This post was updated on November 1, 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.
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.
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Have a Question on Staining Rough Sawn Wood? Ask Below!
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As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites.
All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.