Colored wood stains are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to paints. They offer stronger and more durable surface protection while allowing you to add color and excitement to your pieces. Above all, colored wood stains are affordable.

So, today, we want to explain everything you need to know about one of the most popular colored wood stains – red wood stain. What is it, how can you use it, and what are the different types of red wood stains? Read on to find out.

What’s the Best Red Stain for Wood?

Ready Seal 520 Exterior Stain is arguably the best red stain for wooden projects. It’s easy to apply using a brush, roller, or sprayer and doesn’t require a primer. Moreover, you don’t need to dilute or thin the stain and can apply it at any temperature without adhesion issues. Verathane 307414 is an excellent alternative if you don’t like the Ready Seal product.

What is Red Wood Stain?

Redwood stain is one of the best types of wood stain because of the strong, fruity-color that provides a natural-looking red-toned finish. Moreover, it’s a low odor, fast-drying stain that gives a vibrant shade to wood.

A red wood stain is an excellent alternative to paint. You can use it on furniture to elevate your rooms, decks to enhance your home’s first impression, and planters and benches to spice up your garden.

Some people even use it on fences, sidings, outdoor patio furniture, and playsets. The stain provides a beautiful, semi-transparent, and long-lasting finish that won’t fade or darken with age.

More importantly, redwood stains are eco-friendly finishes that pose no threat to your kids, pets, or plants.

What are the Best Red Wood Stains? 

Redwood stains are available in many options from different manufacturers. Below is a review of the top three best-selling products;

1. Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain (Barn Red)

Rust-Oleum Varathane 307414 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain,...
  • 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

The Varathane Premium Fast-Dry Wood Stain is a fast-drying high-performance stain enhanced with nano pigments for faster application and maximum performance. It dries to the touch in one hour, covering 275 square meters per quart.

The main reason we love this product is that it enriches and highlights the wood’s natural grains. In addition, the stain penetrates deep into the wood, sealing its pores and protecting the surfaces – without a wood conditioner!

The economical stain is perfect for furniture, cabinets, doors, trim, and panelling. The application process is straightforward. First, sand the bare wood with 120-grit, 150-grit, then 220-grit sandpapers.

Then wipe the surface clean with mineral spirits and begin staining. You only need one coat. However, the manufacturer recommends a varathane polyurethane top coat for maximum surface protection.


  • You only need one coat
  • Dries to the touch in an hour
  • It enhances and highlights the natural wood grain


  • Requires a varathane polyurethane top coat

2. Ready Seal 520 Exterior Stain (Redwood)

Ready Seal 520 Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood, 5 Gallon,...
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It reaches its true color in approximately 14 days. Do not apply Ready Seal over painted or newly stained surfaces. Sealed surfaces inhibit penetration.
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods surface.
  • Requires no back brushing and will never leave runs, laps, or streaks.

The Ready Seal + Sealer formula is a redwood-colored stain that you can use on new or painted surfaces. It requires no diluting or thinning and blends without wet application. Moreover, you can apply it at any temperature.

When ready for the application process, bring a brush, roller, or sprayer and blend multiple containers to ensure color consistency.

Then apply two light coats, 45 minutes apart, and allow the final coat to dry for 48 to 72 hours. It reaches its true color in 14 days.

Ready Seal 520 Exterior Stain doesn’t require a primer or back-brushing. But, most importantly, you don’t have to worry about laps, runs, or streaks.


  • It’s a 2-in-1 stain and primer
  • Offers weather protection
  • Offers mold, mildew, and UV protection


  • It reaches its true color in two weeks

3. MINWAX Sedona Red Wood Finish (Sedona Red)

1 qt Minwax 70043 Sedona Red Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood...
  • RICH EVEN COLOR – Minwax Wood Finish is a deep penetrating, oil-based wood stain that provides beautiful color and enhances the natural wood grain in one coat. It’s perfect for interior staining projects such as wood furniture, cabinets, doors and more.
  • QUICK DRYING – Staining interior wood has never been quicker. The special formula allows it to deeply penetrate wood pores within 5 minutes of application, resists lapping, and dries in two hours, making all your wood projects quick, beautiful and easy.
  • EASY TO APPLY – Use a clean cloth or wood stain brush to apply this wood stain in the direction of the grain. Wait 5-15 minutes and wipe away excess stain. The longer you wait, the darker/richer the color. Reapply coats for deeper color.

