How to Finish Pine Wood Furniture

Pine is relatively easy to stain.
Pine is relatively easy to stain. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Finishing pine furniture is a task well-suited to do-it-yourselfers. Unlike hardwoods, which accept stain poorly, pine is a soft wood. This trait allows it to absorb a variety of shades of stain, leading to even, attractive finishes that tend to last a reasonable amount of time. Improper procedure will lead to problems, such as uneven, patchy results and heavy runs and drips. Learn the proper ways to prepare and finish your pine furniture, or complications may arise.

Things You'll Need

  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloths
  • Plastic dropcloths
  • Old towels or sheets
  • Oil-based stain
  • 2- to 3-inch china brush
  • Rags
  • Varnish

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Prep Work

Sand the pine furniture until the finish feels smooth. Though not absolutely necessary, this will encourage absorption. Sand with the pine wood grain to prevent splintering.

Wipe the pine furniture with tack cloths. Do not use rags. Tack cloths are sticky; this allows them to efficiently collect sawdust that would prevent absorption.

Spread plastic dropcloths on an outdoor surface. Position old towels or sheets over the top of the plastic to prevent stain from pooling. Take the pine furniture outdoors and set it on top of the old sheets or towels.


Stain the furniture, using a china brush. Brush a thin coat of stain onto the pine. Wipe the stain from the pine, using rags. Work quickly to prevent excessive dripping. Let the pine dry for two hours. Repeat the application process to generate darker results.

Wash the brush with mineral spirits.

Apply varnish to the pine furniture no less than three hours after you apply the final coat of stain. Use the clean china brush to apply a thin coat. Over-application will cause the finish to sag. Brush with the pine wood grain for best results.

Tips & Warnings

  • Improper sanding will cause pine to splinter, so concentrate when sanding, or you could permanently damage your furniture.
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