How to Choose the Right Exterior Door Stain

An entry way with a door.

Choosing the right door stain for the exterior door of your house can be a challenge at times. There are so many different colors and types to choose from that it can be confusing to know which one to choose.

Staining an exterior wood door is the most common and popular way of finishing it. Although painting is also an option, staining is normally much more popular. There are many different things that you will need to consider when choosing the right stain for your door.

Choosing a Wood Stain

Paint sits on the surface of the wood and dries to form a strong layer over the door. Stain is different. Stain works by being absorbed by the wood which causes it to take on the color of the stain. Stain will only give the wood a certain color to make it look more attractive, after staining you will then need to use a varnish or lacquer to protect the wood from damage.

Transparent Stain

If you want to be able to see the grain through the stain, then you should choose a transparent or semi-transparent wood stain. These are very common and will say that they are transparent on the tin. If you want to hide the grain, then you can use a thicker opaque stain which will give better coverage, slightly more like paint.

Exterior Stains

Although you will need to varnish or protect the wood, you cannot use interior wood stains outside. Interior stains will quite often discolor in sunlight. Exterior stains are colorfast which means their color won't change as a result of sunlight.

You need to avoid using water-based stains outdoors, these are quite difficult to find now anyway and are more difficult to use. These also take a long time to dry and can actually take up to 12 hours to dry properly.

An alcohol-based stain is available in a wide range of different colors and will also be much faster drying. Alcohol-based stains will dry in 10 minutes and can be sprayed onto the wood rather than needing to be applied using a brush.

If you are using a high-quality wood, then you will typically want to use a stain which allows the grain to be seen. If you are using lower quality wood, then you can use opaque stains which will conceal more of the grain and hide it from view. You will need to choose the right type of stain which is suitable for the type of wood you are using.

Your Needs

The type of stain that you will use on your door will normally depend on the finish that you are trying to achieve. Many people prefer either a light or dark colored stain—this is all completely down to personal preference. Give some thought to the type of stain that you would like to use on your front door.