Does Oak Stain Well? (According To Experts!)

does oak stain well

Oakwood is a popular wood in making cabinetry and flooring because of its great strength, durability, and beautiful appearance. There are various reasons we tend to change the light beige through the red and brown color of our oak wood furniture or woodworking.

When I was working with oak wood to get the darker color I wished, I was always wondered, Does Oak Stain Well?

I decided to check it and here’s what I learned as a woodworker:

Oak stains pretty well. Oak takes any color of stain well because of having large open pores structure and they absorb a lot of stains. Oak is beautiful with any color of stain and does not turn to a blotchy surface compared to other wood types. Stain can apply evenly through oak wood without any issue.

Ultimately oak wood is capable of taking any stain perfectly because of its structure and any stain can easily penetrate through its deep pores.

Staining oak wood is fun and can gain the dramatic grain you wish with any color of the stain.

So, in this article, I’ll deeply discuss how does oak stain well and how hard to stain oak well, red oak and white oak stain, and best stain colors that go well with oak wood, how to make the oak stain darker, and many more about oak wood staining.

Just keep reading!

Is Oak Hard to Stain?

Oak is known as one of the easiest wood to stain. The stain will easily penetrate through oak wood’s large pores structure and takes stain well without making any staining mistakes.

Woods with tight grain are hard to stain.

If we cut and observe their grain structure the vessels are small, and they absorb a very little amount of stain and staining is also hard.

The best example is maple wood, which is considered one of the hardest woods to stain.

But oak wood has a smooth grain with large rows of vessels that are visible to the naked eye. Those vessels in oak wood absorb a lot of stains and display very dramatic grain lines when it is stained completely.

Therefore, oak wood is easy to stain and not like many other wood types.

Best Stain for Oak Wood

When you are picking stain for oak wood, you need to have a clear idea about the undertones. Otherwise, after the staining is done the wood will look old and not nice in appearance.

For example, white oak has a neutral undertone and red oak has a reddish rich undertone. So, you need to match what stain looks better on your oak wood.

Here are some of the best strains that go perfectly with oak wood.

  • Minwax Pickled Oak
  • Minwax Golden Pecan
  • Minwax Simply White
  • Minwax Golden Oak
  • Minwax Dark Walnut
  • Minwax Jacobean

So, let’s discuss each of the stains one by one and see how they look on red and white oak separately.

Minwax Pickled Oak on Oak Wood

Minwax pickled oil stain gives a very small amount of shade to the oak wood. The color is almost neutral.

If you’re looking to stain oak wood while almost keeping its natural grain and color, Minwax pickled oak is a good choice.

Hereby I have listed specifications of Minwax pickled oak stain on oak wood.

ColorBeige Cream
Drying Time2 Hours
TypeOil-based stain
ApplicationsCabinets, doors, wood furniture

Minwax Golden Pecan on Oak Wood

Minwax golden pecan stain is a great choice if you’re wishing to get a mid tint with a red undertone color. With Minwax golden pecan both white and red oak will get a bright and fresh look.

This stain can give rich beautiful classic color to oak wood while keeping natural beauty.

Drying Time2 Hours
TypeOil-based stain
ApplicationsCabinets, doors, wood furniture

Minwax Simply White on Oak Wood

Minwax simply white stain is best for those who love soft colors. It has the ability to soften both red and white oak without masking their beautiful grain.

Oakwood undertones are visible even after application of Minwax simply white stain, but they’re not highlighted as before staining.

Red and white oak get cerused elegant white color look after taking Minwax simply white stain.

Here’s how Minwax simply white stain goes with the oak wood surface.

ColorSoften white
Drying Time2 Hours
TypeOil-based stain
ApplicationsCabinets, doors, wood furniture

Minwax Golden Oak on Oak Wood

Minwax Golden Oak gives mid-range stain color to both red and white oak wood.

Most importantly the undertone color of Minwax golden oak is so neutral and oak wood grains are clearly visible even after the application of stain. Grain gets dark brown color instead of redness.

