6 Best Finish For Maple 2022: A Guide On Brushing Your Wood

Maple wood can be a disaster to handle if it’s out in the open, in its natural state. After all, it is natural for wood to degrade and decompose.

This poses a particular problem for furniture. We need them to last for extended periods. That’s why you must finish your maple wood.

There are a lot of finishes available in the market nowadays, but picking the right one is crucial. The right one will not only protect your wood but make it look good too

So how do you know the right finish or stain for your maple wood? This is the part where we specialize in. More accurately our post on the best finish for maple.

Down below we have the top 6 list of the best maple finish in the world. This is the fruit of the laborious effort from our research team. A lot of sleepless nights were the by-product of making this post.

We’ve even provided on dos and don’ts of finishing your maple wood down below. This will give a guideline on how to finish your maple wood properly. 

These extra tips will make sure you don’t have to redo your coat multiple times. This will help save you from blowing a hole in your wallet in the future.

That being said, let’s begin-

Top 6 Finish For Maple -Comparisons

ProductsColor Price
Minwax’s Polyshades Olde Maple
Howard Products Restor-A-FinishMaple-Pine
HOPE'S Natural Wood Finish Golden-Yellow
Furniture Clinic Natural Boiled Linseed Oil Brown
Minwax Fast Drying FinishClear Gloss
Watco 63041 Wood FinishClear Gloss

Top 6 Finish For Maple- Reviews

1. Minwax’s Polyshades Finish

Minwax’s Polyshades FinishFirst, in the list, we have Minwax’s Polyshades, which is both a Stain and Polyurethane finish in one. This is our number one pick for a lot of reasons. So why don’t we take a closer look at it?

For starters, Minwax is one of the most renowned stains that are used by woodworkers and DIY Furniture enthusiasts alike. So it isn’t a surprise that the Satin Polyshades Stain from Minwax took the top spot.

The Polyshade improves the wood grain pattern by adding a rich stain color to the wood. And the Olde Maple color is the perfect shade for maple wood, which is guaranteed to make your eyes pop!

One of its greatest attributes is that it can be applied over other finishes without a hitch. Furthermore, the poly shade is a Satin and polyurethane finish in one. This doesn’t require you to add another coat of poly for extra protection.

And if you’re tired of wiping your wood off after you’re done staining it, well worry no more. With the Minwax, you don’t have to wipe off any excess stain as it’ll dry on its own.

You have to apply 2 thin coats of the stain with 6 hours of drying and sanding in between the two coat applications. This will give you the best result.


  • Improves the look of the wood.
  • You don’t have to wipe off any excess stains.
  • Accentuates the grain pattern of the wood.
  • Provides long-lasting protection.


  • Requires a lot of recoats
  • Requires a lot of sanding


2. Howard Products Restor-A-Finish

Howard Products Restor-A-FinishIn second place we have Howard Products Restor-A-Finish. It is the only restoring finish of the finishes in the list. This is why we had to place it in the second spot.

The Restor-A-Finish has the widest range of colors that you can choose from on the list. It is also the most versatile of the bunch as it can be applied to every type of wood.

As its name applies the Restor-A-Finish is primarily used to restore the sheen and former life in your furniture. Its complex formula allows you to penetrate deep into the wood and stain even the most faded piece of wood out there.

This makes it the perfect stain for you to use during your renovations!

The Restor-A-Finish also removes and erases rough imperfections and abrasions on your wood. This includes minor scratches and blemishes that form on your wood throughout its use.

Furthermore, the Restor-A-Finish also wipes out any heat and water rings from your wood. This makes it one of the best stains to use for your outdoor furniture, where there is excess moisture.

And if you’re worried about stripping off your previous finish for the new coat, don’t. Restor-A-Finish can darken the already existing finish within the wood. This results in a dark rich finish for your wood.


  • Reduce Scratches and Blemishes.
  • Excellent at removing heat and water rings.
  • Can be applied over the existing finish.
  • Versatile finish that restores every type of wood.


  • Doesn’t soak up on the wood so easily.
  • Does not darken the wood so much.


3. HOPE’S Natural Wood Finish

HOPE'S Natural Wood FinishComing in on third place is the HOPE’s Pure Tung Oil finish and sealer. This is one of the best oil finish for maple wood that money can buy. 

And it’s due to this attribute that it earned the third spot on our list. This officially ends the top three races on our list. And why wouldn’t it be so highly rated?

For starters, it is the most user-friendly of the bunch. Applying this tung oil will require no extra tools or any hassle. The Pure tung oil can be hand-rubbed into your wood for a smooth and dark finish.

This oil penetrates deep into the wood and restores it from within. This allows it to form a low-gloss finish that is not only aesthetic but one that’ll pass the test of time. It’s extremely durable and long-lasting.

To further add to its plethora of advantages, the Tung oil requires NO sanding or brushes to be applied. You just need to wipe it on and let it sink deep into the wood at room temperature.

Since Tung oil is non-toxic when dried it can be used on cooking surfaces like chopping boards, salad tossers, wooden bowls, etc. 

