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FAQ: ArborCoat Exterior Stain

Expert Advice from Color Wheel's Paint Team

Arborcoat display at Color Wheel in McLeanWhat do I need to know about exterior stain?
  • Exterior stains and preservatives are available in different opacities.
  • Clear wood preservatives effectively protect the wood from rot but do not prevent the wood from turning gray.
  • The addition of pigmented stains, ranging in opacity from translucent to solid hide, adds color to the preservatives.
  • The more transparent the stain, the more its color is affected by the substrate. 
  • Wood substrates can vary significantly in color and texture, each affecting the final outcome of the stain’s color.

How do I choose the right color of exterior stain?
  • Choosing the right color is best accomplished through testing stains using liquid Color Samples.
  • Color Samples are available in convenient pint sized cans.
  • Testing using liquid Color Samples should be done on the same wood that you intend to stain.
  • Ideally the test board has undergone the same weathering and preparation as your deck or wood siding.
  • The more transparent the stain, the more effected it will be by the color and porosity of the substrate.
  • Semi Solid and Solid Hide stains are more effective in covering surfaces that have an uneven appearance of color.
  • Of special note: Colors look more intense on exterior surfaces.  In other words, they look lighter and brighter than when viewed indoors or on small samples. Look for colors that have a grayish shading to them to reduce undesired glare or light-reflectance.

How do I properly prepare a surface for exterior stain?
  • Ensure the surface is clean and sound.
  • The surface must be dry and porous to allow stain to penetrate, increasing longevity of the stain.
  • Pressure treated wood must weather a minimum of 90 days before stain application. Weathering allows the wood to dry out and accept stain.
  • Newer smooth wood should be well sanded to remove mill glaze caused by hot saws during the manufacturing process. The high heat effectively seals the wood pores or cells reducing stain penetration. 
  • Older smooth wood should be sanded to remove any loose or ‘dead’ wood cells, increasing longevity of the stain.
  • Proper preparation is critical to the success of the job.