I have read that for paint the solids content indicates something about the quality of the paint in the sense that higher solids probably means fewer coats required.

Is this also the case for stains? Since stains are intended to be translucent I could imagine that the solids content could correlate with the darkness of the color, for instance, and have nothing to do with how well the finish will wear or age.

As an example, the Bona Drifast technical data sheet says: Solids – 35-47%

and the Minwax TDS states % Solids: 40.0-45.6

Aassuming the solids content is a measure of quality, what's a reasonable minimum value to have confidence the stain will hold up over time (say, 10-20 years)?

(All else being equal... obviously there are other factors which influence finish robustness as well.)


  • 1
    Stain can be considered a separate issue from applying a finish. Large solid contents in the stain would tend to obscure the natural appearance of the wood. In fact, fine furniture colors are the result of dyes which use much finer colorant grains which provide for a more natural wood grain appearance. One step stain/finish products are fine for exterior applications or projects where close-in appearance is not critical. For important projects I recommend applying dyes and finishes as separate steps.
    – Ashlar
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 16:12
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    Solids content may mean different things in different contexts. With paint it could be an indication of the pigment concentration, but in 'clear' finishes it tells you the resin/oil percentage, i.e. the stuff left behind on the surface after the solvent has evaporated. Higher solids content while it is some measure of material quality from a given perspective (it gives a pointer towards the number of coats needed for example) it isn't an indicator of outright quality, like low solids = poor, because it also relates to dilution. So in short it's not necessarily the thing to pay attention to.
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 18:21
  • @Ashlar thanks, I wasn't necessarily thinking of physical wear and tear on the stain itself (which would be the job of the finish coats as you imply) but things like UV resistance, other forms of degradation, etc. Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 19:16


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