Douglas Fir Stain Color

Douglas Fir Stain Color

Because of their irregular texture, staining Douglas fir and other softwoods can be difficult. Is it possible to dye Douglas fir without it seeming blotchy?

Despite its drawbacks, stained Douglas fir can have a rich color and striking grain that makes it excellent for a variety of projects. To obtain the required finish, however, the wood requires meticulous preparation and patience during application.

Douglas Fir Stain Color

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Douglas Fir staining

Clean the wood by sanding it and wiping it down. Apply a wood conditioner to the wood. Then, using gel dye, stain Douglas Fir. For optimal protection, use a sealant of your choosing.

What Is the Best Way to Stain Douglas Fir Wood?

The quality of your stain work on softwoods like fir is largely determined by the preparation and stain type.

Skimping on either of these two crucial components will almost always result in an eyesore in your final product. On this species of wood, blotches or air bubbles from various stains are common. However, to get a flawless, even finish, follow the instructions below.

What you’ll require

  • Sandpaper, 100 grit and 150 grit
  • Block for sanding
  • Washcloth made of cotton
  • Conditioner for wood
  • Sponge

Steps to take

The process for staining the wood correctly is outlined below.

  • The first step is to sand the wood.

The surface preparation of Douglas wood does not necessitate thorough sanding. Rather than sanding using coarse-grain sandpaper to remove surface irregularities before finishing with fine-grit sandpaper as is customary, this technique will be different.

Switch to a medium-grit sandpaper instead of fine-grit sandpaper after erasing surface irregularities with coarse-grain sandpaper.

Sanding with fine grains seals the pores in the wood, making it much more difficult for the stain to adhere.

To remove surface irregularities, sand the boards with low-grit sandpaper.

With 100-grit sandpaper, remove any irregularities on the wood surface. We recommend sanding on a sanding block with your sandpaper. A sanding block allows you to apply more constant pressure over the surface.

To avoid leaving unattractive scars on the wood, sand following the grain. Any scratches left on the surface by the sandpaper will be hidden in the wood pattern if you sand in the direction of the wood grain.

To smooth the wood surface, use a higher grit sandpaper.

It’s time to fine-tune your softwood surface with medium-grit sandpaper once you’ve removed the microscopic ridges, curves, and holes that generally form on a softwood surface.

Sanding should be gentle and constant, and your sandpaper should be secured on a sanding block. Sand in the same direction as the grain until the entire piece is covered.

The goal of sanding is to assist the color penetrate the wood pores. This is why you should avoid using high-grit sandpaper, since it may clog the pores.

If you’re working with raw fir boards, don’t forget to sand the cut ends as well.

Use a dry natural-bristled brush to remove the extra sanding dust from your wood once you’ve finished sanding.

Read: Can you harden soft wood?

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  • Step 2: To raise the grain, wipe the sanded wood with a soft, damp sponge.

Before you use the sponge on the sanded wood, make sure you wring it out completely to remove any excess water. Because sanding tends to compress wood grain, it’s critical to spread a small amount of moisture evenly across the entire surface to cause the surface fibers to swell.

The swelling aids in the natural opening of the pores. You want to dampen the wood without flooding the pores. That is why, before using the sponge on the wood, you must drain off the extra water.

Use sweeping, forceful strokes in a single direction while rubbing. You want to use the sponge to remove any remaining wood dust and debris from the entire piece while elevating the wood grain.

Any dust left on the surface of the wood could leave ugly traces on your finish.

  • Step 3: Apply a wood conditioner to the wood.

Preparing bare wood for staining using a wood conditioner like Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner is a good idea. Using a natural bristle brush, apply two layers of conditioner, evenly covering the entire surface.

To prepare the exposed wood surface for staining, make sure the conditioner covers every inch of it. If you’re working with bare wood, this includes the edges.

Because softwoods absorb the first layer as soon as you rub it on, two coats are recommended. The second layer adheres to the surface and provides the necessary coverage.

The pre-sealed Douglas fir can then get an even application of wood stain without streaking or blotchy results.

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  • Step 4: Wipe away any remaining conditioner and allow the wood to dry.

Wipe the area with a clean cloth to remove any excess product before allowing it to dry. Keep an eye out for any visible damp areas while wiping and concentrate on them.

