Do you love the look of a beautifully stained wood crate? Hate the price tag attached to them? Then you have come to the right place!
Below, I will walk you through a step-by-step process on how to accomplish this stained wood crate look on your own, at an affordable price.
I have always enjoyed the look of stained wood crates in living spaces. Whether it is to store your extra throws, your babies books or your dogs toys, I simply love the look they bring to a space.
When I started my search for the perfect stained wood crate, I just could not find one! The colours were all wrong and would not match anything in my home, or they were too rustic looking, and the ones I found that I did love were way over priced. Honestly, $70 for a crate *insert shocked emoji* that was over my budget.
So, what did I do when I realized I just wasn’t going to find the perfect stained wood crate to fit in my living room? I decided to go the good old DIY route, and I am so glad that I did!
Now, before I could get started on my DIY project, I needed to find an unfinished wooden crate that would fit my space. I didn’t bother shopping around because the first place I looked was on The Home Depot’s website and I found the perfect crate. The crate was regular $10 but it was on sale for $6 and the measurements were just right at 13″ x 18″ x 10″ (it also came in other sizes). I hopped in the car and went off to buy my crate.
This was my first time ever staining wood on my own. I was familiar with the process because I had grown up watching my grandpa build and stain many projects of his own and I was so excited to get started.
My memory of my grandpa working away in his workshop and seeing the little cans of MINWAX stain was heavy on my mind when I was looking for the perfect finish. I decided to go with MINWAX because that’s what he always used – and I’m happy that I did.
I went with the “Classic Grey” wood finish because I had some furniture custom-made for me last year and the finish on that was Classic Grey. This way, my crate would match my coffee table and dining area.
If you are following along because you want to start staining your own crates, here is a list of what you will need:
Shopping list to complete your own stained wood crate:
- Unfinished wood crate – $10
- Pre-Stain MINWAX Wood Conditioner – $11
- Penetrating Stain MINWAX Wood Finish – $9
- Clear Finish MINWAX Fast Drying Polyurethane (I got the satin finish) – $11
- 120-grit and 220-grit sandpaper sponge (I find the sponge easier to handle) – $4
- Natural Bristle Paint Brush (I already had these so I didn’t have to buy any) – $15
Ok, I know what you may be thinking ‘After buying everything you need to complete this DIY, you may as well just buy the $70 finished crate.’ WRONG. These materials will last you a long time! I barely made a dent in the MINWAX products, I can easily stain another 15 (or more) crates.
Now, for the fun part – the actual staining process. You are going to want to make sure you lay down a garbage bag and a piece of cardboard before you begin (because if you are anything like me you will get stain everywhere!)
You will also want to do this job either in your garage or outside. The smell of the stain can be quite overwhelming and it will definitely smell up the area you are working in. I chose to complete this project on the back deck at my grandmas house. I remember her coming outside saying “oh I love the smell of the stain, it reminds me of when your Nonno was around” (for those of you that don’t know, “Nonno” means grandpa in Italian) However, for the ones who don’t want the smell to linger in their home, I would recommend doing this far from any open windows.
Here is your step-by-step guide for this D.I.Y. Stained Wood Crate:
1) SANDING DOWN THE CRATE.
You will begin by sanding down your crate with 120-grit sandpaper.
Remember to always sand in the direction that the grain of the wood is going in.When you are done, be sure to wipe off all of the leftover dust.
2) APPLY THE WOOD CONDITIONER
The wood conditioner is going to help your piece of wood absorb your stain evenly and prevent the wood from turning blotchy.
Grab your natural bristle brush and dip it in the wood conditioner while lightly applying it to your sanded piece of wood.
Let the wood conditioner sit for 10-15 minutes, then wipe off any remaining conditioner with a clean rag.
3) START STAINING
This is important, so please remember to do the followin step. Make sure you stir the stain with a stir stick before you use it. There may be larger clumps of stain that have settled into the bottom of the can. These need to be mixed in!
After you have mixed the stain, you can dip your natural bristle brush in and start working the stain into the crate. I started by staining the inside of the crate first and then worked my way to the outside. This let me see how the stain would apply and by the time I finished with the inside I had gotten the hang of it. For me, I didn’t care what the inside of the crate looked like as much as I did the outside.
You can leave the stain on for up to 15 minutes. The longer you let the stain sit on the wood, the darker the stain will appear when you are finished.
When you are happy with the stain colour, take a clean rag and wipe off the excess stain. You will do this by working in the direction of the grain by simply going back and forth on the wood. The reason you will do this is because you want the stain to dry inside the wood, not on top of the wood.
Once you have completed this, you will set aside your crate and let it dry for 4 hours. After the 4 hours are up, if you decide that you want your crate to be a little bit darker, you can repeat these same steps and apply a second coat (I did two coats for my crate).
4) APPLY A CLEAR PROTECTIVE FINISH – MINWAX Fast Drying Polyurethane
Just like you did with the stain, you will want to stir the finish as well. Make sure you DO NOT shake the finish. If you shake the finish you will create bubbles and you don’t want any bubbles in your finish.
After you have stirred the finish, grab your natural bristle brush and dip it in the can. Once again, going in the direction of the grain, apply the finish.
Before putting your brush away, be sure to use long smooth strokes to complete the finish. This helps to even out that first coat.
The MINWAX Fast Drying Polyurethane takes about 4 hours to dry. I know it says fast drying and 4 hours doesn’t seem that fast, but it really isn’t that bad.
After 4 hours has gone by, check to see if the wood is dry. You want to be sure there is no sticky feeling left. If it is dry, then it is ready to be sanded.
5) SANDING THE FINISH – AND APPLYING THE SECOND COAT OF FINISH
You can now grab your 220-grit sandpaper. Sand your crate very lightly to smooth out that first coat of finish. Again, make sure you are sanding in the direction of the grain.
Then, wipe off the dust and go ahead and apply your second coat of finish. After you have applied the second coat of finish, you can let it sit overnight.
In the morning your crate will be ready to come inside and be styled in your space!
If you have never stained or painted something before, then this may seem a little bit overwhelming. Just know that if I can accomplish this, then so can you!
I hope I made this guide somewhat easy to follow. I know it can be easier to see it actually being done so you can copy the process. Maybe I will make a “How To” video guide for this stained wood crate D.I.Y. ?
Let me know in the comments below if you would like to see this in a video. I will do my best to make one for you!