Staining vs. Painting Wood Siding: Which Is Better?

Staining vs. Painting Wood Siding

Last updated on March 27th, 2024 at 11:21 pm

Every homeowner has a horror story about what it was like to paint the exterior of their home, especially if that wasn’t the original intent. If you’re looking to give your siding a facelift, we’re here to help.

There is the option to stain wood siding, but when do you go with a full paint job? We’re glad you asked.

Don’t worry, we’ve got all the info that you need. We’ve got a guide for the difference between staining vs painting wood siding. That way, there aren’t any surprises at the job site.

Read on.

Understanding Staining

When it comes to protecting and enhancing the natural beauty of wood siding, many homeowners are faced with the decision between staining or painting. While both options offer their own unique benefits, understanding staining can help make the decision easier.

Staining works by penetrating the wood fibers, providing protection against moisture and UV rays while also showcasing the natural grain and texture of the wood. 

Advantages of Staining

Staining and painting are two common ways to treat wood siding, but many homeowners want to know which one is better. While painting may provide a colorful and uniform finish, there are several advantages to staining exterior wood.

First and foremost, staining allows the natural beauty of wood to show through, giving it a more organic and rustic look. It also enhances the texture of the wood, adding depth and character.

Additionally, stains are available in a variety of shades, allowing homeowners to choose the perfect tone for their home. Overall, the advantages of staining make it a superior choice for wood siding.

Disadvantages of Staining

Choosing between staining and painting wood siding can be a difficult decision for homeowners. While both methods can enhance the appearance of the wood, there are some disadvantages to staining that should be considered.

One of the main disadvantages of staining is that it requires more ongoing maintenance compared to painting. Stains tend to fade and wear down over time, requiring reapplication every few years.

Also, stains don’t protect against the weather as well as paint does, so the wood is more likely to get water damage and rot. Overall, staining may give wood a natural, rustic look, but it may not be the best way to protect and care for it in the long run.

Types of Staining

Wood staining is a popular method for enhancing and protecting wood surfaces. Stains come in various types with unique benefits and finishes. Here are some common types:

Oil-Based Stains

Using an oil-based stain can offer superior results. Oil-based stains penetrate deeper into the wood. This provides better protection against weathering and UV rays.

They also highlight the natural beauty of the wood grain rather than covering it up like paint. Also, oil-based stains are more durable and require less maintenance, making them a better long-term choice for wood siding.

Water-Based Stains

Water-based stains also provide better protection against the elements. They penetrate deeper into the wood fibers and create a barrier against moisture.

They are also more environmentally friendly. They contain fewer chemicals and emit fewer harmful fumes. Water-based stains offer a beautiful and durable finish for your wood siding.

Gel Stains

Formulated gel stains have become a popular choice for both homeowners and professionals alike. Unlike traditional stains, gel stains have a thicker consistency which allows for better coverage and less mess.

They also tend to have a longer-lasting and more vibrant color. This makes them a great option for adding character and depth to wood siding. In the end, whether staining or painting is better will depend on what the project needs and how it should look. But gel stains offer a unique and effective solution for achieving a beautiful and durable finish.

Wiping Stains

Wiping stains penetrate wood fibers, highlighting natural grain for a seamless finish. This creates a more organic and rustic look compared to painting, which creates a more uniform and opaque finish. Wiping stains are also easier to take care of and can be touched up without having to reapply the whole thing.

Understanding Painting

To give the wood siding a fresh and lively look, you can opt for painting it. Painting entails the application of one or multiple coats of paint, which forms a protective layer over the wood. Paint, unlike stain, covers the wood’s natural grain and texture, making it look smooth and uniform.

Advantages of Painting

Painting wood siding has become a popular choice for many homeowners due to its numerous advantages over staining. One of the main advantages is the wide range of colors and finishes available with painting. This allows for greater customization to match the overall aesthetic of the home.

Unlike staining, paint also provides an additional layer of protection against moisture and UV rays. As well as other environmental elements that can cause wood siding to deteriorate. Paint is also easier to use and keep up than stain.

Overall, painting offers a plethora of advantages that make it a better choice for wood siding compared to staining.

Disadvantages of Painting

Wood siding can be painted, but it comes with certain disadvantages. One of the biggest drawbacks is the cost – paint is generally more expensive than stain, especially if you need to apply multiple coats. Moreover, paint can peel or chip over time, which will necessitate frequent touch-ups.

Another potential problem with paint is that it creates a barrier on the wood, which can trap moisture and eventually cause the wood to rot and decay. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider whether painting your wood siding is the best choice for your needs.