You don’t want to leave too much sealer on your wood since it will clog a lot of the pores, making it impossible for the stain to penetrate. Excess pre-sealant can also take a long time to dry.

Wait two to three hours for the pre-sealed wood to dry after finishing. Drying should take place in a cool, dry location away from direct sunshine and high humidity.

  • Step 5: Paint a thin coat of gel dye on the surface.

Because gel stains have a thick consistency, a thick covering will cause drying issues. As an alternative, keep your layers thin by applying stain and wiping away the excess with a lint-free cloth until you’re satisfied with the coverage.

Apply the stain with a foam brush, then wipe it away with a lint-free cloth. Alternatively, you can rub the gel stain into the wood using a staining rag. This way, you’ll be able to finish the application in one sitting. The stain will be applied to the cloth, and any excess will be removed as you proceed.

It’s critical to massage the stain in the direction of the grain rather than against it. You don’t want visible streaks in all directions in your project.

Read: Is lacquer or polyurethane harder?

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  • Step 6: Let the stain dry completely.

In two hours, the gel stain should be dry enough to receive additional coats. The drying period, however, is dependent on the weather and the thickness of the first coat.

Before applying the next layer, we recommend feeling the surface to check it is no longer tacky. In any event, make sure it’s completely dry before re-coating.

  • Step 7: Apply a second coat of paint.

After the initial coat of stain has dried, you can recoat in the same manner as before. After applying the pre-stain conditioner, two applications of gel stain should be sufficient for coverage.

This will darken the wood without hiding the grain, giving your fir a more polished appearance.

  • Step 8: Use a sealer to protect your work.

If you apply a protective top coat to the stain work, it will last longer, just like any other wood stain. In this scenario, any hard-drying clear finish will suffice. Shellac, varnish, lacquer, or polyurethane sealants, for example, are formulated for this type of application and will perform admirably.

It’s worth noting that the gel stain will need to dry for 24 to 48 hours before a top coat can be applied. You should never clear coat an oil stain until it is totally dried, so make sure you test it first.

Dab the wood with the corner of a paper towel to see if any color comes off to see if it’s adequately dry. If no traces of the stain remain on the paper towel, it’s time to apply the topcoat.

When you’re sure the stain is gone, lightly wipe off the entire surface with a microfiber cloth and let it dry for a few minutes. Wiping the surface will help remove any dust or dirt that has accumulated.

Apply one to two applications of your chosen clear finish after washing the piece and allowing it to dry. The manner of application will be determined by the type of clear coat you select. You can apply it with a brush, a roller, or a spray gun.

Regardless of the method you use, make sure to give enough drying time between coats according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When the clear coat is dry, it seals in the color and protects the surface from scratches, ensuring that it is as long-lasting as possible.

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What is the Best Douglas Fir Stain?

Gel stain is the best stain for Douglas fir. The stain has a thick viscosity that makes it take longer for it to absorb into the pores of the wood. As a result, you’ll have more time to massage and spread it on the substrate before it sets and dries.

The stain also leaves a coating on the wood’s surface, with only a small amount of it penetrating the pores.

Gel stain can also be used on laminate wood and furniture.

Examples of Douglas Fir Stain based on Use Cases

Gel stains aren’t all made equal. According to our research, some items are better suited to specific use cases than others. This section gives our recommendations for the best gel stains to use on fir floors, decks, and other outdoor applications, based on our research.

  1. Thompson’s Waterseal Waterproofing Stain is the best stain for Douglas fir floors.

Thompson’s TH.042841-16 Waterseal Waterproffing Stain – Semi Transparent, Acorn Brown, 1 Gallon Thompson’s TH.042841-16 Waterseal Waterproffing Stain – Semi Transparent, Acorn Brown, 1 Gallon

Acorn Brown in color


All-in-one wood sealer and stain

Water damage is avoided.

Decks and fences, outdoor furniture, and external wood are all good candidates.

The majority of the time, floors are high-traffic zones. When choosing a stain for your flooring, look for one that dries to provide a thick, protective coat that resists chipping and peeling.

Thompson’s Waterseal Waterproofing Stain seemed to fit the bill nicely. The stain is made up of innovative polymer combinations that have been specifically created to keep the color vibrant and prevent it from fading.

