What is the Difference between Paint and Opaque Stain?
Exterior wood surfaces can be covered with either paint or opaque stain. Both cover the wood and hide the grain, so they are both good choices for hiding blemishes in the wood. However, opaque stain allows the texture of the wood to show. Latex paint tends to fill in the texture and results in a smoother finish. Your choice would typically be a matter of taste. If you want more texture, more of a natural wood appearance, then opaque stain would be the best choice.
Other considerations include that latex paint is a more durable finish. A latex paint finish will last longer than an opaque stain finish. In the long run opaque stain will be the more expensive option, primarily through labor costs. Another consideration is that opaque stain comes in a matte finish while paint offers a range of sheens from matte through gloss.
Because latex paint is less expensive over the long run, more durable, and available in multiple sheens, it is the most widely selected choice. On the other hand, opaque stain yields a look that cannot be duplicated by paint. People who choose opaque stain make the choice because they want a specific look that only stain can provide.