How Wood Reacts to Stains and Paints

How any given wood specie will respond to pigment (stain or paint) can vary greatly depending upon that specie’s inherent characteristics. Factors such as; open-grain, closed-grain, grain density, end-grain, machining, sanding, and material type (solid wood vs. veneered wood) will all impact the overall appearance of a pigmented finish. Generally, transparent stains allow much of the respective specie’s native traits to show through and variances in natural wood color will be fairly obvious. Conversely, opaque stains serve to subdue much of the respective specie’s natural wood color. Painted finishes, being solid pigment, cover the wood’s natural color entirely. Typically, painted finishes are usually applied over Maple, MDF (medium density fiberboard) or Oak. The textural character of the substrate will often telegraph through a painted finish, displaying hairline cracks at points of joinery, strong grain patterns beneath the finished surface and, upon occasion, evidence of the machining utilized in the fabrication process. See each wood specie’s individual description for more information on how it may respond to pigment.