Painting vs. staining wood.

Thanks everyone for your input about what to do with the face of my house a few months ago (here).  
I really hadn’t planned to address the shingles until next spring but the temperate was around 70 degrees on Saturday that I decided to knock it out before the weather turned too cold.
Many of you recommended leaving the shingles as-is to weather naturally over time.  I too, love the look of natural, weathered shingles, but in this case every surface has been painted on the exterior of the house which left the natural wood shingles standing on their own looking a bit out of place.  So, I decided to paint them white.
When I went to pick up some paint the man at the counter told me NOT to paint the shingles but stain them instead.  As he explained it to me, stain is absorbed in to the wood whereas paint really is only a film that stays on the top of the surface.  The benefit of stain is that it lasts longer and has less maintenance.
The other things is that you can have different variants of coverage.  You can do a clear stain, a partial colored wash which allows some of the natural wood color to still be apparent or a full coverage stain that you tint to your choice of colors and really looks just like a painted surface.
(Please ignore our mess in the garage…now you know why we need a shed).

I ordered a gallon of Ultra Pure White of the full coverage stain.
He gave me my gallon of white and sent me on my way.
Three coats and several hours later it was just looking really creamy instead of Ultra Pure White.
After scratching my head for a while I figured out that he neglected to tint it. 
Husband: “Cut the guy some slack, he’s human.”
Eh, hem.
So back I went and got the right “tinted” paint.
2 coats later it was better but still not brilliant white.
When I looked at it I thought “meh”.  But I don’t do “meh”. 
The white trim on the rest of the exterior really pops but the shingles look a little dingy. 
I’m probably the only one who notices it and I’m sure the only who cares.
So now I’m not really sure what to do.  I’m not going back to ask Joe for his opinion.
What I’d like to do is just take a roller of Ultra Pure White paint right over the stain (or a sledge hammer) but that seems like a big faux paux.
Any advice?
While we’re on the topic…
I totally not digging the row of black-hole windows on the garage. 
There used to be 70’s plastic arched overlays on top but they cracked and fell off.
The garage is old, very old, but not in the budget to be replaced yet.
My theory was that painting it all one color would draw less attention to the large windows, but, no.
I’m contemplating adding some trim to break it up…
Yes, no?  



  1. At first I thought the white differences were due to the shadows between individual shingles compared to the unbroken line of white trim. But after zooming in on an area of the pic that only included one shingle that was obviously not the case. My guess is that you’re seeing the difference of painting white + cedar vs white + whatever color the trim was before? undertones are pretty amaze balls.

  2. yes! (to the windows). Much better.

  3. Erin Miller says:

    What about painting the recessed parts of the garage door panels the same dark color as your front door? Then it would make the windows appear as part of a grid. Might be overly graphic, but it’s an option.

    Great job. Love your blog.

  4. Yes! Add window panes, it’ll break it up.

  5. The Variance in the white – I suggest that you revisit the paint store with images of your garage which will demonstrate the difference between the white trim and the white shingles. They will not think you are unreasonable – they expect their products to create a match and you SHOULD be able to match the shades of white. You are and will continue to be an excellent customer and reference for them – they will want to make this right for you. If they claim that their stain and their paint will create a slight variance by virtue of the difference in product – ask them to customize the blend to make it match. They can do this.

    The garage door – either trim the windows to create the look of individual panes of glass or use plywood to fill-in each pane and paint it to match the door – thereby giving the look of a door that never had glass windows. It would create a very fluid look – at least for this winter – and until such time as you choose a replacement. I did the plywood fill-in to my very old door – it works.

    BTW – I LOVE the garage door in gray – old or not – it looks great!

  6. Maybe restain or paint goshdernit(lol) the shingles Gray; same as color of the rest of the door. Then paint the brick white. I love white brick! At minimum I think gray instead of white would look better here, right now too many different colors clashing…and YES to adding window panes…imho :)

  7. Yes, yes, yes to the window panes. Also, if they can’t match the stain to your trim paint, I would just paint the shingles white.

  8. windows panes, YES! I think they would look darling :) The house garage looks so much better :)

  9. Michelle,
    Studio One said it before I could, but what about faking it with thin plywood covering the windows – then painted to match the garage door? Then it would look like there were never windows in the first place. I agree that the shingles, trim, door, and brick are way too many colors going on. I think the shingles should be the same gray as the garage door. If you want to keep the look of windows what about an “X” pattern for the panes? It would be more modern than the typical “+”. I don’t know if you are going to replace the light fixtures, but I’ve seen ones with an “X” on the lantern part that would pick up on the window panes if you wanted to go that route. :)

    Hope that helps!

  10. I vote for window pane. I also think the shingles should be gray, to match the garage door. It would add some height & mayeb the windows would be less noticable with out the white highlighting them. Good luck! Can’t wiat to se epics, I know it will be awesome whatever you do.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Add window panes…I actually got excited and posted a comment because the panes look so cute on the garage…I am not normally a comment leaver. :)

    Love your blog!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I would suggest painting right over the glass panes! Once they are painted, they will blend right in with the wood and no one would ever know! My aunt did this with her garage doors and it looked amazing! I would never have known she painted right on the glass unless she told me. Good luck,


  13. Yes to the panes!!

  14. Exactly what Christy said: yes to window panes (we didn’t diy ours but panes made such a difference on our garage door) & yes to painting the shingles grey to match the garage door to streamline the whole look. I LOVE the grey you chose!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yes, paint the glass with your grey…i like the panes, but one solid color will give you the look you want, I think! You did ask my opinion, right? “)

  16. I vote window panes. I had no idea something that small could change the look so much.

  17. Michele.
    It is gorgeous!! I love the colors and the painted shingles.

    I say YES to the panes. It gives it that Craftsman style look. I love it!


  18. Yes to trimming the windows. Easy and the mock-up looks phenomenal!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Michelle, you are correct in that there is a difference between the colors of the shingles and the other white portions of the exterior. Someone mentioned framing the garage door windows, I agree. And, once the door is painted to match, I bet it will all come together beautifully. I reaaly think the grey paint on the door is throwing it off a bit. Good luck!

  20. LOVE LOVE the added window panes!
    Try not to stress too much, what you have done to this house so far and in the time you have done it is truly amazing!

  21. I think the shingles should be same color as the garage door. Too broken up as is – brick, siding, shingles, lots of colors and textures going on.

    My vote would be to trim the windows…isn’t that how your front door is? I’m guessing that would help balance things.

  22. I’ll go for yes with the windows! And as for the paint, it is better to ask for help from the paint store so that you can have more ideas to choose from. You can also visit stores that offer streamline painting for much better options!

Speak Your Mind