How To Stain Pine To Look Like Oak

Last Updated on July 17, 2023 by Ernest Godia

Oak is a premium wood that makes durable, high-quality, and sophisticated pieces. However, it can be expensive and limited in supply due to its slow growth. 

On the other hand, Pinewood is a common wood for household applications and is readily available for an affordable price.

If you’d like oak-like surfaces on a tight budget, we’ll show you how to stain pine to look like oak. This is one of the cheat ways to utilize affordable pine but make it look as expensive and sophisticated as oak.

This article will walk you through transforming ordinary pine into oak. We’ll also recommend the right oak wood stains we know will help make pine look like oak.

If we’ve piqued your curiosity, here are the details.

Can you stain pine to look like oak?

Yes, you can stain pine to match oak. Pine is a porous wood with uneven grain and knots. Oak is a dense and uniformly-grained wood. You can get pine wood to resemble oak using suitable oak wood stains and thorough surface prep.

How to stain pine to look like oak

First, sand and clean up the pine wood. Next, apply wood conditioner and let it dry for about 45 minutes. Then dip a rag in Golden oak stain and gently apply it to the conditioned wood. Let it dry, and then apply pickling whitewash stain using a foam brush. Wipe up the excess stain and then let it dry and cure.

How to make pine look like oak step by step

Pine wood is challenging to stain because it’s knotty, unevenly grained, and absorbs stain at different rates across its surface, making it blotchy. However, this does not mean the wood is entirely impossible to stain.

An essential requirement to hack the pine staining process is patience. This starts from the prep and priming stage, all through the last coat of stain before sealing the piece. 

To get you started, here’s a list of supplies you will need for this process.

Tools & supplies for making pine look like oak

  • Drop cloth or newspapers
  • Sandpaper (180, 220, and 240 grit)
  • Sanding block or power sander
  • Tack cloth 
  • Lint-free rags
  • Foam brush
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Two or more different oak wood stains 

Procedure for staining pine to look like oak

The following steps apply when you want to make pine look like white oak, red oak, or any shade of oak.

Step 1: Prepare your work area

First, ensure that you set up your workstation in a well-ventilated area with proper lighting and free air circulation.

Next, line the floor and surrounding surface with a drop cloth or old newspapers, depending on the size of your project. The drop cloth or old newspapers will help catch sawdust and stain drips, making it easier to clean up after.

Also, ensure you have all the supplies needed within reach. Since the next step involves sanding, it’s a good time to wear your mask, goggles, and a pair of leather gloves–safety first.

Step 2: Prepare your pine wood

Lay your pine wood on a flat surface and assess for cracks or gaps, especially if the wood is knotty. Should you notice any imperfection that needs filling, repair it with wood filler and let it dry completely.

Once you’re ready to sand the piece, use 180-grit sandpaper with a handheld sanding block if you’re working on a small project. However, if you have a large pinewood project, use a power sander instead.

Begin sanding the surface in the direction of the wood grain. Sand a section at a time until the entire surface is even. Clean up the sawdust using a bristle brush or a shop vacuum.

Repeat the sanding process using 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out any scratches and partially close up the wood pores.

Clean the surface one last time using a tack cloth or microfiber cloth dampened in water. This ensures no grain of dust will get in the way of your immaculate finish.

Step 3: Test the stain on scrap pinewood

Rule of thumb with any woodworking project: always test the product on a scrap piece of wood or an inconspicuous part before working on the project. Pinewood is no exception.

You’ll be testing a combination of two or more different stain shades to help bring out the oak in pine. Remember, there are at least five different shades of oak wood stains ranging from white, beige, and red-brown.

Apply the stains to the scrap wood, switching up the amount of stain, the dry time, and the layering of the stain shades. Please test it out on multiple pieces until you find the best procedure and results worth recreating on your main project. 

Step 4: Apply primer to the pine wood

This is an essential step in this process. Apply a generous amount of pre-stain wood conditioner to the surface, let it soak in, and dry for about 45 minutes. Follow the product-specific instructions as far as application and drying time goes.

The wood conditioner partially saturates the wood pores. As a result, it promotes better and uniform stain absorption throughout the surface.

Step 5: Apply the first layer of oak wood stain

The stain application process is a breeze. Soak a lint-free cloth in the stain and then use it to apply the product using wiping sweeps along the wood grain. Apply the stain to small sections at a time as opposed to wiping it from end to end in one go.

Let the stain soak the wood for at least 10 minutes before wiping off the excess. If you want a deeply pigmented surface, let the oak wood stain seep into the wood for about 15 minutes before wiping the excess.

Be careful not to leave the stain for too long before wiping. The stain may start drying and result in smudges when you try to wipe it off later.

Wait for the first coat of stain to dry completely before recoating.

Step 6: Assess the results

After the stain dries for the recommended duration, assess the depth of the newfound color. If it’s too light for your liking, reapply another layer using the same method. 

Apply as many coats of the same stain as you desire before moving on to the next oak wood stain color.

Step 7: Apply the second stain color

After layering enough coats of the previous stain color, it’s time to bring out the exact oak match using the second stain color: pickling oak white wash stain.

