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Mr. Mandu, I decided to start a new discussion, rather than to keep going back and forth on Mr. Thomas' page. Originally, I asked why would you want to apply a "cheap stain" to your home that you just paid $XXX,XXX for. It's not like comparing your BMW and your wax job, it's like comparing your BMW to your paint job. Telling the dealer to just leave off the paint and going to your local hardware store and buying generic paint for your vehicle.
This could be anyone's stain. Just use the same formula for the stains you are comparing.
Stain A (2 coats)

Price: $278.00 per pail ÷ 5 = $55.60 per gallon.

1st coat coverage - 250 sq. ft. per gallon on smooth wood.
2nd coat coverage – 350 sq. ft. per gallon on smooth wood.

1st coat - $55.60 ÷ 250 = $0.2224 X 100 = $22.24
2nd coat - $55.60 ÷ 350 = $0.1589 X 100 = $15.89
Total cost per 100 sq. ft. = $38.13

Stain B ( 2 Coats of Stain plus 1 Coat of Topcoat System)

Price: Stain, $340.00 per pail = $68.00 per gallon; Topcoat, $295 per pail = $59.00 per gallon.

1st coat coverage - 400 sq. ft. per gallon on smooth wood.
2nd coat coverage – 600 sq. ft. per gallon on smooth wood.
Topcoat coverage – 600 sq. ft. per gallon on smooth wood.

1st coat - $68.00 ÷ 400 = $0.1700 X 100 = $17.00
2nd coat - $68.00 ÷ 600 = $0.1133 X 100 = $11.33
Topcoat - $59.00 ÷ 600 = $0.0983 X 100 = $ 9.83
Total cost per 100 sq. ft. = $38.16

When comparing the different stains, don't ask how much per gallon. Ask how much per 100 square feet. Anyone can do this cost comparison.

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I would also suggest you ask what the recommended maintenance is, and cost it out over a 5 year period. Many of you will be very surprised at the outcome.
Mr Andrews,

There is nothing to go "back and forth" about. You asked why someone would want to go with "cheap stain".

I'm of the opinion that if there aren't "Glaring" differences in the protection level and maintenance needs of the stains someone is comparing, then it's in my mind to go with the cheaper product?

Why? Because every 3-5 years you have to do it all over again anyway. So what's better? A stain that costs more that you still have to apply every 3-5 years, or one that costs less that you still have to apply every 3-5 years?

Miss Hensley replied to an earlier thread of Mr. Thomas outlining the type of comparison I will do when it comes time to stain my home.

It's much easier for me to upfront $10-20 per 100sq ft, than it is for me to upfront $30-40 per 100sq ft.

Just because I spend $xxx,xxx on my log home, doesn't mean I can float twice the cost of a cheaper product for log washing needs, stripping needs, staining needs, insect repellent needs, mildew/mold/rot needs.

Just an FYI, I've never had to have my car re-painted as a matter of maintenance. It shouldn't cost as much as that just to re-stain your log home once in a while.

Low-cost options in my opinion make more sense as long as you aren't losing an appreciable amount of protection.

The last line of your reply is the key to the entire argument. Do you loose an appreciable amount of protection if you go with a lower cost product? As a manufacturer of finishes for log homes (and keep in mind that is all we do), it is vital to our survival as a company to know how we stack up. Not only in cost, but in longevity. If you'd like to do your own testing, le me know and I'll provide 4oz sample bottles of our stains at no charge.

My job title is customer service and TECHNICAL SUPPORT, and I take that title very seriously. If I have a customer that wants to use our products in a way that is destined to fail, I advise them to use someone else's products that are better designed for their project needs, and will even tell them how to procure those products if I'm able to. Because, the bottom line is this.. people should be able to enjoy their log homes, not spend a lifetime working on them every weekend.

One more note...the point Todd is trying to make is this....Don't compare gallon to gallon, calculate coverage rates and compare the entire cost of the project. If you're a D.I.Yer, you won't need to take labor into the equation. But if not, and you have to hire someone else to do the work for you, you better include the labor costs when you're doing your evaluations. Especially if the manufacturer recommends you recoat every 2 years. Over a 5 year period, you'd need an applicator to come re-do your home at least once during that time, if not twice. Now, if you do it yourself, how valuable is your time?

Hope everyone has a wonderful evening...It's after 5 and I'm going home!
Coverage vs. Cost Myths
It is time to unveil the myth of coverage and cost as it pertains to the application of various wood stains. How does a company calculate the coverage of their wood stains or other coatings? What are the criteria they use for coming up with their particular square feet per gallon coverage? Is there an objective measurement that the consumer can use to obtain an apple to apples comparison between different brands of wood stain?

The answer is that yes, there is a tool that the consumer can use for gauging relative coverage between competitive products. It is quite simple but you will first need to know certain specific information about the particular stains that you want to compare. That specific information is a physical measurement called volume solids. The volume solids percentages of any particular coating automatically contain in that information its theoretical coverage. But before I proceed I must digress to clarify the difference between volume solids of a coating and weight solids of a coating.

The Volume Solids of a coating represents the amount of dried material that remains after the liquid portion of that coating has evaporated. It is a percentage that is determined by first measuring an established volume of the liquid material, evaporating off the entire liquid portion and then measuring the volume of the remaining dried solid portion. The difference in volume of the coating in its liquid form minus the remaining volume in its dried state is called volume solids. It is the volume solids that directly determine the coverage and amount of material deposited on a particular surface.