After applying Minwax golden oak on white oak and red oak you can’t really see a difference between them, because both get almost similar in color.

ColorRich color
Drying Time2 Hours
TypeOil-based stain
ApplicationsGreat for any project

Minwax Dark Walnut on Oak Wood

If you want to make the oak wood stain darker, Minwax Dark Walnut stain is the best stain for you.

With this stain product, you can make oak wood looks like walnut wood in color while keeping the grain as it is.

Minwax dark walnut stain does not mask out the grain and penetrates easily through the pores structure of red and white oak wood.

ColorDark rich brown color with golden highlights
Drying Time2 Hours
TypeOil-based stain
ApplicationsGreat for any project

Minwax Jacobean on Oak Wood

Like Minwax dark walnut stain, you can get the dark rich color you want with Minwax Jacobean wood stain as well.

With a single coat of Minwax Jacobean stain, you can get the rich color you want with ease.

It penetrates deeply through oak wood and provides a beautiful color and enhances the natural wood grain with only a single coat.

ColorLight Brown
Drying Time2 Hours
TypeOil-based stain
ApplicationsWoodworks, doors, furniture, cabinets

So, that’s all about the best stain products that work perfectly on oak wood.

It doesn’t even matter if you’re working with white or red oak because those products give even uniform tone all over the surface without destroying the beautiful red color wood grain.

So, let’s talk about oak wood staining and how to do that.

Does Oak Need To be Conditioned Before Staining?

Conditioning oak wood before staining is not a must, but conditioning will help to apply the stain uniformly throughout the oak wood surface.

By applying a pre-stain wood conditioner before staining, it will support the wood to take stain evenly without getting blotches and streaks while applying stain.

As an experienced woodworker, my advice is when you’re working with red or white oak wood, never skip conditioning before staining the wood.

Even though oak wood does not get blotches and streaks easily, there are some occasions wood stains unable to penetrate evenly throughout the surface.

So, it’s always better to apply conditioner before staining.

Normally conditioner will complete the penetration through oak wood within 15 minutes and make sure to wipe excess conditioners.

I highly recommend using pre-stain wood conditioner and stain products from the same manufacturer to avoid any incompatibilities.

In my experience, the Minwax Pre stain wood conditioner is a great product to apply before staining the oak wood.

How To Stain Oak?

Before staining oak, I highly recommend applying conditioner to avoid blotches and apply the stain evenly throughout the oak wood surface.

Staining oak wood is so much easy compared to other wood types because of its pores structure.

Both red oak and white oak does stain well. Here are the required tools you need to have to stain oak wood.

  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Rags
  • Gloves
  • Paintbrush

Here are the steps you need to follow when staining oak wood.

  1. Clean and sand the wood.
  2. Apply the stain.
  3. Let the wood dry completely.
  4. Apply another coat of stain.
  5. Let the wood dry completely after the second coat.

So, let’s discuss each of the above steps to get an idea about how to stain oak. This is how you should stain both white oak and red oak.

1. Clean and Sand the Oak Wood

Cleaning and sanding oak wood is important to remove sawdust. Cleaning and sanding the oak wood will help the wood to absorb the stain evenly.

First sand the oak wood surface with 120 grit sandpaper along the same direction as the grain without scratching the surface.

Make sure not to go with higher grades of sandpapers, because they’ll destroy the wood grain and that not only ruins the appearance of the oak wood but also make the wood resistant to take the stain evenly.

Once you finish the sanding all over the wood, wipe the sawdust and clean the oak wood surface using a damp cloth.

After finishing sanding and cleaning the oak wood, I highly recommend keeping the wood for 24 hours until it is completely dried before moving on to the staining step.

2. Apply the Stain

After selecting a good stain that goes perfectly with your oak wood, take the paintbrush and dip it in the stain can.

Then apply the first coat of stain all over the oak wood surface along its wood grain to take the stain evenly.

While you’re applying stain, make sure to focus on how much pressure you should apply on the paintbrush.

Because the pressure is high the resulting color is deeper. So, always make sure to keep the pressure steady to get them evenly uniformed color all over the wood.

