How to Pull Off A Natural Looking White Wood Stain

So, it is time to give that backyard fence of yours a new lease on life. Or maybe you’re looking to spruce up a gorgeous wooden table that feels like it has lost some of its sheen. Maybe there’s a beautiful sideboard that could look even better with the right kind of stain.

Whatever you’re working on, getting the right look out of your wood stain is one of the most satisfying things you can get right when it comes to DIY and improving your home. 

How to Pull Off A Natural Looking White Wood Stain

Having a beautiful color to your wood, either that’s a dark gray or black, a deep brown, or a bright white, wood stain helps add a little color, that looks natural, whilst also keeping the wooden grain and texture visible, in a way that paints just can’t match.

It’s also one of the trickier things to get right if you have little to no experience with applying it to your furniture or home.

And, whilst it isn’t necessarily hard to remove it if something does go wrong, it is a time-consuming process that eats into other times that you might otherwise be spending on other projects.

So, if you want to be able to get a nice, natural-looking wood stain look on your first try, it pays to do a little background research on how best to do just that.

Fortunately, we have already done that for you here!

In this article, we are going to go over the tools and items that you need to be able to pull off a great natural wood stain finish with a white wood stainer, as well as how to do it for yourself.

So, grab your paintbrush and some gloves, and let's get started!

Things To Know Before You Apply Your Wood Stain

As we mentioned in the introduction, wood staging is a difficult effect to pull off satisfyingly, especially when you are going for a natural look to your wood. 

Whilst you are picking out the tools and gear that you’ll need to get the job done correctly and safely (more on that later), these are the things that you should be keeping in mind.

The Wood You Are Staining

What type of stain you are using will depend on whatever type of wood that you are applying it on.

Wood generally comes in two forms, soft and hard, and will both take various kinds of stains differently. 

  • The wood grain that you will find in a softwood like pine, for example, is unevenly spread, meaning that wood stain that is applied incorrectly can also be similarly broken and lack a clear finish, and leave a poor result for you.
  • Hardwood has the opposite problem, where it can take an even layer quite well, thanks to the grain being spread similarly, but will take many more oats than softwood would.

The Stain You Are Applying

As with the wood, what stain you are hoping to apply can have very different results, depending on if you are using an oil-based or water-based stain.

Water-based wood stain products are great if you are looking to apply them to a smaller surface, or if you do not have a long time to allow it to stain fully.

They also tend to be better for the environment and safer to handle sooner, thanks to them containing less toxic chemicals.

Oil-based stains meanwhile will not need to be reapplied as often as water-based ones and have a much longer lifespan as they penetrate and color the wood deeper.

They do contain more harsh chemicals and take a long time to fully dry.

If You Are Using Reclaimed Wood

If you are using recycled wood in your staining, make sure that you check for stain that is already in it, as the wood that you are recycling may already have some leftover stained pieces. 

Simply sanding the item down should be enough to remove it.

How to Pull Off A Natural Looking White Wood Stain (1)

Tools And Gear You’ll Need For Wood Staining

If you’re looking to get a great finish on a white wood stain, then you’re going to need a few tools to help you out with this task. 

Grab a pen, because this list is pretty long:

  • A natural bristle paintbrush.
  • Safety glasses
  • Respirator Mask
  • Drop Cloth
  • Chemical Resistant Gloves
  • A plastic scraper
  • Steel Wool
  • Electric Hand Sander
  • A piece of sandpaper that is at least medium grit.
  • Rags

You may have noticed several health and safety precautions in this list, which may make some people what the issue with applying wood stain might be.

Well, this is because there are some hazardous effects that wood stain can have when not applied correctly.

The wood stain can be very irritating and potentially cause blurred vision if it gets into your eyes for extended periods, so having some form of eye protection is essential.

As with contact with the eyes, inhaling the smell and fumes of wood stain whilst it is being applied can cause irritation thanks to its hard smell, and prolonged exposure can cause issues with breathing later in life.

  Because of this, it is best to avoid any chance of contact or exposure should be avoided, and a respirator mask is the best way to do that.

The same can be said if your skin comes into contact with wood stain, as the stain has carcinogenic properties that can have long-term effects on your skin cells, hence the need to wear heavy-duty gloves.

However, so long as the necessary equipment is worn, and the appropriate action is taken before, during, and after applying it, the harmful effects of wood stain start to fade after a few weeks.

How To Apply Your Stain

Once you have put on your goggles, gloves, and mask, you are ready to start!

  • Lay your tarp down underneath the wood you are staining.
  • Make sure that you sand your wood slightly before you start to apply the wood stain. Make sure to clean the wood of any dust and sanding debris that is on it, otherwise, they may stop your wood stain from getting an even spread.
  • If you are working with a softer type of wood, such as pine, this is the point when you would apply your wood conditioner product.
  • Once this has been done, you can start to apply large amounts of the stain to your wood with a paintbrush. Make sure that you paint every single inch of the piece would, and try to paint in line with the grain of the piece.
  • The next step is to let your stain sit and be absorbed into the wood. There is generally no hard time that you should wait that applies to every type of wood stain, but the longer you leave it to sit, the more will be absorbed by the wood.
  • Once you have waited long enough, make sure that you wipe off any excess stain that is on your wood. Leaving excess to dry in a wood stain can leave your wood looking uneven, as well as lead to other issues.
  • Repeat the previous steps if you think that enough stain hasn’t been absorbed by the wood.
  • Once you are satisfied with the stain that your wood has, you can now add a layer of polyurethane to your piece, to give it a protective coating.

How Does Wood Staining Compare To White Paint?

When it comes to having the right finish on your wood, many people can often mistake a white wood stain finish for simple white paint being applied to your item, but there are so major differences between the two products.

Whitewash paint, the type that is used most often with wooden furniture items, whilst being made from very similar components to white wood stain, has to be mixed beforehand before you can start applying it to get the right result, and tends to only sit on the surface of your would once it has dried.

Whitewood stain, meanwhile, can usually be applied straight to your wood piece without any extra preparation needed to finish it, and will usually penetrate much deeper into your piece of wood than whitewash paint will, thanks in part to the solvents in it.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it! With a little patience and the right tools and safety, you’ll be staining wood in no time at all!

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