Finally, you can transform your room or house with a few coats of MINWAX Sedona Red Wood Finish. The deeply penetrating, oil-based wood stain provides a beautiful color while enhancing the wood’s natural grains.

It’s a fast-drying stain ready to touch within five minutes and dries completely in two hours. What’s more, it’s very easy to apply.

Use a clean cloth or wood brush to apply the first stain in the direction of the grain. Then wait 15 minutes, wipe the excess stain, and apply the second layer.

The Sedona red stain provides a rich, warm finish with red-brown undertones that looks elegant on most projects, including furniture, cabinets, doors, and more.


  • It comes in a rich, even color
  • Quick drying time (dries in two hours)
  • Provides a natural, rich, warm finish


  • It’s a tad expensive

Red Wood Stain Colors

Red wood stain colors vary from light to deep shades depending on your needs. The following are the most popular color choices;

1. Barn Red Wood Stains

“Barn red” was originally used on barns. Different people have different reasons why. For instance, some believe red helped cows find their way home.

Meanwhile, others say wealthy farmers mixed their oil paints with blood to warm their barns. Whichever theory is true, barn red is now a popular color in many interior design styles.

It’s a dark shade of red that’s 98% saturated and 49% bright. The RGB color model comprises 91% red, 7% green, and 1% blue.

Barn red stains are the best farmhouse table finish styles, blending easily with blacks, whites, and shades of gray for the perfect decor.

2. Crimson Red Wood Stain

Crimson red stains are rich, deep red stains with a purple inclination. The name originally came from the Kermes dye, derived from an insect called Kermes Vermilio.

However, more recently, the name also means a bluish-red color ranging from red to rose. The crimson red dyes used in crimson paints and stains are aluminum and calcium-based salts of carminic acid.

Decorators, however, know it as the color of love. You can pair it with Victorian colors like deep bronze, maroons, and greens for an elegant, vintage look. Alternatively, combine it with neutrals, such as the sand dollar and beige, for a neutral palette.

Read: Gray stain for wood

3. Scarlet Red Wood Stain

Scarlet red is a bright red hue with a tinge of orange. It’s the color originally worn by the Catholic Church, representing the blood of Jesus.

It also reminds them of Christian martyrs. Therefore, this color is first and foremost associated with religion, sacrifice, and devotion.

Nevertheless, you can use scarlet stains in your home to warm up your spaces and create a little excitement in flat rooms. When used in interior decor, it symbolizes joy, passion, courage, and force.

The experts at Canva recommend combining scarlet red with neutrals like sand, beige, basil, and chocolate for a warm, earthy palette. Alternatively, combine it with bright yellow and orange hues for a bold, bright look.

4. Dark Red Wood Stain

As the name suggests, dark red stains are strong reddish-brown colors that resemble a combination of red and black stains. Many often mistake it for maroon or burgundy due to the dark hue. However, the three are different.

Dark red stain colors are made by adding bits of black to the red stain. Alternatively, some manufacturers create reds with a longer wavelength, which looks dark to the naked eye.

Types of dark red stains include dark cherry, mahogany, apple red, coffee red, and red vale. These colors are ideal for a wide range of applications, from wood fences to sheds and window frames.

5. Bright red wood stain

Bright red stains are colors that are free of shading with black or lightening with white. In other words, they’re pure hues of red, with the longest wavelengths of visible light.

Most people associate bright red colors with the sun and fire. So, it communicates boldness and audacity when used in interior decor. However, it can also symbolize danger when used appropriately.

