Semitransparent stain allows more of the wood’s natural elements to remain visible. However, with each additional coat, semitransparent stain has a stronger resemblance to solid stain, masking much of the wood’s natural character.
Although oil-based alkyd stain is still available, most manufacturer research and development has concentrated on creating better-performing water-based stains. This industry shift was brought on predominantly by VOC regulations in legislation adopted by a number of states across the country, especially on the East Coast. As a result, modern waterbased stain has been modified to act like a penetrating product, similar to oil-based stain. Waterbased stain has superior color and gloss retention, UV-resistance, and less chalking, all of which contribute to a finish that lasts 30% to 50% longer than oil-based stain.
Water-based stain is a more flexible product, too. Flexibility is important when considering solid stains; although they penetrate wood, they still form a thin film on the surface. When wood expands and contracts due to moisture and temperature variations, water-based stain can adjust to the movement, prolonging the aesthetic appeal of the finish as well as its protective quality.