How to Stain Wooden Boxes

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Wooden boxes are great for planting your favorite flowers, shrubs or bulbs. Wooden boxes can be beautiful, and with the proper protective stain and sealer they can last for many years. Because they are exposed to moisture and ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight, it is important to apply a good quality wood stain to wooden boxes. Applying stain is a relatively simple process.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood cleaner
  • Wood brightener
  • Nylon scrub brush
  • Paint brush
  • Wood stain

Prepare the Boxes for Staining

  • Clean the boxes with a good wood cleaning product. Use the nylon scrub brush to remove any grime or contamination from the wood's surface.

  • If the wood darkens during the cleaning process, use a wood brightening product containing oxalic acid as the active ingredient. Oxalic acid neutralizes dark, staining tannins that are prevalent in certain types of wood. Redwood and cedar both tend to contain high levels of tannin. Tannin stains are sometimes confused with mildew. You often see them streaking from nail holes on a cedar fence.

  • After the wood is cleaned and brightened, allow it to dry for 24 hours prior to staining.

Apply the Stain

  • Once the wood is clean and dry, you are ready to stain. Lay down a dropcloth or some newspapers to avoid staining the surface you are working on. Also, wear some crummy old clothes you're not too worried about.

  • Use a paint brush to apply the stain. Work in the direction of the wood's grain, and maintain a wet edge.

  • As you work, feed the wood as much stain as it will absorb.

  • After the boxes are stained, wait for about 30 minutes. Then, take a dry paint brush and remove any excess stain that has not completely soaked into the wood's surface. Penetrating stains will not dry hard, but stain that is allowed to remain on the surface of the wood can become sticky and cause problems.

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