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Paint vs. Stain

As you start on a wood or masonry project, you may be having a hard time figuring out if you should use paint or stain. Hoover Paint carries both paint and stain in Tennessee, and we can not only help you figure out which you should use, but we can also help you find everything you need to succeed. Our experts can answer all of your questions and help you decide between Benjamin Moore paint and stain, and help you select the best options for your project.


Person applying wood stain to a wooden table

What Are the Differences Between Paint and Stain?

Paint and stain are different products that are ideal for different use cases and situations. Sometimes, it's obvious when to use paint or stain, but there are many times in a project where you find yourself conflicted. But there are distinct differences between paint and stain that, when you take into consideration, can make it much easier to determine which one is appropriate for your project.


  • Sinks into wood
  • Doesn’t require a primer
  • Usually needs only one application
  • Dries fast
  • Enhances the wood
  • It can be used on concrete and other masonry


  • Needs to be primed for best results
  • Typically takes more than one coat
  • Has more color options
  • You can paint over stain, but you can’t stain over paint

As you consider paint vs. stain, the most significant difference is that stain sinks into the wood while paint sits on top of it. If you’ve painted something, you must remove all the paint to stain it. The paint is a protective layer that the stain can’t soak through. However, it’s fairly easy to paint over stain. You prep it like you usually would by sanding, wiping, and then finally apply the stain.

When Should I Choose Paint vs Stain?

There are many things to consider when selecting between paint vs. stain for your projects. For most projects, you can use either, but you need to consider how you want it to look when you’re done. Here are some things to consider when choosing between Benjamin Moore paint and stain.

Purpose matters. If you like the look of natural wood or concrete, stain can enhance that. Paint changes it. Choose stain if you want to see and enjoy the natural wood grains and textures. Again, it’s essential to consider this early because you can’t stain over paint; you have to remove the paint.

  • Semi-transparent stains let the most wood grains shine through.
  • Solid stains over it more thoroughly, but some grains will be visible.
  • Paint covers up the grains so they’re not visible.

Location matters, as well. Staining could be a good idea if your project is outside because it seals the wood and protects it from moisture. However, like Benjamin Moore Aura, exterior paint can do the same. Inside, the look you’re trying to attain is more critical. Do you want a smooth, even surface? Do you want a surface that’s textured? Do you want to add color, or do you want a wood look?

Upkeep is another consideration. Neither paint nor stain is maintenance-free, but inside, you can re-apply it less with regular cleaning.

  • Paint usually only needs to be touched up once every 8-10 years.
  • Semi-transparent stains need to be re-applied every 2-3 years.
  • Solid stain can go 6-8 years before you need to touch it up.

Get Your Benjamin Moore Paint and Stain in Tennessee Today!

Choosing between paint vs. stain shouldn’t be a headache. Hoover Paint offers everything you need for your painting and staining projects and expert advice, so you don’t need to second-guess yourself. Call us, complete our online form, or visit one of our stores. We have locations in Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Cool Springs, Shelbyville, Cookeville, Green Hills, Manchester, Mt. Juliet, Clarksville, and Pleasant View, Tennessee. We also serve the surrounding areas. Contact us today!