How to Stain Exterior Siding: Step by Step Instructions
Last modified: 2019/07/04 | Approximate reading time 6 mins
The exterior elements of your home have a huge impact on curb appeal and overall attraction. When it comes to your house’s siding, has it been the same colour since you moved in? Over time, many hope to update these exterior surfaces to offer new life to tired, drab or worn-out siding materials. If you’re in this position, you might be wondering what you can do to change up the colour of your exterior. In this article, we’re going to discuss the difference between paint and stain for exterior siding as well as the steps to stain this surface.
If you’re a novice when it comes to home renovation projects, we’d recommend asking a friend or loved one to help out with this job. Although it’s relatively straightforward, it’s safest completed with someone close by. Read on to learn about the rules, limitation, and steps to complete this project.
Here's how to stain exterior siding
Paint vs stain: what’s the difference?
Regardless of the material you’re working with, updating the colour of your siding works wonders for your exterior appeal. When it comes to most exterior materials, you’ll have the option of painting or staining. Exterior paint and stain are similar in that they’re both composed of essential elements to stand up against various weather conditions, and this includes a carrier (usually water based) and solids (binders, pigments, and additives.) The right choice for your exterior siding will depend on a few factors, and some of this will come down to personal preference. Here are the main differences between painting and dying your home’s siding.
Coverage: Paint works by covering over an already existent colour or surface texture. However, it rarely penetrates the material at a deeper level. Paint is generally much thicker than dye or stain and can cover imperfections much more easily. Therefore, if your siding is very old and extremely discoloured, your best bet might be to work with paint.
On the other hand, stain or dye will penetrate most materials including wood, brick and sometimes even vinyl. Stain generally comes in a variety of different pigment concentrations, thus some will cover more than others. If you’re looking to preserve the appearance of your siding to an extent, then we’d definitely recommend working with a dye or stain in place of paint.
Preparation: Paint and stain go on in a similar fashion, and are usually applied to a clean and dry exterior surface. However, the painting process is usually longer, as the surface needs to be properly prepared for the paint to fully adhere. In some cases, you’ll need to treat your exterior siding with a water-repellent preservative. Not only this, but most paint jobs require a coat of primer before any paint can be added to the surface. Stain does not require this kind of maintenance and can usually be directly applied to a clean surface.
Maintenance: Although stains will generally need more frequent applications than paint, it will take less work for the dye to remain in good condition. Stain fades much more slowly, and applying a new coat of stain over an old one will make your home’s siding appear good as new. Semi-transparent dyes and stains don’t peel like paint does, however, those which are thick or solid can peel in a similar manner to paint.
Paint has the tendency to crack and peel as it weathers. Obviously, this will make siding look outdated, old and unattractive. To refinish this, you’ll need to remove old paint as well as the chunks that are peeling. This can be done using sandpaper.
Protection: Both paint and stain work to protect your exterior siding from the effects of weather. However, the level of protection they offer varies. Paint can protect your exterior siding for up to 10 years, whereas stain can protect for between 2-10 years depending on how many coats you apply. This is because paint acts as a physical barrier over the surface, whereas stain or dye takes on a much thinner barrier.
Preparation and cleaning
So, you’ve chosen to stain your exterior siding. Well, you’ve likely discovered that there are a few different types of stain on the market and the first step will be to determine which one is right for you. There are four main types of exterior stain on the market, and these are as follows:
Semisolid: This type of stain has less pigment than a solid stain might. This type of stain will only partially obscure the surface below, so it is best if you’re looking to preserve the underlying material. This will need to be reapplied every 2 to 4 years.
Solid: Solid stains resemble paint in their ability to cover the underlying material. If you’re working with wood siding, it won’t fully cover the texture but will hide the grain. Also, it operates in a similar manner to paint and will peel if not properly applied.
Clear toner: This type of stain is ideal if you’re living in a very sunny region and are looking to block the sun without changing the colour or appearance of your exterior siding. This will need to be reapplied annually.
Semitransparent: This stain acts in a similar way to semisolid, but with a little bit more transparency. It works to change the colour of the surface but will not completely hide the material below. This type of stain will need to be reapplied every 2 to 3 years.
Once you’ve decided on a stain that suits your needs, the first thing you need to do before the application is to clean the surface. Your exterior siding can be cleaned with a pressure washer or hand down with soap and water if your exterior siding is quite fragile. If you find any traces of mildew on the surface, this will need to be removed with bleach. If the surface has not been properly cleaned, the likelihood of the stain lasting is lessened, so don't risk it!
If you need to make any minor or major repairs to the surface of the wood, the time to do it is before you begin staining. This should include replacing any wood boards that have rotted, caulking around windows and doors to create a proper seal if there isn’t already one and making sure that any irregularities in the surface are dealt with.
Staining the surface
As you begin the staining process, take extra care to wear rubber gloves and additional protective gear including a face mask, long sleeves, and long pants. Another important note is to make sure you’re using the correct brush when applying the stain. If you’ve chosen to work with an oil-based stain, we’d suggest using a natural-bristle brush whereas latex based stains should be applied with a synthetic-bristle brush.
Furthermore, make sure to take on this job in ideal weather conditions. You should avoid staining exterior siding when it’s hot and humid outside. This is because your stain will have trouble drying and may even appear uneven. Also, avoid staining in direct sunlight.
When staining, it’s important to mix your stain frequently. This will help you to apply even colour and texture during the process. We’d also recommend testing the stain on a small piece of your exterior siding and letting it dry before proceeding to do the entire surface.
When you’re happy with the colour and the weather conditions are right, then you can begin staining your exterior siding. Work left to right and top to bottom, especially because you’ll likely be up on a ladder and able to work downwards. Depending on the material you’re working on, make sure to brush or apply stain in the direction of the grain. Work in a smooth and even fashion. Work in sections, but try to avoid letting the stain fully dry before it’s been blended with an adjoining section as this will lead to an uneven appearance.
Once complete, the stain should take roughly 24 hours to fully dry. Only then should you apply a second coat, and this is an option for those hoping to achieve a darker finish or working on badly weathered material.
Get 3 renovation quotes for your exterior siding staining project
Renoquotes.com can help you get quotes to paint or stain exterior siding. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with the most suitable contractors for you. Fill in the form on our homepage (only a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from companies that are specialized in exterior painting.
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