Paint or Stain First- What Should You Do?

When it comes to wood people often ask whether they should paint first or do they stain first. And it’s an interesting question indeed. Everyone wants what’s best for their furniture, right? So, it’s better to have a clear idea about what to do rather than diving into the process and regretting it later on.

So, the main question is do you paint or stain first to give your work a professional look?

The trick to deciding what to do first lies in the understanding of both their advantages. The advantages include: for painting- easy removal of mistakes and the paint itself, increased durability. For staining- no leftover marks or easy usage of paint to cover up all the errors. 

This will help you choose which one you want to go for first for your furniture. So, let’s take a look at them in more detail. Shall we?

Paint or Stain First

Advantages: What to gain by painting first

Alright, the first thing we’re going to talk about is why you should paint your woods first. Now, painting before staining has quite a few advantages.

So, why don’t we go through them one by one?

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Mistakes can be wiped off easily

The best thing about painting is that you can apply several layers of paint to cover up your errors. This way you’ll have enough practice with paint to get a handle of how to work with wood.

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Then you can move on to staining and avoid making mistakes with that.

Increases the durability of the wood

The best property of paint is that it has the magical ability to increase the durability of the wood. So, when it’s applied first it comes in close contact with the wood.

Afterwards, it has years of time to keep the wood fresh and alive. Whereas, if you stain the wood first you’ll have to redo your entire work every 3 to 4 years. 

Easy to remove

Another great thing about paint is that they are quite easy to remove. At least more than the stains. One good peel with your scraper and the paint will be off.

So, if you apply the paint first it’ll be the last layer that comes off while removing all the layers from the wood. 

Advantages: The benefits of staining first

Enough about the advantages of painting first. Now, let’s see why you should stain your wood first, shall we?

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Mistakes can be covered up

You might not be aware of this but staining is quite a hard process. At least harder than painting for most people. 

That’s why people tend to make a lot of mistakes while staining. So, one good idea is to stain first then to paint.

This way the paint will cover up all the mistakes that were made while staining. And no one will ever find out about it.

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Painting first leaves marks on wood

Another reason to stain first is because of the fact that painting leaves marks. So, in case you decide to paint first you’ll find that the paint has left unwanted spots all over your wood.

And no one wants permanently damaged furniture now, do they? So, to avoid that scenario it’s best to stain first. This way your furniture will not face any harsh marks and you’ll have some good looking woods for yourself.

Paint or stain first- Total comparison

FactorsPaint FirstStain First
Hard or EasyEasier to doQuite hard for a beginner
MistakesThe mistakes made can be covered up.It’s harder to cover up mistakes
DurabilityCan increase the durability of the wallCannot increase the durability.


Questions: Can you stain wood then paint over it?

Answer: Yes, you can definitely paint over stained wood. In fact, there are some benefits to painting over stained wood. 

But make sure that you prepare the stained wood before you start off with the painting process. Otherwise, the paint will not stick to the wood and fall off like some sort of slime.

Questions: Can you stain over old paint?

Answer: Although you can stain over old paint it’s a good idea not to. This is because you won’t get the authentic look that stained wood gives. 

Instead, you’ll end up with a lighter colour from the ones that you wished for. So, it’s our advice to scrape off the old paint and stain the wood.

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Questions: What lasts longer paint or stain?

Answer: Paints generally last longer than a stain. You have to stain your wood every 3 to 4 years. Whereas, paint can last for 10 years or longer. However, make sure you use the good quality ones and give at least two layers of coating to make the wood more durable.

Questions: What happens if you stain over stain?

Answer: Staining over a stained wood only makes it darker. So, if you want to have a lighter colour after staining makes sure you remove the stain.

Questions: Do you have to remove the old stain before restaining?

Answer: You don’t have to remove aloof the stain. But it is necessary to remove all the substances that can interfere with the staining process. For example- lacquer, varnish and old paint.

To sum up

We hope that after reading this article you can decide whether you want to paint or stain first. But hold on. Before we say our goodbye we have one last piece of advice for you.

That’s to sand your wood first. No matter what you decide to do with your furniture make sure you have an even surface beforehand. This will give off a smooth finishing.

Well, that’s all from our side. But if you have more suggestions do let us know.

Have a good day for staining vs painting. Bye-bye!

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