I used to think that stain and glaze gave painted furniture such a different look, but until recently I had never directly compared the two. I have used both techniques to age painted furniture and always thought that the two techniques were so different. Not to long ago a reader asked me what the difference was between the two and it inspired me to do a comparison. I was surprised by the results.
I painted two similar chairs the exact same shade of white, distressed both of them, and then used a glaze on one and a stain on the other. I used ebony stain and I mixed a small amount of black paint into a clear mixing glaze. To my suprise the two look almost identical. There are a few subtle differences in the appearance. The glaze leaves a faint streaked look, almost like brush strokes, while the stain leaves a very smooth finish. The reason for this is because the glaze actually sits on top of the paint, while the stain penetrates it. In the photograph below the glaze was used on the piece on the left.
The other slight difference can be seen in the recessed areas. The glaze seams to have stuck in the crevices better, making a sharper contrast that really draws your attention to the details. The chair that was glazed is on the left.
The finishes created aren’t much different, but there are some differences in the available options. The great thing about a translucent glaze is that you can mix it with any color you want, so the possibilities are endless. Stain is typically pretty limited as far as color choices go.
Another noticable difference is how easy glaze is to work with. Glaze is a great product for beginners because it is workable for so much longer than the stain is. Stain will tend to dry and get sticky a lot quicker than the glaze will. With glaze you have plenty of time to play with it until you’ve achieved the look you like.
The thing I really like about stain is that it drys hard and adds a protective finish. I don’t feel like you get that with a glaze. The other thing great about stain is the price. A quart of stain only costs about $8 while a quart of clear mixing glaze is about double that price.
Here are the two chairs side by side. Can you tell the difference?
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My mom is a DIY kind of gal. When I was a kid I remember trips to thrift stores, strolling the hardware store isles, and of course spending hours feeling fabric at the yardage shop. She was constantly transforming bargain buys into treasures for our home. With a fresh coat of paint or a new slipcover, she gave old furniture new life. We have always enjoyed being creative together and in 2008 we turned our hobby and passion into a business.
Alchemy fine living is a creative business. We offer furniture painting services, upholstery, and custom slipcovers. We also sell a few hand crafted items on Etsy.
I'm Deana, the author of this blog. My mom, Connie, taught me from a young age how to spot a deal at a flea market or a thrift shop. She could always spot the hidden potential of an old, worn out piece of furniture. I learned to sew when I was four years old and all through the years I helped my mom with DIY projects around the house.
In 2008 she & I turned our hobby into a business. We re-do old furniture and hand craft items for sale in our Etsy store. For those who, like us, love to DIY we offer lots of tips and advice in our tutorial videos. We also offer furniture painting, upholstery, and sewing services for those who don't want to tackle the project themselves.