One of my springtime rituals used to be repairing the exterior of a client's 20- year-old vacation cottage. The trim, siding, doors, and exterior decking had all been coated with an opaque stain, then recoated after perhaps a decade. By the time I arrived on the scene, the grain on just about everything had long since separated. Every exterior door had swelled and warped, while the trim and siding had cupped and cracked. Each April, I'd get the inevitable call informing me that a few more pieces needed repair. My clients had stained everything because they wanted the house to look rustic and informal. The problem was that they also expected the stain to last as long as a good exterior