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Looking to stain a piece of furniture or an area inside or outside your home? Not any old stain will work for every project you take on, and most stains today are designed with very specific purposes in mind. Here are five things you should consider when looking for a wood stain.

1. Stain Material
When it comes to stains, there are generally two types: water-based and oil-based. Water-based stains, which are commercially known as latex or acrylic stains, are best when used in interior locations because they give off very little odor and clean up easily with a little soap and warm water. Oil-based stains, which you may have seen in stores referred to as alkyd stains, are generally used for exterior projects because of the durability of this option. Oil-based paints tend to give off strong odors and should only be applied in well ventilated areas, and also require the purchase of special products in order to remove them. In addition to both types of stains, some manufacturers even take it one step further and offer hybrid stains that have a mixture of oil and water bases.

2. Stain Location
Both interior and exterior stains are specially formulated for their specific uses, so you should never apply an interior stain to an exterior location, and vice versa. Exterior stains, in particular, are usually designed for specific purposes and are offered in a variety of options to reflect the different purposes one might use them for. For instance, some exterior stains will have mildew blockers in order to best protect again rain and other elements. Further still, some will have fade resistors for when the stain will be applied in areas that receive a lot of heavy and direct sunlight. And if you are applying your stain to an outdoor deck or porch area that experiences a lot of foot traffic, then you may want to consider a stain that has scuff resistors to help protect your hard work from the wear and tear of everyday life.

3. Stain Grade
Stain grade refers to the extent of which stains are absorbed by the wood on which they are applied to. Generally, the higher the quality of stain, the more easily it will be absorbed into the wood and the longer it will last. While you may be tempted to simply purchase the cheapest stain that suits your project, this is a mindset that you should reconsider. Stains that are low grade tend to require more coats initially in order to achieve the same results you would get from a higher grade, and since they don’t last as long either, you may in fact find yourself spending more money in the long run when you have to apply more coats sooner than you expected.

4. Stain Opacity
The stain opacity that you choose will have a great effect on the overall appearance of whatever item or area that you are staining, with three different options to choose from. Semi-transparent stains will allow for much of the natural textures and grains in the wood to shine through, and are especially ideal when you are working with wood that has a lot of character or unique flaws to it that you would like to preserve. Semi-solid stains offer more pigment than semi-transparent stains, are usually made from oil-bases, and provide extra strength, durability, and UV protection. Lastly, solid stains were designed to be durable while giving off a polished and clean appearance, and while still showing some texture, are the best stains to use when attempting to hide any flaws in the wood.

5. Stain Color
Stain color is very much related to its opacity, as the more solid a stain is, the more color it tends to show. And while stains are meant to be applied on wood, they no longer just come in shades of brown, tan, and red – stains today can be orange, yellow, green, and even blue, though these wider ranges of color tend to be more readily available in solid stains. Whether you are looking to make an area or piece of furniture blend in or stand out, just make sure that you consider the surroundings around it as well and what level of color is appropriate. Remember, the idea behind staining is to preserve at least some of the wood’s natural beauty and texture, otherwise you would just be painting instead.

If you are in South Florida and would like to browse through some of the nation’s top brands in wood stain, look no further than Shell Lumber & Hardware in Miami. Call us today at (305) 856-6401 if you have any questions, or visit us in person at 2733 S.W. 27th Avenue in Miami to browse through our current selection.


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