Wainscot Panels, Selecting A Finishing
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Wood that is to be stained needs to be stain-grade, which is more expensive. Although the cost may initially be higher, there tends to be less money and time spent on it in the following years to maintain stained millwork. Painted millwork will probably need to be repainted within a few years while stained wood should look great indefinitely. Paint inevitably shows dirt more, because it is uniform throughout. The wood grain is able to hide some dents and scratches that paint cannot.
Both paint and varnish protect the surface of wood. Paint is designed to bring color to the wood, but that color conceals the wood grain. By contrast, stains and varnishes enter the pores of the wood but remain relatively clear and the grain of the wood remains visible.
If you decide to use paint, remember that paint actually sticks better to primer than it does to bare wood. Applying primer before painting will help reduce the chance of chipping or peeling later on. As a rule of thumb, two thin topcoats are better than one thick topcoat. If you decide to apply a stain, try using a pre-stain wood conditioner to help even out the color. Conditioners are designed to penetrate into the wood and allow the stain to absorb more evenly when it is applied later.
Paintable products are recommended for paint-grade applications. Paint-grade wood may be finger-jointed. Making this selection will remove stain-grade materials from the list.
Stainable products are recommended for stain-grade applications. Stain-grade boards may be joined with boards of similar color and grain pattern to achieve the necessary widths. Making this selection will remove paint-grade materials from the list.