Colored Stains As Ideal Paint Alternatives for Interior Wood

Colored stain offers an alternative to paint and wood-toned stains for those living in homes with natural-colored wood floors, walls, wainscoting, beams, and trim.


If you live in a home that enjoys the beauty of natural or lightly stained wood walls and accents, it can be very difficult to take the plunge into adulterating that natural beauty with paint.

The very first touch of paint changes that natural wood look forever in a way that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to return.

But after a while, even the most steadfast rustic wood lover can grow tired of looking at the same color walls in every room, and the limited decorative options wood sometimes offers.

Colored wood stains are an excellent alternative for such a home decorating quandary. Like paint, colored wood stains offer a wide range of colors, but allow the natural textures and grains of wood to show through as with a stain.

Colored wood stains are the ideal middle ground for individuals or couples struggling with wood-décor dilemmas.

Colored stain for wood can be used on any wood in a home. Whether sprucing up wood cabinets, adding color to a room with wainscoting, or renewing the look of a wood floor, colored wood stains bring a lot to the table of options.

For those who are still not ready to make such a big color commitment with their interior wood, staining just the trim of the room with a colored stain is a good place to start.

Additionally, trim pieces are relatively easy to remove and inexpensive to replace if you decide the color or look is not for your home.

Colored Stains are not Difficult to Apply

The process is very similar to painting:

Colored Stains

  1. Before beginning a decorating project with colored stain, walls should be prepped according to the stain manufacturer’s recommendations.
  2. Wood that has been previously sealed with polyurethane or wood sealer may require sanding, although some homeowners are able to get away without this consuming task if the wood still retains some amount of absorption ability. After staining, a thorough cleaning and vacuuming is needed.
  3. With walls prepped accordingly, the next step is to apply the first coat of colored stain. Gather supplies (quality paint brushes, damp cloth for splatters, dry, lint-free cloths). Apply stain to the first section of wall, covering an area approximately three feet square.
  4. Work from the top of walls down towards the floor. Move ahead to the next three foot square section and work back towards the first area of stain applied. When the second area is covered, move back to the first area. Wipe off any excess stain using dry cloths.
  5. Apply stain to the third three foot section, then move back to the second and wipe away excess colored stain there. Continue this way around the room until the project is complete.

One benefit to working with colored stain is that is easier to control the intensity of the color than it is with paint. The number of coats you apply and how much excess stain you rub off determines how light or dark the end result will be.

For some applications, one coat of colored stain in a room will be enough to add color and retain the characteristics of the natural wood.

For darker wood color, apply a second or third coat of colored stain, but keep in mind that the more coats of colored stain applied, the more the grain and characteristics of the wood will be covered.

When purchasing colored stain for home improvement and decorating projects, consider all options. Consult store personnel to help you decipher the different colored stains available.

Colored stain is sold much the same as paint. Colored stains can be latex or oil based. Oil based colored stains are more transparent and show more natural wood grain at times, but can be difficult to clean up and work with indoors (oil based colored stains require very good ventilation indoors).

Latex based colored stains clean up with water, and are much less caustic. Latex based colored stains are easier to use indoors as they do not require the same amount of ventilation as oil.

However, latex stains act more like paint when applied heavily, and it can be easy to lose wood characteristics in a latex based colored stain when multiple coats are applied.

When shopping for colored stains, pay attention to the transparency of the stain. Colored stains are sold in different levels of transparency, such as transparent, semi-transparent, or solid. The more solid the colored stain, the more like paint the result will be.

One last note when buying colored stains- consider exterior stain formulations. Like interior stains, exterior colored stains are both oil and latex based, but are available in larger container sizes, and sometimes better color offerings.

Exterior colored stains can be a more economical choice for staining interior wood.

There is no doubt that wood offers durable interior walls with unique characteristics unparalleled by other wall products. Colored stains offer a way to embrace both color and natural grains and characteristics in interior wood wall or floor coverings for unique and attractive home décor.

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