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When Should I Paint Or Stain?

Choose the option that best suits your needs


Choosing whether to use paint or stain for your exterior is an important decision. The choice will go a long way toward helping you achieve balance and harmony with your surroundings. Whether you use paint, stain, or a little of both, the decision can lead to beautiful results that you'll enjoy for years to come.

When Should I Stain?

Stains are used on exterior wood surfaces to achieve a more natural look and feel, while also enhancing or maintaining the beauty of the wood. They come in a variety of opacities, such as Semi-Transparent or Solid, and each offers a different look and wood finish.

Most stains penetrate the surface of wood to achieve deeper, richer hues and provides protection against the elements. For hardwoods, like mahogany or teak, look for a super-penetrating stain like Olympic ELITE Woodland Oil™.

Semi-transparent stains showcase the grain and texture of the wood and can beautifully impact the final look of your project, regardless of your choice of color.

Solid color stains are extremely durable and provide rich, opaque color. They fully coat the surface like paint and help accentuate wood’s natural texture.

When Should I Paint?

Paint offers almost unlimited options for your exterior design because of its adhesion and color options. Whether it's painting your front door to match your shutters or freshening up your front porch with a new color, paints offer the most flexibility for these jobs.

An exterior paint & primer in one, like Olympic ONE®, can be color matched to any color and can be applied on many different exterior surfaces, such as: 

  • metal
  • brick
  • masonry
  • wood

Paints offer a variety of gloss finishes, such as:

  • flat
  • satin
  • semi-gloss

These finishes allow you to bring life to architectural features or help mask imperfections that you hope to keep hidden. Flat and Satin sheens are most often used on a home’s siding (also known as the 'body') while satin & semi-gloss are often used for trim and accents, like shutters.

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