Staining vs. Painting Your Wood Furniture

July 28th, 2022 Blog

Painting and staining are two popular ways to transform the look of natural wood furniture. Stains are typically thinner than paint, making them easier to apply and dry. However, they don’t offer as much protection or durability against scratches as painted finishes do.

In this guide, we’ll teach you how to decide between painting and staining your wood furniture so you can keep the beauty of the wood and also make an intelligent choice supported by facts.

What Is Paint?

Paint is a coloured liquid applied to a surface. It’s made of different materials, including water and solids like sand or ground stone. Paint can change a surface’s colour and also add a protective layer. It can instantly make your furniture look brand-new.

Painting wooden furniture pieces is a great way to update your home without spending too much money. It’s another excellent way to protect the wood from damage and make it last longer.

The first step in painting wood furniture is preparing the surface for painting by sanding it down and cleaning it with soap and water. The second step is applying primer or sealer over the wood before applying paint or stain to protect against moisture damage and fading over time.

After you complete this process, you can apply acrylic or latex paint directly onto the surface after sealing. This method gives more flexibility than staining because you can change colours easily if needed but requires less maintenance than staining because no oils are involved in this process. Since there’s no oil involved, it also means minor fading.

The Pros and Cons of Paint

Paint offers several advantages. However, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have drawbacks. Weigh your options by checking the following pros and cons of painting:


  • Paint covers imperfections in the solid wood surface; if you’re unhappy with how the stain came out, try painting over it.
  • It’s an alternative way to get the look of stain finish without having to stain anything.
  • It is easy to apply. You can also use it on most surfaces.
  • Paint is inexpensive and easy to find in any hardware or home improvement store.
  • You can use it in various ways–by paintbrush, roller, or spray paint–to create different effects on your furniture pieces.
  • Go for paint if you want something more permanent than staining but less permanent than stripping down all your furniture and refinishing it from scratch.


  • It takes a long time to finish.
  • The paint can chip off within a few years, depending on how often you use the piece.
  • The paint primer is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that doesn’t only smell bad but can also cause temporary memory loss, visual impairment, dizziness, headaches, and irritation.

What Is a Wood Stain?

Unlike paints, which cover up entirely and change the look of your furniture, custom staining penetrates deep into the wood for a more natural appearance. For example, if you want your white chairs to have an antique look, you might use a dark brown stain on them so they’ll appear darker than they are.

Staining wood furniture can take some time but is generally easier. With this process, you’re covering your furniture with a coat of stain and letting it sit before wiping off the residue. The longer you wait for the stain to set, the darker its colour will be when you wipe it away.

The Pros and Cons of Staining

Staining wood can be a great way in updating the look and caring for your furniture, but it has some downsides. Here are a few of the pros and cons of wood staining.


  • The colour is generally permanent, so you won’t need to redo the process once you stain your piece.
  • You can choose from various colours, including metallics and even iridescent tones.
  • It’s a relatively inexpensive way to give your furniture an update.


  • It can be messy, especially if you’re working with large pieces. You’ll want to cover up everything around the area where you’re working so that no residue gets on anything else in your house.
  • It can take several coats before all of the grain shows through, which means more time spent applying and waiting for coats to dry before moving on to the next one.
  • The stain colour may be permanent under normal conditions, but it can change over time, especially if you live in a humid environment.

How To Decide Between the Two

Before picking the right option, study materials debunking wooden furniture myths. This will show you facts that can help you choose better.

After which, consider the look you want to achieve. Staining gives your furniture a more natural, rustic appearance that’s great for a cabin or cottage theme. You can use paint to create any number of styles, from modern and sleek to traditional and timeless. It all depends on what colours you pick and how much time you’re willing to invest in getting them just right.

Pro Tip

“It is possible to paint over stained wooden furniture pieces, but the wood needs to be prepped before applying paint. The only exception is chalk paint which you can
apply directly over the stain.”

Bring Out the Beauty of Wooden Furniture With the Help of Woodcraft

Whether you’re buying or refurbishing furniture, the best place to be is Woodcraft. We’ve been serving the Canadian market and beyond for years, and we’ve never failed a single client’s expectations.

If you’re looking for high-quality kitchen cabinets, tables, sofas, and virtually all types of wooden furniture pieces, we got your back. We can also share tips on keeping your furniture in stellar condition for a long time.

If you would like to learn more about painting or staining wood furniture, get in touch with us today. Also, you may visit our showroom to view the many beautiful stained and painted pieces on display.


FAQs on Staining vs. Painting Wood Furniture

1. Can you stain any type of wood?

Yes, you can stain almost any type of wood. However, some woods, such as pine, cedar, and redwood are more challenging to work with and may require special products or techniques.

2. What is a gel stain?

Gel stains are made with resins designed for use on wood previously finished with another product, such as paint or varnish. They have a thicker consistency than liquid stains, which makes them easier to apply and gives them better coverage when applying multiple coats.

3. How do you paint or stain outdoor wooden furniture?

If you want to paint or stain outdoor wooden furniture, you must use a product specifically designed for outdoor use. You should also ensure that the paint or stain is UV resistant.

The first step in painting or staining outdoor wooden furniture is to clean it thoroughly with water and soap before rinsing it again with clean water. Dirt or dust will cause the paint difficulty in sticking and setting properly. Let the piece of furniture dry completely.

Once it’s dry, apply two coats of primer or stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re using a different colour than what was originally on the furniture, ensure that the stained surface is completely dry before applying another coat.

Once you have primed and stained the furniture, let it dry completely before applying any protective finish, such as wax or varnish. This ensures that no colour gets trapped in its crevices where dirt may gather.