How to Stain & Seal Wood Garage Doors

Natural wood garage doors give your house a striking, rustic appearance. To keep your wood garage doors looking good, it is important to stain and seal them. A quality stain and sealer will protect the wood from the elements and bring out its beauty and uniqueness.

Preparing and Staining your Wooden Garage Doors

Step 1

Clean the wood.  Use a quality wood-cleaning product to remove any dust, dirt and grime that might interfere with the stain application.

In addition, cleaning the wood will break "mill glaze," a condition that crushes the pores of the wood and prevents stain from penetrating properly. 

Step 2

Brighten the wood (optional).  Tannins are present in certain types of wood, primarily redwood and cedar.

Tannins are a naturally occurring element that protects the living tree from fire and other damage.  When the wood is disturbed, even after it has been harvested and milled, tannins can bleed to the surface and create a dark, unpleasant look.

The wood-cleaning process can bring these tannins to the surface.  If this happens, use a quality wood-brightening product to neutralize the tannins and take the wood back to its natural color.

Step 3

Allow the wood to dry thoroughly before applying stain.  At least 24 hours is advisable.

Step 4

Apply the stain.  Penetrating oil-based wood stain can be applied using a brush, roller or sprayer.

Generally, only a single coat is needed. 

Step 5

Back brush.  The stain should completely penetrate into the wood within 15 minutes.

After a half hour, use a dry brush to remove any excess material that has not penetrated the wood. 

Things You Will Need

  • Wood cleaner
  • Wood brightener
  • Wood stain
  • Brush, roller or sprayer


  • Over-application is the number one problem people run into when using penetrating oil-based stains. These types of stain are not hard-drying products, so any material allowed to remain on the surface of the wood is likely to stay sticky. This can attract dirt and mildew.
  • Once oil-based stain has dried, you can go over it with a polyurethane. This will give the doors a glossy finish. Keep in mind that, unlike a penetrating oil stain, polyurethane will eventually fail by peeling. Refinishing will require stripping the doors down completely.
  • A penetrating oil stain will fade over time. The maintenance is simple: Wash the door down with wood cleaner, brighten if necessary, and recoat.
  • Tannins can occur periodically for several years, until the tannic acid is leached completely from the wood. You can use wood brightener over the stained wood to neutralize tannins.
  • The ultraviolet (UV) protection in stain comes from the pigment. The darker the stain you choose, the longer you can expect it to last.


About the Author

Robert Howard has been writing professionally since 2004 and writes a weekly column for the "Synthesis," a Chico, Calif.-based newspaper. He maintains a blog and has published articles and works of fiction in a variety of different print and online magazines. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images