Erosion coating versus film-forming stains – what gives?

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Not all wood stains are the same. Some stains lightly cover lumber, while others build a heavy film, coating the surface like paint. But both wear down over time and require redoing. Let’s take a closer look at erosion coating and film-forming stains.

First, here are the benefits of each:

Erosion coating stains create a thin film, which enhances the appearance of wood rather than hiding its original beauty. The stain creates a light surface film as well as penetrating the lumber, providing UV protection and water holdout on the surface.

Film-forming stains don’t necessarily penetrate the wood, instead they coat lumber more like paint. The stain can hide the grain and texture of the wood, leaving a smoother finish. Since the stain covers wood instead of penetrating it, it provides good water holdout and UV protection while it’s in place.

Both will eventually wear down and require redoing, and that’s a major difference between these two types of stains.

Erosion coating stains wear off through the process of gradual erosion, and it requires very little surface preparation when the time comes to redo the stain.

Heavy film-forming stains are a much different story. When they wear out, the coating cracks, scales and peels. Restaining the surface takes more work, because you have to remove the old coat first by scraping and sanding, and then prepare the surface for the new coat.

Erosion coating and film-forming stains each serve their purpose. Determining which best serves your aesthetic wants and your protection needs is important. In the end, the choice of a lighter bodied, erosion coating stain could save you time, energy, and money.