Home Improvement Month – Week 5 Tips – Paint and Stain

In honor of May being Home Improvement Month, Angeles Millwork and Hartnagels will publish weekly blog posts to highlight important tips for tackling projects around your home.


Picking the right paint is more than just deciding on the right color.  Understanding the quality in the can and the ingredients in paint will help you get the most out of your investment. Paint is made up of four primary ingredients; pigments, binders, liquids, and additives.

The best paints use what the industry calls “prime” pigments which ensure the best colors.  Lesser paints use “extender” pigments that add volume, without really doing anything for the color.  Binders are what makes the paint adhere to the surface and to other paint molecules in the can, providing coverage, hide and integrity.  Binders can be acrylic, oil, latex and many other things.  Great paints use high quality binders.  The liquids in paint are the carrier for everything else.  High quality paint will consist of up to 45% solids where low cost paints will have less than 30% solids.   Additives are things like mildewcide, surfactants, and UV inhibitors that enhance performance for a specific condition in the application.  Additives add cost and significant benefits that less expensive paints will not include.

In the simplest terms possible, the solids in the paint give you the protection and the color you are buying.  The liquids put it on the wall.  The higher the solids, the better the paint.  When you are at the store buying paint, the difference in price is the difference in the quality of the solids.  Now that you know what you are getting in your paint can, you can get back to the tough choice of picking out the perfect color.


Semi-transparent, solid, transparent, oil based, water based, deck, fence, or siding.   Exterior stains have many options for a good reason and knowing what you are buying will help you get the longevity you desire and get you back to enjoying your space.  Oil-based or water-based has very little to do with the coverage as that just notes the type of liquid used as the carrier of the stain.  Choosing the right solid content and your application will make sure your project is done right.

Solid content in the stain has everything to do with how much UV protection the product offers.  A transparent stain has very little solid content, so it relies on additives to protect the surface from the sun in exchange for being able to see the natural beauty of the surface being coated.   Solid body stains have many more pigments and binders that provide the surface protection while making the natural surface very hard to see.  Semi-transparent is a blend of both stain types.

The next phase is deciding which stain to use for the desired application.  Choosing a deck stain that has additives will give it some durability as a walking surface.  Selecting a fence and siding stain for a deck will give the product extra UV protection, but it will wear out quickly. If you use a deck stain on your siding, you are paying extra for surface durability that is not needed. Other additives in the oil or water-based stains, like rosewood oil or carnauba, support penetration and longevity.

Staining the deck can be more of a chore than most of us would like.  Having the right solid content and product for the application will make sure you don’t have to repeat the job again in short order.

On the subject of stain, AND with the weather in our area greatly improving, don’t forget about our upcoming annual exterior stain sale!   Starting June 14th through July 24th, Angeles Millwork and Hartnagels will be having ALL their exterior stains on sale at 20% OFF!  This is purposely in conjunction with some select stain mail in rebates.  The two together could save you up to 40% on stain purchases!

This concludes our blog posts for National Home Improvement Month.  If you have missed or would like to revisit any of the posts please click below.