translucent and semi-transparent

Discussion in 'English Only' started by 0216monty, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. 0216monty Junior Member

    Guangzhou
    Chinese - Cantonese, Mandarin
    If I am looking for a colored wood paint that allows the most wood grain and texture to show. Should I be looking for a translucent or semi-transparent wood stain? Do these two terms make a difference or do they refer to basically the same thing?

    Please help me out, thank you.
     
  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    There's a difference between wood paint and wood stain. It sounds like you have stained wood, or want to stain wood, and then see that through a final protective finish. It's been a while since I've been in a hardware store, but I think you're looking for clear or matte varnish (or other protective sealant -- I recall seeing some fairly sophisticated coatings). Clear will have a glossy finish and reflect light like glass, while matte will still let the wood grain and colour show through without reflecting so much light.
     
  3. Glossy and matte are both reflecting qualities in arts like photography, or sometimes can indicate (also) texture, as in paint. I don't think they are used with wood stain products, though they could be used with lacquer and varnish products. Translucent means letting light through, as glass that will allow the transmission of light or shadow (which is simply less light). This contrasts with glass that is semi-transparent, allowing limited ability to see actual form and image, and with transparent, good or perfect ability to see form and image. As regards paints and stains for woodwork, the former are more opaque. The latter, however, can also vary in that aspect. There are pigmented stains that are less transparent and dye stains that are more transparent, the former usually more protective and the latter showing more detail of the wood. Some types of pigmented stains are more opaque than others, or there are combination stains of dye plus pigment with intermediate qualities. As far as I can tell, the use of "transucent" in this industry varies and can mean the same as "semi-transparent" or can mean a little more opaque than that (i.e., less transparent than what "semi-tranparent" would be). "Transparent" would refer to a "clear" stain, very light with no pigment.
     
  4. 0216monty Junior Member

    Guangzhou
    Chinese - Cantonese, Mandarin
    Thank you for paulrobert's information; it has explained everything for me

    But I'm still a little bit confused about copyright's response. You said there is a difference between wood paint and wood stain. As far as I know, they are both liquid, which are applied on wood so as to give it a particular color. So how can I differentiate between them? I know it somewhat introduces a new question but I guess it is still relevant so I don't want to start a new thread on it.
     
  5. Infininja Senior Member

    Ohio, USA
    American English
    My layman understanding:

    Stain is used to darken wood while letting the visual pattern of the wood show through.

    Paint is opaque and will completely cover the wood.

    Paints will come in colors (white, red, gray, purple, anything you can think of) while stains are generally varying shades of brown.

    A stain may actually seep into the wood, while a paint is layered on top. I'm not sure.
     
  6. 0216monty Junior Member

    Guangzhou
    Chinese - Cantonese, Mandarin
    Hi Infininja, thank you very for the clear explanation. So paints are meant to completely change the color of the wood surface, while stains just alter the way wood looks a little bit. I guess I finally "see the light". Thank you all for your help.
     
  7. Infininja is right. Paint forms a fairly opaque coating which is designed to cover. In fact, if it does not cover sufficiently, a second coat may be used to make it look better. Once dry, there is a layer which, if you changed your mind and wanted to see what was underneath, you would have to strip off (with a solvent), sand off, chip off, or scrape off. While you can also use one or two coats or applications of stain, it is designed more to sink into the material of the wood. Even the pigmented kind has the pigment material, much thinner, sinking more into the grain. It's not something you could scrape off, like paint. (Keep in mind that the word "paint" is often used generically. If you are going to stain your wooden deck, for example, you would "paint" it on (or brush it on)).
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009
  8. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    While I was sleeping, Infininja and paulrobert did a fine job of explaining. When I made my comment, I thought you might already know the difference (and wasn't sure how far into paint and stain I should go in answering your question).

    One thing to note about paint and its opaqueness... after you apply it, you can't tell if paint is covering wood, metal, plastic or cement. It is a coating, like icing on a cake, just less tasty.

    When you apply stain, it goes into the wood, but offers no protection from the elements. After staining wood, you would normally seal it and protect it by using a varnish, shellac or other coating that sits on top like paint, but which is either transparent or semi-transparent so that so you can see the beauty of the stained wood underneath. These sealants are normally available in gloss or matte finish, just like glass for picture frames.
     

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