Has anyone tried staining Poplar ?

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Forum topic by MrWoody posted 02-23-2008 12:21 AM 41343 views 3 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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338 posts in 4286 days

02-23-2008 12:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

I’ve glued up some panels for a project for my daughter. I used polar because she said she was/is going to paint it, but they have beautiful grain patterns.
If it can be stained, I’m going to try her into not painting.
I would try some scraps, but I don’t seem to have any stain here and I can’t see any point in buying some if I’m not going to use it.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

13 replies so far

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4334 days

#1 posted 02-23-2008 12:54 AM

Poplar can be stained but you will end up with some green areas initially. These will fade to a nice brown with time. So if you can be patient with the piece it will end up a nice shade with time.

I stained all my poplar doors and trim with Minwax Early American and finished them with poly. I really don’t know how long it took since I wasn’t really aware of when the change occurred. I just realized that the greenish tint on some of the panels had simply transformed into a nice brown one day.

Here are some photos:

In the third photo the door on the right is a 6 panel pine door. I was trying to get the poplar and pine to match as closely as I could.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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338 posts in 4286 days

#2 posted 02-23-2008 01:32 AM

Gorgeous, from the pictures they seem to match.
I’ll tag this and show it to my daughter.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

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#3 posted 02-23-2008 03:01 PM

Woody, I’ve played with staining it and you have to be careful. Poplar can get blotchy on you so i’d do a seal coat before staining. I haven’t discovered a way to tell where and when it will happen, but I’ve had some pojects that do and some that don’t. Better safe than sorry. Just a heads up.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

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338 posts in 4286 days

#4 posted 02-23-2008 03:14 PM

Thanks for the heads up.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

View CoolDavion's profile


458 posts in 4336 days

#5 posted 02-23-2008 05:06 PM

I’ve stained Poplar for this project . I used MinWax brand PolyShade.
Lowes (and probely other stores) sells little 1/2 pint cans, so you can get a little bit of stain without a major investment.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

View TampaTom's profile


74 posts in 4265 days

#6 posted 02-23-2008 07:39 PM

Either way, I’d recommend getting some Zinnser Seal Coat and cut it half and half with denatured alcohol – wipe that on as a seal coat and sand it down with fine grit paper before you stain. That should control the blotching….

-- Tom's Workbench -

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338 posts in 4286 days

#7 posted 02-23-2008 07:47 PM

Thanks guys, I’ve talked to my daughter and we’re going to give staining it a try.
Tampa Tom:”I’d recommend getting some Zinnser Seal Coat”.
I suspect that I won’t find that around here, is it similar to shellac?

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

View Ampeater's profile


441 posts in 4259 days

#8 posted 02-23-2008 09:52 PM

Zinnser Seal Coat is a 2 lb cut of dewaxed shellac and is available at most big box stores.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View Fuzzy's profile


298 posts in 4500 days

#9 posted 02-23-2008 10:13 PM

Several years ago, I made a bunch of Poplar door casing, chair rail, and baseboard to re-do my in-laws house. We did a LOT of research and wound up using WOODKOTE bran gel stain. I’d have never thought Poplar could look so nice. This stuff was great and required no sealing or pre-stain conditioner. Check into it .. .. I think you will be glad you did.

I know there are now lots of gel stains on the market, but I keep going back to what I know to work well for me .. .. and this stuff gets my vote.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

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1077 posts in 4311 days

#10 posted 02-24-2008 12:27 AM

Ditto on the SealCoat. I use it straight up, either by brush or sprayer. A light sanding and then I squirt water based dyes out of a bottle sprayer. Let it dry, scuff sand then spray on another light coat of SealCoat then finish with either poly or lacquer. Voila! Note: if you use lacquer, you can skip the last scuff sanding.

I struggled for the first half dozen years of my woodworking life by experimenting with all manner of finishing schedules and the above is what I’ve settled on and have absolutely no qualms in recommending. It is easy to amend, modify or reverse and never fails to impress. I know it sounds a bit too good to believe but it is a matter of keeping it simple rather than falling for some brewmaster’s alchemic secret formula. Although, a light dusting of pixie dust never hurts…


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4839 days

#11 posted 02-24-2008 02:26 AM

I’d read that it can be stained or dyed to be a pretty good match to cherry. (for what it’s worth)

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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Joe Lyddon

10739 posts in 4564 days

#12 posted 02-24-2008 04:24 AM

Tampa Tom,

That sounds like Knipfer’s Rude & Crude method! :) :D

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Justin's profile


36 posts in 4269 days

#13 posted 02-24-2008 05:30 AM

Poplar, I have had luck staining it two ways. The first way was with a coat of shellac, then stained over it. Very good result. And I did noticed that in a short amount of time It had darkened to a more even color.

The other way I had luck and it took the stain very well was with Water based dye stain.


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