How To Stain Douglas Fir Wood? (4 Steps)

Staining Douglas Fir wood is hard as it’s a softwood that doesn’t accept wood stain evenly unless you apply a pre-stain wood conditioner.

To stain Douglas Fir wood, sand the wood, apply wood conditioner, apply wood stain, and seal the finish.

Is Staining Douglas Fir Wood Easy?

Staining Douglas Fir wood isn’t easy as it’s a softwood that doesn’t accept wood stain evenly unless you apply a pre-stain wood conditioner and sand its surface.

The pre-stain wood conditioner seals the wood pores, prevents wood stain over-absorption, and helps to create a uniform finish. Sanding helps to open the wood tight pores and improve stain absorption.

Softwoods have small pores and uneven textures that absorb more stain in one part and less stain in another part, creating an uneven or blotchy finish.

Which Wood Stain Types Can You Apply Douglas Fir Wood?

The wood stain types you can apply over Douglas Fir wood are listed below.

  1. Gel Stain: You can use Gel stain over Douglas Fir wood as it has a thick viscosity and is a topical finish that doesn’t need to penetrate the surface to adhere. It forms a thick and protective finish.
  2. Water-based Stains: You can use water-based stain over Douglas fir wood as it creates a bright matte (or flat) finish. However, water-based stain tends to raise the wood grain and cause splinters if you don’t sand the surface.

The wood stain types you can’t apply over Douglas Fir wood are listed below.

  1. Oil-based Wood Stain: You can’t apply oil-based wood stain over Douglas Fir wood as the stain must penetrate deeply into the pores to adhere properly. Since Douglas Fir wood is a softwood, oil-based stain can’t penetrate the pores deeply and will create a splotchy, blotchy, or sticky finish.

Douglas Fir Wood Characteristics

The characteristics of Douglas Fir Wood are listed below:

  1. Strength: Douglas fir wood is known for its strength and durability as it can withstand heavy weight without bulging. Its durability and strength are why this wood is used in building construction and floor surfaces.
  2. Scratch-Resistant: The wood is resistant to scratches and abrasions.
  3. Easy to Work With: Douglas Fir wood is easy to work with as the wood glues with all adhesives and has impressive nail-holding features, making it perfect for doors, windows, and floor surfaces.
  4. Honey-tone Appearance: Fresh Douglas fir wood has a brownish and honey-tone appearance with straight grain patterns.
  5. Low Wood Checking: Douglas Fir has small tendencies to check, split, or crack while drying as the wood dries fast.

How to Stain Douglas Fir Wood?

To stain Douglas Fir Wood, do the following things.

  1. Sand the Wood.
  2. Apply Wood Conditioner.
  3. Apply Wood Stain.
  4. Seal the Finish.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • Gel Stain
  • Sandpaper (100-grit 150-grit and 220-grit)
  • Wood conditioner or sanding sealer
  • Drop sheets
  • Paintbrushes
  • Lint-free tack cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sealer (Polyurethane, Varnish, or Lacquer)

1. Sand the Wood

Sand the Wood

Sand Douglas Fir wood to remove surface imperfections and bumps that can prevent the wood stain from penetrating and adhering.

Start sanding with medium-grit sandpaper (100 grit) and move to ultra fine-grit sandpaper (440 grit). Ensure to sand along the wood grain and not against it.

Clean the wooden surface with a damp rag to remove dust and dirt

2. Apply Wood Conditioner

Apply Wood Conditioner

Apply one (1) thin wood conditioner coat over Douglas Fir wood to seal the surface pores, prevent stain over-absorption, and help create a uniform finish.

Ensure to wipe the excess wood conditioner 30 minutes after application as it can prevent proper stain penetration.

3. Apply the Wood Stain

Apply the Wood Stain

Apply two (2) thin water-based or gel-based wood stain coats over Douglas Fir wood with a foam brush. Wait until one coat dries, remove the excess, sand between stain coats, and apply the second coat.

Two (2) gel stain coats will produce a dark color shade, especially if you apply wood conditioner. If you want a lighter color shade, apply just one (1) Gel stain coat.

4. Seal the Finish

Seal the Finish

Seal the stained Douglas Fir wood finish with a moisture-resistant sealer, such as polyurethane or varnish, to protect the finish from moisture, water, scratches, and weather elements.

The sealer creates a moisture-resistant layer (barrier) over the finish and protects it without affecting the color shade much.

Best Stain Colors To Use Over Douglas Fir Wood

The best wood stain colors to use over Douglas Fir wood are listed below.

  1. Transparent Tone: Since Douglas Fir has a natural honey-like appearance, you can use a transparent finish to protect the wood without affecting its natural appearance.
  2. Dark Color Shade: Rich and dark stain colors, such as Mahogany and Dark Walnut, give the wood a bolder, darker, and vintage appearance that hides surface imperfections.
  3. Light Color Shade: Light wood stain color shades, such as honey or picking white, can create an opaque pigment over the wood. However, lighter color shades require more maintenance as the finish tends to highlight dirt, dust, and imperfections more.
  4. Warm Color Shade: Warmer color shades, such as chestnut or golden oak, will create a dark and light color shade blend over the wood.
  5. DIY Tones: You can use a custom color shade by mixing two or more wood stain colors to create a unique color shade over the r wood.


Does Douglas Fir Wood Darken?

Douglas Fir wood darkens over time due to the aging, weathering process, and dust or dirt exposure.

Is Staining Douglas Fir Easier Than Oak Wood?

Staining Douglas Fir wood isn’t easier than staining Oak wood as it has smaller pores and uneven texture, making stain absorption harder.

How Long Does Stain Last Over Douglas Fir?

Wood stain lasts between 1-5 years over Douglas Fir wood, depending on whether the finish was sealed or not. For instance, stained wood sealed with polyurethane lasts around 5 years as the sealer protects the finish from weather elements.

Is Staining Douglas Fir Easier Than Cedar Wood?

Staining Douglas Fir wood and Cedar wood have the same level of difficulty when staining. Both are softwoods that have a similar texture and small pores.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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