Need to re-stain house - so confused!!!

Our house is 15 years old. We last had it stained 8 years ago, with 2 coats semi-transparent Cabot stain.
We have 2 main "paint" stores in town that specialize in just paint, etc. One carries Cabot stain and Benjamin Moore paint. The other has their own stain and paint that they custom-mix for you, based on the Woodmaster brand. I'm getting conflicting information from them.
The Cabot store recommended their Pro.V.T. solid stain. This is 100% Acrylic. Does not come in an Oil version. They also have O.V.T. solid stains, which are available in either Acrylic or Oil-based.
The custom store recommended Oil-Based solid stain, since it's been 8 years since the house has been done, and the wood is probably quite dry. He said the oil-based will put moisture back into the wood, preventing further cracking, cupping, etc. He did also say that if we wanted to, we could put down the oil-based stain first, then go over it with Acrylic, which would help with sealing the wood against moisture, mildew, etc. than just using straight Oil-based would.
I understand that Cabot is quite expensive. The custom store said that a lot of local contractors/painters get their paint from them (which I know is true), and it's probably about 25% less expensive than the Cabot's. He compared their stain quality with the Cabot O.V.T.
What to do????
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If you got 8 years of useful life from a semi transparent stain, in my not so humble opinion you should stick with what you have.
You didn't say where you live, so we don't know about your weather conditions. Down here in Texas, 8 years of stain looking nice is almost impossible.
You didn't say whether or not you put on oil or acrylic orginally, and but at this point in the finish's life that may not be so important.
You didn't say what "the other brand" was that was at the custom store, so no one can make a valid comparison of their experiences.
With all that in mind, you would do well to take the safe route and go with the oil based Cabots. First, it will pentrated the wood some, but will not moisturize it. But it is better than latex which only encapuslates the surface. Second, if you have latex on it now, it will go over it with no problem. Third, if you go back with what you originally put on (Cabot's) that should help fend off any problems you might have with compaitbility.
And who cares about the 25% over the next 8 years when you do this again? What are you talking about for the material used on the whole house? $100? Would you want to go finish it again, sooner, because you saved $100. If it is an equal product, then the 25% is valid. But since you have a known commodity with a track record of satisfactory performance I wouldn't think twice about using it again.
Robert
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The "other brand" is Woodmaster, and they custom-mix colors and sell it under their own name (Repcolite).
We live in Michigan, so we get weather extremes from hot, humid summers to bitterly cold/dry winters.
I THINK the Cabots semi-transparent that was put on before was an Acrylic. I have no idea what was originally put on the house 15 years ago, as we did not build the house.
Both stores recommend going to a solid stain, since this will be the third time the house is stained, and every time you go over it with more semi-trans, it hides more and more grain anyway and pretty much ends up opaque finally. So might as well go with an opaque/solid stain at this point, which offers more protection/durability/longevity.
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AJDupree wrote:
<<Both stores recommend going to a solid stain, since this will be the third time the house is stained, and every time you go over it with more semi-trans, it hides more and more grain anyway and pretty much ends up opaque finally. So might as well go with an opaque/solid stain at this point, which offers more protection/durability/longevity. <<
I agree with them. (Not that that means much!) The most important aspect of the solid stain is that it provides a much greater UV resistance for the wood since the rays cannot penetrate the solid surface until it begins to degrade.
I also believe if your house was built only about 15 years ago it would have been stained with something acrlic. Most building and remodeling contractors stay away from oil based (including me) unless it is needed. On original construction with a new, fresh surface it would not have been needed. But if you are unsure, go with oil as it isn't that much harder to work with, and then you won't have any doubts. For the most part, oil anything over acrylic anything is not good.
Can't speak to the quality of the local stain store's goods. I have never heard of their brand names, but that doesn't mean a thing. We have a couple of regional paint stores here in town and they have some unusual names to me, and their products are less expensive. But I tend to stay with what I know works, and in your case that would be the Cabot's.
One more thought. If you are going to switch to solid stain, why not paint? Most of the paint stores have a full color pallette available, and to me, solid stain always looks like paint anyway. Just a thought...
Robert
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Wouldn't paint begin to chip after a while, whereas stain just degrades/fades, etc. without chipping? Plus the solid stain, even tho it's opaque, still shows some of the woodgrain texture. The paint is heavier/thicker and would cover it more completely. ??
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If applied properly, the paint will not chip or crack off. You are probably thinking of some of the old oil based stuff that is in bad condition, or any surface coating that was improperly applied.
The stain is thinner, but not by much. If I were worried about the grain, I would do what I do for my clients. Buy a quart of each finish and try it out in an inconspicuous place. Put two coats of each finish on and allow to dry thoroughly. Then make the decision.
What I like about stain is that it just kinda goes away, making recoats a breeze after power washing etc. What I don't like is I don't know how badly the actual finish has degraded, so the stain won't do as good a job encapsulating the old finish. If the surface is fairly degraded, but has mold or other things left behind in cracks, even if you power wash you will not get it all and it will start in on your surface from underneath.
If you paint, almost all the better exterior acrylics (I use a lot of Coronado) have some kind of mildicide in it (chlorine or ammonia) to kill anything that is left. With more solids, the paint fills the surface a little better, and with the mildicide you get better bonding at the start of the process. And I think you will be surprised at how little the paint will cover grain. I spray cedar and pine siding all the time, and I really lay the paint to it. In some cases, after 4 coats it sure looks sealed, but it still looks like wood grain.
Robert
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AJDupree wrote:

I agree with your line of thinking above. I'd go with the solid stain, which is exactly the application it's made for. I also agree with the advice to go with the Cabot, since it's held up extremely well for 8 years. I'm always a little leary of using an unknown brand. Just because local contractors use it, doesn't mean too much, as they often trade off quality for $$$. You could also check with Consumer Reports, they do testing on some paint/stains.
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Consumer Reports has an ongoing test of stain and paint life. Acrilic solid stain will last the longest, perhaps twice as long, your local company sells oil? I would trust a name brand first, their ratings are proof they spent their money well on the best chemists around. I would pick Acrilic Solid Body, the argument of "Oil stain will put oil in the wood" is BS sales talk. Acrilic is proven to last longest.
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Why does it have to be stain? My mother's house, with T-111 siding, used to be stained. She started having it painted instead of stained, and it lasts a lot longer.
Use a low-luster paint, and it won't look any different from stain.
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