Interior vs. Exterior Stain


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Old 07-16-15, 04:24 PM
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Interior vs. Exterior Stain

I have 2 tiny projects that need stained. Probably a total of 4 sq. ft. I thought one of the little sample sizes that they sell in paint would be perfect. At one of the big boxes last night and inquire. Salesperson asks inside or outdoor and when I answer indoor, he says no and they only sell 1/2 pints. Wheeling my cart and browsing around the dept., I see that Olympia has sample size cans of exterior stain. It was pushing closing time so I didn't examine it. Now after checking online, there is a semi-transparent base, and it is also 8 oz, and only slightly cheaper. But I think there are more color choices. So why couldn't / shouldn't I use that it on my little projects

What is the difference between an transparent exterior and stain labeled for interior use?
 
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Old 07-16-15, 04:34 PM
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They are nothing alike. Is about like asking the difference between an apple and an orange.

Interior stain penetrates and is meant to be topcoated with a clear finish like polyurethane. Transparent exterior stains are a coating on top of the wood. Some color may soak into the wood but primarily they are meant to be a stand alone product that can repel sun and water for a short time before needing to be recoated in a few years. But you would never use an exterior stain on an interior project unless you wanted it to look like a wood chair that you just brought in from the deck.

If the store you were shopping in didn't have 8 oz and 32 oz cans of interior wood stain, you should probably go to a different store.

An 8 oz can would be plenty.
 
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Old 07-16-15, 08:15 PM
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Thanks for the clear explanation. I had never heard that exterior stains don't penetrate the wood. I guess I was thinking that you could still coat them in poly or something if the pieces weren't going to be exposed to the full sun.

And I wasn't at all worried that I wouldn't have enough stain, I just didn't want to buy 2-3 times as much as I needed and then have to deal with extra.
 
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Old 07-16-15, 09:05 PM
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There are some exterior stains that penetrate into the wood, but you were asking about semi-transparent... which has less penetrating qualities, from what i know. Marksr would be a good one to explain this more clearly.
 
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Old 07-17-15, 03:45 AM
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Exterior stains are formulated to be the coating while an interior stain penetrates with the excess wiped off and needs to be top coated with poly/varnish to protect the stain. I've never heard of anyone applying poly over an exterior stain. Even the toner or translucent stains are formulated to be the finish coat. Interior coatings are typically harder so they can withstand wear while exterior coatings are softer because the are formulated to withstand the weather. A quality exterior stain will penetrate the wood some but will always have a film [wear layer] on top of the wood.

I don't think I've ever bought stain [or any other coating] in something smaller than a quart. IMO of all the oil base interior stains that I have used, Minwax stores the best long term. If the can is sealed up well, I've gone back a year later and was able to mix and reuse that stain, some of the competitors jell up over time and must be discarded. You aren't stuck just using the stock color of stains as they can be intermixed or even custom tinted. I don't know if a paint dept will tint interior stain but most any paint store will.
 
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Old 07-20-15, 08:59 AM
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Thanks for the information. I don't know that I'll use up a quart in a year much less 5 years, so I'll go for the 8 oz container and know that I'm using the right product. And even at that small quantity it's good to know that Minwax has the longest shelf life.
 
 

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