Applying the final coat of stain to an unfinished wood window

How To Stain Wood Windows

Tips and guidance from the window experts at Pella.

Painting and staining trends come and go, but a stained wood window will always be a classic way to bring warmth and nature into any home. While you can order finished wood trim from Pella, you can stain a wood window at home by following the expert advice we're giving you here today.

Choosing a Wood Stain

Wood stain colors come in a variety of shades. Whereas paint adds color or contrast to a home, wood stain creates a smooth, satiny and natural look.

Interior Wood Stain Options

For interior wood stain, a white wood stain works beautifully when you are working with oak and can help you achieve the modern farmhouse look. Gray and black wood stain is a popular choice for contemporary homes. Lastly, brown wood stain works well for traditional interiors.

How to Stain Wood Windows

Staining wood windows doesn’t require expensive tools or extensive education. Read on for a step-by-step guide to achieve a flawless finish.

Materials Needed

  • Sandpaper
  • Several rubbing cloths
  • Vinegar-based cleaning solution
  • Water
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Wood stain (your choice of color)
  • Cotton rags
  • Oil-based wood varnish for finishing
  • Soft staining brush
  • Dry brush

Removing hardware to finish a wood window

Step 1. Setup. Break-down the window into its primary components. This will vary based on the type of window you have, so you will need to refer to the product instructions. To avoid getting stain on the glass, be sure to use painter’s tape to keep clean lines. Remove hardware and any other detachable pieces that are on the surfaces you plan to stain.

Sanding down a wood window in preparation for staining

Step 2. Prep. Prep the wood surfaces by lightly sanding with the grain of the wood. Use a 100-grit sanding sponge and work in the direction of the grain until imperfections and rough spots are gone. For tight spots, use a folded piece of sandpaper.

Cleaning the glass of a window with vinegar-based solution before staining the wood

Step 3. Wash. Use a cloth and premixed vinegar-based cleaning solution to wash the glass, rubbing from several different directions. If streaks remain after rubbing, rinse with clean water.

Step 4. Masking. Mask off the glass and any other areas that need to be protected from the finish.

Brushing the window with pre-stain wood conditioner before staining

Step 5. Pre-stain. Use a good-quality pre-stain wood conditioner to reduce the possibility of a blotchy-looking or uneven finish. Ask your paint professional to recommend a pre-stain wood conditioner, stain and finish coat for windows and doors. Apply the pre-stain conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 6. Stain. Evenly apply your stain based on the stain manufacturer's recommendation. Multiple coats may be necessary to get your desired color. Using a liberal coat is a quick and effective way to saturate the wood with stain.

You can wipe off the excess with clean cotton rags and use a dry brush to clean stain from cracks and crevices.

Step 7. Finish. Finish by applying an appropriate amount of oil-based wood varnish b on the manufacturer's instructions. Multiple coats may be necessary to get your desired look and performance.

This article was written by

Kolbie Creger, Social Media Specialist

An Instagram enthusiast and tiny house fanatic, Kolbie is a member of the Pella Marketing team, focused on social media and brand strategy. In true Iowa fashion, her free time varies by season. You can find her in the gym coaching high school basketball throughout the winter, attempting to roller blade through downtown Des Moines in the spring, and sipping iced coffee on the back of a boat every other chance she gets.

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