Moreover, it has an incredible resistance to alcohol, oils, and moisture that mineral oils and wax-based products can only envy.  


  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Food-safe
  • Easy to apply


  • Cannot be put over the existing finish
  • Only applicable for bare wood surfaces


4. Furniture Clinic Natural Formula Boiled Linseed Oil

Furniture Clinic Natural Formula Boiled Linseed OilNext up, we have the Boiled Linseed Oil from the Furniture clinic. This oil-based finish is an interesting one, and we couldn’t help but put it on our list because of its features. Let’s take a closer at those features, shall we?

The Linseed oil is treated using hot air, which makes it the fastest drying oil on the list. This superior oil dries faster than all the rest on the list, according to us. It forms a hard glossy finish after it fully dries making it effective against all weather hazards.

The Linseed oil is also suitable for most household appliances and furniture as it boasts that it works on all types of wood. But don’t just take our word for it, it even earned the prestigious  “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval.

This oil is also perfect for your dry furniture. It also helps revitalize your wood and prevents cracks from forming.


  • Fastest Drying Oil Finish
  • Excellent Finish Quality
  • Applicable for Most types of wood


  • Packaging isn’t standard and may spill
  • Does not seal wood that well


5. Minwax 71029000 Polyurethane Finish

Minwax 71029000 Polyurethane FinishNext up we have a familiar brand on the list. This is the Minwax Fast-Drying Poly Finish. It made its way on our list because it’s one of the best clear finishes for maple available on the market.

One of its key features includes that it can be used on both finished and unfinished wood. This makes it more convenient than some of the stains available in the market.

Its clear gloss finish gives a nice sheen to the finished piece of wood that complements the grain patterns within the wood.

The Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane finish is a top pick for humid climates where drying your finish is an uphill battle. However, you have to keep it away from direct sunlight as it tends to form bubbles.

The Minwax 71029000 is available in three different finishes; gloss, semi-gloss, and satin. A key thing to note here is that the different styles of finishes don’t compromise the Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Finish’s durability.

In fact, the Minwax has the greatest longevity out of all the clear finishes on the list. This means that you don’t have to worry about recoating over and over again if it loses its shine.


  • Perfect for humid places.
  • Has excellent durability.
  • Can be used on both finished and unfinished wood.


  • Bubbles in high heat.
  • Has to be applied in several coats.


6. Watco 63041 Clear Lacquer Wood Finish

Watco 63041 Clear Lacquer Wood FinishLastly, we have Watco’s Clear Lacquer finish at the very end of the top six list. Now, don’t write off this finish just because it came in last. This finish did beat a lot of noteworthy competitors to claim this place.

For starters, it is by far the fastest wood finish on the list. It even has a clear and bold label on its can boasting about being “dry to the touch in 30 minutes”. This means that you don’t have to worry about waiting a quarter of a day so that only one coat can dry.

But that’s not all!

It also does not require any sanding in between coats. This will save you a lot of time and energy. You don’t have to worry about sanding out the uneven edges anymore as the Watco Clear Lacquer was built for this.

The Watco Clear Lacquer finish is very effective in sealing off the pores within the wood. This means that it’s highly durable and won’t have any patchy stain work.

The 63041 is also the most clean-looking out of the bunch. This stain does not add any tint to the final finish. This may appeal to the users that want to keep the natural color of the wood.


  • Fastest finish to dry.
  • Has decent durability.
  • Preserves the natural color of the wood.
  • Doesn’t need sanding in between coats.


  • Not suitable for the outdoor finish.
  • Scratches easily.


How To Finish Maple Wood?

This is the section where we go a bit in-depth about “how” to finish maple wood. We’re gonna break it down into steps so it’s easy for you to follow and adhere to.

This section will also improve your understanding of your maple wood and what finishes are compatible with it.

First of all, let’s talk about the characteristics of Maple. It’s widely popular among people due to its attractive grain pattern across the board.

However, everything comes at a price. Maple wood has a dense, closed-grained attribute which makes it a nightmare to stain. This is why Maple wood is more prone to uneven stains and patchy blotches when using a finish on it.

But don’t worry, there is a way around it.

We’re gonna go through a step-by-step procedure to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. So let’s get to it

Down below, we’ve provided a list of things you’ll need before staining your wood. These are as follows-

  • Pre-Stain or Pre Conditioner For Maple Wood
  • Stainer or Finish Of Your Choice
  • Two Brushes or rags
  • Sponges or Rags
  • Sandpaper (220 Grit)

Now that you’ve gathered the necessary tools, let’s get to staining your maple wood!

Step 1: Sanding The Burr Off

The first step is often the most important one as it sets the base for the rest. This is a crucial step that you have to carry out. Otherwise, your maple wood will have uneven patches of dark stains.

Sanding out the edges and imperfection on the maple requires sandpaper. Its coarse surface sands off the rough edges and makes the surface of the wood smoother.

However, you need to know what type of wood you’re sanding, as they require different grit ratings.

