As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Shed Paint Or Stain? We Find Out Which Is Best For You

If you’re a handyman, you must enjoy spending time in your shed – who doesn’t? When you’re building a new shed, it’s important to think carefully when making the big decisions: where are you going to put the tools, where are you going to store the lawn mower, what are you going to do about the lighting, etc.

One of these decisions is whether to paint your shed or to stain it. A lot of people find themselves breaking spears over this question, so we’ll answer it for you: is it better to paint or stain your shed?

Both painting and staining your shed can have its pros and cons. What’s really important is to establish a proper drainage system, as that’s what’s going to really keep your shed lasting. If you don’t have a gutter installed, neither paint nor stain will keep it safe.

Whatever you had in mind when it comes to shed utilization, it’s important to protect it properly from outside elements.

As we’ve already mentioned in the paragraph above, installing a gutter is much more important than painting and staining your walls, but once you’ve done that, it’s important to make a proper decision on your covers. That’s exactly what we’ll be learning in this article: is it better to paint or stain your shed, what is the best wood stain for sheds, and what should you use to protect your shed.

Let’s get started.

Is It Better To Paint Or Stain A Shed?

As we’ve already determined, both painting and staining have their pros and cons, but these are all really just wood decorations. The only thing that will really keep your wood from rotting is good drainage – which usually means installing a gutter.

Wood will get wet every time it rains or snows, and that’s okay, as long as the rain and snow “shed” effectively (pun intended) and let the wood dry out. Rotting wood becomes a problem when the wood stays wet because there’s no effective way for the snow and rain to shed.

Wood staying wet through days of sunshine and wind is an ideal place for fungus to grow, accompanied by rot. These organisms that will attack the wood require constant moisture for survival.

The advantage of using a wood stain is that it’s a very breathable medium, allowing the wood to gain moisture and let the moisture out with time. Staining is also more budget-friendly, as stain runs between $20 and $35 per gallon, while the cost of paint is often double that much.

With painting, you also have to use wood preservative ($15 to $40 per gallon) and primer ($15 to 30$ per gallon). Wood stains already contain a preservative and a primer, so you don’t have to waste money on this.

Aside from the budgetary benefits, staining will also give your shed a more natural look. It will partially fill the pores in the wood and form a thin layer over your shed – this will let both the natural grain pattern and the cracks in the wood show. Paint will fill these pores fully, hide the cracks, and cover the distinct wood grain – which looks more manufactured than natural.

Stain is also easier to apply.

You will certainly need to clean your shed before staining it, and the same goes for painting, then you’ll be able to apply the stain with a roller. Taking this and comparing it to paint: before painting you need to clean your shed, treat it with a wood preservative, and coat it with a quality primer.

You’ll also need to add at least two coats of paint, compared to only a single layer of stain needed when staining. Also, there’s no need to seal the surface with a clean polyurethane sealer after staining it – this is, however, something that you have to do when painting.

There are, in fact, some points that need to be assigned to the paint.

Firstly, paint lasts longer than stain. Paint can last for ten years or longer before requiring reapplication, with oil-based paints providing the best protection from moisture, and latex-based paints providing the best protection against UV-related fading. Staining, however, usually lasts less than eight years, and is prone to fading away, while paint is rather prone to chipping and peeling.

Paint also offers more variety. There’s literally any color of paint you can choose for your shed. Staining, however, is reserved for clear varieties or shades of brown.

Paint is also easier to maintain than stain.

Paint will usually stick to a slick surface and it won’t be easy for dust, debris and dirt to stick – it will be easy to clean it. Stain, however, provides more of matte finish – meaning that it will take more effort to clean. Using a pressure cleaner won’t solve this, as it can damage both the wood and the stain on it. It’s also smart to deep-clean your deck at least once a year, just to make sure there’s not any mold or fungus developing.

However, none of this will matter if you haven’t protected your shed with proper drainage and airflow. This is the first and the most important line of defense against mold and fungus.   

What Is the Best Wood Stain for Sheds?

Different wood stain brands and types are used for different kinds of wood; interior, exterior, overall, water-based stains, stains with sealant, stains for pressure-treated wood, etc.

We’ll be referring to The Spruce’s choice of eight best wood stains of 2020.

The best overall wood stain is Varathane 1 qt. Classic Wood Interior Stain. This wood stain “delivers a beautiful color with just a few coats, while enhancing the natural wood grain of your material.”

The best wood stain for interior, according to The Spruce is Minwax Wood Finish Oil-Based Interior Stain,  on Amazon. This interior oil-based strain of stain dries in around two hours, and you can choose from several finishes.

The best exterior wood stain is Ready Seal Stain and Sealer for Wood,  on Amazon. This stain is great at protecting your wood from mildew, fungus, mold, and ultraviolet rays – it also dries off to a durable finish.

For pressure-treated wood, DEFY Exterir Wood Stain is the best stain, on Amazon. This water-based stain is based on zinc, and is semi-transparent – it helps prevent color loss over time.

The best water-based stain is SamaN Interior Watr Based Stain,  on Amazon. This stain will impress you with great results, after only a single coat. It’s designed for interior use, it’s easy to use and it comes in a wide range of colors.

The best stain with sealant is BEHR Premium Wood Stain and Sealer,  Home Depot. It allows you to color, finish, and protect your exterior – and it provides a waterproof finish.

The best stain with colors is Varathane Fast Dry Interior Wood Stain,  This stain comes in many fun colors, but some traditional ones, as well.

And lastly, the best wipes stain is Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths,  Very easy to use, great for small projects, and you can choose from several popular shades.

What Should I Use To Protect My Shed?

It’s instrumental that you install a good gutter. The gutter will ensure that all rain ends up on the ground, and that very little of it ends up on your walls.

Following that, it really depends on what you like. Different varieties of paint and stain are here to protect your shed from different things: be it mold, fungus, mildew, or ultraviolet radiation. Every sort of pain and stain will have a basic description of it printed on the back, and you should always look for advice when you’re buying this.

Chemistry has definitely come to the point where you can rely on the product itself to keep your wood protected, so you can trust that the manufacturers of the paint or stain you’re choosing know what they’re doing.

Make sure to take your own needs and conditions of your shed into advisement when making a decision about your paint, even if you make a mistake when choosing, you’re always going to have the option of redoing your walls when painting.