The Weight Solids are different because weight solids represent the actual weight of the dried material after the liquid portion of that coating has evaporated. The weight solids are the percentage determined by first weighing an established amount of stain in its liquid form, evaporating off the entire liquid portion and then weighing the dried solid portion. The difference in weight of the coating in its liquid form minus the remaining weight in its dried state is the called the weight solids. Weight solids are, as a rule, higher in percentage than volume solids and are never used to determine the coverage. (It is not unusual for companies, when listing solids in their particular coating, to only list weight solids. That is because weight solids are the higher number and the higher number is obviously more impressive to the consumer than the lower volume solids number.)

I hope that I was clear with these concepts and that you now know the difference between the two solid’s measurements of a coating. As stated earlier the volume solids are directly related to theoretical coverage of a coating. This coverage is determined by a standard formula that bases coverage of a paint material at 1 millage thickness over a non-porous surface. The mathematical formula is 16.03 X each 1% volume solids = the square foot coverage of one gallon of a given coating over a non-porous surface.

A Non-Porous Surface?
The question now becomes: “Why measure coverage over a non-porous surface”? Why not use real world calculations? After all, wood stains are applied over wood and wood is a porous surface… That is quite true. Wood is porous and because it is porous is the reason that a wood surface cannot be used to accurately and with fairness determine the coverage of different types of wood stains. When applying a wood stain over a porous surface, the ability to measure its coverage becomes much more difficult because of the absorption rate of the liquid into the porous surface. In addition to the physical characteristics of the wood stains themselves, absorption rates will vary because of the differences in wood species, the dryness of the wood, the wood’s natural porosity, the surface variations caused by the processing of the wood, etc. Because of all of these variables, determining stain coverage is at best an educated guess. However, by introducing a non-porous surface into the equation, it takes the guesswork out of coverage comparisons because there are no longer the surface variations to distort the data.

1 Millage Thickness?
This leads us to the final question which is: “Why 1 millage thickness”? That amount, which is 1/1000th of an inch, is the standard that the Coating Industry has established. By agreeing to a fixed standard, the coverage of any coating can be calculated and compared. What determines that coverage is the volume solids. The volume solids define the physical limits of coverage and the standard that determines that limit is the 1 millage thickness yardstick.

In conclusion, by using a nonporous surface and a 1 mil thickness as the fixed measure, the playing field is now leveled because the inconsistencies of a wood surface and the physical variations between different stains are effectively neutralized.

The volume solids of a coating, a non-porous surface, and 1 millage thickness are the scientific tools that will provide the consumer the objective standard they need to compare the coverage and cost between different wood stains. These tools are brought together in the simple mathematical formula:
16.03 X each 1% volume solids = the square foot coverage of one gallon of a given coating over a non-porous surface.


“X” Wood Stain has 18% volume solids. “X” Wood stain costs $75.00 per gallon
“Y” Wood Stain has 38% volume solids. “Y” Wood Stain costs $45.00 per gallon

“X” Wood Stain 1 coat coverage claims are 350-450 square feet per gallon.
“Y” Wood Stain 1 coat coverage claims are 200-250 square feet per gallon.

“X” Wood Stain’s actual coverage at 1 mil thickness over a nonporous surface is:
18 X 16.03 = 289 square feet per gallon.
“X” Wood Stain’s true cost is: $75.00 ÷ 289 = 26¢ per square foot.

“Y” Wood Stain’s actual coverage at 1 mil thickness over a nonporous surface is:
38 X 16.03 = 609 square feet per gallon.
“Y” Wood Stain’s true cost is: $45.00 ÷ 609 = 7¢ per square foot.

In the real world, coverage over wood is not this precise. One gallon is one gallon and the square foot area covered between two different stains, in most instances, is similar even though the volume solids between the two products vary. Typically, one gallon of any wood stain applied over a bare wood surface will have a one coat coverage of between 250-350 square feet per gallon. Real World Coverage is not as closely tied to volume solids as it is to the applicator and the method of application (spray or brush), the physical properties of the stain (its thinness or thickness), and the nature of the wood coated. The area where volume solids do play a critical role is in the amount of stain deposited on the wood surface. Consequently, the difference in coverage between a 17% solids and 38% solids wood stain may be minor but the differences in the amount of stain material protecting the wood surface will be much more significant. 300 square feet per gallon of a 38% solids stain will leave considerably more material on that surface than the 300 square foot per gallon coverage of the 17% solids stain. If examined under a microscope, the film of the lower solids stain will be more than 50% thinner than the higher solid stain even though the coverage is similar.

It should be evident by now that things don’t always appear as what they seem. My purpose for addressing this subject is to reveal what lurks below the iceberg. Most of us only see the tip and this certainly applies to more than just a topic regarding wood stains and coverage. But if my explanation of this subject will help you as a log home owner make a more informed and intelligent decision when it comes to choosing a wood stain, then I have done my job.

Michael McArthur
Sales & Marketing Mgr.
The Continental Products Co.
Right on, Michael........thanks for sharing this with the group- very valuable information as we have discussed before!


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