Venetian red, cherry red, scarlet, and barn red are perfect examples of bright red colors. Unsurprisingly, the word “red” also refers to a bright red color.

It’s the perfect “red” if you’re looking for simplicity. Moreover, bright red stains blend easily with nearly all other colors and fit many woodworking and finishing applications, from cabinetry to furniture making.

Red Wood Stain Uses

You can use red wood stains in many exterior and interior wood projects. First, redwood stains are perfect if you wish to alter the wood’s natural appearance subtly.

It gives woodworking projects a red tone without completely blocking the item’s natural properties. Additionally, redwood stains help to reduce contrasts in wood color, bringing together the extremes for greater harmony.

For the same reason, you can use the stain in projects involving different wood species to disguise the different colors and bring uniformity to your project.

Finally, red stains are excellent wood preservatives, especially in exterior settings. They protect wooden items from the damaging effects of weather, sunlight, UV, insects, and fungi.

Common applications include;

  • Flooring
  • Decks
  • Fences
  • Siding and trim
  • Cabinets
  • Doors

Recommended read: Best UV protection for wood furniture.

How to Stain Wood Red 

Staining wood in red color is a quick, straightforward process if you have the right tools and a few DIY skills. Here’s how to proceed;


  • A red wood stain
  • Stain conditioner
  • Rags or old clothes
  • Brush or roller for deck stain
  • Sandpaper (220-grit)
  • Dishwashing soap and water
  • Safety gloves

How to Apply Red Wood Stain to a Deck: Step-by-Step Guide

When you’re ready to stain, wear your safety gloves and goggles (not mandatory) and follow the steps below;

  1. Clean the wood: Use dishwashing soap and water to clean the deck thoroughly. Then allow it to dry for an hour.
  2. Sand the wood: Stains stick better to sanded wood. Moreover, smoothing removes imperfections, resulting in a more even finish. We recommend 220-grit sandpaper, though 120-grit and 150-grits are good alternatives.
  3. Remove dust from the surface: After sanding, clean the surface again. This time, use dry rags to wipe the sanding dust. You can also vacuum the surface.
  4. Apply red wood stain: A brush with natural fibers or polyester bristles works best, though polyester bristles cost more. Don’t overlap multiple times when standing, making it difficult for the wood to absorb the stain. You only need a single coat.
  5. Allow the deck to dry: It takes 48 hours for most red wood stains to dry completely. However, you want to stay away from stained furniture for at least 72 hours.

Red Wood Stain Prices

You can purchase red wood stains from local hardware stores or big box stores. Another option is online retail stores, such as Amazon and eBay.

The prices vary significantly, from under $10 per quart to $50+ per gallon. For instance, a quart of MINWAX Finish Oil Sedona Red Semi-Transparent Interior Stain costs around $8 in most stores.

Meanwhile, a gallon of MINWAX Finish Oil-Based Red Mahogany Semi-Transparent Interior stain costs $46.


How do you make stained wood redder?

The easiest way to make stained wood redder is by using dye. For instance, you can add some red or orange dye to the finish to make red stains redder. Similarly, you can add a little green dye to “kill” the redness or make the surface a little less red.

What do I do if my stain is too red?

The best way to neutralize a red stain in wood is to mix it with a green stain. The combination gives a reddish shade of brown. Alternatively, you can dilute the red stain by adding a bit of brown. However, remember to dilute the stain gradually. Then add a little more red if the red stain is too light.

Is red wood stain waterproof?

Yes, red wood stain has waterproofing properties. It protects the underlying wood surface from moisture and water spills. However, it’s not 100% waterproof. Moreover, different red wood stains have varying levels of water resistance. Therefore, you want to check the product label to see how much water protection it offers.


A coat of red stain on your deck or furniture can be the final touch your home needs to transform into a warm, welcoming, and exciting paradise.

Moreover, the right red tones placed strategically throughout your home create an enchanting decor that can strengthen family bonds. So, perhaps it’s time to defy tradition and try a red stain on your deck, furniture, or cabinets.

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