If you’re using softwood maple, begin with a 120 grit abrasive sandpaper and finish with a 220 grit sandpaper if you plan on using a water-based stain. For an oil-based stain, you have to finish with a 180 grit.

For hardwoods (most maple wood), you have to start with 120 grit sandpaper. If you plan on using a water-based stain, finish with 180 grit sandpaper. For oil-based stains, you should finish with 120 grit sandpaper.

Lastly, if your wood isn’t stained at all, you should always start and finish with 220 grit sandpaper.

After you’re done sanding and smoothing out the maple, remember to thoroughly wipe the sawdust and debris off. Otherwise, this will stick to the surface and cause uneven stains.

Step 2: Don’t Forget To Pre-Condition Your Wood

Next, we have an optional step, but we highly recommend you do this. Most people who aren’t experienced woodworkers don’t know how to sand wood. Pre-conditioning or Pre-staining your wood helps you to get that result with less effort.

This is perfect if you’re aiming for a DIY project, where you don’t have an extra set of hands!

One important thing to note is that pre-stains are very specific. The determinants of the pre-stain you’ll use hinges upon the type of wood and finishing stain you have and will use.

You can find out the type of pre-stain it’s made for by looking at its label on the can. Maple and red oaks have different types of pre-stain for them.

It’s best if you use an oil-based pre-stain if you plan on finishing with an oil-based finish stain. This also applies to water-based finish stains.

After selecting your pre-stain you can move on to applying it. Now, you can use either a brush or rag to pre-stain your wood.

If you use a brush remember to not dip the entirety of the bristle into the bucket of pre-stain. Otherwise, you’ll end up slathering the pre-stain all over the wood.

Brushes are more precise than rags and it’s easier to apply in long strokes along the grain. Rags are better absorbers of the pre-stain and reach the fine nooks and crannies.

After you’ve applied your coat of pre-stain, wait for 5-10 mins for the pre-stain to dry. Once it’s finished drying, move on to the next step.

Step 3: Commence Staining

Now comes the most important step, applying the finishing stain. Begin by dipping the brush halfway in. It’s important that you don’t dip the brush fully as it’ll cause a mess while brushing.

Plus it will help you stop wasting excess finish or stain. If you use a rag, just wrap the cloth around your finger and use that to rub the finish in.

Apply the stain on the center of the wood piece and work around it towards the edges. Move along the grain and use continuous strokes, instead of frantically rubbing it in.

After you’ve applied the first coat, immediately use a rag or sponge to wipe off the excess stains. Remember to run the sponge or rag laterally with the grain in one smooth motion.

Otherwise, you’ll end up having patchy stain-work on your wood.

Always remember to apply your finish within the first two hours of applying your pre-stain, if you used it. This will give the best result as the wood will absorb the stain more effectively.

And that’s a wrap! All you have to do now is wait for the coat to dry according to the stain manufacturer’s instructions. And you have yourself a finished piece of maple wood.


Question: Why is it so tricky to stain maple wood?

Answer: Maple wood is one of the trickiest wood for a person to stain or finish. This is due to the wood’s physical nature or attributes. Maple wood is extremely inconsistent when it comes to absorbing materials. This also means that it absorbs the stain unevenly which results in patchy stains. This can be prevented by using shellac beforehand, which will cause the absorption to be even and not blotchy.

Question: Which type of paint should I use to paint maple wood?

Answer: It is best to use an enamel type of paint (that dries very slow) for painting maple wood. This is because maple wood doesn’t absorb materials so easily and using an oil-based paint like enamel paint is perfect. This is because the paint will stick and bind with the surface without drying out too fast.

Question: Will Maple wood look cool with my decor?

Answer: Maple wood is one of the most versatile-looking wood out there. It’s highly flexible and can fit in with any environmental aesthetic that you can throw in it. However, it is important to note that naturally occurring maple wood will not suit every decor, but it can with the right finish or coating.

Question: Which wood is easier to stain, hard maple wood or soft maple wood?

Answer: Soft Maple absorbs stains and finishes way better than Hard Maple wood. Soft maple wood is also perfect for deep and rich colored stains, as it gets absorbed very easily. However, for even coating, we recommend you use a pre-sealer before staining.

Question: Is it possible for me to whitewash maple wood?

Answer: Yes it is possible for you to whitewash maple wood. The secret is in mixing 2 parts of latex paint with 1 part of water to form the perfect solution. Then use a cloth to apply the paint along the grain of the wood. Next, use a dry cloth to wipe off any excess paint along the grain too.


We’ve come towards the end of our post on the best finish for maple, curly maple wood. Well, we sincerely hope that we helped you in your decision about picking the best finish or stain for your maple.

By now you’ve probably picked out a maple finish or stain. But if you haven’t, we highly recommend that you pick out the top pick. This is the top pick on the list for a reason, and you won’t regret your decision.

But we have every bit of confidence in you when it comes to choosing the right tool for the job. All of the stains on the job will do an excellent job in protecting your wood against corrosion while making it look better too!

But alas! It’s time for us to go now. Till then, take care and Goodluck with staining your woodwork!

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