When staining wood, you have a range of options with which to apply the stain. Some people wipe it on with cheesecloth, while others dab it on with a foam brush. Bristle brushes are by far the best applicators for this job for thorough and even coverage, greater control and fewer bubbles. Regardless of whether you are going to use a water- or oil-based stain, be sure to pick a brush with fine bristles so they will absorb more stain. Stain has a much runnier consistency than paint, so it has a tendency to run right off the brush. Also, always choose a brush whose bristles are well attached and of varied lengths. Be aware that bristle brushes are made from different materials, and some are more suited to particular types of stains. This means there are basically two types of bristle brushes that are best for staining.
Polyester or Nylon Synthetic Bristle Brushes
For water-based stains, choose a brush with soft nylon or polyester bristles. Never use natural bristle brushes on water-based stains because they will absorb too much of the product and prevent you from making an even application.
Natural China Bristle Brushes
For oil-based stains, choose a stiffer natural bristle brush, such as one made of white china bristles. Stiffer bristles hold up better in oil than soft ones do, avoiding an overly limp swipe of stain.