Best White Wood Staining Options For Diy Projects

Best White Wood Staining Options for DIY Projects

The best choice depends on many factors, like the type of wood and where it is. Oil-based wood stains work well for exterior areas, while water-based products are good for interiors. When it comes to furniture, it’s good to go with water-based stains, while cabinets can use either.

What Is White Wood Stain and Why Do You Need It?

A white wood stain is what you use when you want to whitewash a piece of wood. It could be a small wooden shelf or the interior or exterior of the house. If you didn’t know it already, whitewashing helps you enhance the brightness levels of a wooden surface without covering up the grain patterns on it.

There are many different types of white wood stains in the market, and they are mostly oil-based or water-based. Both these stains have their merits, and we’ll tell you all about them.

Water-based products dry up faster compared to oil-based stains. They also don’t produce as many fumes or as much odor. That’s why they are often preferred for indoor jobs. It’s also easier to clean up water-based products since all you need is soap and water.

Oil-based stains, on the other hand, take a lot more time to dry up. They also produce fumes that should not be inhaled which is why these are suited for outdoor jobs. We will look into all the parameters that involve making a decision for different wooden surfaces in a structure.

White Wood Stain Options for Home Projects

White wood staining is something a lot of individuals opt for so that they can enhance the look and feel of the wooden surface.

Whether it’s the interior of the house, the exterior, cabinets, individual pieces of furniture, or a backyard garden shed, there are a few things to keep in mind before buying a can of wood stain.

Let’s start by taking a look at three of the most preferred products in the market. We will look at the pros and cons and then give you an insight into what kind of wood stains are best suited for those individual areas that we just mentioned. Let’s begin.

1 | Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain

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The first one on our list of recommendations is from Varathane. This is a wood stain that is marketed as “fast dry” as the name mentions. This is a great choice for those who want an overall wood stain for the purpose of whitewashing.

This oil-based wood stain is a versatile choice. It can be applied on different types of wooden surfaces, whether it is on the outside wood or inside the home.

Now, with some brands, you will need to apply more than one coating to make sure you get the desired result once you are done with the project. With Varathane, you don’t have to worry about that. It is possible thanks to the formula, which is of high quality along with an effective color finish.

This wood stain comes with nano-pigment particles that make the pop and shine on white wood possible with ease. What makes it even better is that it dries up in just about an hour.

The Varathane wood stain also has the distinction of being a product that gives value for money, according to customer feedback. And it is available in many different sizes from 8 fl oz to one full quart. This helps reduce wastage as well.

You will get a bright and beautiful white end result which will make your natural wood grain look even prettier. So, whether you are looking to boost the look of your kitchen cabinets or want to stain the wooden patio furniture, this is a good quality choice.


  • You won’t need to get a separate wood conditioner
  • It enters the wooden surface’s pores which makes it last longer
  • The wooden surface dries up a lot faster than the competition
  • It’s easy to apply, and the natural grain patterns are enriched
  • Works very well for all indoor furniture DIY projects


  • Might look very light of some lighter woods like oak
  • Does not come in a whole range of colors, not cheap

2 | General Finishes Water-Based Wood Stain

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Our second recommendation is a water-based product from General Finishes. This wood stain allows you to bend its intensity and color if you can find the pigment additives of your choice.

It is different from many other brands since it is water-based and not alkene or oil-based. This is also an affordable choice, and you can apply it using a sprayer, brush or cloth. So, it works very well for DIY furniture projects. Since it is water-based, it does not produce a lot of odor, which makes it suitable for indoor projects.

You no longer have to worry about the fumes or smell that demands that you ventilate the area heavily or remove the furniture in that room till the stain dries up. And since water-based wood stains are generally not preferred for outdoor jobs, this works out quite well.

It also means that this is not the best pick if you are looking to redo your patio furniture.


  • It has terrific coverage and can be applied in different ways
  • Works just like oil-based products without the odor or fumes
  • It contains pigments that are of high quality and is non-combustible
  • It’s a quality no-fuss easy to clean-up wood stain
  • Customers have validated the manufacturer’s value claims


  • On certain types of wooden surfaces, this stain will have a cooler shade
  • Does not penetrate the wooden surface as some other products do

3 | Minwax Color Wash Transparent Layering Color

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Our final recommendation on this list is this oil-based wood stain from Minwax. This is different from the other choices in a couple of interesting ways. For one, it doesn’t make your wooden surface flash and pops. It just boosts the original grain pattern lightly.

This is for individuals who don’t want to saturate the space with a white wood stain. It’s a good choice if all you want for your wooden surface is a little bit of shade that keeps the look of the natural grain pattern intact.

Most of the wood stain products in the market that are meant to be used for whitewashing purposes do the opposite. This leaves people who want a subtle look left in the wilderness.

Minwax covers that gap and gives the wood just a light but elegant finish. It highlights the natural wooden features that make your wood distinct, and it’s all done in a tasteful manner.

But that doesn’t mean that the wood stain doesn’t penetrate the wooden surface. It goes in deep but doesn’t overpower the surface. This product also keeps the pigment fresh and light. So, those who want something low-key and elegant will love this.

Plus, if you are not satisfied with the result, you always have the option of applying a second coating, which will make it look modern and sleek.


