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  • What is the Difference Between Stain and Stain & Varnish?
What is the Difference Between Stain and Stain & Varnish?

What is the Difference Between Stain and Stain & Varnish?

Staining wood is a great way to change or add colour to the timber, it can also help to enhance the natural colour of the wood, highlighting the different grain and textures.

The look you are after will determine whether or not you use just a Stain (which adds colour) or a Stain & Varnish (which will help seal and protect the bedside table). The below information will hopefully help you to determine which product would be best for your project.

What Stain Does


Stain is the first step you can take to bring out the wood's beauty. Complex, hidden grain patterns lie under the surface, and they might never be found without the use of stain. It adds definition and colour. A water-based Stain is a mixture of water and pigment, when it's applied to wood, the solvents or water evaporate, leaving the coloured pigment behind. We would recommend to use a water-based Stain for a new pine bedside table as water-based Stains dry faster, are easy to clean and are available in a range of colours.

Water-based stain like Cabots Interior Stain Water Based is used the majority of the time in woodworking, because it's fast drying and user-friendly. It's typically applied with a brush or cloth and used for interior doors, windows, trim and furniture.

Oil-based stain like Cabot's Interior Stain Oil Based is a penetrating stain for interior doors, windows, trim and furniture. It rejuvenates and transforms interior timber. Oil-based stain penetrates deeply and adds colour without raising the grain. Oil-based stain allows for more workable time than water-based stain before it dries and is best used to rejuvenate old, used timber.

For protection, just using Stain alone isn’t enough. You will need to apply a top coat of clear polyurethane or varnish like Cabot’s Cabothane Clear Water-Based or oil-based to seal and protect the furniture.

What Stain & Varnish Does


The difference between Stain and Stain & Varnish is that Stain & Varnish has that traditional timber stain combined with a professional clear polyurethane for one-step timber colour and protection. Stain & Varnish adds rich colour to timber AND preserves the stain by protecting it with a highly durable clear finish. So you'll be able to place furniture on it etc.

Designed with superior clarity, Stain & Varnish enhances the natural characteristics of the timber grain and transforms interior furniture and woodwork with rich, classic timber tones.

Just like the stain this product is also available in water-based and oil-based, when using stain & varnish like Cabot’s Stain & Varnish Water Based no top coat is required as the product has built in protection which will resist stains and scratches, it also enhances timber grain and is low odour.

At the end of the day if you want to save time, money and change the colour of the timber the best product we would recommend you use for your project would be Cabot’s Stain & Varnish Water Based. You can apply a top coat of clear varnish to add extra durability and longevity to your bedside table.

As always, for the best paint and woodcare advice we recommend you speak to your nearest Inspirations Paint store regarding your project.