How to Seal Your Wood Projects

wood paneling
What You'll Need
Wood sealant
Paint or stain (optional)
Cheesecloth (optional)
Clean rag
Tack cloth

Whether you paint, stain, or leave your wood project raw, you should always use a sealer to protect it from the elements and wear. From sealing wood doors to a handmade table, check out the guide below to learn how to seal your wood projects properly.

Step 1 – Preparing the Area

The most important step before you seal wood or apply a coating is to prepare the area. Sand the wood with sandpaper to open up the wood’s pores. This will help the sealer adhere or penetrate into the wood. Then, clean up any wood dust with a tack cloth and a clean rag.

Step 2 – Applying Your Paint or Stain

If you want to paint or stain your wood project first, now is the time to do so. If you do not want to, move on to the next step.


Using a brush, apply several coats of paint. Keep in mind that, depending on your product's opacity, you may want to apply a stain first. Allow the first paint coat to dry to a "tacky" consistency before applying the second coat.

Applying Stains

Depending on your product, some stains should be applied with cheesecloth or other soft cloth instead. Read your product’s instructions and follow them closely for the best results.

Step 3 – Applying the Sealer

Once the paint or stain has had time to dry completely, use a different brush to apply the wood sealer.

Dip the brush into the sealant and wipe off the excess. Start at the center of the wood and brush outward and then back to the original starting point with the opposite side of the brush. Keep brushstrokes to a minimum, and always keep excess sealer off the brush to ensure a smooth finish that won’t take away from the value of your piece.

Continue until the entire wood project is coated.