Types of Painting

When it comes to wood surfaces, a great way to enhance their appearance and protect them from damage is by applying a layer of paint. To get different looks and benefits from painting on wood, you need to use different techniques and finishes and hire painters in Wellington or any contractor near you. These painters have a proven track record of delivering exceptional work.

From Latex to Acrylic, from traditional to modern, there are endless possibilities to explore. So, if you’re interested in wood painting, here are some types of techniques and finishes you might want to consider.

Latex or Water-Based Paints

When it comes to using latex or water-based paints, both are suitable for exterior wood siding. However, water-based paints have a lower VOC content and are easier to clean up.

Overall, staining or painting old siding depends on how you want it to look and how much protection you need. While latex or water-based paints offer a more environmentally friendly solution. In the end, it’s important to think about your project’s needs and other factors to figure out which option is best for you.

Oil-Based Paints

When considering the use of oil-based paints, there are some important factors to keep in mind. Staining goes deep into the wood and brings out its natural beauty. Oil-based paints, on the other hand, cover the surface and protect it.

This can be beneficial in harsh weather conditions, as it provides a more durable and long-lasting finish. Ultimately, the best option will depend on your specific needs and the look you are trying to achieve.

Acrylic Paints

One of the benefits of using acrylic paints is their superior durability. Compared to other types of paint, acrylics are less likely to crack, peel, or fade over time. This makes them an excellent choice for surfaces that are exposed to the elements or high levels of moisture.

In addition, acrylic paints offer better protection against UV rays and molds. This can help preserve the integrity and appearance of the painted surface for longer periods of time.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Staining and Painting

Now that we’ve explored the advantages and disadvantages of both staining and painting wood siding let’s delve into the key factors to consider when making your decision:

Wood Species

When it comes to choosing between staining and painting wood siding, several factors must be considered. One of these is the type of wood species used for the siding.

Different woods have varying levels of natural pigmentation and durability, which can affect how well they take on stain or paint. For example, hardwoods like cedar and redwood are naturally resistant to rot and weathering, making them ideal for staining.

On the other hand, softwoods like pine may require more frequent painting to maintain their appearance. Ultimately, the better choice between staining and painting wood siding depends on the specific wood species and the desired aesthetic. Ultimately, it is recommended to consult with an expert to determine the optimal approach for your particular wood siding.

Desired Aesthetic

When it comes to enhancing the aesthetic of wood siding, staining or painting are two popular options. Both methods provide different results and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Staining allows the natural beauty of the wood grain to shine through, giving a more rustic and earthy look to the siding.

On the other hand, painting can offer a more refined and customizable finish with a variety of color choices. It also provides better protection against elements such as water damage and sun exposure. Ultimately, the decision between staining and painting wood siding depends on the desired aesthetic and the level of maintenance one is willing to commit to.

Maintenance Commitment

Staining requires less maintenance as it penetrates the wood and forms a protective barrier, leaving the natural wood grain visible. This means that the color will fade over time, but the wood will still be protected.

On the other hand, painting requires more maintenance as the paint sits on top of the wood and can chip or peel, requiring touch-ups or even a full re-painting. Therefore, staining may be the better option for those looking for a low-maintenance commitment.


When it comes to deciding between staining and painting wood siding, climate is an important factor that should not be overlooked. Staining has a clear advantage in areas with extreme weather conditions, such as high humidity or intense sunlight.

Stain is able to penetrate the wood, providing protection against moisture and UV rays. Painting, on the other hand, creates a barrier on the surface of the wood which can eventually peel or crack under harsh weather conditions.

However, in moderate climates, painting can be a better option as it allows for more color options and provides a thicker barrier against potential damage. Ultimately, the best choice between staining and painting wood siding will depend on the specific needs and climate of the area.


When it comes to choosing between staining and painting wood siding, the budget should definitely be taken into consideration. Staining is generally a cheaper option, as it requires less materials and labor compared to painting.

However, painting can provide a more long-lasting and protective finish, which may end up being more cost-effective in the long run. It really depends on the condition of the wood siding, as well as personal preference and style.

If the wood is in good condition, staining may be the more budget-friendly option. But if the wood is weathered or damaged, painting may be necessary for both aesthetic and structural reasons, making it the better choice in terms of budget in the long term.

Ultimately, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and consider all factors when deciding between staining and painting wood siding based on budget.

A Guide Between Staining vs. Painting Wood Siding

In conclusion, both staining and painting wood siding have their advantages and disadvantages. While painting provides more versatility and a wider range of color options, staining preserves the natural beauty of the wood grain.

The best choice ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific needs of your project. If you’re still unsure, consult with a professional for their expert opinion.

Don’t hesitate to make the best decision for your home’s exterior appearance. Contact a local contractor today to learn more and get started on transforming your wood siding.

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