This water-based product can water down the rich pigment you have created. Therefore, apply it with a cloth or foam brush and then wipe it off after a minute.

Always use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe the excess stain from the surface.

Since it’s a water-based product, it will be dry enough for sealing in about an hour or slightly more.

Step 8: Apply a topcoat sealer

Sealing stained wood is optional but essential if you want to prolong the lifespan of the finished piece. Get a clear top coat sealer, like polyurethane or polycrylic 

The best product to protect the surface and retain its appearance is water-based polyurethane or polycrylic. However, you’ll have to scuff between coats of water-based polys using 240-grit sandpaper.

An Oil-based poly may last longer but will turn yellow with time and completely alter the appearance of the oak-stained pine.

Pro tip: It’s best to layer multiple thin coats than have one thick coat of stain or sealer.

How to make pine look like white oak

The easiest way to get faux white oak wood is using this Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain, Antique White on pine wood.

How to make pine look like white oak with Verathane Fast dry wood stain

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This is a high-performance, oil-based stain enhanced with nano pigments to create an antique white oak in an hour; it dries that fast! This quality makes the product ideal if you want to stain pine to look like white oak.

This premium stain is perfect for interior furniture, doors, cabinets, and other sheltered surfaces. 

Usually, one coat of this stain is enough to highlight and preserve the wood grain pattern, but there’s nothing wrong with using a little more.

Procedure for staining pine to look like white oak

  • Clean and sand the pinewood to prep it for staining
  • Test the stain on a scrap piece of pine wood
  • Apply a coat of primer
  • Apply the first coat of antique white oak wood stain
  • Assess the results
  • Apply the second coat of the stain and let it dry
  • Apply your preferred topcoat and let it dry thoroughly

Staining pine to look like red oak

If you’ve wanted to get your pine wood doors to match your sophisticated red oak furniture, the shortest way to get it done involves using Varathane Premium Wood Stain, Honey Maple.

How to stain pine to look like red oak

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This high-performance, heavily pigmented wood stain will transform your pale pine boards into reddish-brown oak. You only need a single coat of this fast-drying oil stain to highlight the beautiful wood grain.

It helps that it dries in an hour, making it perfect for surfaces like your door or cabinets in constant contact with human traffic. 

Staining pine to look like weathered oak

Minwax Weathered Oak Wood Finish provides the easiest and most affordable way to achieve a weathered oak look on your pine wood.

Stain that makes pine look like weathered oak

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The process is as simple as sanding the pine boards, tacking the dust, and applying weathered oak stain using a foam brush. Let it penetrate and wipe excess after 5 minutes; wait longer if you want a richer color.

This product will deliver a weathered oak on pine in 2 hours because that’s how long it takes to dry. Imagine a day’s project, and you have a completely new piece.

Staining pine to look like golden oak

If the golden oak is the appearance you want for your pine wood, consider using Minwax Golden Oak Wood Finish. This premium stain promises to penetrate the pine wood and color it evenly in rich oak tones.

This oak wood stain is perfect for every interior project you can think of. It dries fast and accentuates the natural grain of the wood beneath.

It’s one of the easiest stains to work with, provided you don’t skimp on the prep and priming stages.

How to stain pine to look like oak wood

Staining pine to look like pickled oak

A pickled oak look is ultimately one of the most subtle looks you can recreate on pine wood using Minwax Color Wash Transparent Layering Stain

How to make pine look like pickled oak

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This product is hardly ever used alone. But if you want transparent, edgy, and sophisticated pine boards, you’d thoroughly sand and prime the wood before applying this stain.

This stain has a water-based formula and does a great job diluting and distressing other pigmented oak stains. It dries ultra-fast, and the results are immaculate.

Staining Pine to Look Like Oak: FAQs

Here are some of the popular questions about how to stain pine to look like oak.

Is pine a good alternative to oak for staining?

Yes, pine is an excellent alternative to oak for staining. When properly conditioned and stained, it can closely resemble oak wood. You just need to choose the right oak-colored stain to match your desired look, and you can successfully stain pine to look like oak.

Can I use a different wood conditioner for pine?

While some wood conditioners are specifically designed for certain types of wood, using a standard wood conditioner should work well for pine.

How many coats of stain should I apply?

The number of coats of stain to apply to your pine wood surface depends on the depth of color you desire. Start with one coat and add more until you achieve the desired oak-like hue.

Can I use a staining pad instead of a brush?

Yes, a staining pad is a suitable alternative to a brush. It can help you achieve a smooth and even application of the stain. Alternatively, you can use a clean rag or cotton cloth to apply your chosen oak-colored wood stain to the pine wood surface.

Is oak-colored stain the only option for mimicking oak?

While the oak-colored stain is a popular choice, you can experiment with other wood stain colors to achieve unique finishes that resemble different types of oak. Always perform a test on a small area first to ensure it meets your expectations.

Conclusion on how to stain pine to look like oak

Now that you know how to stain pine to look like oak, your options for flipping wooden items and surfaces in your home are endless.

You can get regular pine to resemble any oak wood if you use the right oak wood stain and follow the correct procedure for staining.

If this article helped you with your pinewood project, kindly share it and comment below.

Happy staining!

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