A Guide To Staining Metal: Transform Your Metal With Wood Stain

Can you use wood stain on metal? This is a question that many people ask, and the answer is not always clear. In some cases, it is possible to use wood stain on metal, but there are also times when it is not recommended. 

In cases where metal is not rusted, most wood stains can be used; however, it is important to test the stain on a hidden area of the metal before applying it to the entire surface.

Wood stains can be used on metal surfaces that are not rusted. It is important to choose the right type of wood stain for a metal surface in order to avoid damage or discoloration. There are three main types of wood stains that can be used on metal, oil-based, water-based, and gel wood stains.

Gel wood stains would be best for metal because it is thicker than other types of stain and has the ability to stick to metal surfaces better.

We will explore the pros and cons of using wood stain on metal and provide some tips for getting the best results.

Benefits of Applying Wood Stain To Metal

One of the main benefits of applying wood stain to metal is that it can help to protect the metal from corrosion, rusting, and discoloration. This can help to extend the life of the metal and keep it looking new for longer.

Applying wood stain also has other benefits such as giving a  unique look to the metal surface. Wood stain can give a rustic, industrial, or modern aesthetic when applied correctly.

Additionally, wood stain can help to seal out moisture and dust particles that could damage the metal over time. This can be especially beneficial for outdoor metal surfaces that are exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Finally, wood stain is an affordable way to customize the look of metal surfaces. It is much cheaper than replacing or refinishing the metal surface and can be applied with just a few simple tools.

Gel Wood Stain For Metal

Gel wood stain is the preferred choice for staining metal surfaces due to its thick, long-lasting formula. Gel stains are able to better adhere to the metal surface than other types of wood stain, resulting in a higher quality finish that is more resistant to fading and discoloration.

Additionally, gel stains require less preparation time than other types of stain but they can be messier to apply. Use a brush or a soft cloth to apply the stain in even and consistent strokes.

Gel wood stain can be cleaned with a rag and mineral spirits or paint thinner, by simply wiping off the excess with a cloth.  The mineral spirits work to dissolve the gel stain.

Materials Need For Applying Wood Stain To Metal

Before you begin, there are some important supplies you will need for this project:

– Sandpaper: Start by sanding down the metal surface with coarse grit sandpaper. This will help to create a smooth and even surface that is ready to accept the stain.

– Cleaning Solution: Once you have finished sanding, use a cleaning solution such as soap and water or a degreaser to remove any dirt and debris from the surface. This will ensure that the stain adheres properly and won’t fade over time.

– Wood Stain: Choose a wood stain that works better for use on metal surfaces. Gel wood stains work best. Oil and water based wood stains work by permeating and sinking deep into wood surfaces which wont work on metal.

– Paint Brushes or Cloths: You’ll need either paint brushes or soft cloths when applying the wood stain in order to get even coverage without leaving too much excess behind. If using paint brushes, make sure they are clean and free of lint or debris before beginning this project.

How To Apply Wood Stain To  Metal

If you’re ready to stain your metal object, whether that be a metal door or furniture, here’s how to use wood stain on metal.

  1. Prepare the area you will be using. Use a drop cloth or some other protective fabric to cover your surface. You will want to do this in a well-ventilated area if you are inside or this process can be done outside as well.
  2. Clean your metal surface using a cleaning solution or soap and water. Pay special attention to any areas around hinges and locks as these tend to accumulate dirt and debris. Make sure the metal is thoroughly dry and clear of any debris.
  3. Open your gel wood stain and make sure all necessary supplies are ready before beginning. Stir your stain before using and occasionally while using.  Grab your paint brushes or soft cloths (for even coverage without leaving too much excess behind), mineral spirits or paint thinner (to dissolve any gel stains left behind), and rags for cleanup afterward.
  4. Start by applying an even coat of gel wood stain onto the entire surface of your metal door with either brushes or cloths (following the manufacturer’s direction). Make sure not to leave any drips or runs in order to achieve an even finish when complete.
  5. Once finished let dry according to the manufacturer’s directions before proceeding with the cleanup.
  6. Use mineral spirits or paint thinner along with rags in order to wipe away any excess gel stains left behind during application. While doing this be careful to protect surrounding surfaces from staining.
  7. After everything is dry feel free to enjoy the new look of your freshly stained metal door or furniture!

Tips For Getting The Best Results

When staining a metal door, it’s best to work in sections. Separate the door into vertical and horizontal sections. Cover the sections you are not working on.

Each section should be dry before moving on to the next section.

Other tips for getting the best results include using a quality paint brush or cloth and stirring the gel wood stain regularly during application.

Lastly, it’s important to clean up any excess stains with mineral spirits or paint thinner and rags as they can be difficult to remove once they have dried on the surface of your metal door.

FAQ About Staining Metal

Can Minwax stain be used on metal?

Yes, Minwax wood stains can be used on metal surfaces. Their non-drip gel formula is great for use on a variety of non-wood surfaces.

What is the best way to apply the wood stain to metal?

The best way to apply wood stain to metal is to use a paint brush or soft cloth in order to get even coverage without leaving too much excess behind. If using paint brushes, make sure they are clean and free of lint or debris before beginning this project.

Do I need to seal the metal after staining?

Sealing is not necessary after staining the metal, though you can apply a sealant if desired for added protection. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

Is wood stain permanent on metal?

Wood stain is not permanent on metal and will eventually fade or wear off over time due to exposure to the elements or regular wear and tear. Regular maintenance such as cleaning and reapplication of wood stain can help to extend the life of your finished project.

How do I know when the stain is dry?

To know when the stain is dry, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times. Most stains require about 24 hours of drying before you can touch or move the metal object. You may also want to look for a slight change in color as this indicates that the stain has dried.  If in doubt, it’s always  best to wait a bit longer than advised.  The last thing you want is for the stain to not set properly and be left with an uneven finish. 

What should I do if the stain is not the color I wanted it to be?

If the stain is not the color you wanted, you could try applying a second coat of stain to darken it. When you are selecting your gel stain, make sure it corresponds to the darkest color you are trying to create.


Staining metal with wood stain can be a great way to add color and character to your doors, furniture, or other metal objects. With the right tools and techniques, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that will last for years. Be sure to use quality brushes or cloths and stir the gel stain regularly during application. When finished make sure to clean up any excess stains with mineral spirits or paint thinner before allowing the stained metal to dry. With some patience and proper aftercare, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful finished product!

Good luck and happy staining!

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