How to Make Oak Wood Red


Oak is among the most popular hardwoods in modern homes. Not only is it durable and relatively easy to maintain, but its neutral hue offers versatility for a range of individual tastes by lending itself well to painting and staining. Making oak wood red by applying a wood stain is not a complicated task. Expect to devote from one to three days to this task, depending upon the scope of your project, as well as allowing for sanding and drying. Care should be taken to ensure that your workspace is well-ventilated from the chemical fumes of the materials (wood stain, wood conditioners and sealants) that you will be using.

Things You'll Need

  • Face mask
  • Eye protection
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper (220 grit and 120 grit)
  • Vacuum
  • 2-3 paintbrushes
  • 2 applicator sponges
  • Wood conditioner or wood primer
  • Red wood stain of your choice
  • Wood sealant
  • Remove any attachment hardware--such as hinges or door pulls on kitchen cabinets or doors--with a screwdriver. Set the hardware aside until you complete your project. Place the wood items on a flat surface.

  • Rub the surface of the wood using 220-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper should be moved along the grain of the wood (usually vertically). Your goal is to eliminate any residues, lacquers, varnishes or paint in order to reveal the bare wood beneath. Follow this with 120-grit sandpaper to vertically smooth the surface.

  • Vacuum the residual dust from the sanding. Once the surface is completely clean and free of debris, apply a smooth layer of wood conditioner with a paintbrush. Permit the conditioner to dry.

  • Choose a clean brush or sponge for applying the stain. Dip the paintbrush or sponge into the stain, carefully removing any excess liquid that clings to it. Apply the stain in a circular motion thinly across the surface of the wood. Continue until the stain is the desired shade. Finish by stroking the brush or sponge vertically over the wood's surface for an even appearance. Allow the stain to dry, undisturbed, overnight.

  • Protect the new stain by adding a coat of wood sealant or finish. The sealant that you choose should be similar to the type of stain you selected. For instance, a stain with an oil base should be coated with an oil-based sealant. Let the final coat dry, then reapply before allowing it to dry a second time. Replace the hardware to finish your project.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stir your stain well before using it on the wood. Pigments can separate before the container is opened for the first time or during long periods of storage.
  • This project will not succeed unless you are working with real wood, in this case, genuine solid oak or genuine oak veneer. Synthetic wood materials can neither be sanded nor stained successfully.

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  • Photo Credit red wood grain image by Jesse-lee Lang from
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