Choosing Opacity

gold sunlit walnut stairs


Choosing Opacity


There's no denying that color has a powerful impact on our emotions. The colors that surround us can make us feel happy, sedate, sad, upset, etc. That's why one of the most important factors in your stain project is selecting the right color. But with so many colors to choose from, how do you know which one will give your wood the desired look and emotional effect?


There are many factors that influence the way a color looks on a finished project. These include the wood's color and substrate texture, subcoats applied to the wood and the light source.

Wood color and substrate— These two factors will affect the appearance of all stain products, but this is especially true of wood toner, semi-transparent and semi-solid stains. Porous wood, such as rough-cut lumber, will absorb more stain and allow more of the substrate to show through.

Subcoats— When staining, it's important to remember this: the first coat of a two-coat system will usually appear lighter than the second coat. So don't judge the color from the first coat alone. 

Light color— The color of light can change dramatically during the course of a day. Sunset light tends to be golden; evening light is often bluish; cloudy days cast a grayer light than sunny days, which are usually yellower.

Wood Toned & Clear Stain— These clear and lightly tinted stains are nearly transparent, so they allow the most wood grain and texture to show through. View wood toner colors.

Semi-Transparent— Lightly pigmented, these stains impart more color the surface than wood toner stains, while still letting the wood grain to be seen. View semi-transparent colors.

Semi-Solids— Our unique semi-solid/semi-opaque finish masks most of the wood grain but allows some of the wood texture to be seen. View semi-solid colors.

— Choose these stains if you want a rich, vibrant opaque finish that completely hides the wood grain while allowing very little of the wood texture to show through. View solid colors.



  • The color samples that you see in your hardware store or home center are only an approximation of the final color you may see on a project.
  • Never rely solely on a small chip to determine a final color choice. The actual color will often look darker when applied to a large surface. In addition, take into consideration that store-matched colors may not perfectly match a manufactured ready-mix color.
  • For best results, a sample of the chosen color should be brushed out on the surface to which it will be applied.
  • Colors change as they dry; therefore, no color decision should be made until the product is completely dry. This is especially true of latex or water-based products.