stained pine

Best Stain for Pine – Everything You Need to Know About Staining Pine

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Pine is a popular choice of wood, as it is affordable and you can use it for a lot of different projects. The wood also becomes an appealing darker color over time. As with any wood project, you will want to make sure you protect it properly so that you can have a beautiful piece of furniture or flooring that lasts a long time. Applying the best stain for pine is a good way to achieve ultimate protection, and staining pine gives the wood a beautiful color. Pine staining will help to protect the wood surface from scratches and provide water resistance. Do you need to get the best stain for pine? Then read further to discover all about staining pine and recommended products you can use.



A Closer Look at Pine Wood Stains

One of the main features of a wood stain is to enrich the appearance of the grain of the wood. A wood stain is not a paint that covers the wood, its function is to improve and enhance the look of natural wood. Wood stain should complement the natural appearance of your wood and penetrate the wood quite deeply.

A pinewood stain is perfect if you want to add some color to the wood surface. In addition, it also adds a layer of protection and improves durability. Pine staining does not provide as much protection as a varnish does, but it does offer some resistance to scratches and moisture. The wood is protected while retaining its natural appearance.

Staining pine requires products that are specifically manufactured for wood. Each type of wood has its own grain structure, color profile, and other attributes, so using a wood stain designed for pine will help to improve the natural appearance of a pine wood surface.

pine staining



Why Finish Pine With a Wood Stain?

Learning how to stain pine can be beneficial, especially for all those wood projects around the home. Stained pine provides a distinctive look, unlike that of varnish and paint. Below are a few of the reasons you should finish pine with a wood stain.

  • Pine staining can be enhanced by adding further resistance like UV-resistance for outdoors
  • Wood stains provide a protective coat and improve durability
  • Even when adding pine wood stain colors, the natural wood itself is enhanced
  • Pine staining can help to darken the wood to make it appear antique
  • You can change or modify the color to get the look you want



Best Stain for Pine

Choosing which pine wood stain to purchase can be a bit difficult, given the wide range of available products. So, to make things easier for you, we have selected a few of the best stain for pine products.


Best Stain for Pine Overall: GENERAL FINISHES New Pine Gel Stain

Pine can be slightly challenging when it comes to applying a wood stain. The General Finishes Stain is an original gel wood stain that is easy to apply. This is an oil-based wood stain that can easily be wiped on, and it is as simple as that.

This particular pine wood stain will give you a glossy, smooth, even, and beautiful finish. The color will enrich the look of the natural pine and does not come out as dark as a few other finish pine stains. There are enough colors to choose from, so if you want to go darker you can. The fully dried stain provides decent protection for the pine wood surface.

  • A lustrous finish gel stain for pine
  • Oil-based formula for enhanced durability
  • Really easy to use wipe-on stain for various finishes
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  • You do not need to sand between coats
  • Offers superior protection
  • Easy to apply oil-based gel
  • Wipes on evenly and smooth
  • Improves and enriches the pine woods natural grain
  • No issues with runs and dripping


  • Can take a long time to dry properly


Best Stain for Wood Outdoors: READY SEAL Exterior Stain and Sealer

The Ready Seal Stain and Sealer is the best stain for pine outdoors and larger projects. The stain and sealer have been specially formulated so they can be used on outdoor surfaces. This makes it more durable than other stains, as it can withstand harsher conditions. There is only some preparation of the wood surface required and application is easy.

The stain is UV-resistant, waterproof, and resistant to destructive things like mildew. This makes it the best finish for pine decks and other outdoor wood surfaces that are open to the elements. The final stain color is amazing and will enhance the natural look of the natural wood. This is because the stain is semi-transparent, so it easily brings out the natural pine wood underneath while enriching the whole look.

