Applying the final coat of stain to an unfinished wood window

How To Stain Wood Windows


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 pre-stained windows from Pella, there’s a benefit to the DIY approach of staining them at home — the sky is the limit in color selection.

You can always choose a stain from a variety of available samples, but staining at home gives you even more control over the outcome, especially if you're using a unique color choice.

Several readers have expressed interest in learning how to stain wood windows, so today that’s exactly what we’re going to show you how to do. Scroll below for a step-by-step tutorial from the window experts at Pella.

Before we get started, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Several rubbing cloths
  • Vinegar-based cleaning solution
  • Water
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Wood stain (your choice of color)
  • Exterior-grade finishing coat
  • Soft staining brush

Removing hardware to finish a wood window

(Hardware Removal)

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


1. Prep. Prep the wood surfaces by lightly sanding with the grain of the wood.

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


2.  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.

3. 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


4. 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.

Evenly applying the first coat of stain to the wood window


5.  Stain. Evenly apply your stain based on the stain manufacturer's recommendation.  Multiple coats may be necessary to get your desired color.

Applying a finish coat to the wood window


6. Finish.  Finish by applying an appropriate amount of finish coat(s) based on the manufacturer's instructions. Multiple coats may be necessary to get your desired look and performance.

If the DIY route sounds like it's too much for you, consider Pella's pre-stained windows!

This article was written by

Nicolle Picray, Content Marketing & Social Media, Pella Windows & Doors

A self-proclaimed Social Media Geek and DIY aficionado, Nicolle is a member of the Pella Marketing team, focused on content creation and curation. In her free time she can be found pillaging thrift shops for furniture projects, attempting to rationalize with her 4 year old daughter, and editing her husband’s honey-do list.

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