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Should You Paint or Stain Your Home’s Exterior?

There are tons of jobs around the house that you can tackle yourself, bringing a homeowner’s passion and a DIY attitude to bring the job in at a fraction of the budget but with a professional finish. You might want to cross rewiring the family room or upgrading the plumbing from that list. They may sound doable, but there are some things best left to the experts. Yet there are tons of other areas you can impact, increasing the value of your home and exponentially adding to your enjoyment of the property. Now that the weather’s warming, you might want to consider some of those exterior jobs you’ve been putting off. One of the best ways to refresh your home for spring is with a new paint job. But if your house is made of wood, staining is also an attraction option. So should you paint or stain your home’s exterior?

Since you’re going to be handling this yourself, you should think long and hard about the work involved in either application. Almost everyone has experience painting, and even if you’ve never painted the outside of a home before, you’ve got a basic understanding of the process and what you’re looking to accomplish. Paint is very forgiving. As long as you do a slight bit of sanding and use a primer you can get a clean coat and a perfect finish fairly easily. Stains are quite different. They darken or lighten wood, but still reveal what’s underneath. That means unless you’re dealing with bare wood that’s never been painted, you’re going to have to sand off all old stain and paint jobs to get a clean look. You’ll also have to be much more careful as you apply, because overlapping brush strokes will dry darker, giving you a strange, striped look that you certainly don’t want.

Most modern exterior paints are latex-based, while stains come in either latex or oil-based varieties. You might have an environmental preference, and not want to use something derived from oil. But the most popular stains today are all oil-based. It’s not necessarily any worse for the environment than latex, so don’t lose any sleep over it. However, oil-based stains can crack after they dry, which leaves the raw wood of your home at the mercy of the environment. If you get a lot of rain and snowy, icy weather you’ll see the effect of this in one short season. Latex-based stains and paints won’t crack when they’re dry, and paint especially offers more protection to the wood.

There’s a significantly different look with either option as well. With a stain, you are highlighting the natural beauty of the wood. You can choose an attractive color, but every chip and knot in the wood itself will still show through. If you don’t love that natural look, you could end up frustrated. However, if your home has a rustic feel to it in the first place, this could be just what you’re looking for. With paint, you can choose from every color of the rainbow for your home. Check in on some leads for contractors, and ask for examples of unique, professional paint jobs. You’ll see there’s no limit but your imagination and good taste. The paint will also dry clean and thick, covering up almost all of the imperfections in the wood.

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