READY SEAL Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood
  • A combined exterior stain and sealer
  • Golden pine coloring to perfectly match pine finishes
  • Offers UV protection and water resistance
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  • The stains offer excellent coverage
  • You get quite a lot of stain at a reasonable price
  • Easy application
  • UV-resistant
  • Excellent scratch resistance
  • Mildew as well as water-resistant


  • You need to apply regularly
  • Runny consistency like water


Best Durable Stain for Pine: MINWAX Penetrating Wood Stain

The Minwax penetrating wood stain is oil-based and is a well-liked and often used wood stain product. The pine wood stain penetrates the wood to stain and seal, providing excellent protection. The final color finish is durable and should last a long time. The stain can be applied to all bare and stripped wood surfaces and comes in a variety of colors for different effects.

The wood stain can easily be applied and will beautifully highlight the natural grain of the wood. Perfect for unfinished wood surfaces such as cabinets, furniture, wooden doors, molding, and trims as well as wooden floors. One of the more popular and favored brands of pine wood stain.

MINWAX Wood Finish Penetrating Stain
  • A semi-transparent penetrating wood stain
  • Available in a range of 28 different colors
  • Penetrates deep into wood fibres to highlight the grain
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  • Application is easy
  • Penetrates, stains, and seals the wood
  • Offers superior protection
  • Comes in a variety of color stains
  • Enhances the natural look of the wood grain


  • Not ideal for outdoor surfaces
  • It is not good for spraying onto surfaces


Best Buy Stain for Pine: RUST-OLEUM Varathane Premium Wood Stain

You can get a variety of stains for wood from the Rust-Oleum Varathane selection. The Ipswich Pine wood stain will enrich the look of the natural pine grain, as it contains the finest quality pigments that penetrate sufficiently into the wood. The final finish is a durable and semi-transparent stain that offers a completely natural look.

You easily wipe the stain on evenly and you should have no problems with streaking. The sealer does not require constant stirring. You can reapply the wood stain after two hours, as it dries quite fast. The soy oil-based product is a great choice for your pine wood surfaces. The beautiful and natural stain offers protection for all kinds of wood pine surfaces.

RUST-OLEUM Varathane Premium Wood Stain
  • Provides a rich natural color to interior wood finishes
  • Superior soya oil-based formula for deep penetration
  • Premium pigments for enhancing the wood grain detail
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  • Fairly priced for the quality
  • Little to no stirring is needed
  • Long-lasting look
  • Easy application, simply wipe on
  • An oil-based stain that penetrates well
  • Enriches the natural pine look


  • The stain may become darker than expected


Best Water-Based Stain for Pine: DEFY Extreme Wood Stain

The Defy Extreme Wood Stain is an excellent choice if you are looking for something more eco-friendly. The water-based stain does its job by enriching and showing off the natural grain of the wood. You get an intense semi-transparent color that provides a matte finish. You can easily use this stain on all types of pine wood surfaces.

The stain is UV-resistant, as it contains zinc nano-particles that deflect sunlight. This makes the stain more durable and will last much longer. The stain is durable and perfect for outdoor wood surfaces, even though it is water-based. Your wood surface will look amazing for longer and will require little maintenance.

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain
  • Water-based semi-transparent wood stain
  • An environmentally-friendly water-based formula
  • Extremely durable, long-lasting quality for exterior use
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  • The stained pine is not too dark
  • Comes in a five-gallon container
  • The final finish brings out the natural pine grain
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Application is easy
  • Maintaining the stained finish is easy
  • UV-resistant
  • Water-based and eco-friendly


  • Takes a long time to dry completely



How to Stain Pine

Once you have purchased the best stain for pine, you now need to apply it to the wood surface. To achieve the best finish for pine, you will need to observe a few simple steps. Do not rush the job and prepare properly beforehand. Take appropriate care of the preparatory details and you are certain to do a great staining job.

pine wood stain


Practice First

If this is your first time staining wood, it might be a good idea to test everything out first, especially if it is a big project. Get hold of some smaller pieces of wood and apply a little stain to these. You will get to know how to go with the grain and how many coats work best. By doing this, you will avoid making mistakes when it is time for the real job.


Make the Wood Surface Even

You will need to make sure the wood surface is even by filling in any gaps. You can use a clear epoxy for this, or a filler. Make sure to cover any areas of the wood you do not want to get epoxy on and then pour the epoxy into the gaps. Not only does this even out the surface, but it also helps to strengthen the wood.


