Top 7 Best Stain for Alder Wood:Guide & Finish Steps in 2023

Alder is a popular choice for furniture. It is strong, easy to work with, and readily available at low prices. However, the wood has no natural color of its own. Instead, it usually takes dye or stains very well. You can stain alder almost any color you wish to achieve, including red, black or white.

Stain is used to change the color of wood, or even preserve it. It is usually a dye or pigment suspended in a liquid and applied with a brush or rag to the surface of unfinished wood.

There are water-based stains and oil-based stains. Oil-based stains have more color options for deeper woods, but they can raise the grain of the wood. Water-based stains are easy to clean up, but they lack color selection for deeper woods.

In this article, I will be discussing the best stain for alder wood with their Features, Guide to use, Tips and advantages. Also, you will learn how to stain alder woods. 

Comparison Table:

Product NameTypeSizeColor
Old Masters 80408 Oil Based Gel StainOil-based1 pint, 473 mL21 Colors
Old Masters 24991 80704 Gel StainOil-based1 quart, 946 mL21 Colors
General Finishes Exterior 450 Wood StainWater-based1 quart, 946 mLRed Mahogany only

Best stain for alder wood

Old Masters 80408 Oil Based Gel Stain

Old Masters 80408 Oil Based Gel Stain

Old Masters 80408 Oil Based Gel Stain is a premium wood stain for exterior and interior use. The oil based stain penetrates deep into the wood fibers, resulting in a rich, long-lasting finish that resists fading and peeling. Besides, this versatile gel stain can be used on a variety of surfaces including fence posts, decks, siding, trim boards, lattice work and more!

It provides a rich, deep color on all exterior wood surfaces including Alder and Redwood. Moreover, the stain is easy to use and comes with innovative squeeze tube technology. It has been formulated for ease of use in achieving professional results without extensive training or experience.

You can apply it with either brush or roller application methods, depending on the desired finish appearance. It is an oil based stain and an oil based stain works better than water based stains in alder woods.

The color of this stain is red mahogany. Therefore, it turns the natural color of the wood into a reddish mahogany color. If you need your work done at the soonest time then it would be your greatest choice. You can apply the stained gel easily throughout the woods within a short time.

Old Masters 80408 comes in one pint size containers and has 473 ml of gel. So you can use it in so many woods with one pint of the gel.

Caution for you! When applying the gel stain make sure you’re taking all the precautions to be safe. As it is a combustible liquid, it can cause eye irritation.

Old Masters 80704 Gel Stain

Old Masters 24991 80704 Gel Stain

Old Masters 80408 is another top rated oil based Gel stain from Old Masters. It is a household wood stain that can be used on most hardwood surfaces including Alderwood. It provides an intense color that gives an outstanding look to your interior and exterior. 

If you’re looking for premium quality, fast drying, odorless stain that provides an intense color then you got your mark. It penetrates deep into the wood grain for a rich, uniform color. Besides, this formula contains no VOCs and is non-flammable.

can alder wood be stained

Furthermore, the gel consistency makes it easy to apply with minimal brush marks. It dries super fast and helps your project to be faster.

What would you say if the best Alderwood stain comes in 21 different colors including Dark walnut, Fruitwood, Golden Oak? Of course, “wow! That’s awesome!” Yes, that’s right. This gel stain comes in 21 different colors for a versatile choosing option for you. Choose one that you need for your next project. 

The material of the stain is oil based and serves your purpose for almost a lifetime. Therefore, it will be a great choice if you need to work on a comparatively large project as it comes with a 946 mL quart pack.

Best finish for alder wood

Minwax Wood Finish White Stain, Half Pint

Minwax Wood Finish White Stain, Half Pint

A premium oil based wood stain wood finish by Minwax. Introducing Minwax Wood Finish, the new oil-based formula that provides beautiful color and enhances the natural wood grain in one coat. This quick drying formula allows it to deeply penetrate wood pores within 5 minutes of application, resists lapping, and dries in two hours.

best color stain for alder wood

Minwax Wood Finish is a traditional oil-based wood stain that is ideal for cedar or alder redwood applications. This product provides exceptional coverage on alder wood surfaces and leaves a durable finish that is resistible to lapping and fading.

