stain brush

Best Brush for Staining Wood – Wood Staining Buying Guide

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Wood is beautiful to have in and around your home, but it does need some maintenance to keep looking good. Otherwise, the wood will begin to weather and gray over time. Staining your wood is a great option for wood protection. One of the necessary tools for applying a wood stain is a wood stain brush. We will be looking at the types of brushes for wood staining and what to look out for when buying.



Types of Wood Stain Brushes

Choosing the best brush for staining might be challenging, as there are many different types available. For example, you have natural brushes, synthetic brushes, and foam brushes to name the main categories.

wood stain brush


Natural Stain Brush

The natural stain brushes are mainly used on things like cabinets, as they need an oil-based stain. The natural hairs usually come from the fur of an animal such as a boar. Also known as a ‘China Bristle’ where it comes from. When it comes to a cabinet stain, you can get two kinds, the oil-based variety, and then there are also the water-based stains.

As mentioned, natural stain brushes are best used on the oil-based variety. Sometimes stain marks can develop on the wood, to avoid this, first apply a wood conditioner and allow it to dry for about 15 minutes before staining.


Best Brush for Staining:  WOOSTER BRUSH Stainer Brush

This stain brush is quite broad and can come in sizes from 4.75 inches to 5.5 inches. Apply a stain or sealer using this brush will provide excellent results. The brush has a large square shape and is made of white China bristle, as these provide a finer finish.

WOOSTER BRUSH Stainer Stain Brush, 4-Inch
  • Works well with all oil-based stains and sealers
  • Threaded hardwood handle with bucket clip
  • White China bristle with square construction
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Along with the brush is a bucket clip, which you can remove, and an extension pole. It has a Nickel-plated steel ferrule, which holds the bristles, which makes it tough enough to handle rough wooden surfaces.


  • Can be used for wood conditioning
  • You will not have a bristle shedding issue when working
  • Comes with a handle that can be removed
  • Holds both paint and dye


  • The removable handle unscrews, which could be an issue for some


Synthetic Stain Brush

Synthetic stain brushes are best used with water-based stains. Water-based stains are often more popular, as they offer durability and are less toxic than the oil-based option. The water-based stains are easy to use and clean, simply wash with warm water and soap. Also, they have no solvents, so it will not be toxic to breathe in while working with it.


Best Brush for Staining Wooden Decks: LINZER Satin and Stain Block Brush

This stain block brush and poly/bristle blend can be used on a variety of surfaces, as the polyester filaments are fine and provide an excellent finish. The square shape also aids in applying the stain evenly. You can also use the brush effectively with an oil-based paint, which will give you a protective waterproof coating.

LINZER Satin and Stain Block Brush
  • Special polyester & bristle filament brush
  • Plastic handle with threaded grip
  • Suitable for use on rough surfaces
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Using this deck stain brush, you can paint your deck or fences without your hands getting tired, as the brush is quite flexible. The bristles are held fast by a stainless-steel ferrule, which helps in preventing any loose bristles and increases the hardiness of the brush.


  • You can get the brush in various sizes
  • Has a threaded grip to prevent slipping
  • Block/Square brush
  • Can help to create a good waterproof coat


  • The bristles can be a bit too delicate and frail


Foam Brush for Staining

The foam brush for stain can be quite effective in providing fast and maximum coverage. You might find the brush leaves drips and runs. The foam brush releases the stain at varying rates, so the coverage might not be even. If there is any excess, simply wipe it off when you are done.


Best Foam Brush for Staining: Loew-Cornell

Sometimes, you might need more than one stain brush, so it is great that you can get brush sets. The Loew-Cornell 25-piece foam brush set offers just that. Each brush in this set is 1-inch and has a wooden handle.

LOEW-CORNELL 25-Piece Foam Brush Set
  • An extensive set of 25 foam brushes
  • Each brush is 1-inch in size
  • Suitable for all experience levels
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There is also a set of varying sizes you can buy. These brushes are great for using with acrylic and doing craftwork. However, they are also great to use on trims, stain baseboards, and more.


  • The foam will absorb a good amount of stain or varnish
  • Great to use in small and difficult to reach areas
  • Affordable
  • You can discard after using


  • These brushes need a light hand for best results
  • Brushes need to breathe for a few days before use
  • Can only be used on smooth surfaces



Things to Consider When Buying a Wood Staining Brush

Looking to buy the best brush for staining wood? Here are some important things to consider when finding the right product.

deck stain brush


Stain Brush Quality

Brushes that can hold more stain are usually those of higher quality, so you can do the job much faster. A good-quality stain brush will apply larger amounts of paint and will spread it out more evenly. This type of decking paintbrush will provide a nice finish with less hassle.