Sanding the Wood

Once the epoxy has thoroughly dried, you can sand it down. Pine is softwood, so sanding should be fairly easy. Sanding the wood surface is paramount to achieving the perfect stained pine. Since pine is a softer wood, it is better to use a block sander rather than an electric orbital sander. Begin with 100-grit sandpaper and then move onto the next grit until you come to 200-grit. The finer-grit sandpaper will remove any scratches and smooth out the surface. To move onto the next step, the surface must be perfectly smooth and even.


Raise the Wood Grain

This is an important step if you are going to apply a water-based stain, as there might be a few bent wood fibers that could then produce a rough stain finish. All that you need to do is to lightly dampen the wood surface to raise any parts of the grain that will swell when the wood absorbs any moisture, and then sand it using 400-grit sandpaper. This should do the job nicely.

best stain for pine


Condition the Wood Surface

Before applying the best stain for pine, you need to make doubly sure that the surface is smooth, even, and looking its best. To ensure the wood surface is ready, applying a pre-stain conditioner is a good idea. The pre-stain also creates a thin seal over the wood surface and makes applying the pine wood stain that much easier.

Check the instructions for the pre-stain on the container and follow the steps outlined. The wood surface is usually kept wet during the application. Also, do not use more than instructed. Some recommend applying thick coats of the wood conditioner and between each application, the surface should be wet. Hold off for about five minutes and then wipe any excess pre-stain conditioner off. Once both the layers of conditioner are dry, you can sand the surface again using 400-grit sandpaper. Sand the surface carefully, as you do not want to damage the pre-stain coat. Clean the area thoroughly from any dust or dirt before moving on to applying the wood stain.


Wood Stain Application

Now that the wood surface is even, smooth, conditioned, and clean, applying the actual stain is the next step. Each wood stain product is different, so read the label directions before you start. Some wood stains can be wiped on using a cloth or sponge, while others are brushed, rolled, or sprayed on. In this case, take the brush and dip it into the stain, then apply it to the wood surface following the grain.

When the brush feels as if it is beginning to drag, get more stain and continue applying to the wood surface. You should aim for a nice even and smooth finish. A foam brush is great if you want to avoid leaving any brush strokes behind or bristles in the stain finish. Once done, allow the stain to dry thoroughly. Check the specific product instructions for drying times and then apply another coat.

How many coats of stain on pine? This will depend on what you want to achieve, applying more coats will darken the look of the stain. Keeping to only two coats will keep the color lighter. How to stain pine dark brown? Try applying four or maybe five coats to achieve a darker color.


Wood Sealer

The stained pine could be left as is, depending on the quality of stain used. But, by and large, the best results will be achieved by adding a sealer. The sealer will protect and make the finish more durable. One of the popular options for this is shellac (the stuff used in French polishing), as it performs well with wood stains and produces a tougher cover. Apply as many coats of shellac as needed and allow to dry. The stained pine is now completed.

The best stain for pine is essential for achieving an amazing finish on your wood that you can admire over and over again. We hope that you have enjoyed this guide to the best stain for pine and have gained enough knowledge to go out and apply your own pine wood stain.

finish for pine


View our Staining Pine web story here.



Frequently Asked Questions


Must you Sand In-Between Coats When Applying a Wood Stain?

This depends on the finish you are looking for and you will need to check out the instructions on the specific wood stain you are using. In general, a wood stain is made to go on evenly and should adhere solidly to each other.


How Many Coats of Stain on Pine is Needed?

This may vary depending on what you are looking for. You can achieve a lighter look with two coats and a darker look if you apply more coats. Also, the more coats applied provides increased durability. The most popular option is applying two to three coats.


How to Stain Pine Dark Brown?

The different wood stain brands offer a variety of color possibilities. A dark brown stain can be achieved by applying more coats. The more layers applied will create a darker finish.


Finding the best stain for pine will help you to enhance the natural beauty of the wood, as well as protect it for a long time. Follow our simple pine staining guide above to make sure that you are equipped with the best products and tips for a successful DIY project.


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