7 Tips for Painting and Staining Pine Lumber

Lead Image
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 25-75
What You'll Need
Cloths and rags
Benzole or alcohol
Linseed oil
High-quality wood filler
High-grit sandpaper
Wood stain

Radiata pine lumber is a softwood that has a beautiful grain and texture and is an excellent choice for making light duty furniture or keepsake cabinets. However, like other types of pinewoods, it can be difficult to get the best finish when painting or staining.

If you will not be using Radiata pine in its natural state with a clear coat finish (recommended for best results and to preserve the natural appearance of the wood), you will need to properly prepare the wood and follow some tips in order to achieve the best result. To that end, here are a few helpful tips that will help you achieve the perfect paint or stain finish on Radiata pine.

1. Pre-treat the Surface of the Wood

Before painting, you should always treat the surface of the wood with benzole or alcohol to help open up the pores of the wood in the resin (sap-filled streaks that are often in most types of pinewoods). Use a soft cloth and dampen it with the benzole or alcohol and gently wipe down the entire surface. Then, allow the liquid to sit in the wood for about 30 minutes to one hour before you begin painting.

2. Treat Scratches or Dents Before Painting

If the Radiata pine has damage, you should fill and seal the marks before you start painting. You can use a high-quality wood filler on dents or scratches, and then use a high-grit sandpaper to get the wood to a smooth finish. You may have to repeat this process a couple of times in order to completely hide blemishes. However, working with damage before painting will result in a much cleaner and more professional paint or stain application.

3. Oil-based Enamel Paints May Need to Be Treated

If you're going to be painting the pinewood with an oil-based enamel paint, you should treat the paint with a linseed oil and turpentine mixture. Create a solution that is about one fourth linseed oil to three parts turpentine. Then, dilute the paint so that it is about three parts paint and one part linseed/turpentine mixture. This will help to create a much better bond between the wood and the first coat of paint.

4. Use Dark Paint Stain Colors for Best Results

Like any other type of pinewood, Radiata pine looks best in its natural state. However, if you do need to paint or stain it a different color, you should choose darker paints and stains. Because of the deep yellow tint of the original wood grain, it is very difficult to get good results with white or other light colors. Dark stains such as walnut or cherry can be applied to pine fairly easily and will yield a far better product.

5. Treat Knots Before Painting

Knots in any type of pinewood can absorb too much surface paint over time and cause the wood to darken in the area where the knot is located. Therefore, you should treat any knots in the Radiata pine before applying paint. Take an old rag and cover the knots with a half linseed oil/turpentine solution, and then wipe it off. Allow the solution to soak in and dry overnight. This will help to keep the knot from bleeding through and being too dark once the wood has been painted or stained.