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Does Aspen Wood Stain Well? [Yes or No]

Aspen is a pretty popular wood type if you want to do construction, make furniture, or boxes. But to get the best results for your woodwork, you should know about Aspen’s finishing properties. 

Does aspen wood stain well?

Yes, aspen surely stains well. You’ll get a good-quality finish with it. This is because the wood has a porous structure that’s spread evenly. That’s why it accepts any color of stain you want to use. But while staining Aspen you should use the proper stain. Otherwise, staining it will be difficult. 

Got what you wanted? This is just a small portion. I’ve explained your query in detail below. I’ve even added the necessary tips and steps for staining Aspen. 

Just read along with me! 

Can You Stain Aspen? 

Yes, you can definitely stain your Aspen wood. To your surprise, this piece of wood stains very well and easily just like pine and basswood

Aspen, unlike other hardwoods, is softer. That’s why it’s known to be a softer hardwood. For this reason, Aspen stains really well. 

The wood piece has a diffuse-porous structure, unlike other hardwoods. This makes the stain spread throughout it evenly. 

The pigments of the stain penetrate into the surface of the Aspen easily. As a result, you’ll find no traces of streaks or blotches. 

Aspen’s vessels absorb a large amount of stain. Because of this, your woodwork will get an aesthetic appearance. 

But there’s a catch-

You’ve to stain it properly. Otherwise, you might harm the grain of the wood. This can lead you to be disappointed after the time-consuming staining process.  

Which Stain Should You Use to Stain Aspen? 

Now that Aspen can stain well, let’s get info on which wood stain is perfect for it. 

Gel stain is the best choice if you’re up for staining Aspen. Because this type of stain acts like paint that coats onto the wood’s surface. It’s good for Alder and Birch too. 

Gel stain doesn’t have to be absorbed into your Aspen’s grain to work. This is why I discourage you to use any oil-based stain. I also suggest that you don’t use water-based ones. 

Gel stain should be your number one choice for Aspen. But before applying the stain, you must consider an application of polyurethane or pre-stain wood conditioner.

Applying a thin base of it will prevent your Aspen’s minerals from getting damaged. For example, there won’t be any discoloration issues after applying the stain. 

For your comfort, I’ve gathered some suggestions regarding the gel stains. These are what I mostly use-

Product 1
Product 2

Be sure to get these before jumping into staining the piece of wood!

How to Apply Stain on Aspen?

As I’ve mentioned before, staining Aspen wood is easy. But you have to make sure you’re doing it the right way. 

You might think the process is the same as staining your balsa wood. But that’s not entirely true. There are specific steps for staining Aspen. 

But don’t worry! The steps are short and easy. I’ve mentioned the 5 steps of staining Aspen below-

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Supplies

First of all, you have to get the supplies you need for this process. There are 6 things to gather. These are-

  • Pre-stain wood conditioner 
  • Gel stain 
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Hand gloves 
  • Paintbrush 
  • Clean cloth or rag

Got these with you? If so, let’s start! 

Step 2: Clean Your Wood

Cleaning is a crucial part for staining any wood. Because cleaning it first will prevent any dirt from entering the layer or stain. As a result, you’ll get a smooth finish. 

Before starting the cleaning process, find a well-ventilated room. Because there are harsh chemicals in your staining products. These can cause you to have breathing problems due to wood poisoning.

Take your Aspen woodwork in that room and start cleaning the surface of the wood. This would help you to discard debris, dirt, and dust. 

You can use a clean cloth for cleaning it. Just dip the cloth into fresh or soapy water. Use the wet cloth to wipe down your furniture afterward. Be sure to not miss any dirty spots. 

Once you’re done cleaning your wood surface, let the Aspen dry off. It should take about 1-2 hours. 

Step 3: Sand the Aspen 

Take your 220 grit sandpaper now. Because you’ll have to sand your furniture. Keep sanding the furniture along the wood grain’s direction without missing out on any part. 

I recommend you use the fine grit sandpapers instead of the coarse ones. Because the coarse sandpapers can damage the Aspen surface. 

Don’t have fine grit sandpaper? No problem at all! Because I’ve mentioned the ones I’ve been using-

Product 1
Product 2

Make sure to get any one of these to start sanding!

After sanding the woodwork, you must discard the dust. Use a clean cloth again to remove the dust.

Step 4: Apply Your Wood Conditioner

It’s time for you to use the wood conditioner. This step will help your Aspen take in the necessary amount of stain evenly.

Take your wood conditioner and apply it all over your Aspen. Don’t miss any part. Once you’ve applied it, wait for about 15-20 minutes. 

But I suggest you have some patience and wait for another 2 hours. Within this time the wood will be perfectly ready for staining.

Step 5: Apply the Stain

Now it’s time for the main part! You can use the staining product now. 

Take your paintbrush and dip it into the wood stain. Make sure to not dip the entire brush. Once the brush has stain on it, start applying it to your Aspen. The direction of the application should be along Aspen’s grain.

This will avoid you from getting marks of the paintbrush or even an uneven layer. The surface will get a smooth and uniform stain layer. 

For getting a darker and deeper stain tone, add some pressure during the application. But make sure to put pressure evenly. 

After you’re applying the first layer/coat, apply another one after 24 hours. You can apply about 5 coats but not more than that. 

Are you done applying the stain? If yes, let your Aspen dry. You must wait for at least 24 to 48 hours. 

Note: Make sure to wait for 24 hours before applying another layer. Because within 24 hours, the previous coat will dry off properly. But if you apply another coat without the first coat drying, you’ll be left with a blotchy and tacky wood surface. 


Is aspen wood good for anything?

Yes, Aspen is a great option for construction and woodwork. This wood is used for making poles, bowls, and paddles for canoeing. It’s also used as a source of medicine among indigenous people.

Is aspen considered a hardwood?

Yes, Aspen is a hardwood. But it doesn’t have the same hardness level as maple or cherry wood. This piece of wood has a hardness level/rating of 420 lbf. As a result, its hardness rating is lower than other hardwoods. That’s why it’s called soft hardwood. 

What lumber stains the best?

The answer depends on how porous the lumber is. Because if the lumber has a very porous structure, it can stain well. The more porous it is, the better it stains. For example, Oak, Cheddar, and Aspen take stain quite well and easily. That’s why if you want to stain wood easily, go for porous lumbers.

Is aspen as strong as oak?

No, Aspen does not have the same strength as Oak. Oak is stronger than Aspen. Because while Aspen’s hardness level is 420, Oak’s hardness level is 1290. As a result, Aspen breaks and deteriorates much more easily and quickly than Oak. 

Final Words

Got your question: does aspen wood stain well answered? I tried explaining everything with simple words. 

But before parting ways I want to give you one last piece of extra info. You might think that staining Aspen isn’t necessary. But I’m here to prove you wrong. 

Because you see, staining Aspen can help it survive strong UV rays. In fact, the stain will act as a shield against rough environments, rotting, and insects. That’s why it definitely stains Aspen.

Good luck!