How to Stain Rough Sawn-Cut Lumber 4.7/5 (73)

This post was updated on May 9, 2022

Working with rough-sawn lumber is a little bit different from staining and preserving smooth wood, but in either case, it’s important to follow the proper steps to get a long-lasting finish. At DeckStainHelp.com, we’re experts at wood deck restoration, and we’re always glad to help homeowners with their exterior wood projects. Read our tips for staining rough-sawn wood and you should have no trouble with the task! But if you have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment and let us help you.

Rough Sawn Deck Trim

Rough Sawn Deck Trim

What Is Rough-Cut Lumber?

Rough-textured wood, also known as rough-sawn lumber, is wood that is used as originally cut: It has not been smoothed out or sanded like most lumber is. It’s becoming a more popular type of wood for homeowners and is commonly used for exterior wood fences, decking trim, and house trim. Typical wood types used are cedar and pine.

Can You Stain Rough-Sawn Wood?

Yes! Rough-sawn lumber is a bit more difficult to stain than smooth-textured wood, but it does not have to be an overwhelming task. Just make sure to choose a wood stain that is designed specifically for porous woods: Stay away from hardwood stains and film-forming-type stains.

How Do You Finish and Protect Rough-Sawn Wood?

A penetrating semi-transparent deck finish is the best choice for rough-sawn wood because it will soak into the wood better, penetrating and sealing its pores.

What’s the Best Way to Stain Rough-Cut Lumber? Application Tips

  • When dealing with rough-sawn cedar or pine, it’s important to prepare the wood prior to staining. If the wood is new, you can skip this step. Otherwise, start by using a wood cleaner to break loose any dirt, grime, and gray fibers. Then, wash the wood surface with a stiff brush or pressure washer. Be careful not to use excessive pressure that could damage the wood surface. After using a wood cleaner, a wood brightener should be applied to neutralize the pH level and brighten the wood back to its original appearance. Note: If the wood is new, no prepping is needed and staining can be done right away.
  • Once the wood dries following the cleaning, it’s time to stain. Check your local weather forecast and make sure that it’s not supposed to rain for the next 12 to 24 hours. It’s also best to apply wood stain when temperatures are between 60 and 80 degrees. It should not drop below 32 degrees within 8 hours of staining. And try not to stain in direct sunlight.
  • To stain rough-cut lumber, you can use a brush and/or roller. A brush is good at getting into corners and cutting in along edges. If you use a roller, a ¾” nap is best for pushing stain into the rough surface. Mask off any areas you do not want stained, and stain one board or section at a time to eliminate lap marks. If the wood seems really thirsty, you can apply two “wet on wet” coats if the stain you are using allows it.
  • You can also apply stain to rough-sawn wood using a pump or airless sprayer. Spraying the stain can allow it to get into the rough texture of the surface with less effort than brushing or rolling. Just be sure to mask any windows, siding, concrete, and other surfaces in the area.
  • Our favorite method for staining rough-cut cedar or pine is to use both approaches. First, lightly spray on the first coat with a pump sprayer. This will absorb deeply, giving a nice base coat. We then follow up with a stain pad or brush to apply a second coat right away. This will ensure nice, even coverage.
  • Always follow the instructions on the label of the stain you are using.
  • Wear proper personal protection.
  • Depending on the brand of stain you use, use mineral spirits or soapy water to clean up all of your equipment and tools after staining.

Rough Sawn Wood Stain Colors

Have a Question on Staining Rough Sawn Wood? Ask Below!

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Greig
Greig
20 days ago

Hello! I’ve built a western red cedar deck, I live in the northwest were it is very rainy but decks also suffer from a lot of UV. I’m really struggling to decide on the best coating to keep my cedar looking like natural cedar but still protecting it 🙁 I would love for it to look just like wet cedar. I’m happy to pressure wash and reapply something every year if that’s what will give me the desired result. Any recommendations?

Lorie Ann Edwards
Lorie Ann Edwards
22 days ago

Hello,
We are building a rough cedar pergola above the garage. I’d like a sunbleached or white. What stain would you recommend?

Thanks.

