Staining End Grain to Match

Tips for staining end grain of door stiles to match the side grain of the rest of the door frame. April 30, 2009

Is a cope and stick door expected to have matching stain color on end grain and long grain? If so, how do you achieve that?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
Expected, probably - possible, absolutely. You need to be very aware of the problem beforehand. You need to take precautions to avoid it. Usually if you sand it 1 or 2 grits higher than the rest of the door it may avoid it. When you stain the door you need to wipe on wipe off quickly on the end grain to limit exposure. Or you can use a clear stain on the whole door and make sure the end grain soaks in a lot of extra so it will lock out the next color coat. On an inset door I don't really care, on an overlay door with a profile you need to take care of it. If you have a light stain and it goes black on you on the endgrain it just doesn't look well. Mostly it depends on price. Inexpensive job, it is what it is. High end job, take care of business.

From contributor R:
Something else you might try is to just hit all the end grain with a rag thatís been dipped into some paint thinner. Wipe the end grain with the paint thinner and apply your stain to the whole door/drawer and then wipe everything off as you normally would. Thatís the easiest, most economic way to stain end grain and have it turn out just as even as you could possibly want it to turn out. Donít flood on the paint thinner just apply it so it stays wet in the end grain (the end grain should look dark at this time) and then proceed with applying your stain. If this step is new to you, you might want to try it on a scrap of wood before staining the actual door/drawers.

From contributor L:
This part of the raised panel or stile end probably doesnít receive as much attention as the rest of the door. There are two reasons that I know of that complicate finishing. First is the attention to sanding of these parts. You want to sand the same as the rest of the door. The second is a good pre-stain sealer that helps even out the finish overall.

From contributor R:
I canít think of anything easier than to wipe a little paint thinner on an area youíre about ready to stain. No need for a spraygun, to mix up a sealer, "aim" just right so you donít get the sealer on an area you donít want it to get on, scuff sand a small area, wait for the sealer to dry before you stain, or to handle an item more than once. Hit it with a little paint thinner, with your stain, and then hit it with a rag and set it aside to dry.

From contributor B:
Sounds like a very good trick about wiping thinner; I assume that the stain is oil-based? Is that right?

From contributor R:
Mostly for oil based, but I have also used this method on water based as well.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the help. I'm going to try rubbing the endgrain with paint thinner. It sounds easy enough.