How to Finish Birch Plywood

Lead Image
  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 25-60
What You'll Need
Scrap piece of birch plywood
220-grit sandpaper
Clean rags
Pre-stain conditioner spray or wipe on
Tinted wood dye
Sponge made for staining
Sealer a spray sealer is the easiest to apply

Birch plywood is an inexpensive wood that is great for making furniture, but it is not the easiest material to finish. Birch plywood is made up of many layers of birch wood and each layer may stain a slightly different color. For this reason, extra preparation work is needed when you are staining this type of plywood.

Step 1 - Test the Stain

Test the color of the stain on a scrap piece of the same birch plywood that's to be painted. Once the stain and sealer have dried, you will be able to see if the color of stain that you used is the color that you had in mind.

You may choose to apply a few different tints of stain to the scrap piece of plywood to see which one is the best color. If you choose to test with different samples, make sure to label the stain colors when you apply them so that you will know which one is which when the test has been completed.

Step 2 - Prepare

While wearing a mask, sand the plywood with 220-grit sandpaper. Always work with the grain, not against it to ensure a smoother finish. Wipe the sanding dust off the wood at intervals. Continue with this procedure until the plywood is smooth and free of blemishes and dirt. Make sure that the wood is free of any dust before proceeding with the next step.

Step 3 - Apply the Pre-Stain Conditioner

Apply the spray or liquid pre-stain conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let it dry completely. The pre-stain conditioner will help the wood take the stain more evenly.

Step 4 - Stain the Birch Plywood

To apply the stain, you will use a sponge that is made for staining. Make sure that you work with the grain to ensure a smooth finish.

Dip the sponge into the stain, picking up a generous amount of stain. Start at one end of the piece of wood, and draw the sponge all the way to the other end without stopping. If you must stop to get more stain, feather the edge. Feathering is the process of applying thin layers of stain to prevent a rough edge.

Let the stain dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5 - Apply a Second Coat of Stain

A man stain plywood.

Once the stain has dried, assess whether you need to apply a second coat. If needed, apply the second coat in the same manner as the first coat. Let it dry.

Step 6 - Apply the Sealer

When purchasing the sealer, make sure that it is compatible with the stain that you are using. To be safe, it is best to use a product from the same brand as the stain.

When applying a sealer, make sure that you are working in a well-ventilated area, especially if you are using a spray sealer. While wearing a mask, apply a coat of the sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let it dry completely. If you feel you need a second coat, apply it in the same manner as the first coat.