How to select stain colors for a log cabin

Written by kay miranda
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How to select stain colors for a log cabin
Choosing the right colour for your cabin depends on the wood (log cabin image by Ray Kasprzak from

Most log cabins are made with unstained wood, leaving the interior and exterior a clear canvas for you to either paint, stain or leave natural. Unlike paint, which sits on the surface, a wood stain absorbs into the wood. With that in mind, before choosing a colour, consider the type of wood you are dealing with and determine how much stain will penetrate into the material. The initial colour of the wood and how porous it is will affect how a stain alters the natural colour. Remember that it is more difficult to undo a stain than it is to find the right stain colour.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Stain swatches
  • Wood sample
  • Sample stains
  • Paintbrush
  • Home magazines

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  1. 1

    Obtain a sample of the wood that matches your home. If you just built your home, this should be as easy as taking scraps or contacting your supplier. If you have just purchased an already made log cabin, you will need to find a sample as close as possible to your home. Contact local home improvement stores and lumber yards for samples.

  2. 2

    Review colour swatches and look at home magazines for colour ideas. This will help you visualise different colour schemes both inside and out.

  3. 3

    Obtain several samples of wood stain from your home improvement store or paint supplier. Start with the colour you want to achieve and obtain two samples darker and lighter. Talk to the retailer about the type of wood you have and how the stain colour will affect your particular wood colour.

  4. 4

    Paint an 8-inch long area on the sample log with each stain sample. Allow it to dry.

  5. 5

    Compare the colours to see what meets your expectations.

Tips and warnings

  • Using different stain colours for trim, window treatments and doors adds contrast to the wood.
  • Stains are colours for the wood, not protective layers. Apply a wood sealer to the wood after you stain it to keep moisture out.

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