  • It goes deep into the pores but is still easy to use
  • The end result looks like a professional staining job
  • It is oil-based, which works well for outdoor areas
  • This wood stain lasts for a long time, and the color is rich
  • Low-cost stainer making it great value for money


  • Take about 4 to 6 hours to dry up and limited colors
  • It’s a better choice if your wood is of a darker shade

Natural Looking White Wood Stain Ideas

Now that you have a few options available, you should know the basics of whitewashing different wooden areas in one house. Let’s take a look.

White Wood Stain Interior

If you are looking to stain interior areas like your floors but can’t find too many people who would endorse the idea, you should know that you’re not alone. Whitewashing your floors might sound like a misnomer, but it really isn’t.

In fact, if you look at white wooden flooring closely, a lot of them are in a pale shade of wood, and that’s not the most attractive thing. For that reason, you should pick a lovely water-based wood stain so that you can give it an extra layer of “whiteness” without making it a big project.

Ceilings are another neglected area inside a house. You should remember to match it with the color and shade of the cabinets in the room. A little staining will enhance the knots and tones, especially on darker and red-colored woods. When the floor is dark wood, it works even better.

White Wood Stain Interior
Image: Bowray Design

White Wood Stain Exterior

When you are staining the exterior portions, you want to start by cleaning the area thoroughly using a remover or by sanding, especially if a brush just isn’t enough. Then you should test your product on a small area to see what you’re getting yourself into. Of course, this is applicable to interiors as well.

Make sure you wear gloves and other protective gear. Remember that when you are dealing with exteriors, you are more likely to use oil-based products. You should stir the container to make sure the color pigments are not sunk at the bottom, which is a possibility since they are heavier than the other fluid.

You should follow the instructions on the label to the last detail. This kind of wood staining looks lovely on shiplap, which is meant to add texture to sheetrock walls on the outside. When you stain it white, you get to highlight that texture.

White Wood Stain Exterior
Image: Sarah Barnes

White Wood Stained Cabinets

Staining cabinets is a great way to make them look good as new without actually replacing them. Pick a polyurethane finish that matches your stain. Typically, people tend to get both from the same manufacturer for consistency in the blend.

Get rid of the old paint and clean the surface with coarse sandpaper. Make sure the space is ventilated by keeping the doors and windows open. Switch on a fan if you have one. Otherwise, get one.

Stir the can of wood stain and apply it to the cabinets. It’s a good idea to use a rag or sponge brush. Apply one coat and make sure it is even. If the wood stain dripped anywhere, clean it up immediately with a rag.

You’re likely to be done with each door in a few minutes. And be sure to check the label on the can so that you know how long it will take to dry up. If needed, add a second coating. And finally, apply the finish.

White Wood Stained Cabinets
Image: Paulina Hospod

White Wood Stained Furniture

The process of staining furniture is pretty much the same. But once again, you should remember to get rid of the existing finish before you start staining it. That means you should sand it till you see the raw wood.

If you’re dealing with furniture like tables, you must decide beforehand if you’re going to leave the top surface as is, especially if you have a designer table or dresser.

A little bit of staining the rest makes it look good and new. Since this is an item that you can move in and out, you can choose an oil-based or water-based stain.

But it helps to know that water-based products are easier to apply on furniture.

White Wood Stained Furniture
Image: Rubio Monocoat

White Stained Wood Shed

Wood sheds usually have a rustic look, and a lot of people like them to stay that way. But since rustic isn’t without style, you will have to do a few maintenance jobs, like staining the wood white.

And when you do so, the place realizes its potential to look unique and charming. Most of the time, the wooden surface is already raw, which is ideal for starting a staining job. And for this space, you want to pick a product that has deep opacity.

As a matter of fact, Varathane is a great fit.

White Stained Wood Shed
Image: Emmy Home Interiors

White Wood Stain vs Paint vs Varnish

There are four main differences between varnish, paint, and wood stain. Here’s what they are in a nutshell.

SurfacesWood, some types of metal and some types of fiberglassWood, metal, fiberglass and plasticWood, metal and fiberglass
ProtectionGood on wood, not so much on other surfacesMedium-Very highMedium-High
ColorTranslucent and available in various tones and pigmentsOpaque and available in lots of colorsTranslucent and typically without any pigments
Durability2 to 5 years but depends on UV exposure5 to 10 years but depends on the amount of exposure2 to 5 years but depends on the amount of exposure

Stain is a great pick for fences and stocks since it protects the wooden surfaces exposed to atmospheric elements. The pigments in these products are often subtle, which is another advantage. And all you need is a good finish to go with the stain.

Paint is versatile and works on most surfaces, but it’s not always the right choice when you’re dealing with wood. And a varnish is good for a lot of surfaces too. But it’s also one that comes with a glossy finish, which isn’t what you always want for wood.

The Bottom Line

The one thing we didn’t cover here is the technique to stain a piece of wood. It’s critical and different depending on the type of wood.

Typically, whitewashing is best suited for DIY woodworking projects utilizing pine wood or white oak.

But the way you stain the wood could either cover up the beautiful stain patterns or accentuate it. You want the latter. And now you know where to begin.