Can You Stain Manufactured Wood Furniture?

If you’re looking to change the color of your wood furniture, staining is certainly a good option. Unlike painting, staining does not entirely change the look of wood furniture. Instead, it enhances the natural beauty of the wood by allowing its natural grain and texture to show through.

Choosing which type of stain to apply will greatly depend on the type of wood that you’ll be working on. For example, it’s best to use a gel stain for woods that are prone to blotching (such as pine). 

But what if your furniture is made with manufactured wood? Is staining still an option for you? 

Can you stain manufactured wood furniture? Find out in this post.


Although manufactured wood is not solid wood, it’s often made with wood materials such as medium-density fiberboard, wood particles, and veneer. Since most manufactured wood is still made from wood, it can be stained. 

Do note though that the type of manufactured wood varies widely depending on how it’s processed. The stain might not be applied easily depending on the quality of the manufactured wood.

Can You Stain Manufactured Wood Furniture?

Yes, you can stain manufactured wood. Before we discuss the process, it’s important to understand what manufactured wood actually is.

Also known as engineered wood, manufactured wood is a man-made product created from binding wood fibers, particles, or veneers with adhesive. It may not be solid wood, but it’s just about as durable and sturdy. It’s also significantly cheaper compared to solid wood. 

There are different types of manufactured wood, each with a varying degree of quality. In general, you can stain manufactured wood furniture. But the staining process will be different on the type of manufactured wood. Additionally, some manufactured wood might not be worth staining at all since the outcome may be underwhelming. 

Can You Stain Particleboard? 

Particleboard is the least dense type of manufactured wood. They are made by bonding sawdust and shavings with resin. You technically can stain particleboards, but you’d have to apply a sealer first. If the particleboard is laminated, you might want to use a gel stain.

Ultimately, you can stain particleboard, but it just might not be worth the effort. 

Can You Stain Fiberboards?

Fiberboards are made by bonding wood fibers using a synthetic resin adhesive (or other types of adhesive). They’re much denser compared to particleboard and are much sturdier too. You can use wood stain on a fiberboard. However, since fiberboards don’t have natural grain to them, they won’t absorb wood stains as well as natural wood. 

Can You Stain Plywood? 

Plywood is made by layering multiple layers of veneer. It’s known to be the strongest manufactured wood. The more layers it has, the sturdier and stronger the plywood is. 

You can certainly apply wood stain on plywood. Compared to particleboard, it’s much less processed and ultimately closer to raw wood than other types of manufactured wood. Stain complement the natural characteristics of plywood as it would with solid wood. 

Can You Stain Veneer?

Veneers are thin slices of natural wood (usually less than 1/40” thick). They are bonded with other manufactured wood to act as the surface. Since they are still real wood, wood stain works on veneer like a charm. 

You stain veneer the same way you stain and finish solid wood: simply sand it down then apply the wood stain. Be very careful with the sanding though as it is very thin. 

Best Stains For Manufactured Wood 

There are several types of wood stains that you can use on your manufactured wood furniture. What works best would depend on the type of finish that you want, as well as the type of manufactured wood that you’ll be working on.

Here are some of the types of wood stains that you can choose. 

Tinted Polyurethane Stain 

Using a tinted polyurethane stain does two things to manufactured wood furniture: it changes the color of the wood and protects the surface against scratches, nicks, and UV light. 

A tinted polyurethane stain works best on manufactured wood that doesn’t have any previous treatments or coats. Also, to make the surface properly grip the stain, it’s important that you lightly sand the manufactured wood first.

However, if the surface is already coated with a polyurethane finish, you might want to consider using Minwax Polyshades. This product allows you to change the color of your finished surface without having to remove the old finish.

Even on untreated wood, Minwax Polyshades is great to use. It combines stain and polyurethane in one substance. This reduces the finishing time compared to when you’re using separate products.

Gel Stain

A gel stain offers something between staining and painting. They come in a jelly-like form, which makes them easy to apply on manufactured wood furniture. 

Due to its thickness, a gel stain doesn’t run or leak as much as other wood stains. This makes it great to use on vertical surfaces. 

Using gel stain doesn’t require as much prep work as using a traditional wood stain. You only need a little light sanding, and you’re good to go. 

Do note though that gel stain takes a lot more time to dry. If you’re working on a project that has to be finished quickly, you might want to consider other wood stain options.

Oil-Based Stain 

When it comes to durability, oil-based stains are still the best choice. They penetrate deeper, which makes them far less likely to peel off. This often results in a longer-lasting finish.

Oil-based stains take longer to dry, which can be a turn-off for some people. However, this makes them easier to handle. You have more leeway to fix any imperfections before the stain dries. This makes them ideal for projects that you want to work on slowly to get the most professional-looking finish possible.

Due to their durability, oil-based stains are a great choice for surfaces that will be exposed to the elements. They provide long-lasting protection against UV damage and moisture. And more importantly, the stain is more resilient than most.

How To Stain Fake Wood Furniture

If you’re working on a veneer surface, the staining process would be the same as staining natural wood. However, if you’re working on fiberboard, you’ll have to do some additional prep work.

More often than not, fiberboard will have a clear or hard finish. You’d have to strip this finish off by using a chemical stripper. Apply an even layer of the stripper across the surface. Let it sit there until the recommended time of the product. To finally remove the old finish (along with the chemical stripper), use a scraper.

Once you have stripped the finish off, continue with the following steps below. The same step can applied to manufactured wood furniture with veneer top coats as well.

Tools and Supplies

  • Pre-stain wood conditioner (optional)
  • Sandpaper (220+ grit)
  • Wood stain
  • Stain applicator (e.g. foam brush, rag)
  • Wood sealer
  • Drop Cloth
  • Electric or power sander (optional)
  • Sealer (e.g. polyurethane)
  • Scraper chemical stripper (for fiberboard with old finish)

Step 1: Sand and Clean the Surface

Sand the area where you want to apply the wood stain. Be very careful when sanding as you might strip off more than necessary. Additionally, avoid rough, low-grit sandpaper as it can scratch up your wood. Fine-grit sandpaper is best. 

After sanding, make sure to clean the surface. Use a damp cloth or microfiber towel to remove any dust.

(Optional) Apply Conditioner

Applying a pre-stain wood conditioner will prevent blotchiness.

Apply the conditioner to the surface. Let it dry for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, wipe it off with a clean rag.

Step 2: Apply the Stain

Stir your can of stain thoroughly first. With the appropriate applicator (e.g. chip brush or rag), evenly apply the stain on the surface. Once you get the color that you desire, wipe off any excess wood stain as much as you can using a dry rag.

Step 3: Let the Stain Dry

Drying time will vary depending on the type of stain used. Check the product label to know when you can apply a second coat of stain, as well as how long it will take for the stain to dry completely. Generally, stains take around five hours to dry. 

Step 4: Apply a Topcoat

Most manufactured wood doesn’t absorb wood stains as well as natural wood. That’s why it’s important to seal it with a top coat. You can use varnish or polyurethane as your topcoat. 



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