Minwax Wood Finish is touch dry to the touch. When dry two hours later, the finish is ready to recoat.

With this high-quality product, you’ll get professional results every time without having to hire an expensive contractor! Moreover, it is eco-friendly so it won’t harm our environment in any way! 

Deep penetrating, it enhances the natural wood grain in one coat, allowing you to get back to work quickly!

General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Wood Stain

General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Wood Stain

If you’re on a budget or want to cut the budget for your next stain works then General Finishes Exterior 450 Stains is ideal for you. The water-based stain gel provides a great budget cut and gives you a fantastic result in the end. With the premium quality wood stains like General finishes, you won’t need to be a pro to do your job. Just grab one and start working with it.

It features U.V. absorbers to protect against fading from sunlight exposure and has been formulated with an exclusive blend of natural oils and resins for outstanding protection against moisture damage. Therefore, you can easily apply it by brushing, rolling, or spraying.

It can be used on decks, fences, siding and more. It will protect your wood from the elements while adding beautiful color to it. This particular stain is designed for Alder Wood, but can be used on other types of wood as well.

Along with so many outstanding features, it also has some disadvantages. These outdoor water-based wood stains are not recommended for large surfaces such as a deck. Moreover, it only comes with one color- red mahogany. If you’re not looking for another color other than red mahogany then you could go for it. 

Best sealers for alder wood

Sealer is one of the most essential parts in woodworking. If you don’t get a perfect sealer, no matter how good your stain is, it won’t give you the best result you’re looking for. So, now let’s talk about the best sealer that will save you a fortune!

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854 Sanding Sealer

Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye Sealcoat Sanding Sealer

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 854 Sanding Sealer is famous for its all clear wood finishes. It can be used as a pre-stain conditioner for alder woods. Besides, it works fantastic with pine and softwoods. It gives extra beauty & warmth to water-base polyurethanes. 

Unlike some other similar products, it will give you a lightning fast drying experience.

As well as, you won’t face problems like going dark after a few years. The deep penetration properties assure protection from water, alcohol, household cleaners, coffee and other liquids. 854 acts as a bond coat under any clear finish including water based finishes.

You can easily clean up with ammonia, alcohol, and water. It’s great for sealing floors as well as other interior wood surfaces. The clear color allows the natural colors of the wood to show through.

Best finish for alderwoods

Once you finish staining, now it’s your turn to give the finishing touch with the best finish. Else, all your hard work might go to vain. So let’s find out a couple of top notch finishes for alder woods. 

Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Semi-Gloss Spray

Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Semi-Gloss Spray

Deft Interior Clear Wood Finish Semi-Gloss Spray is a highly durable finish that’s made from 100-percent nitrocellulose brush-on lacquer. You can use it on wood, metal and concrete to seal and finish perfectly.

You will get a crystal clear finish and therefore your wood’s color won’t be changed a bit. Moreover, it won’t darken or go yellow for years. Deft made this finishing spray to look your wood extraordinary and give your woods a perfect finish. 

You can easily apply without any help from a professional and give outstanding results. Therefore you can save yourself from spending extra bucks. 

This USA-made finish spray works superbly in almost any wood. However, it gives extraordinary results to hardwoods like alder woods and rosewoods.

Despite all the superb features, it has some disadvantages as well. You can’t use it for exterior use. It is made for interior woodwork. So, if you’re planning to use a finish on the exterior, then it’s not for you. However, it will be the world’s first choice if you want to use it in the interior. 

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 408 Shellac Spray

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 408 Bulls Eye Clear Shellac Spray

While staining wood is usually considered the preferred method of finishing, not all situations are conducive to this approach.  For example, trying to stain fine furniture in a living area is usually not possible due to the smell and dust that can result from using a regular finish.

