Cherry wood boasts some highly sought-after aesthetics, making it among the most expensive wood for furniture building.

The wood’s color is one of its most eye-catching aspects, making cherry wood stain a favorite for many woodworkers.

One way to preserve any wood’s color or revitalize a faded piece is by staining. However, not all wood types accept stains the same way. So, can you stain cherry wood to accentuate its color?

This article explores cherry wood stain and how you can use it to revive your wood or accentuate a piece of cherry wood furniture.

Can You Stain Cherry Wood?

You can stain cherry wood to improve its color and make its grain pop. However, staining cherry wood is challenging and requires sanding the surface to a grit no higher than 180 to avoid closing the grain and blocking out the stain. Observing the correct sandpaper grit is essential to ensuring proper stain adherence and achieving the desired color.

What Color is the Cherry Wood Stain?

Cherry wood stain color falls between reddish-brown and light pink. It mimics the beautiful shades of cherry wood that range from golden to reddish brown.

The cherry wood color typically darkens over time and can vary from one tree or board to another. This color change that happens over time is generally due to exposure to sunlight.

So if you buy light pink cherry wood furniture, you can expect it to become reddish-brown after some months. This color behavior should guide you when deciding to stain cherry wood or choosing the cherry wood stain.

You must ensure the stain color closely matches the wood color, or you may not get the perfect results.

Is Cherry Hard to Stain?

Yes, staining cherry wood is not a walk in the park. While most wood types accept stain well when sanded up to 220 grit, cherry wood pores will be blocked if you sand that fine. As a result, you may end up with blotches.

So you must sand the wood to 150 or 180 grit, apply a wood conditioner, and apply the stain evenly to improve your results when staining cherry wood.

Related Post: Can Acacia Wood Be Stained

How to Stain Cherry Wood

Despite being challenging to stain, you can still get satisfactory results by following the correct procedure and using the right products when staining cherry wood.

When stained correctly, a coat of wood stain can significantly accentuate and bring out the vividness of the wood grain. Here is some help to ensure your cherry wood stain job is successful.

What you will need

  • Cherry wood stain
  • Protective hand gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Applicator
  • Clean rags
  • Tack cloth
  • Sandpaper sander
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Plastic sheeting

Procedure for staining cherry

Once you have assembled all the necessary supplies, lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to collect any spills. Spills can easily stray onto your floor or surrounding objects when working with cherry wood stains.

The only way to prevent this is to cover the floor underneath your workstation with a piece of plastic sheeting, drop cloth, or a bunch of old newspapers.

Also, wear protective or old clothes that you don’t mind getting the stain on. Additionally, put on a pair of hand gloves to protect your hands from staining.

Interesting Read: Red Oak Wood Floor Stain Colors

Step 1. Stand the wood

Cherry wood is best sanded to a lower grit. Sanding with a very fine sandpaper will only block the pores and lead to increased blotching.

Therefore, stick to 150 or 180 grit sandpaper for final sanding to leave the pores open. However, you can use 220-grit sandpaper on the end grain as they tend to suck up much of the product.

Once you are done sanding, wipe the wood surface with a tack cloth or rag dampened with mineral spirits, and let it dry.

Step 2. Apply wood conditioner

Pre-stain wood conditioner helps distribute the stain to prevent splotching. This is why it is essential to apply it before the stain when working on blotch-prone woods like cherry.

When buying the wood conditioner, consider going for the same brand as the stain for better compatibility. The product should have the application instruction on the label—ensure you read and follow them.

Ideally, you’ll need to apply thin coats to avoid blocking the pores.

Read Also: What Color Tones Down Red Wood

Step 3. Apply the stain

Cherry wood is tight-grained, so you want to go for a stain that is specifically formulated for the wood. It should help to discuss your options with your supplier when shopping.

After deciding on the stain, use a lint-free cloth to rub the stain onto the wood along the grain. You could also use a sprayer to apply the stain.

Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe the excess product along the grain. Five minutes should be enough time to wait before wiping off the excess stain.

Now, if you need to apply a second coat then you need to sand between layers of stain before recoating.

Step 4. Assess and recoat if necessary

You can only tell if the wood has achieved your desired color once it is completely dry. So you want to let the stain dry for about 24 hours or as directed by the manufacturer before assessing the color.

You will notice that the wood is darker before it is fully dry. If you prefer it darker than it is after drying, apply another coat of stain following the same procedure as the first, letting it sit for more minutes before wiping the excess.

This should give you the desired depth of color.

Next, learn how to get rid of wood stain smell.

How to Stain Pine to Look Like Brazilian Cherry

Pine is generally cheaper than cherry wood. So you may want to stain it to mimic cherry if you don’t want to pay the premium figure.

