Highly transparent and stoichiometric boron nitride (BN) films were deposited on both electrodes (anode and cathode) of a radio-frequency parallel-plate plasma reactor by the glow discharge decomposition of two gas mixtures: B2H6-H2-NH3 and B2H6-N2. The chemical, optical, and structural properties of the films, as well as their stability under long exposition to humid atmosphere, were analyzed by x-ray photoelectron, infrared, and Raman spectroscopies; scanning and transmission electron microscopies; and optical transmittance spectrophotometry. It was found that the BN films grown on the anode using the B2H6-H2-NH3 mixture were smooth, dense, adhered well to substrates, and had a textured hexagonal structure with the basal planes perpendicular to the film surface. These films were chemically stable to moisture, even after an exposition period of two years. In contrast, the films grown on the anode from the B2H6-N2 mixture showed tensile stress failure and were very unstable in the presence of moisture. However, the films grown on the cathode from B2H6-H2-NH3 gases suffered from compressive stress failure on exposure to air; whereas with B2H6-N2 gases, adherent and stable cathodic BN films were obtained with the same crystallographic texture as anodic films prepared from the B2H6-H2-NH3 mixture. These results are discussed in terms of the origin of film stress, the effects of ion bombardment on the growing films, and the surface chemical effects of hydrogen atoms present in the gas discharge.