Using spray-on finishes like Rust-Oleum Zinsser 408 Spray will be a perfect choice. The spray can cover wood evenly and dries quickly, allowing for multiple coats if needed.

As an added benefit, unlike the standard finish that can take an hour or more to dry, this spray dries super fast. It also means fewer fumes than with other types of finishes and eliminates the smell associated with regular finishes. Wearing a respirator is usually not necessary when using the shellac spray, further reducing project time.

One of the most common complaints with wood finishing is the process seems too slow and messy for many people. This spray eliminates many of these minor annoyances while still providing professional results.

How do you stain alder dark wood?

best stain for knotty alder wood

Alder wood is a famous hardwood that is used for exterior and interior designing. But the issue is, staining a dark alder wood is quite a tough task. If you don’t prepare the wood perfectly, it can result in rough coloring. To avoid such circumstances, you need to learn the proper process. Now I will go through step by step for you to better understand. 

Step 1: Start with choosing a perfect stain

We already know there are two types of stains out there- oil-based and water-based. Applying oil-based paint demands a well-ventilated work environment as it produces a significant amount of odour. Water-based stains are safer, non-toxic, and lighter. Oil-based stains are preferred in areas with lots of light and air. Choose one that suits your budget and your project. 

Step: 2 Remove any existing stain

You can skip this step if you wish to stain the wood a darker color or if the board is unfinished. If not, use a chemical stripper to remove any coatings or old color. Sand off as much as you can with a coarse-grain sandpaper (60-100 grit). To remove deep stains that sanding cannot remove, use a chemical stripper.

Step 3: Use a 120 grit sandpaper on the entire piece of wood

Smooth the wood using a 120 grit hand sander. It will give you a better result in the end. Don’t forget to remove the dust every time you do the sanding. 

Easy to stick to the random orbital sander (Check price here)

Step 4: Again sand with a 200 grit sandpaper

One more time you need to sand the whole wood piece with a larger grit around 200. It will ensure you’re getting a more accurate result. 

 Excellent To Use For Hand Sanding, Block Sanding, and For Sanding Use Attached To Sanders. (Check prices here)

Dura-Gold Premium Sandpaper - 120 Grit

Step 5: Use mineral spirits

Now clean the entire wood with mineral spirits. It helps to regain the actual color of the woods. Keep it 5 minutes after using mineral spirits. [Check prices here]

Klean Strip Green Odorless Mineral Spirits

Step 6: Wipe the wood

After 5 minutes, wipe the wood with a cleansed cloth. 

Step 7: Use wood conditioner

Alder wood is difficult to dye due to uneven absorption. Using a wood conditioner will help you out. However, skip the wood conditioner if you want a worn and rustic look.

Step 7: Wait for 2 hours

If you use conditioner on your woods, then you have to wait for 2 hours to get it dried. If you don’t, just skip this step.

Step 8: Stir the stain 

Now, stir your stain perfectly with a brush that will ensure you an even coloring. 

Step 9: Apply a thin coating

Start with applying a thin coating with a suitable brush. You can also use a rag to get a better result. 

Step 10: Apply another coating

If your stain is fast drying, then you can apply another coating right away. However, if it doesn’t dry fast, wait until it gets dried. 

Step 11: Wait for 5 minutes

Wait for minutes for the next step. 

Step 12: Wipe with a clean rag

The stain must not dry on the wood. If it occurs, later staining or finishing can be difficult. Wait a few minutes, then wipe the stain clear using a clean rag.

Step 13: Apply finish now

That’s the last step for staining. Now you just need to apply a perfect finish to get the best result. Now it’s all done!

How to Stain on Alder Doors using wipe-on Method


Staining an alder wood takes time and practice to get the perfection. Knowing the process and choosing the perfect stain, sealer and finish will help you take down the task easily like a pro. All of the products described here are proven to provide better results. You can choose one without any worry according to your budget and color preference. And follow the above mentioned steps.

Let us know how your experience was. And don’t hesitate to ask any questions, if you have any doubts or questions regarding the process. 

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