How do I stain waferboard?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ April 14, 2011 ~ Comments

I need some advice on staining wafer. Is this even recommended? Or are there special stains and methods for waferboard? Thanks.

Brian W. ~ Ft. Worth, Texas

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Brian. Waferboard can be stained, but it may take a little more effort than staining wood or a finish type of plywood. When you say waferboard, I assume you are referring to oriented strand board (OSB) which is also sometimes called waferboard or particle board. It's a material that was developed for builders and homeowners as a substitute for plywood.

Some brands of OSB have a wax-type sealant applied by the manufacturer to help prevent it from moisture damage during the construction process, and if you want to stain the material, that sealant has to be removed for the stain to be absorbed. This can usually be accomplished with a hardwood floor wax remover, and the steps can vary depending on the brand -- just follow the instructions on the container.

You can then sand the waferboard if you desire, but while you may be able to smooth it somewhat, the chances of ever sanding it as smooth as finished plywood or wood lumber are pretty slim. The manufacturing process OSB goes through makes obtaining an extremely smooth surface by sanding very difficult.

Staining can be done the same way that you would stain any material, but you may find using a small brush to get into all of the little nooks a little easier. You may also have to apply a second coat of stain to cover the OSB completely as the material can be very absorbent once the sealant is removed. Any type of stain should work, but if you plan to use your waferboard outside, you should use a stain rated for exterior use.

The polyurethane application is where you can really smooth out the finish on your waferboard. Put on several coats and use a very fine steel wool between coats to eliminate any rough spots you may find. There are three common polyurethane finishes -- satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss. Several coats can result in a finish almost as smooth as glass if you take your time.

I haven't seen any with my own eyes, but I've read that some people are using stained waferboard as paneling due to the interesting and unique shapes of wood particles each board possesses. You might want to talk to some painting contractors around Ft. Worth to find out if they have done this in any Texas homes -- you might be able to get some good finishing and shading ideas.

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