The tools and supplies you need

  • Cherry-colored stain
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Protective hand gloves
  • Clear sealant
  • Applicator
  • Clean rags
  • Tack cloth
  • Sandpaper sander
  • Plastic sheeting

The steps to follow

  • Start by choosing the appropriate stain to use for the job. You will want a cherry-colored wood stain. In our case, we used Minwax Red Mahogany wood stain to replicate the solid cherry wood color on pine.
  • Next, sand the pine wood to 220 grit. This should smoothen the surface and prime the pores to take the stain.
  • Apply a coat of pre-stain wood conditioner to the entire wood’s surface. Pine is blotch-prone, so you will need the conditioner to help even out the surface and help the wood accept stain better.
  • Stir the stain to mix evenly and apply it to the wood using a lint-free rag or paintbrush. Allow the stain to sit on the wood for the recommended time before wiping off the excess. The longer you let it stay before wiping, the darker the resulting color.
  • Let the coat dry, and then add another coat. You may apply three or more coats to get the desired shade. Pine is light-colored, so you may have to recoat severally before getting the cherry wood color.
  • Finally, apply a clear top coat to seal the color. You could go for a polyurethane, spar urethane, stain polyurethane mix, or any clear sealer of your choice.

Related Post: How to Mix Wood Stain

Best Stains for Cherry Wood

If you are ready to revive your cherry wood with a new coat of stain, you will want to know which product to work with. That said, here are two products you can never go wrong with.

Minwax Red Mahogany Wood Finish

qt Minwax 70007 Red Mahogany Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood...
  • Is color matched to the standards of the traditional Wood Finish™ line so that your finished results are the same, beautiful, consistent color that you are use to
  • Used to enhance any interior bare or stripped wood surface
  • Allows recoating in 4-6 hours and dries completely in 8 hours

Minwax is a leading brand, so you can be confident in the company’s product. That said, this red mahogany wood stain boasts a deep penetrating, oil-based formula that is sure to provide your wood with a rich, beautiful color.

The deep red undertones of this Minwax cherry stain are perfect for cherry wood. The stain does an excellent job enhancing the wood’s natural grain in just one coat. You will only need to apply it once to transform your cherry wood furniture.

Despite being oil-based, this penetrating stain dries fast. This quick-drying property makes the stain idea for interior wood projects, allowing you to complete the projects in just a few hours.

Since this stain is easy to apply, it can be a perfect choice for new DIYers. You do not need any special skills to wipe it onto the wood and off to remove the excess. All you require is a clean rag to do both processes.

Read Also: Tung Oil Vs Stain

Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain

Varathane 262006 Varathane-262006 Premium Fast Dry Wood...
  • Ideal for use on all interior wood projects: furniture, cabinets, doors, trim and paneling
  • One-coat coverage, fast-drying oil based formula
  • Dries to the touch in just 1 hour and covers up to 275 square feet

Verathane’s premium fast dry wood stain is one of the most phenomenal options on the wood finishes market. The stain dries up to three times faster than standard wood stains and offers superior coverage in just one coat.

This particular one comes in a darker shade of cherry, ideal for aging cherry wood. Notice that cherry tends to darken as it ages, and you need to match the dark color closely with the stain color to get the best out of your stain job. 

You can use this product on the interior as well as exterior cherry wood projects, making it a one-stop solution for your staining needs.

Despite being a superior quality product, this wood stain is reasonably priced, making it a budget-friendly option. It is further cost-effective since you only need a single coat to get the desired coverage out of your purchase.

Check out our guide on blue wood stain furniture for inspiration.

Can Cherry Wood be Stained Lighter?

Yes, you can stain cherry wood lighter by choosing a lighter shade of cherry wood stain. Once you have your stain of choice, apply it to the wood and wipe the excess stain immediately without waiting. The longer you wait before wiping, the darker the color becomes.

What Wood Stain Looks Like Cherry?

Our editor’s choice of wood stain that looks like cherry is Minwax Red Mahogany. However, cherry wood darkens over time, so you will find that a number of different stains resemble various boards of cherry wood.

Experimenting with various stains is the best way to determine your preferred cherry stain.

Anticipating a hemlock project in your future? Look no further – here’s a comprehensive guide to staining hemlock that will provide you with the essential steps and tips to achieve a successful and beautifully finished result

Tips for Finishing Cherry

  1. Always use a pre-stain wood conditioner when staining cherry to avoid blotching.
  2. Do not sand the wood too fine. Consider no going finer than 180-grit sandpaper for the best results.
  3. Match the stain color to the wood color. The closer the colors, the better the results you should expect.
  4. Always apply a sealer after staining cherry wood to lock in the color and make it durable.

Learn More: Can You Stain Redwood?

Cherry Wood Stain FAQs

Does cherry wood stain well?

Cherry wood does not stain well, so you must follow specific steps to reduce the occurrence of blotches and improve your results when staining one. Specifically, you must sand it appropriately to avoid blocking the pores and apply a pre-stain conditioner before the stain.

Can you sand and stain cherry wood?

Yes, you can sand cherry wood with 180-grit sandpaper and stain it to your preferred shade. Staining cherry can be a great way to enhance the color and make the grain pop.

Want to learn how to stain other types of wood? Check our article on staining bamboo to get insights.

Looking to stain your cherry wood green? Check out our article on green stain for wood.

Other Article: Can You Stain Pressed Wood?


Much as staining cherry wood can be a challenging process, knowing how to do it correctly can significantly improve your results and guarantee your success.

When staining cherry wood, ensure you start by choosing the right stain color for your project. Next, choose the correct sandpaper grit, and apply a pre-stain conditioner before staining the wood.

Following these key guidelines should help make your stain job a resounding success. Did you enjoy this tutorial? Please let us know in the comments.

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