exterior products.


First, find out the type of wood your coating and whether you need an interior or exterior product. Once these decisions are made, solid, semi-transparent or transparent will be your next choice.

A solid or semi-transparent product will hide some or all of a woods grain. Most solid and semi-transparent stains work very well for exterior type projects.

Transparent stains are usually (but not always)selected for interior type wood working.


One of the easiest kinds of stain to use is water based. Water based stains don't fade as easily as some products but due to raising of the grain require more work when applied to bare wood.

I always use a water based wood colors stain product for exterior projects. In most cases an exterior wood surface has been previously coated, so raising of the grain isn't a problem. Solid exterior stains (latex or otherwise)tend not to crack, blister or peel as much as paint will but may require re-coating sooner than some paint products.

Oil based stains can be used for interior wood work and exterior projects. Oil type wood colors stain products are good for the beginning woodworker. Especially if they’re finishing a furniture piece or intend on coating interior trim or oak doors.

Also, a good number of deck stains are oil based. Even so I have yet to find a product that will last on a decks surface for long periods of time. In most cases, I wouldn't recommended coating your deck in either a stain or paint product.

For raw un-treated wood use a garden sprayer and spray on some boiled linseed oil instead. You'll need to do so every year or two but the process is a lot easier than continually repainting or staining. Treated wood and woods like redwood should be left to age without a coating.

When wood has been previously coated you will in most cases have to recoat with the same original coating product.

Professional wood workers tend to prefer alcohol based stains for most furniture projects do to its quick drying time, sprayability and multitude of colors. Alcohol stains can require some practice and are not suited for large jobs. Other types of quick drying stains e.g., Xylene are also applied regularly by the pros.

Pigment wood colors stain products are usually used by professional wood workers to make a lower quality wood look more expensive. It's best that you have a little experience working with wood before trying pigment products.

Wax stains as the name states are a combination of stain (to color the wood) and wax for enhancement and protection of the surface.

Once a wax stain is applied you'll not be able to use any other product on the woods surface. Be sure this is the type of stain you want to use prior to application.


Stain needs to be stirred regularly by doing so you'll keep the wood colors stain products consistent and blended resulting in a uniformly coated wood finish.

Using a wood conditioner can be a good idea in certain sityuations. Ask a hardware store or building supplier rep for assistance if needed. Be sure to also follow label instructions and supplier advice.

1. Prepare the wood by giving it a light sanding (in the direction of the grain) with a sandpaper recomended by your stain supplier. Inspect the surface for discoloration and impurities. Once a wood colors stain product is applied over an imperfection it will be very difficult to repair.

Fix any holes or cracks etc.,. with the proper type of filler. In the case of an exterior stain, if the surface has been stained before, remove and sand any imperfections then re-coat.

2. Apply the stain with a lint free cloth, paint sprayer, roller or staining brush. The type of application tool used depends on the surface being coated (ask your paint dealer). Use smooth long strokes with the woods grain.

Try to avoid having excess stain on your project. Wipe with a dry lint free rag as needed. A second coat can be brushed on (for darkness) once the coat is dry.

3. Once your wood colors stain job is completed and the end project looks even and has no patchy marks you can top coat (if necessary) with a protective layer like lacquer, polish or shellac.

Some stains do not require a top clear coat applied, read the label instructions for guidance.


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