Applying a stain to wood is an inexpensive and easy way to make it look a whole lot better than it already does, especially if the wood isn’t of the highest quality.</br></br>Take pine, for example. Pine is a great soft wood. It’s easy to work with and very affordable, as far as woods go, but unfinished pine isn’t always a favorite look. So, what do you do? You stain it!</br></br><strong>Stain Gear</strong></br></br>In addition to picking out your stain (see below), you’ll also need some supplies. Chief among them are 1) a couple new paintbrushes of varying size, 2) gloves, 3) clean cotton cloths, 4) paint thinner, 5) mineral spirits and 6) sandpaper of a medium and extra-fine grit.</br></br>You’ll also want to protect your workspace if you’re staining indoors. Old newspapers can do the trick; you just want to make sure that whatever you use is thick enough to protect your floor from the stain.</br></br><strong>Stain Selection</strong></br></br>As you may expect, there are about 40 million different kinds of stain and you will have no idea how to narrow the selection. Here’s a quick rundown of the main differences:</br></br><em>Oil or Latex:</em> Oil stains are oil-based and more durable, while water-based stains are less durable but easier to clean up. TIP: Consider latex for indoor use and oil for outdoor use.</br></br><em>Opacity:</em> Stains come in a range of opacities so that you may highlight or conceal the grains and textures of the wood you’re staining. TIP: Choose more transparent stains if you like the grain look and more opaque stains if you don’t.</br></br><em>Color:</em> There are dozens of color stains and many of them don’t vary much from hue to hue. TIP: Choose a color range rather than get too specific, and don’t be afraid to mix stains with similar qualities to get the exact color you want.</br></br><strong>Wood Prep</strong></br></br>You always want to sand wood before you stain it, even if it’s unfinished, because it helps the wood absorb the stain.</br></br>Start with the rough stuff (100-grit, give or take) and sand with the grain until it starts to feel smooth. Once you’ve worked it for a while, transition to a finer sandpaper and sand again to fully prep your surface.</br></br>Remove dust with a cloth as you sand. Once you’ve finished sanding, clean the wood with mineral spirits to further help highlight the wood grains and textures.</br></br>(You may also want to use a wood conditioner if you’re working with a softer wood, but it’s not a necessary step.)</br></br><strong>Stain Your Wood</strong></br></br>Apply the stain with your brush or cloth. Keep in mind that you can wipe away excess stain to help control the intensity of the stain. Leaving it on will make it darker, while wiping as you apply will keep it lighter.</br></br>Stain the entire project and let it sit overnight. Once it has dried, you can then decide whether you need to apply more to get the color you want.</br></br>Finally, you’ll want to apply a finish (varnish, lacquer, etc.) to protect your stain. Good luck!