Paint, Stain, Varnish, or Preservative?

Choosing the right type of finish can dramatically slow the weathering of wood, protecting it from long-term exposure to the elements. Appearance, durability, cost, surface type, ease of application, and maintenance should all be considered when selecting an exterior finish.

finishing_deckTwo basic types of wood preservatives are used to protect wood surfaces from weathering: those that form a film on the wood and those that penetrate the wood surface.

Film-forming materials include paints, solid-color stains, and varnishes. Penetrating finishes include preservatives, water repellents, and pigmented semitransparent stains.

A newly updated FinishLine fact sheet from FPL offers a wealth of information to help you choose the right finish for your outdoor wood.  For more detailed information, see Chapter 16 of the Wood Handbook, Finishing of Wood.