Should You Paint Or Stain Wood Siding? [And How To]

Next to vinyl, wood siding is the most popular type of home siding. This siding is breathable and helps to protect your home from outside elements and harsh weather conditions. Similar to wood decks and porches, wood siding needs to be painted or stained to ensure longevity and lasting protection. But which one is better? We've done a bit of digging to find the answer to this question and in this post, we will answer it for you.

Both staining and painting your wood siding will help to protect it against outside elements such as precipitation, sunlight, and animals. However, siding paint, which is usually oil-based, is known to last up to 5 to 8 years without a repaint. Paint is the "go-to" choice for siding. It requires little maintenance and provides a thick layer of protection. Wood staining, on the other hand, is known to offer approximately 2 to 3 years of protection. Its barrier is much thinner--even with more coats.

Knowing whether you want to paint or stain your new wood siding is something worth taking a moment to consider. To help you weigh the advantages of each solution, we've created a list of pros and cons for each of them. Continue reading to learn more about their benefits.

A newly renovated home exterior with wood siding, Should You Paint Or Stain Wood Siding (And How To)

Paint Versus Stain For Siding

Blue wood sided house

The Benefits of Painting

When it comes to wood siding, painting is usually the preferred method. Here are its main benefits:

  • It typically has a thicker final finish than most stains, particularly oil-based paints. This is beneficial as it can seal all of the gaps in your wood siding if it has any wear and tear.
  • Wood paints can come with mold-resistant options as well as the ability to block damaging UV sun rays.
  • It washes off easily if treated properly and is generally easier to clean.
  • Paint comes in a variety of colors (more than stains), many of which can be mixed to create new tones.
  • Paint can hide the imperfections in your wood siding way better than wood stains.

Click here to see this exterior wood paint on Amazon.

Disadvantages of Painting

Painting your wood siding can also come with a few setbacks, here are the ones that are worth noting:

  • Being that paint covers the wood, as opposed to penetrating its surface, it hides the natural beauty of the wood's grain.
  • Before you paint your wood siding, you will need to first prime it with at least two coats of wood primer to ensure that the paint adheres to the surface of the wood.
  • About 10 years or so after the first paint job, you may notice the paint starting to crack and peel, which can make the siding look unattractive.
  • Repainting your siding can be a laborious task, as you would typically need to scrape/sand off the previous paint job before applying new primer and new paint. This will cost more if you outsource it.

The Benefits of Staining Your Siding

Now, let's discuss some of the benefits of staining your siding:

  • Stain allows you to protect your wood siding without covering up the beautiful grain and texture of the natural wood.
  • You don't need to prime your siding before applying stain, unlike paint. This saves you an extra step during your DIY project or a few extra bucks if you outsource it.
  • While stains may require more applications, they require less maintenance in the long run.
  • As stain begins to wear off the siding, it won't blister, crack, or peel, unlike paint.
  • Stain now comes in a variety of shades and colors, many of which can be mixed.
  • Staining doesn't require as much preparation as paint, including priming and sanding.

Disadvantages of Staining Your Siding

Here are the disadvantages of staining your wood siding:

  • Stain typically lasts about half the time that a fresh coat that paint does. You also need to restain the siding more often to keep it protected.
  • Stains don't fill in the cracks and crevices of wood siding, which in turn makes these areas more susceptible to damage from moisture.
  • It doesn't offer the same thick barrier of protection that paint does, even with multiple applications.
  • Stains will not cover up the imperfections and the wood. So, if your siding is a bit older, painting may be more ideal.

What lasts longer: paint or stain?

Paint generally lasts longer than wood stains. On average, acrylic and water-based paints have a lifespan of anywhere from 10 to 12 years and oil-based paints have been known to last up to 15 years. Your average wood stain will last about 2 to 3 years.

The quality of the paint/stain job also plays a part in how long a paint or stain will last. For example, if a surface is not properly primed, a new paint job can begin to peel or blister in a matter of weeks.

How to prep and paint wood siding?

House painter rolling siding trim board

One of the most important parts of painting your wood siding is doing the quality of the prep job. Let's discuss how to properly prepare your wood siding for a paint job.

Things you’ll need:

  • Wood primer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Disc sander
  • Plastic tarps
  • Tack cloth
  • Wood primer
  • 120 or 150-grit sandpaper

Paint your wooding siding in these 4 easy steps:

1. Assess the current wood siding

Before even touching the wood with your paintbrush, it's best to assess it to determine if any repairs or replacements of the clapboards are needed. Take a look at the siding all around your home, inspect the joints & seams, and look for things such as rotting wood and mildew.

