How to Stain Rough Cut Lumber

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Things You'll Need

  • Pressure washer

  • Blue painter's tape

  • 80 to 120 grit sandpaper

  • Heavy duty cloth drop cloths

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • 3- to 4-inch paintbrush

  • Stain


Use mineral spirits to clean an oil-based paintbrush. Use water to clean a latex paintbrush.


Never use a latex paintbrush to apply oil-based stain or it will ruin. Likewise, never use an oil-based paintbrush to apply latex stain.

Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

A fresh coat of stain can transform any wooden surface from ordinary into something beautiful. This is true even of rough-cut lumber. However, because rough lumber often contains areas with jagged or splintering areas, the application process can be a bit frustrating for do-it-yourselfers who don't know the proper technique. Fortunately, a little preparation can go a long way toward making the process easier and contribute to an attractive finish that will remain durable over time.


Step 1

Work outdoors if possible. Open windows to provide adequate ventilation if you are working indoors.

Step 2

Wash the rough-cut lumber thoroughly by spraying it with the pressure washer. Use a bucket of water and a coarse brush if you are working indoors. Allow the lumber to dry completely before proceeding.

Step 3

Smooth any rough or splintering portions of the lumber using 80 to 120 grit sandpaper. Sand with the grain, never against it, to avoid damaging the lumber.


Step 4

Place the lumber on heavy-duty drop cloths. Overlap two drop cloths to ensure that no spilled stain bleeds through.

Step 5

Pour the stain into the 5-gallon bucket, about one-third full.

Step 6

Apply the stain to the rough-cut lumber using the 3- to 4-inch paintbrush and working from left to right. Be especially careful to smooth any runs or drips. Use a latex paintbrush if you are applying latex stain. Use an oil-based paintbrush if you are applying oil-based stain.


Step 7

Continue applying stain with the paintbrush until the exposed surface of the lumber is completely covered. Allow the stain to soak in for about 10 minutes.

Step 8

Flip the lumber to the other side and repeat steps six and seven on the fresh, unstained portion of the lumber.

Step 9

Allow the stain to dry for two hours. Apply another coat if you desire a darker appearance.



Ryan Lawrence

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.