Yes, there is a wrong way to stain wood. And I didn’t know it was wrong until I messed it up mid-project, guys. *face palm*

how to stain a barn door

Here I am, finishing up my basement, thinking I’m all baller cause we’re starting the phase of our project where we will be DIYing some things.

So we start with the barn doors.

We got these barn doors from Home Depot. After hours of searching online on Wayfair, Amazon and more I was just too stressed about getting the right color for our space so we supported our local Home Depot instead and chose to stain them.

If you’re a big online shopper, there are a lot of stainable barn doors on Amazon of all shapes and sizes that have great reviews. With a lot of them you have to assemble the wood yourself too and we didn’t want to do that when it was the same price as the home depot doors that are preassembled.

And if you’ve gotten this far in the post guessing that it’s the stain that was the wrong product, I’ll ease your troubled mind by saying no. It wasn’t the stain. Varathane stain+poly was an excellent product! Seriously, go get it on amazon for your next project. I even had extra and have used it for multiple other touch-ups or little projects here and there since this one.

So if it wasn’t the quality of wood on the door, or the stain I used, then what was it?! Scroll and stop when you see it…

best stain for barn doors
best stain for barn doors

STOP! Do you see it? Yep. Right there… the brush. The cursed brush.

barn door mistakes

Let me give you a little background here. I’ve stained with a stain/poly stain before on furniture and I did it best with a brush. So this mistake wasn’t because I was clueless or that this was my first time! I have a degree in this stuff for goodness sake! And I read the can… and it said brush.

It was just an honest trial and error, man… And I kept going even after knowing it wasn’t going well with the brush til I had finished an entire one side of a door. Then it just wasn’t right. Here’s a picture of the finished oopsy side that sits facing the wall cause of said oopsy…

barn door mistakes

And here’s the other side that shows me correcting my wrong ways by donning on some gloves and using a dishcloth instead. Just an everyday dishcloth and gloves are all you need to do it right. Dip in the stain and wipe it on like you’re cleaning the door with stain and it soaks it up.

So, what’s our take away?

  1. Even if you read the stain or paint can VERY carefully, you might make mistakes, so test test TEST it out first with all the mediums you are using.
  2. Move on and make the best of your mistakes…(like how we just mounted the hardware onto the nice side of the door and hid the crap job behind the door).
  3. Be proud of your awesome DIY skills cause that’s what DIY is all about, learning how things work and making a better you and space in the end…. hopefully… wishfully. etc.

Hope this finds you in the knick of time so you can make all the right choices in staining your projects! Share and shop my amazon links, especially the products and stain from this post, to support this blog, it costs nothing to even order groceries through my links above and it helps me support the fam!

Also, if you want to see your space, go check out my Instagram and see if I can help you out on your design journey so you’re a little less lost!

Thanks have a wonderful day! xo Gill

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This Lost Mama

11 Comments on How to stain a barn door, the right way!

    • I didn’t on these barn doors, I just applied the stain. But if you want to have the stain soak in further I would lightly sand and wipe it down. Sanding seems to open up the wood making it more porous. Hope that helps!

  1. Beautiful finish on the second door. Just wanted to clarify, that color that you used was Espresso and it came out to the warm lighter color on the 2nd side of the door? Thanks!

  2. Looks beautiful! I have a very similar door from HD to stain this weekend! How many coats of stain did you do? Did you seal it with anything? Thank you!!

    • I remember doing at least two coats! And it was a stain and sealant combined, but you could always see the other options for sealing separately from the stain. That gives you more room for making the stain darker and darker as you go, and til you love it!

  3. TY sooo much for posting & sharing your experience & tips! Your post was extremely helpful during the process This staining post was so helpful! We would’ve never thought of espresso satin (as seemed too dark), looking at it at the store, but this was exactly the barn door look that we were going for. 🙂 I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t shared this. Extremely grateful 🙂

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