how to seal wood

How to Seal Wood – 7 Steps in Preserving Wood

Highlight your wooden furniture’s lovely grain with a good natural finish. Instead of painting over it, you can use products called sealants to protect the piece’s surface from dust, scratches, and marks. A wood sealant also adds a waterproof layer. Here are some effective ways on how to seal wood; find the one that works best in preserving your furniture piece.

What you need to follow this tutorial

  • Wood stain – this product comes in many colors. You can choose whether you want a light stain or a dark stain. 
  • Waterproofing stain and sealer (combo product) – this handy product will not just seal the wood but will also apply a waterproof surface. This is best for wooden furniture pieces kept outdoors like patio furniture.  
  • Polyurethane – there are many kinds of polyurethane products such as water-based, oil-based, and many other chemical mixes. Choose the right one according to where you want to place your furniture. 
  • Shellac wood sealant – Shellac is great for indoor wooden furniture. It prevents drying and preserves the lovely natural finish of the wood.  
  • Wood Lacquer – lacquer is one of the hardiest finishes. It is applied using a spray gun. 
  • Sandpaper with 100 to 120 grit and 400 grit – these grits will sand wood surfaces to get ready for sealant/lacquer/polyurethane application.
  • Dry rag or cloth – use this to wipe away all the dust from the surface of the furniture piece. 
  • Paintbrush – use a small 1 ½ – inch brush to apply sealants, polyurethane, and other products.
  • Clean sponge – use a clean sponge to apply Shellac indoor wood sealant


1. Prepare the surface you want to stain.

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Use sandpaper with 100 to 120 grit to sand the surface of the wood you want to seal. You can use a sanding block or use a handy electric sander to remove all bumps, rough edges, grime, and stuck dirt. 

Follow up with rougher sandpaper grit such as 400grit. This will help you create a smoother and seamless surface where you will apply the stain or sealant. 

Sand the wood surface even if it is already looking smooth. Always sand along the grain; you must follow the natural lines on wood so you must move back and forth along the surface. This movement will prevent any swirling marks on the surface before you apply the sealant.

Remember; always wear a dust mask whenever you’re sanding to prevent inhaling any tiny wood particles. 

2. Get rid of all sawdust on the piece and in the surrounding areas.

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Use a dry clean cloth to remove all the dust on the surface you want to seal. Do this several times and try to feel the surface with your hands. You may also use a tac cloth as this is a very sticky cloth that can remove all the dust before you apply a sealant. Do not use a wet cloth as water will only make the surface rougher.

Also, clean the surrounding area so there won’t be any small particles, hair, and debris that can move to the wooden piece you’re trying to seal. If you fail to remove even a small speckle of dust, air or wind can take this dust particle to your wood as you seal it. This will affect the overall appearance of the piece. 

3. Apply stain on the wood

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Apply the stain you want on the newly sanded piece. Use a clean paintbrush to apply the stain or you may also use a clean rag. Follow the instructions on the product label regarding the stain drying times. 

Once the time has elapsed, use another clean rag and wipe away the excess stain. You may apply another coat once the first layer has completely dried. Dry the stained surface overnight to make sure that the surface is ready for the next coat. 

4. You may use a stain and sealant combo product.

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A product known as a stain and sealant combo combines the two products so you don’t need to buy separate stain and sealant. The stain colors the surface while the sealant makes the surface water-resistant. 

Most combo products are quick-drying products and thus, you don’t need to wait too long to use the piece of furniture. Always follow the instructions on how to use a combo product especially the time you need to wait for the product to dry. A combo stain and sealant is usually applied with a roller or a brush. 

5. Use a polyurethane product

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There are many kinds of PU products so you must decide which one will work best where you will place the furniture piece.  Consider that oil-based PU products will work well with outdoor wood furniture but it takes longer to completely dry and curing time is longer too.

Meanwhile, water-based PU products are not great for outdoor use but will dry quickly. You also need to decide if you need a glossy or a matte surface finish. 

You may use a dry, clean rag to apply a PU product or you may use a brush. Polyurethane products have a thin consistency and thus, will level out on their own. You won’t have to worry about creating an evenly applied coat.

Use 400 grit sandpaper in between PU applications. Once the first coat is dry, sand it and apply another coat. When you’re satisfied with the look, you may now apply two final coats. 

6. Apply Shellac

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Shellac will seal indoor wood. It comes in many colors and will seal the wood to keep it from drying out. Usually, a clean and dry sponge is used to apply this product. Check the drying time and additional instructions on the packaging. Let the wooden piece dry outdoors. 

7. Apply wood lacquer with a spray gun

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The final layer is lacquer sealant which will produce a stunning finish. Apply the lacquer in a well-ventilated area and wear a mask to protect yourself from the toxic fumes. Apply lacquer up to 4 coats.

Now that you know how to seal the wood, you may now stain and seal your furniture pieces at home. Remember to apply these products in a well-ventilated area and always follow instructions to ensure the best results.



One response to “How to Seal Wood – 7 Steps in Preserving Wood”

  1. […] off the residue before applying the finish. A seal coat of shellac primes the wood. After that’s dry, apply your chosen finish, be it oil, polyurethane, or […]

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