solid stained playhouse

Solid Stain vs. Paint

Discover the difference between solid stain and paint, when to use it, and how you can use it in a Wagner paint sprayer for your projects.

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate


Finishing an exterior project can not only change the look of it, but is important to protect it from the elements. Two common ways of finishing wood projects are stain and paint. Solid stain and paint can look alike- so how do you decide which to use?


woman spraying boards


finished playhouse

What is Solid Stain?

You’re likely familiar with a transparent stain- it’s a treatment that soaks into the wood, changing the color of your project. It needs to be sealed after the fact. A solid stain has more pigment to it and provides ample protection without a top cot.

woman spraying with solid stain


Paint and solid stain are both opaque. At a glance, you likely won’t notice the difference between the two once dried. Stain has a flat finish as it soaks into the wood whereas a paint has a variety of finish options with varying sheens.

Solid stain shows all that beautiful wood grain since it does soak in and has the flat finish. Paint provides more coverage for grain and other imperfections as it sits on top of the wood.

You can see the difference in these photos- the retaining wall cover is painted wood and the playhouse is stained wood.

Just based on appearance- you may have made your decision! If you love the texture of wood grain but want the color of paint- stain would be your winner. If you want a smoother finish- choose paint!

spraying with a solid stain


The biggest difference in preparation is that solid stain does not need a primer unlike paint. This will save time and money. On the other hand, you cannot apply a solid stain to a surface with paint on it already. While many solid stains suggest one coat would be enough, we suggest two for a completely even and full coverage.

solid stained boards


Performance wise, the paint can provide more of a barrier for your wood but the stain allows moisture to move through the wood and remains flexible. Longevity wise, when the solid stain gets older, it will fade instead of peeling like paint does.

solid stained playhouse


We recommend applying the solid stain or the paint using a paint sprayer like the Wagner FLEXiO 5000. A paint sprayer can handle thick paint beautifully with higher settings (we used a 9 airflow and 6 paint flow for the paint) while the thinner stain works incredibly well with lower settings (a 2 on both air pressure and material flow should work nicely!).

This sponsored post was created by Lemon Thistle. Now that you have all the information you need to choose solid stain or paint… which will you choose? If you would like to see more about this playhouse build, you can find the full blog post here.

solid stained playhouse
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