How to Stain Oak Plywood

How to Stain Oak Plywood

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If you want to protect your oak plywood and make it look a bit nicer, staining it is definitely an option. Today, we are going to discuss everything that you need to know about how to stain oak plywood.

Can You Stain Oak Plywood?

Yes, you can stain plywood, and there is really no reason why you couldn’t.

Whether it is oak plywood or any other type, they can all be stained. Stain is simply a sealant that you put on something like plywood in order to emphasize the wood’s grain, darken the color, and add a bit of protection. Plywood is not finished and therefore absorbs the stain quite well.

Is Staining the Best Way to Finish Oak Plywood?

Whether or not staining oak plywood is the best way to finish it is questionable, and it really depends on the goal that you are looking to achieve. Stain is a great way to really emphasize the wood grain, making the plywood look more realistic and beautiful, and also helping deepen its color. On that note, it does also offer a good deal of protection against the elements. However, if your number one goal is to change the color of the plywood while also protecting it, you may want to consider painting it.

Is Oak a Good Type of Plywood for Staining?

While all types of plywood can technically be stained, not all of them take on stain as well as others. The good news here is that hardwood plywood such as oak actually takes on stain really well.

This type of plywood also takes it on evenly, which results in an even finish that looks very nice. However, if we’re talking about pine and birch plywood, they will not take on stain as well and the result will likely be very uneven.

What Type of Stain Should You Use for Oak Plywood?

Although oil-based stain is generally best for sealing wood in terms of water and pest resistance, it certainly doesn’t look the most beautiful. There is also the fact that water-based stain is much denser in consistency and therefore produces a thicker and more even layer. If your main goal is to create an aesthetically pleasing piece of wood, then a water-based stain is your best bet.

What Colors of Stain Look Good on Oak Plywood?

The color of stain you choose for your oak plywood really depends on your own preferences. That said, oak plywood is generally very light in color. So, if you want to preserve its natural appearance, go for something light. However, if you want to darken the plywood, then use a darker stain.

Will Staining Oak Plywood Make It Waterproof?

Staining oak plywood will help make it much more water resistant than if it is unfinished. Staining your plywood can also help protect it from UVA damage. It even helps protect against mold and pests. With that being said, staining your oak plywood will not make it 100% waterproof, especially if it is exposed to high levels of moisture for long periods of time.

Is It Hard to Stain Oak Plywood?

Staining oak plywood is not very difficult, especially when compared to other types of plywood. Of course, staining plywood, in general, is a little more difficult than staining solid lumber, mainly due to the slightly uneven texture and rough surface. However, this is easily taken care of by first sanding the oak plywood down a little bit.

How to Stain Oak Plywood

As long as you adhere to the following steps, staining oak plywood should be quick and easy:

Step 1 – Sand the Plywood: First, use some 60 grit sandpaper to smooth out the plywood. The smoother it is before applying the stain, the better the process will go.

Step 2 – Wipe the Plywood: Use a damp cloth to wipe the plywood down to remove all dust created by sanding it.

Step 3 – Dampen the Plywood: Use an old rag and dip it in a bucket of water. Wring the cloth out a little bit so that it is still fairly wet, but not dripping. Wipe the surface of the plywood down until it is damp. This will open up the wood grain and allow the stain to absorb much better.

Step 4 – Stain the Plywood: You are now going to apply a healthy amount of stain to either a paintbrush or a paint roller and then cover the entire surface of the plywood. You then want to let this dry completely before applying a second layer.

Step 5 – Sand the Plywood: You want to use some very fine sandpaper to lightly sand the plywood once it has completely dried, which will help to get rid of any stray fibers.

For a more detailed explanation of all the steps, make sure to read my detailed guide on how to stain plywood in general.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Let’s quickly go over some tips and tricks to make this process easier and more successful:

  • Test out your stain on a spare piece of oak plywood to make sure that it will result in the color that you like.
  • Do not try to stain the plywood before sanding it, or else it will look uneven.
  • Never apply a second layer of stain until the first layer has dried.


You should now know exactly how to stain oak plywood to get the best results. Remember, staining your plywood will help make it look better and protect it from the elements as well.