Its sophisticated adhesive composition makes it highly resistant to chipping and peeling, ensuring that your stained fir floor is well protected.

We were impressed with how simple it was to apply this product on the floor. It does not require thinning and can be applied straight to the substrate without the use of a primer. It also works on damp floors, so you don’t have to wait until the floor is totally dry before applying it, allowing you to complete the project in one day.

Read: Wood Varnish

  1. Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood is the best stain for Douglas fir decks.

Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood, Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail

There is no need for a primer. When you initially apply Ready Seal, it’s the darkest. It takes around 14 days for it to reach its true color. Do not use Ready Seal on freshly painted or stained surfaces. Surfaces that are sealed prevent penetration.

Sprayer, roller, or brush can be used to apply it to the wood’s surface.

It doesn’t require back brushing and won’t leave any runs, laps, or streaks.

There is no need for a wet-line application because the product blends itself and may be applied in any temperature range.

Spray applications do not require any diluting or thinning.

Decks get a lot of foot traffic and are frequently exposed to direct sunlight. Choose a stain that is resistant to UV radiation when staining Douglas fir for outdoor use. To survive significant foot traffic, it must also be highly resistant to chipping and peeling.

In our tests, the Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood met both of these criteria.

It doesn’t require a primer, which cuts down on application time. More significantly, the product is completely waterproof, protecting your deck from water and moisture damage.

  1. Minwax 66010000 Gel Stain is the best exterior stain for Douglas fir.

Chestnut Minwax 66010000 Gel Stain, quart

This item offers a lot of value.

Use on a variety of materials, including wood, plywood, fiberglass, metal, and others.

Formula that doesn’t drip

For beauty that isn’t limited to wood

Use on a variety of materials, including wood, plywood, fiberglass, metal, and others.

Minwax is a well-known brand, and their gel stain for Douglas fir outdoor furniture and other external uses is one of the best.

The gel stain from Minwax is extremely resistant to the sun’s harmful UV radiation. This characteristic makes it suitable for staining outdoor furniture and other wooden goods. The UV resistance helps to keep the color of the Douglas fir wood and prevent it from fading.

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What are the Benefits of Using a Gel Stain?

The uneven penetration of wood stains causes them to develop splotches on softwoods like fir. Because softwoods have big, irregular pores on their surfaces, staining them can leave darker and brighter areas.

  • Gel stain leaves a layer on the substrate’s surface.

When you use gel stain, instead of depending just on absorption to color the wood, it dries to form a film on the surface. Gel stains’ film-forming ability aids in overcoming the issues connected with unequal stain absorption.

  • Gel stains provide you more control over the staining process.

You have better control over the staining process because of the jelly-like consistency. Standard wood stains tend to dry in some areas before you wipe away the excess, resulting in splotches on the wood surface.

Gel stains, on the other hand, take a long time to dry, giving you plenty of time to apply the product and wipe away any excess.

  • Gel stains don’t always necessitate removing the wood.

To apply a gel stain on fir wood, you don’t have to strip it down. If you have old, finished Douglas wood, simply clean it to eliminate dirt and grime before refinishing it with gel stain instead of stripping it down to bare wood.

Although the wood will receive stain without being stripped, if the finished wood has a high sheen, you may need to use a de-glosser before staining it.

In any event, utilizing gel stain speeds up the procedure and allows you to finish it sooner.

Douglas Fir Stain Color;

The greatest Douglas fir stain colors are usually a matter of personal taste. However, we’ve seen that the original hue of the wood can have a big impact on your choices.

Doug fir, for example, is generally orange-red to reddish-brown in color before staining. We’ve discovered that staining it with a warmer tint, such as Minwax Fruitwood stain, can push the reddish-orange tones to their boundaries.

So, while a crimson stain might add a lot to the aesthetic, it can also turn extreme red if it’s too hot.

If you don’t mind a bright color, Minwax Gel Stain in Antique Maple or Colonial Maple can be for you. The stain provides Douglas fir a nice warm tone that isn’t too harsh on the eyes.

You may choose any number of matching Douglas fir wood stain colors and blend them to achieve the hue you want if you want to tone it down a touch. To produce an earthy tone, for example, you may use mixed white and aged maple.

