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There are pros and cons to each type. Oil base stains generally offer better penetration into the wood to offer more protection from water absorption. However, they have a higher VOC content and require the use of solvents for clean-up. Water or latex base stains are better at retaining color longer, but generally sit on top of the wood like paint, and don’t penetrate as deep into the wood. This generally requires stripping the finish off before applying a new stain. Hybrid oil/latex base stains offer the best of both worlds, including better absorption into the wood, but lower VOC content and easier cleanup with soap and water.

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