How to Stain Cherry Wood

How to Stain Cherry Wood

Thanks to its super fine grain and stunning color profile, cherry wood is one of the most pleasing woods to look at. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easier woods to stain. Even though staining cherry wood isn’t a complicated process, you’ll still want to follow a few steps to ensure you end up with the best result. 

Applying Cherry Wood Stain

When applied correctly, a wood stain brings out vivid colors and grains. However, when applied poorly, it can have the opposite effect. Follow these steps to ensure that your cherry wood staining project looks fantastic!

Applying Cherry Wood Stain

Step One:

Choose the right stain. Cherry wood has a tight grain, and it can reject certain types of stains. Stain rejection will make the finished product look blotchy and inconsistent. 

We’ve found that tung oil gives a soft and less dramatic finish to cherry wood. A satin-based varnish will highlight the contrast with a low sheen. You can always go for a clear lacquer if you want a more dramatic look. 

Step Two: 

If you decide to use an oil or a satin varnish, apply the product using a lint-free cloth. Pour a quarter-sized amount of the stain directly onto the wood and rub it in. Always make sure to apply your stain with the grain.

If you choose a lacquer, you can use a brush to apply it. Again, never apply the stain against the grain. Going against the grain can cause your end product to be streaky with missing spots. 

Step Three:

Allow the stain to dry. You’ll want to make sure that the stained cherry wood has at least 24 hours for the finish to soak in and dry completely. You won’t actually know the final color of the wood until the stain has dried. 

Leave the wood undisturbed in a cool room with low humidity for one whole day. 

Step Four:

Once the cherry wood stain has dried, assess the finished product. If you decide that it needs a second coat, then apply it the same way you did the first. With an oil-based stain, you can expect a second coat to darken the final results. 

Keep in mind that cherry wood will darken with time. You may want to wait a few weeks to see how much the wood darkens before deciding to add another coat of stain. 

Keep reading to learn more about the unique properties of cherry wood! 

How Long Does It Take Cherry Wood to Darken?

One of the most unique aspects of cherry wood is how it naturally darkens over time. The reason cherry wood darkens even after staining is oxidation. The compounds in the wood react to UV light exposure and cause the wood to turn darker. 

Most of the darkening that will occur with cherry wood happens within the first six months. After six months, the wood may continue to darken but will do so much more slowly. The wood will continue to darken for years, but it may not be noticeable. 

It is possible to speed up the process of naturally darkening your cherry wood. Expose the wood to as much UV light as possible and watch how quickly it changes!

Is Cherry Wood Hard to Stain?

There’s a reason that cherry wood is one of the most popular decorative woods. It’s an impressive wood that even a beginner can stain. Because of its dark color and fine grain, cherry wood is a forgiving product to work with.  

Cherry wood is one of the easiest woods to stain. There are two main factors to take into consideration to make sure your project turns out how you want. The first is the product you use. And the second is the technique. 

Cherry wood does best with a satin finish if you decide to use a varnish. For a more natural look, you can choose a thick oil. A lacquer is the best choice if you want a shiny, reflective finish. 

Each of these products has the potential to enhance your cherry wood. Equally important is the way you apply them. Using a cloth gives the most consistent results, as it will guarantee that the stain goes on evenly. 

The most important rule is to follow the wood grain as you’re applying the stain. Going against the grain will result in an uneven stain. 

Related: How To Paint Wooden Furniture

Why Choose Cherry Wood for Your Project?

Cherry wood is one of the most luxurious finished wood products in existence. It instantly elevates the feel of a space. It can be stained with many different types of stains. Each type will bring out something different in the wood. 

As cherry wood is grown in the United States, it’s actually more reasonably priced than other types of hardwood. Cherrywood is grown throughout the Midwest, and you can easily find it in any hardware store or lumber yard. 

One of the most appealing aspects of this wood is the different color tones you can find. Cherry wood varies in color from dark purple to light pink. There’s bound to be a tone that suits your project. 

Cherry Wood Staining FAQs

How long does it take for the stain to dry on cherry wood?

Drying time will depend on the type of stain you used and how you applied it. For a thin coat of varnish or lacquer, expect at least 24 hours until it is fully dry. 

Do I need to sand cherry wood?

All wood products should be sanded to the desired level of smoothness before the stain is applied. 

Can I remove the stain from the cherry wood?

Yes. You can remove the stain from the surface of cherry wood by sanding it away. If it has been stained with lacquer, you can remove it with a paint thinner and scraper.

What will cherry wood look like when stained?

Stained cherry wood tends to darken in hue but does not change color completely. Its tight grain and vivid color become more noticeable with a stained finish.


About the author

Picture of David Yeoman

David Yeoman

I'm a technical writer who writes in-depth articles for readers wanting uncomplicated explanations for creative topics made difficult by industry jargon. I'm a woodworker, metalworker, landscape photographer, writer, Python and PostgreSQL programmer, and pilot. Freelance after 42 years in the corporate world, I have an MBA in Technology.

More related posts