While we like the darker colour, you might prefer the brighter Fruitwood stain tone. So you might as well try both and see which one appeals to you more.

While you’re at it, try your stain on a scrap piece of wood before proceeding with your project.

Finishing Techniques for Douglas Fir

There are a variety of ways to polish Douglas wood, so don’t limit yourself to just one. Continue reading to find out what other alternatives you have for finishing your Doug fir.

  • Finishes in Douglas fir

Douglas wood is a popular choice for decks and patio furniture, among other outdoor wood projects. Any wood that will be exposed to the elements outside needs to be protected in some way.

While staining the wood is a common method of protection, you can also apply a few coats of sealer or paint Douglas wood decks, floors, or furniture.

  • Painting

You can paint the wood using an outdoor quality substance if you don’t care about preserving the grain.

Some paints aren’t meant to be used outside. If you decide to paint the wood, make sure you select an exterior-grade paint that will protect it from water, UV rays, and other elements.

  • Sealing

If you choose to color the wood, the grain will be preserved. Outside, however, most wood stains are susceptible to harsh weather conditions. Even if you use gel stain, you should clear coat the job with an outdoor grade chemical to make it more durable.

Although your chosen stain may be weather-resistant, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Applying a sealer to your dyed Douglas wood isn’t excess; it’s a requirement.

A combination of staining and sealing your Douglas fir for outdoor usage can preserve it from the elements, make it more durable, and save you money in the long term.

What is the best Douglas fir finish?

A combination of gel stain and a clear polyurethane coat is the ideal finish for Douglas fir. Although Douglas does not take stain well, the gel stain enhances the color of the wood, and the polyurethane finish protects the stain color and the wood for optimal durability.

FAQs on Douglas Fir Stain Color

Is it possible to apply gel stain on Douglas fir?

Yes. Gel stain can be used on Douglas fir because of its thickness, which inhibits the stain’s absorption into the wood. Because of the stain’s jelly-like consistency, much of it will remain on the wood surface rather than infiltrating the pores like a traditional penetrating stain would.

Is Minwax stain suitable for Douglas fir?

Yes, you can dye Douglas fir with Minwax. For any wood type, Minwax is one of the top wood stain brands. For the maximum protection and color depth, use Early American stain on Douglas fir.

Is provincial stain suitable for Douglas fir?

On hardwoods like oak, provincial stain works well. If you prepare the wood properly, you can use the penetrating stain on Douglas fir. Before staining the wood, make sure it is properly primed. After that, seal the Douglas fir stained with provincial stain to make it last.

Is it possible to darken Douglas fir?

Yes, you can use a dark walnut stain or any dark-colored gel stain to dye Douglas fir dark. If you’re not happy with the color intensity after the first coat dries, apply a second thin application of the same color to darken it.

Is it possible to dye Douglas fir grey?

It is entirely possible to stain Douglas fir grey. Sand the wood with 100-grit sandpaper attached to a sanding block, then 150-grit sandpaper attached to a sanding block. After sanding, wipe away the dust, apply a primer, then a grey-colored stain, and allow to dry.


If you want to stain your Douglas wood, stain penetration will have a big impact on what you can do. We hope that this guide will assist you in avoiding a blotchy project and achieving the desired result. Please share your views and opinions about stained douglas fir in the comments area below.

What Should I Do Next?

If you’re planning on staining your oak furniture soon, have a look at our best oak staining procedures and the best stain to apply.

Shirley B. Leavitt

Shirley graduated with a Carpentry Technology Certificate Program at Northwestern Michigan College. Her study focuses on art criticism in its various forms, the history of Canadian and American art after 1940, and the psychology of creative thought. Sixty of her pieces have been published in periodicals such as Art International, Arts, Vie des arts, Studio International, The Canadian Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Art. The Caro Connection: Sculpture by Sir Anthony Caro from Toronto Collections, The Heritage of Jack Bush, A Tribute (Robert McLaughlin Gallery), and Caricature and Conscience: The Sculpture of Dora Wechsler (with Carolyn Robinson) are among the exhibitions she has produced. Shirley has served as a guest critic and speaker at various universities in Canada and the United States, including the Emma Lake Artists' Workshop and the University of Toronto. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations honored her with their award for teaching excellence.

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