Can You Stain Particle Board?

Can You Stain Particle Board?

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Sometimes a project only looks right at the very final stages. Only when the final bit of finish and stain is applied, does your work completely come together.

But if you’ve built something out of particle board, can you stain it? And if you can, how do you do it? This article will explain all about staining particle board, so read on to find out more.

Can You Stain Particle Board?

There are a few things you need to consider before you try to stain particle board. But yes, you can stain particle board.

However, some boards will not take stain well, or take a stain at all. For instance, if your particle board has a melamine veneer, it will not stain. Alongside this, if there is already a layer of finish or protection on the board, this will likely impact the stain as well. Because of this, any preexisting protection must get sanded off.

As well as the above points, most particle board requires preparation before it stains well. In most circumstances, an undercoat sealer is required. Particle board is extremely porous, which means that stain will be absorbed deep into the board, away from the visible surface.

If the rate at which the stain is pulled away from the visible surface differs, it isn’t even. The result is an uneven stain. If the particle board is properly sealed, a barrier between the stain and porous wood particles is created, which stops the stain from getting drawn away from the visible surface.

Pros and Cons of Staining Particle Board: Should You Do It?

You need to consider why you are trying to stain the particle board. If you want to completely change the color, then you might be better off using paint or even buying a veneered board in the color you want.

Staining particle boards and other materials has gotten more popular in recent years, with architects and designers trying to find new aesthetics. Raw particle board was never originally created to be on display in furniture or in a room. So if you want to stain particle board to use it, then you have to consider the environment it will be in and how it will look.

You can get some great effects from staining particle boards, so if the project interests you, you should definitely give it a go. You could try a range of techniques, stains, and uses for the boards, to find the perfect match for what you want.

What Type of Stain Should You Use for Particle Board?

There’s a huge amount of different stains available on the market and it’s important to choose the right ones for your particle board.

If you research online, most articles will tell you to avoid water-based stains and use an oil-based one. The reason for this is that water can cause the wood fibers to swell up, which can distort the board. On the other hand, oil-based stains won’t get absorbed so easily into the wood and swelling is less likely to occur. (For more information, read my article about the differences between oil- and water-based stain.)

However, water-based stains can be used on particle board as well. With a good sealing coat, the water in the stain will not contact the wood fibers and get pulled away. The sealer is a barrier between the wood and the water, preventing them from mixing.

How to Stain Particle Board

In this section, we’ll explain how to stain particle boards. There are multiple ways you could go about this task, but below is one of the most common, and successful.

Step 1: Gather Your Equipment

To stain your particle board you will need a stain, sealer, sandpaper, a brush or roller, and clean rags. Alongside this, you will need a clear area that you don’t mind accidentally staining.

Step 2: Sand the Particle Board

With the board placed on an even surface and supported across its entire length, you can begin sanding it. You want to sand the board equally across its complete surface.

Begin by sanding the board in one direction, then finish by sanding it in a perpendicular direction. Begin at one end of the board and sand the full length to the opposite end. Once you have sanded the board, wipe it down with a rag to get the dust off.

Step 3: Seal the Surface

Apply the sealer according to the instructions on the packet.

You want to make sure that the application is even across the entire board face. Wait for the sealer to dry and then lightly sand it. Repeat the process by applying sealer and waiting for it to dry. Some sealers will need more coats, if they do, simply repeat this process until you’ve reached the recommended number of coats.

Step 4: Apply the Stain

To apply the stain you can use either a foam roller, paintbrush, or rag. In general, it’s easier to get a consistent finish with the foam roller, however, it depends on the look you’re trying to achieve and what you feel most comfortable with.

Evenly apply the stain across the board’s face, keeping an eye on any areas that dry up quicker than others, and try to even these areas out by pushing the stain from wetter areas of the board.

Once you are happy with the coverage of the stain, leave it to dry in a level position so the stain doesn’t run down the face.

Step 5: Apply a Second Coat

This step is optional. Assess how much the stain changed the color of the board and if it hasn’t made enough of an impact, consider applying another coat.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

In this section, we’ve written out some of the common mistakes to avoid, as well as some tips and tricks:

1. Make Sure the Sealer Is Compatible With the Stain

If you decide to use a sealer, as we recommend, then it’s important to check if it is compatible with the stain that you use. If the stain is not compatible, then applying the sealer is a waste of time.

2. Don’t Sand One Area Too Much

Sanding will create an even surface, without marks and blemishes. However, if you concentrate too hard on one area to remove a particular defect, you will create a dip in the surface and it will no longer be completely flat.


Staining particle boards can create a great visual impact and add some interesting elements to your project. There are some clear steps to follow if you want to get the best effect from your stain. In particular, sand evenly, use a sealer, and apply the stain consistently.