James
James
23 days ago

Hello – My son used a water-based stain on a rough sawn lightly planed old oak wood mantle. The water-based stain raised the grain quite a bit more than desired or expected. We don’t want a glossy finish but also feel like the grain is raised too much and will trap dust and a cleaning cloth will snag, stick, or leave lint on the surface. I was thinking of burnishing the wood with hard maple or using a scraper plane on a very fine setting and then reapplying the stain. Or perhaps to use more stain as a lubricant while I apply stain using denim with medium-hard pressure and/or rubbing with hardwood to flatten some of the elevated wood fibers. I fear if I burnish the surface stain will not penetrate evenly or well and if I plane it the newly cut wood will not color as well as the recesses. I do want to preserve most of the saw marks but don’t like the rough feel of the elevated grain after using the water-based stain. Once I get the highest rough elevated grain down and re-stained for even color, I thought I would just use 100% natural tung oil thinned with orange oil. It will be exposed to some heat from the gas fireplace so leaving it natural and unfinished concerns me. Advice?

Daniel
Daniel
1 month ago

Hey, our home is sided with rough sawn cedar. We got hail last year and it left divets in the Siding. My insurance company wants to sand the rough sawn siding down and re-stain. I am saying that changes the appearance and effect of the siding as it won’t absorb stain the same as the undamaged sides and make the appearance different. Do you have an opinion on that? They obviously don’t believe me as the homeowner.

Daniel
Daniel
1 month ago

Thanks, would you also agree that your rough sawn siding would now be smooth cedar Siding? The appearance would be different than rough sawn?

Sherri Ard
Sherri Ard
1 month ago

We purchased rough sawn pine boards from our local saw mill to make faux beams for the interior of our home. The pine is a Florida pine. We have played around with stains, even mixing them, but the boards absorb and they become way too dark or going light they look Orange. Is there a way we can get a medium brown tone?

Sherri
Sherri
1 month ago

Will do. Thank you

Jenn
Jenn
2 months ago

Our contractor installed rough sawn north white pine barn panels on our opened covered deck. We are on the water so it will be exposed to salt water spray. What should I use to seal and protect the natural color? Thanks!

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Beverly wood
Beverly wood
2 months ago

I bought rough Cyprus 8in post with deep black saw marks for my front porch. Tried sanding but no end. Is there anything I can do to hide or may these post look nice.. thought I was getting a deal.. please help.

Brenda
Brenda
3 months ago

If I’m using rough sawn wood on my dock should I put a wood preservative before I stain

Eddie Brown
Eddie Brown
3 months ago

I’m curious to what color stain was used in the attached picture from your website?

We have had such a hard time finding a stain color we like. Everything we think we like ends up being too dark.
We will be staining our 10×10 rough sawn post along with our knotty alder doors and shutters.

All and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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Angela
Angela
4 months ago

I have a Pergola that has been stained with a Semi transparent stain and this past year it did Need it again so we lightly sanded it and restained it as shade darker . Over this past winter it seems to have darkened so much . I really want to lighten this up a little.i wish I had used a transparent oil stain . What do you recommend ?
I am also building a deck with rough cypress post . What type stain do you recommend ? My issue with this pergola has scared me from the semi transparent because it started lookin solid . Can u give me some advice?

Erin DeFisher
Erin DeFisher
5 months ago

We have a rough sawn red cedar that’s original to the house. It’s downstairs in our bi level house that was built about 45 years ago. It makes the room dark and we’re trying to figure out how to lighten the room. Is it possible to stain it a lighter color?

Melissa GRANT
Melissa GRANT
6 months ago

We just installed cypress post on the front of our house. Before we could stain them they started mildewing. Do I need to do something before I stain?

Nathan Adams
Nathan Adams
8 months ago

How about using same product (TWP dark oak) on an entry door? FIR species.

Would it need to be too coated with a polyurethane or some other product?

Nathan Adams
Nathan Adams
8 months ago

What brand again is shown as dark oak ? 3rd from top

LK Maxwell
LK Maxwell
8 months ago

Hello, we have a very slow siding replacement project that uses rough cut cedar boards for window and door trim, as well as for porch posts and trim. The 20 year old cedar siding that we just tore off was stained black and badly sun damaged from the Oklahoma heat. Our new cedar wood trim is now a variety of ages (1-8 months), colors, and textures because the work has been so slow.