Therefore, the quality of your stain brush is important. You can get cheaper varieties, but then you are going to get what you pay for, no satisfaction, and a bad stain job.


Stain Brush Holding Capacity

How much can the stain brush hold? This can help with saving on things like dripping and runs. A good quality brush should be able to be used by the more experienced woodworker and the DIYer. Imagine having to stain a fence, that will take up a lot of your time. However, if the brush has a high holding capacity, you can paint larger areas more quickly.


Bristle Strength

There is nothing more irritating than having paint bristle fall off into the paint, making it difficult to create a good finish. Trying to get them out is a sticky and messy affair, not something you want to waste your time on. So, to avoid this check to see for a brush with a strong ferrule that provides a more stable brush.


Reusable Stain Brushes

When staining wood, you are more than likely going to have to do it every year. There are brushes you can use and then dispose of, which might come in handy in certain circumstances. However, if you do not want to buy a new one each time, go for a brush that is durable and easy to clean.



Using a Decking Paintbrush to Stain Wood

Stain works a little different to paint, after the wood has absorbed all the stain it can, the excess will remain on the surface. Even after a few days, it might still feel sticky. The rule is to remove any excess after you have applied the stain. You should read the stain label for application instructions; it should tell you how to do it properly.

best brush for staining wood decks



Sealing Your Stained Surface Using a Deck Stain Brush

Is it possible to seal a water-based stain using an oil-based sealer like polyurethane, or the other way around? Yes, you can seal a stain using a deck stain brush and any kind of top coat, as long as the stain has dried thoroughly over a few days. If you decide to use lacquer, this would be perfect for both water-based and oil-based varieties.



Wood Stain Brush Guidelines

Getting the best possible results from your wood stain brush will require a few particular steps. Below are a few basic guidelines to remember during this process.


Best Absorption of a Wood Stain Calls for Open Pores

If you apply a stain over an already finished wood surface, it will not alter the color of the wood in any way. However, a cloth can easily wipe the stain off, as it has not been absorbed by the wood and is being impeded by the current wood finish.


Sanding the Wood Gently

To help prepare the wood and open the pores, sand using a medium 120-grit paper and work up to a fine 220-grit paper. Sand the wood going with the grain to get a more even surface.


Applying the Stain

You can use a bristle stain brush, a foam stain brush, or simply apply it with a cloth. When it comes to wood that has larger pores, like ash or mahogany, you need to apply more pressure. This is to help the stain get into the pores more effectively. Going against the wood grain when applying stain can help to saturate deeper pores. Use a generous amount of stain, to give the wood enough to absorb.


How Long to Leave the Stain on the Wood

Leaving the stain on for a time can help the wood to absorb the maximum amount of stain, producing a rich and deeper color. However, you need to watch your time, because if the stain dries it can cause problems like inhibiting a clear finish.


Removing Excess Stain

Remove the excess stain with a dry cloth, take it off making sure to move in the direction of the grain. You do not want to leave marks with a saturated cloth, which will become even more apparent when a clear finish is applied.

best brush for staining



Frequently Asked Questions


Is it Possible to Use a Roller Brush to Apply a Stain to Wood?

A brush or roller is great to use on window shutters, benches, or smaller items. Larger surfaces like fences and decks will do better with a paint sprayer.


Can You Use a Roller or Brush to Stain a Deck?

The best way to stain a wood deck is to use a sprayer or roller brush. This will give you an even coat if you use a superior stain like Olympic MAXIMUM or Elite stains. You can then use the best brush for staining a wood deck or a roller brush to even out any blemishes.


What Stain Brush is Best?

Always go for good quality stain brushes. For oil-based stains choose natural bristle brushes and synthetic bristle brushes for water-based stains. The choice of stain will be determined by where you want to apply the stain.


Will There be Issues if the Excess Stain is not Wiped Off?

The wood stain should seep into the wood surface and should not sit on top. If you do apply a stain too thick, or you do not wipe off the excess, the surface will turn sticky.


Is it Easy to Clean a Wood Stain Brush?

Rinse the brush with some warm soapy water for the best results. If you are using a brush with polyurethane, some thinners or mineral spirits will help. Once clean, store the brush in a clean, dust-free area.


Is a Stain Brush Reusable?

This will depend on the brush you choose and the quality thereof. Many of the brushes that have weaker bristles will not be reusable. These are brushes you can use on a project and then you dispose of them immediately and are usually cheaper. Pay a bit more to get a better-quality brush you can clean and reuse.


Are There Brushes for Oil-Based Stains?

Yes, you get specific brushes for stains that are oil-based. The brushes will have natural bristles and are best used on items like cabinets.


Staining wood requires specific tools and knowledge in order to get it right. Be sure to follow the guide above when choosing the right wood stain brush in order to achieve the best results possible.


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