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To paint or to stain?

By Marilyn Campton

Whether you’re looking to refresh or completely change the look of your home, it helps to know the difference between painting and staining.

Staining allows you to visually maintain the texture of the material while altering the outer colour – for example if you stain concrete or wood, the texture underneath is usually still visible, just a different colour.

By painting, you create a new surface that (often) completely hides the old surface, and has its own texture and appearance – this is usually smooth, although textured paints are becoming a lot more popular.

The paint job often includes a primer coat and a finish coat, whereas the stain job will not normally have a primer, unless there is concern about excessive discolouration from tannin bleed-through.

Anything that is currently stained – floorboards, furniture, walls – can have paint applied over it. Given that stains are generally applied in thin films, and may be well-weathered at least in some areas, it is recommended that you apply an exterior acrylic stain-blocking primer first, and then apply a top-of-the-line 100 per cent acrylic paint in a flat or semigloss finish.

When applying primers and paints, remember to take into account the weather outside, as extremes can alter the finished effect

  • Do not apply them at a temperature lower than the recommended minimum (generally 10o C);
  • If the temperature is expected to go below the minimum in the next 36 hours, try to delay the work until things heat up;
  • Do not apply paints in conditions that will cause them to dry quickly, such as direct sunlight, or in warm, breezy and dry conditions.

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