3. Let the Wood Dry Completely

After you are done applying stain completely all over the wood, let the coat dry completely.

The average drying time of oak wood is nearly 24 hours.

Never go for applying a second coat until the wood is completely dry. A wet surface will ruin the wood and eventually destroy the wood.

So, drying is extremely important when staining oak wood.

4. Apply the Second Coat and Let the Wood Dry

Once you feel the wood is dry enough, clean the surface and remove the excess stain with a rag and apply the second coat on top of that.

While applying the second coat you need to focus on pressure to get the uniform color all over the oak wood and make sure to apply along the wood grain.

The stain will penetrate inside the wood within 15 minutes. Once you’re done with staining, leave the wood for another 24 hours to dry completely.

After applying 2-3 coats, check the wood color. If you’re stratified with the result wipe off the excess stain and finish the task.

But if you’re looking to get a more deep color tone with a rich look, probably you should go with more coats of stain.

Applying coats until it hits the right color is not a problem, because oak wood stains well than many other wood types.

How To Make Oak Stain Darker?

To get the oak stain darker you can select a dark color stain, or you should apply the stain following the same procedure as I discussed, but with extra pressure.

If you apply a higher amount of pressure to the paintbrush while staining, you’ll end up with dark deep stain color. But always make sure to keep the pressure steady thought out the surface.

Apart from the above two methods, you can make the oak stain darker by applying extra coats until it hits the correct dark color you want.

But I highly recommend going with a dark color stain product if you’re looking to make the oak stain darker, because it won’t destroy the beautiful wood grain and is easy to apply evenly all over the wood.

How To Stain Oak Light?

You can stain oak light by applying light color stain products. Here is the formula you should go with to get light color on oak wood.

50% Jacobean, 25% weathered oak, and 25% of grey. this mixture will end up with nice light brown color with a slight grey tone.

If staining oak wood light is a difficult task, you can simply go with white oak and apply a neutral color stain along its grain. This will easily give the best light oak tone you wished.

So, let’s head into some frequently asked questions about does oak stain well.

Does Oak Plywood Stain Well?

Oak plywood stain well. But gaining stain completely even throughout the plywood is somewhat difficult than solid oak wood.

You might end up with a blotchy surface when applying a stain to the oak plywood because of a tiny mistake.

You can prevent the uneven application of stain in oak plywood by following the below steps.

  1. Sand the oak plywood with 60 grit sandpaper.
  2. Clean the surface to remove sawdust.
  3. Dip rag cloth into a filled basin with water.
  4. Pass the soaked cloth all over the oak plywood until the wood looks damp. (Not wet). Here damping will help to open the wood grain by little and it helps to penetrate stain evenly throughout the surface.
  5. Apply stain evenly throughout the wood.
  6. Let the wood dry completely.
  7. Apply the final coat and finish the task after the wood is dried completely.

This is the best method to apply stain oak plywood without ending up with a blotchy surface.

Does Oak Stain Better Than Pine?

Oak does stain better than pine. Oak has a large pores structure that can absorb stain perfectly and evenly all over the surface. But when it comes to pine wood, the wood grains are smaller than oak wood.

Therefore, the stain does not penetrate as easily as oak wood in pinewood, and staining is difficult with pine wood and oak stain better than pine on any day.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Does Oak Stain Well?

So, in this article, we have widely discussed how does oak stain well and how to stain oak perfectly.

Both white oak and red oak stain well and evenly and make sure to apply the stain along its grain for the best results.

Furthermore, we have talked about the best stain products for oak wood with their specifications and what colors do they give.

With that, you can get a clear idea about what product and what color should I go next to stain oak wood cabinets or furniture.

Finally, we have answered some frequently asked questions about oak wood staining such as, does oak plywood stain well and how to make oak plywood to take stain evenly with step by step process and discussed why oak wood is always better in staining than any other wood.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about does oak stain well and how to stain your beautiful oak furniture, cabinet, or woodwork with ease.

So, grab a piece of oak wood, grab the tools, and test the oak wood staining. Have fun!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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