How to Stain an Oak Door

Written by josh nuttall
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How to Stain an Oak Door
Oak Entry Door (

Oak is one of the most beautiful wood species available, especially when a master craftsman creates a door that could be considered a work of art. Staining and finishing an oak door further beautifies this masterpiece and preserves it for years of enjoyment. Be sure to read all product labels for handling instructions and warnings before beginning your staining project.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 220-grit sanding pad
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Electric palm sander
  • Wood stain (wide variety of colours available)
  • Exterior-grade polyurethane in desired sheen
  • 3-inch foam brushes
  • Cloth rags
  • Oak wood fill
  • Putty knife

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  1. 1

    Fill any holes, dents, gouges, cracks or wood imperfections with oak wood fill. Allow the wood fill to dry completely.

  2. 2

    Give the door a good finish by sanding with 150-grit sandpaper and an electric sander. Use tack cloth to remove the dust.

  3. 3

    Apply the wood stain to the wood with a foam brush according to manufacturer's recommendations. Remove residual stain by wiping it away with a cloth rag. Allow the stain to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Apply the first coat of exterior-grade polyurethane to the stained door with a foam brush according to manufacturer's recommendations. Allow the polyurethane to dry completely. The first coat will feel rough to the touch when dry because the polyurethane will raise the wood grain and will create small air bubbles that pop during the drying process. Sand all surfaces with a 220-grit sanding pad to knock down the raised grain and air bubbles (this is called buffing). Remove the dust with a tack cloth.

  5. 5

    Apply two to three more coats of polyurethane after the first. Buff the polyurethane after each coat. The final coat should be as smooth as glass.

Tips and warnings

  • The choice of sheen (satin, semi-gloss or high gloss) is up to your individual taste. In all cases, the polyurethane layer will preserve the wood no matter what sheen is used.
  • Cloth rags soaked with stain are flammable or combustible. Allow them to dry before throwing them away.

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