How to Stain the Exterior of a House

Staining siding is an option when you want to maintain the natural look of the wood. Cedar and pine, common choices for wood siding, have a longer lifespan and also tend to stain more easily. Staining the exterior of your home is quite similar to painting, but it's almost like adding a tint to the wood. Using polyurethane stain cuts down on your effort, as it has a built-in sealant and topcoat, which cuts down on your effort.


Exterior wood siding can be stained.
  1. Use the sanding block and medium-grit sandpaper to sand the wood siding that you will be staining. Pay close attention to feathering pieces and chipped sections of previous stain.
  2. Use the sanding block again, with fine grit sandpaper, to sand the wood siding until it is smooth to the touch.
  3. Rinse the entire exterior using the water hose to remove sanding dust and dirt. Allow the siding to dry for at least two days.
  4. Inspect your siding to check for areas that you may have missed and go back and sand them, if necessary. Make sure that you rinse the area again and allow it to dry.


  1. Use the painter's tape and plastic drop cloths to cover any areas that you won't be staining or that you want to protect from accidental dripping.
  2. Stir the stain thoroughly using the paint stir stick to distribute pigments and oils evenly.
  3. Pour some stain into the paint tray. Use the paint brush or an old rag to wipe the stain off the rim of the can.
  4. Dip the paint brush into the stain and wipe the excess stain on the sides of the tray.
  5. Apply the first coat of the stain, using the paint brush, to the siding in even lines, following the grain of the wood. Maintain a wet line end to slightly overlap your additional lines with to avoid streaking. Apply the stain from top to bottom or side to side, depending on the direction of your siding.
  6. Apply more coats of stain until you reach the desired color, allowing one coat to dry before adding another.
  7. Remove the painter's tape and plastic drop cloths when you have applied the final coat and it has dried completely.

Things You Will Need

  • Sanding block
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Water hose
  • Painter's tape
  • Scissors
  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Paint tray
  • Paint stir stick
  • Medium-sized paint brush
  • Polyurethane stain
  • A-frame ladder
  • Dust mask


  • Use an electric sander to make the preparation less tedious and time-consuming.
  • Use the ladder to gain access to higher spots beyond your normal reach.
  • To make the project easier, apply the stain in 4-foot-square sections.
  • Avoid applying stain in direct sunlight or windy conditions; it causes your lines to dry too quickly and leaves a streaked look.
  • In most instances, it is not recommended to use a power washer, but if you choose to do so, make sure that you use a low PSI nozzle and hold the wand at an angle, keeping the nozzle between 8 and 10 inches from the siding.


  • For safety, have someone hold the ladder for you.
  • Wear your dust mask when sanding the siding to avoid breathing in the sanding dust.

Photo Credits

  • Weathered Red shingle siding on the side of a barn image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com