Can You Stain Particle Board with Wood Stain?

Particleboard with pink wood stain

Particle board is an incredibly versatile material. Made from ground-up wood that has been mixed with epoxy and then formed into a board. This material is fairly sturdy. It’s used as a subfloor, under siding, cabinets, and more. Many people who have particle board want to know: can you stain particle board?

The simple answer to this question. If particle board has a laminate flooring, then this surface cannot be stained. However, if the particle board is unfinished, then it can be stained just like any other type of wood. In fact, its surface often looks better with staining.

Follow this guide to find out how to stain particle board.

Considerations for Particle Board Staining

Before you can stain particle board, you’ll have to determine if the material is covered with a laminate or if it’s been stained before (source).

Some particle board pieces actually look better by being painted rather than stained. Depending on the surface of the particle board, you may want to apply the stain by itself. You can also use a graining tool to stimulate the surface of natural wood.

This can elevate a piece of furniture or floor but will require additional time and effort. Before deciding what to do with the particle board, evaluate its surface and decide on the best option.

Types of Particle Board

Particle board is a type of reconstituted wood product. Many people refer to any of these as being particle board, but there are some differences between them. Medium Density Fiberboard is the type that uses a fine wood fiber (source).

It’s used with furniture, cabinetry, and shelving most commonly. Particle board is made by mixing sawdust with adhesives and tends to have a rougher finish. It is most commonly used for furniture as well as a substrate for countertops.

This type of board typically has a laminate or veneer finish. Finally, oriented strand board is also engineered but is the coarsest of these products. It contains large chips of woods that are glued together. This material is typically only used as an underlayment.

If your work piece is MDF rather than particle board, refer to this article on how to stain MDF.

How to Stain Particle Board

If you decide to stain the board, the process is fairly simple and can be done in a few days. These are the steps to take to stain the surface effectively.

1. Prepare the Surface

Particle board is a porous material and requires sealing before it can be stained. This step also helps to ensure that the surface will stain evenly and make the results last longer. Before staining the board, start by ensuring that you have a clean surface.

You may want to wipe down the surface with detergent and scrub it. Sand down any uneven surfaces or any stains in the wood.

Once the surface is clean, wait until it has dried which can take up tow two days. If the particle board is for outdoor use, use a respective stain or a varnish finish designed for exterior surfaces. Learn more about the different types of stains in this article.

2. Apply a Stain

In order to get an even stain, it’s best to use a paint tray and roller or a brush.

Roll the stain onto the particle board using three-foot squares at a time or smaller depending on the size of the surface. This tip will keep the stain from drying and allow you to wipe it down. For any excess stain, wipe off the stain with a clean rag within five minutes.

Make sure to discard the rag in a bucket of water as stain is a highly flammable material. Let the stain dry for about 10 hours and review the surface (determine the exact drying time from this comparison). If you want a darker color, apply a second coat just like the first and let dry again.

3. Seal the Surface / Apply a Varnish

Although this step is not required, it’s a good idea to seal the board again. This improves the durability of the surface and will also allow you to wash the surface.

You’ll want to apply two layers of sealer over the stain. For indoor use, you can use an acrylic or polyurethane sealant.

However, if the particle board is going to be used outdoors, use an acrylic or oil-based sealer. Once you’ve applied two coats and the sealer has dried, your particle board is ready for use.

Re-Finishing Particle Board

When it comes to staining particle board, this process works best on an unfinished surface. However, many people who already have a particle board find themselves interested in re-finishing the surface.

It is possible to re-finish particle board although re-staining it may not work well. Sanding through the surface and then starting the process again is the best way to go about this. However, keep in mind that it’s usually only possible to re-stain to a darker color.

Lightening up a stained surface usually isn’t possible without significant sanding. This could affect the integrity of the board so it’s best to choose a darker color or simply refinish by sanding and then refinishing the board as-is (source).

Another consideration is to paint the surface, either with water- or oil-based paint. Painting particle board, especially particle board furniture is simple and can make the piece a great addition to a home. For more creative people, the surface can also be decorated with stencils or other elements to make it more interesting.

Paint is especially a good option if the surface has some imperfections that can’t be fixed without significant work. With paint, it is also possible to make the surface appear like natural wood. Using a tool that can simulate the appearance of wood grain, it is possible to make the surface look similar to wood.

However, for particle board furniture, it may be best to simply choose a color and paint the furniture by itself.


Now that you have a better idea of how to stain and finish a particle board, you can decide on the best option. Stains can often look good on particle board and can be done fairly easily as well.

Use these steps to get a consistent result that will elevate the appearance of the surface and can be done on your own. Make sure you read this article to learn the pros and cons of the different types of stains.

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