Choosing Between Oil and Latex Based Wood Stains

Aug 17, 2015


Wooden structures such as the deck, pergola, arbor, or gazebo add a lot of aesthetic and monetary value to the home. Such an investment must be protected from the elements. You may choose to stain, paint, or apply some other waterproofing agent; the choice is entirely yours. Both oil and latex stains are highly effective protectants, so that is going to be our focus for today. Each type of stain offers a distinctive look, and this is just as important as other considerations.

Oil Stains

The stronger smell of oil stains makes them the less appealing choice for some homeowners. Since you will be applying the stain outdoors ventilation should not be an issue, but the smell will remain for several days at least. It will slowly dissipate over time, leaving nothing but an absolutely gorgeous and protected wooden structure behind.

The viscosity makes oil based stains more challenging to apply properly if you’re not familiar with them. Without the right technique, some areas may appear shiny instead of flat and smooth with a nice wood grain appearance. The finish gives oil based stains an edge over latex products when properly applied, and is ideal for homeowners who want to show the natural wood grain, which adds to the beauty of the structure.

For ultimate wood protection, nothing beats oil stains because the oil absorbs deep into the surface providing an effective moisture barrier. Inexperienced do-it-yourselfers may choose the wrong brushes for oil based stains and end up with a poor finish. Practice on scrap pieces of wood if you’re unfamiliar with how to apply oil based stain.

Latex Stains

Latex based stains dry quickly, so you can start using your deck soon after the job is done. Do-it-yourselfers tend to prefer latex stains because they are less messy and easier to apply for the inexperienced homeowner. Cleaning up afterwards is easier as well. So overall, the job will take less time with much easier cleanup.

The downside to using latex is that it does not offer as much moisture protection as oil since it sits on top of the wood surface where the oil based stain soaks into the surface. It does offer better UV protection because it covers the surface. Latex is available in solid or transparent finishes, so it may be used to cover the wood grain or as a solid finish with little-to-no visible wood grain. If seeing the wood’s natural grain is important to you, then oil is the better choice.

Protection for Exterior Wood Structures

Wooden fences and decks need to be protected if you want to safeguard your investment for years to come. Both oil and latex are suitable protectants, but it depends on how much you want to spend, the look you want, and whether you will hire someone to do the job.

DIY or Hire a Professional

Oil requires more experience for a professional application and is the better choice for ultimate wood protection. We regularly work with homeowners who prefer to hire us to stain their exterior wood structures using oil based stain instead of tackling it as a DIY project. Oil based stain requires proper technique and mineral spirits for cleanup, which makes it a more difficult and time consuming project. Call Sundance Custom Homes at our Maryland office at 410-877-6112, our Delaware office at 302-793-9352, or our cell phone at 443-309-1206 if you would like to discuss staining your exterior wooden structures.

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