I can’t figure out what stain to apply. The painter plans to pressure wash the older, grayed boards then stain but stain newer boards with no prep. Painter likes oil based stains but is willing to apply water based. My main consideration is longevity, because I can’t reach the second floor windows myself and I don’t want to hire someone to maintain the trim more often than necessary. We would like to maintain a rustic, lighter/natural toned cedar look if possible. Thanks for any help!

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Chris hornick
Chris hornick
8 months ago

We bought a home that has rough cedar front porch (beams and handrails). The original stain is reddish brown and worn, can we re-stain over the existing with a
solid white stain?

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Todd Sherwood
Todd Sherwood
8 months ago

Hi. I have rough cut cedar that I’m going to use for a mantle. I want it to look aged like dark barnwood. Any advice on stain or pre stain. Thanks

Kelly Rehwoldt
Kelly Rehwoldt
9 months ago

I am replacing several rotten cedar vertical boards on my deck railing with new cedar wood that is rough sawn on one side but is smoother on the other side. Is this board considered rough sawn that can be stained right away or do I need to wait before staining. I plan on staining with TWP Semi-Solid Pro-Series Stain.

Kelly Rehwoldt
Kelly Rehwoldt
9 months ago

I am staining both sides of the deck railing.

Joe Le Doux
Joe Le Doux
9 months ago

What product do you recommend for staining roughsawn cedar (exterior)? I want to seal the inside of my flower box.

Laura
Laura
9 months ago

I have dark rough exterior beams that are in need of restaining. Do I have to sand the old stain off to redcoat them to make the color uniform?

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Julianna
Julianna
10 months ago

Help, please! I need to stain our rough-cut pine studio/shed, but need to clean it first. It’s brand new (well, it was back in December last year), not been treated in any way yet, I kept waiting for better weather, plus we’ve been working on finishing it inside first, but I don’t want to leave it for winter. The bottom on two sides is majorly discolored from all the mud that the thunderstorms splashed onto it, so I need to clean that up before staining. I read that water-based stains are better than oil for a number of reasons. I’ll gladly take any advice on how to tackle this project.
Thanks.

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Julianna
Julianna
10 months ago

Thanks.

Tere Vastine
Tere Vastine
10 months ago

Help! We have beautiful timber work on the exterior of our new home. We wanted to keep the beams natural — rough sawn cedar — and just do a clear coat as a sealer. However, the painter used a product with parafin in it and the beams are now a red color and much darker. It’s terrible and doesn’t go with our house at all! How can we get back to the natural cedar color? I need a solution, please!

Phelen
Phelen
10 months ago

I have PA Amish scheduled to install rough cut Hemlock for interior wall (currently walls are OSB ) inside a heated pole barn. Hemlock will be “green” – would it be possible to stain Hemlock boards prior to installation? Thanks!

Olivia
Olivia
10 months ago

We have fresh rough cedar cut from the mill. This wood is for fencing and on our deck. We told the paint store and they sold us exterior paint varnish which takes forever to dry. I feel like we were sold the wrong product. We have a ton of lumber to stain. Would we be better off to use oil stain or this varnish for the protection?

Edward
Edward
10 months ago

Hi I just done my house in bat and board pine the wood is dry I cut the trees and boards 1 1/2 years ago what would you recommend me to use to stain and what’s the best stain

Christina
Christina
11 months ago

Hey, I have a question! We have rough beams in a vaulted ceiling of the great room in our house. They are painted white. We’d love to stain them a dark walnut color to match the fireplace. Everyone tells me this “will be a lot of work” because the white painted beams need to be sanded down first. Is there an easier way? Is there a faux stain – paint that we could put on top of the white painted beams?

Christina
Christina
11 months ago

Ok any product you like most for painting over white beams to give it a more natural walnut type finish? I keep seeing gel stains…

Colleen Tucker
Colleen Tucker
11 months ago

We have a cabin in northern Michigan that was sided with rough-sawn live edge spruce about 15 years ago. While it has slowly turned several shades of gray, I’d like to stain it a semi-transparent or semi-solid tan color. Would this even be possible considering 15 years of weathering, and if so, would we have to powerwash it first? What other intermediate steps would we need to do? What brand of stain would work best?

DaveJohnston
DaveJohnston
1 year ago

I have installed 3/4 inch by 7 1/4 inch wide rough sawn pine. It was freshly milled from an Amish mill. It will be in direct sun for half the day. How long do I wait for it to dry before using oil based stain.

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

Hello – I just had a new rough sawn cedar fence, arbor, and deck railings put up a couple months ago. They are all completely untreated with anything so far. I want to maintain the original color of the cedar and protect the wood from UV, mold, and other problems. Am I correct in assuming that oil based products will protect better? Since I want the color to be as close to it is now (new, natural) or maybe slightly darker, what product would you recommend using on these areas? Thanks!

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

Thanks, appreciate the info!

Charles
Charles
1 year ago

I recently had a fence built with rough sawn redwood. I want to maintain the natural look. I live in southern California where it’s warm and dry most of the year. I have read that untreated redwood will eventually change color. What product do you recommend to keep the natural color but will also work with rough sawn redwood?

Charles
Charles
1 year ago

I’ll look into it. Thank you!

Bill hall
Bill hall
1 year ago

After staining our pergola in white stain a few days later we see brown little circles coming through the white stain. What causes this? And what do I do?

Adan Ruiz
Adan Ruiz
1 year ago

Hello, we have these beams going up on our house first time working with Rough Timbers and would like to clean them up and stain them. They are located on our future new porch. i have attached a picture of the timbers and the possible end result

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Sandy
Sandy
1 year ago

Is Cabot solid color stain good for rough sawn for siding?

deb morgan
deb morgan
1 year ago

Hi, my house is cypress lap siding. At the time of purchase and installation (6 years ago) I was told I could ‘let it gray out naturally’….So I didn’t put anything on it. I love the color. However, have since learned that was a mistake as I am experiencing some (not a lot) of cupping, splitting and nail pops on the hot side of the house…East and south (west is somewhat protected). I know that I need to apply something to protect it. I am open to any product and/or procedure that is recommended to stop any further damage. Thanks.

deb morgan
deb morgan
1 year ago

It’s my understanding that power washing can damage the wood?

debra morgan
debra morgan
1 year ago

Okay. What proper prep products would you recommend?

Jon
Jon
1 year ago

I’m going to use rough cut 6×6 red and white oak for my porch posts to support the porch roof. Do I need to let the posts dry before installing and staining? I am planning on staining my deck boards again after I have them cleaned the same color but it’s pressure treated wood.

Ron
Ron
1 year ago

I am picking up Rough Cut Cypress cut last month – 6×8, 6×4, 10×10 beams and post for outdoor kitchen construction. Can I stain before construction or do they need to dry (how long). If ok to stain now what product do you recommend? Oil or water base?

Thanks

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

I have rough sawn ceiling being installed and would like a brown color such as the brown on the far left in the ad above how can I achieve this look ?

Brandi Bryan
Brandi Bryan
1 year ago

What is the best product to use on rough cut redwood fence boards? We are looking to stain them so that you can still see the wood grain, but want it to be a little on the darker/brown side. This is new wood – it’s pretty rough and a little fuzzy. Can we stain right over it as is, or do we need to sand and smooth first, or use some sort of prep product? Thank you in advance!

Tonya Hensley
Tonya Hensley
1 year ago

Hi,
We have rough cut or rough sawn pine 6×6 post and 4×6 on our front porch that we build a few months ago. Right before winter (north Ga). We are now ready to stain. Weather is starting to stay 60-80 most days. My question is what stain brand should we look at. We were about to do a Valspar brand till I found this site and seen that rough cut wood needs to be done differently. We are also starting to get cracks . Any way of fixing those before or after stain? The last photo is the color id like to have.

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Dan
Dan
1 year ago

Siding with rough cut hemlock, what brands of stain would you recommend

Thomas
Thomas
1 year ago

How do I maintain this natural look of cedar post for years to come

Tracy
Tracy
1 year ago

Hello, we have rough sawn posts inside our home that have never been stained and their maybe a year or two old and I’d like to stain them the same color as our cabinets, their in our kitchen, what brand of stain will work best for this? And any tips are appreciated as I have never done this before thank you.

Lisa
Lisa
1 year ago

We have rough sawn cedar posts on the north-side of our home. We like the natural color so the carpenter said we needed to seal it with a good quality polyurethane. We applied two coats of it and after a year it has developed black mildew under the poly. Can it be treated?

Lisa
Lisa
1 year ago

What’s the best approach in removing it?

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Mona Schaaf
Mona Schaaf
1 year ago

We have large rough cut cedar beams on our home