Take notes of areas where the paint has peeled and any areas that may need repair. If you see any signs of wood rot, be sure to place a piece of masking tape on the areas so that you may know where exactly to go once the repair job starts. Make a note of all of the issues with the current siding.

2. Sand the old paint

Place the plastic tarp on the side of your home to catch any paint drips or sprays. Next, use a paint scraper to remove any flaking or peeling paint from the siding. Afterward, sand the surface with your sandpaper or disc sander, making sure to pay special attention to the top of each clapboard.

It's best to start off using an abrasive finish and then work your way to a final one as you smooth out the wood. This is also known as "feathering."

Click here to see this disc sander on Amazon.

3. Prep and prime the siding

Use wood spackle to fix any small dents, holes, or other imperfections in the siding. If a clapboard needs to be replaced, this should be done before you prep the area. Give your spackle time to dry and make sure to sand it down to keep the surface of the wood as smooth as possible for the paint job. Next, apply your primer to the siding. Once it dries, apply the second coat.

Click here to see spackle on Amazon.

4. Paint the siding

After your second coat of primer has dried, apply your paint and topcoat. When applying the paint, make sure that your brush strokes are even and straight so that you will have a smooth, consistent finish.

Should you pressure wash before staining?

It depends on the surface of the wood and its condition before the stain is applied. A pressure washing isn't always needed, particularly if the wood has just been installed and is still free of dirt, debris, and stains.

The purpose of washing the wood before staining is to clean it. This is so that the stain will not trap any dirt or debris and to help the stain adhere properly to the wood. It also absorbs into the wood better if the surface is clean.

Click here to see this pressure washer on Amazon.

What is the best stain for exterior wood?

Glass window of a wooden house

The purpose of wood stain is to offer protection to the wood and penetrate deep into its surface. A high-quality stain will have the ability to protect the wood from UV light, moisture, and mold over a period of anywhere from 2 to 5 years.

Let's look at a couple of the highest rated wood stains on Amazon.

Ready Seal Stain and Sealer for Wood 

This Ready Seal stain will excel at enhancing the beauty of your siding or deck, allowing the natural grain and texture of the wood to shine through. This oil-based stain is semi-transparent and is also a sealer. It has a specially-designed formula that penetrates deeply into the wood to preserve it and protect it from elements such as mildew, mold, and damaging UV rays.

One of the main benefits of the stain is that it doesn't require a wet-line application and can blend well when applied at any temperature. The stain can be applied using a roller, paintbrush, or paint sprayer. You don't have to worry about the ready seal stain leaving streaks or brush runs on your wood, as it is designed with bonding agents that allow for an even finish.

Click here to see this stain on Amazon.

Minwax Gel Stain

The Miniwax Gel stain is another great outdoor wood stain that can offer optimal protection for your deck, porch, or siding. It has a unique formula that makes its application super easy, particularly for vertical surfaces.

This stain can be applied using a foam applicator, cloth, or paintbrush. It can also be used on indoor surfaces as well and its average dry time is around 24 hours. This stain also comes in other colors including gray, redwood, white, and tan.

Designed with a non-drip formula, it is guaranteed to deliver even color on wood as well as non-wood surfaces such as veneer, metal, and fiberglass. You can also darken its rich coffee color by simply applying a second coat about 8 to 10 hours after the first coat. If you are looking for a solid protective barrier for your home's wood siding, the Miniwax Gel stain is definitely worth taking a look at.

Click here to see this stain on Amazon.

Can you paint over stained wood?

Yes. You can absolutely paint over wood that has already been stained. This includes decks, sidings, furniture, and interior or exterior doors. To do this, you must first prepare the wood by sanding and/or priming it. This helps the paint to adhere properly to the surface of the wood. If the stain has a matte finish as opposed to a glossy one, it'll be easier for the paint to bond to it and it may not require sanding.

Wrapping Things Up

Ultimately, deciding whether to paint or stain your wood siding is a personal decision. However, many home improvement experts agree that painting is the better option to ensure a more thorough barrier of action and longevity. If you are having trouble deciding which option is best, it may be a good idea to reach out to a siding expert to go over your options with you.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

How To Paint A Staircase? [4 Steps]

How To Paint Over Finished Or Stained Wood?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *