How To Stain Pine? (5-Step Guide)

Last Updated On September 22, 2023

Need to know how to stain pine boards? We've got all of your wood staining answers right here. Scroll down.

So, before you do stain, I recommend you read this quick 5-step guide that outlines everything you need to know.

In this article, we cover:

  • How to stain pine
  • Materials needed for staining your pine project
  • Tips for a successful stain job

And much more!

How To Stain Pine?

So if you're looking to get the stain pine like a pro, keep reading to learn the ins and outs of dealing with a softwood like pine.

What Do You Need To Know About Staining Pine?

Pine is one of the most common wood species used for construction throughout the world. 

It's important to note that pine is a softwood, so it will absorb more stain than hardwoods by nature. 

You can easily stain your DIY project yourself, and we even recommend it! Just be sure you research your project thoroughly so you can avoid any potential pitfalls or mistakes when staining pine.

Don't forget to take a look at our essential list of supplies you'll need to get the job done right. We don't want you to miss a beat when performing your wood stain project.

Test Out Different Stains On a Scrap Piece

Choosing the right stain for the job can be hard, but usually the home improvement store/Amazon supplies stains in sample quantities to help buyers decide which option to go with.

How many coats of stain is necessary?

2 coats of stain typically do the job when staining pinewood. 

Which stain color should You choose?

There are literally hundreds of different colors and options when it comes to choosing your stain.

We recommend you use a stain more specifically designed for pine, but as far as color goes that's up to the painter.

Dark stains make woodworking projects elegant, while deeper colors have the potential to completely change the appearance of the pine.

You could even try a white pine look by staining it with bleach.

Are There Big Knots Or Gaps in the Wood?

It is very common for pine to have big knots in the wood that are notorious for eating up all of the stain you just bought(this is especially common on table tops). 

That's where epoxy comes into the mix.

If you find there are large gaps or knots that need to be covered up before the wood can be stained, you could always fill them up with epoxy for a beautiful look over the entire wood surface. 

Supplies You’ll Need For Staining Pine

We've provided you with the master's list of supplies, so you won't forget anything on your next wood project. Here's what you'll need:

Your stain of choice

There are many stains that are made especially for pine, it just depends on what type of finish you're looking for and how much protection you want. 

Generally, if you choose to use a gel stain or a lacquer you'll get a better finish on softwoods like pine that are prone to splotching. 

Read More >> What Are The Best Gel Stains Out There?

Pre-stain wood conditioner

A pre-stain conditioner works to help the stain distribute evenly across the surface of the pine This step is optional, but we do recommend using a pre-stain conditioner if you want to look ultra pro throughout this process.

Cloth/Paper towels

Pine stain can be applied using a cloth (or an old t-shirt), and you may want some paper towels to help clean off the excess stain to avoid blotching.

Paint Masker/Masking Materials  

We recommend you use a paint masker because it makes covering up the surrounding areas of the job that much easier.

You'll also be thankful for some masking paper and masking film that helps make your job look extremely professional.

Razor Blade

Use a painter's razor blade for cutting the masking paper accurately.

Solvents/Mineral Spirits 

There always seems to be spots where the stain bleeds through the painter's tape and creates a mess on surrounding surfaces like metal hardware, walls, etc.

That's why you'll need the right solvent to quickly clean up unwanted stain distribution on objects that weren't supposed to be stained.

Stain Stripper

Are you looking to refinish the old stain? Stain stripper will help remove the previous stain. Follow the directions on the specific stain stripping product you buy for the best results.

Sandpaper/Sanding Tools

Professional painters typically have sanding sponges, sanding poles, and electric orbital or palm sanders to help sand the pine smooth before staining. 

There's nothing worse than running your hands across the surface of the wood and getting a sliver stuck in your finger, so be sure you sand the pine smooth before you stain.

Chemical-Resistant Gloves/Nitrile Gloves

Use rubber gloves to keep your hands happy and healthy throughout this whole staining process.

A Piece of Wood 

You will obviously need the piece of wood or furniture that will be receiving the stain.

Read More >> What Is The Best Way To Stain Wood?

Staining wood can actually increase its lifespan. This is because the stain prevents splintering, rot, and rain from destroying the wood's surface.

How To Stain Pine (5-Step Guide)

Now that you have all of the necessary supplies, let's dive into the step-by-step process for staining your pine like a pro!

(Psst! You can click any of the links below to jump straight to that step.)

  1. Sand and clean the surface of the wood
  2. Mask surrounding surfaces that won't be stained
  3. Apply the first coat of stain/Inspect the results
  4. Apply the second coat of stain/Inspect the results
  5. Clean up and apply polyurethane sealer (optional)

Step 1 – Sand and Clean the Surface of the Wood

Sanding is absolutely necessary when staining pine even if it's just a light rough-up with a sanding sponge or sanding pole. 

120-grit sandpaper usually does the trick, but if you want an even smoother finish then you could go up to 220 or 320-grit sandpaper.

We don't recommend wet sanding or finer grit sandpaper because it prevents the stain from being able to seep down into the pores of the pine.

Step 2 – Mask Surrounding Surfaces That Won't Be Stained

You'll need to cover up any surrounding surfaces that won't be stained.

The best way to do this is by using a 3M paint masker or another brand masking tool. Paint markers are so easy because you simply attach the masking tape and film/paper to the masker tool and roll them out all in one.

If you don't have a masker, then do the best you can with tape and masking film/paper. Shop on Amazon for your masking materials to get the best deal.

Step 3 – Apply the First Coat of Stain/Inspect the Results

Now that the pine is clean and the area around it is protected, it's time to apply the first coat of stain. 

Using a pre-stain wood conditioner before applying the first coat will yield the best results because it helps the stain fall evenly into the pores of the pine.

The most important things to remember when applying stain are:

1 -> Wipe off the excess stain before it dries 

Failure to wipe off the excess stain will result in blotches/blotching on the surface of the wood. It's not the end of the world, but you'll have to do some extra sanding to get the finished result to a five-star, A++ rating.

2 -> Apply the stain along the wood grain
Applying the stain along with the wood grain help quickly distribute it to all areas. 

Application Options

There are a few different ways to apply wood finish depending on the size and project, so we'll go over them and also give you a few examples:

Applying Stain With a Cloth

Saturating a cloth(or even an old t-shirt) with a stain and wiping it onto the surface is a great way to apply stain to smaller projects that have a lot of nooks and crannies.

Simply get the cloth wet but not dripping, and wipe it onto the surface of the wood.

Applying Stain With a Paintbrush/Roller 

Using a paintbrush or roller will work just fine when applying a stain to pine.

Just make sure you use a natural-bristled paintbrush for oil-based stains and a synthetic-bristled brush for water-based stains.

Read More >> What Are The Best Paint Rollers Out There?

Applying Stain With a Paint Sprayer

HVLP paint sprayers are great for applying stains to larger projects because they are inexpensive, lightweight, easy to clean... what more do we have to say? Check out the best paint sprayers on the market on our other page.

Read More >> What Are The Best Paint Sprayers For Staining?

Step 4 – Apply the Second Coat of Stain/Inspect the Results

Applying the second coat should be a bit quicker because the first coat of stain has already been absorbed into the surface of the wood. This means you'll use less stain on the second coat.

Sure, painting a second coat of stain isn't always necessary, but we recommend it because that's typically what the professionals do.

Let the stain dry for the recommended amount of time according to the manufacturer's instructions(see the paint can).

Step 5 – Clean Up and Apply Polyurethane Sealer (Optional)

All done! So now what? We recommend protecting your stain job from UV rays, scratching, and water with a polyurethane or shellac coat over the top.

If you don't like the idea of painting a clear protectant coat over the top, you could always use carnauba wax for a more temporary solution. 

Other Valuable Resources on How To Stain Pine 

Do you have any questions? Don't forget to ask us on our homepage!

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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Got Paint Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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