How To Finish Blue Stain Pine?

Blue Stain Pine, often referred to as “denim pine” or “beetle kill pine,” is a unique type of pine wood characterized by its bluish-grey stains.

These stains are caused by a fungus that thrives in the sapwood of freshly sawn boards.

While some view it as a defect, many woodworkers and designers appreciate its distinct appearance and consider it a feature.

In this article, we’ll delve into the steps and techniques to finish Blue Stain Pine effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Blue Stain Pine is not a defect but a unique feature.
  • Proper finishing enhances its appearance and durability.
  • Always test finishes on a scrap piece before applying to the main project.

Understanding Blue Stain Pine

What Causes the Blue Stain?

The blue stain in pine is caused by a fungus that affects the sapwood of the tree. This fungus is often associated with beetle infestations, especially in areas where pine beetles are prevalent. The beetles bore into the tree, introducing the fungus, which then spreads, leaving behind the characteristic blue stain.

Is Blue Stain Pine Safe to Use?

Contrary to some misconceptions, blue stain pine is safe to use. The fungus that causes the blue stain is not harmful to humans. However, it’s essential to ensure the wood is dry before using it, as moisture can lead to further fungal growth or other issues.

Preparing Blue Stain Pine for Finishing

Selecting the Right Piece

When choosing Blue Stain Pine for your project, look for pieces with consistent staining and minimal defects. The intensity of the blue stain can vary, so select pieces that match your desired look.


Before applying any finish, sand the wood to achieve a smooth surface. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and work your way up to a finer grit. Sanding not only smoothens the wood but also helps in opening up the pores, allowing the finish to penetrate better.

Choosing the Right Finish for Blue Stain Pine

There are various finishes available, each offering a different look and level of protection.

Oil-Based Finishes

Oil-based finishes, like linseed oil or tung oil, penetrate deep into the wood, enhancing its natural beauty. They provide a warm, rich finish and are ideal for projects like furniture or cabinetry.

Water-Based Finishes

Water-based finishes, such as polyurethane, provide a clear, durable coat. They are resistant to moisture and are ideal for areas with high humidity or for projects like kitchen countertops.


If you wish to alter the color of the Blue Stain Pine slightly, you can use a stain before applying a protective finish. However, always test the stain on a scrap piece first to ensure it gives the desired result.

Applying the Finish

Once you’ve chosen your finish, follow these steps for the best results:

  1. Clean the Wood: Ensure the wood is free from dust or debris.
  2. Apply the Finish: Using a brush or cloth, apply the finish in the direction of the grain. Ensure even coverage.
  3. Let it Dry: Allow the finish to dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Sand Between Coats: If applying multiple coats, lightly sand between each coat using fine-grit sandpaper.
  5. Apply Additional Coats: For added protection, you can apply multiple coats of the finish.

Maintaining Blue Stain Pine

To keep your Blue Stain Pine looking its best:

  • Clean Regularly: Use a damp cloth to wipe away dust or debris.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade the color.
  • Reapply Finish: Over time, the finish may wear off. Reapply as needed to maintain the wood’s appearance and protection.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Not Testing the Finish: Always test the finish on a scrap piece to ensure it gives the desired result.
  • Skipping Sanding: Sanding is crucial for a smooth finish and better adhesion of the finish.
  • Not Allowing Enough Drying Time: Ensure each coat of finish is thoroughly dry before applying the next.

Why Choose Blue Stain Pine?

Blue Stain Pine offers a unique look that can’t be replicated. Its natural blue-grey hues can add character and charm to any project. Whether you’re building furniture, cabinetry, or wall paneling, Blue Stain Pine is a choice that stands out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Causes the Blue Stain in Pine?

The blue stain in pine is a result of a fungus that affects the sapwood of the tree. This fungus is often introduced by beetles, especially in areas where pine beetles are prevalent. The beetles bore into the tree, allowing the fungus to spread, resulting in the characteristic blue stain.

Is Blue Stain Pine Weaker than Regular Pine?

Blue stain pine is structurally as sound as non-stained pine. However, some woodworkers have observed that blue-stained wood might be slightly softer, making it more susceptible to dents or marks. Proper finishing can help protect the wood and enhance its durability.

Can Blue Stain Pine Be Used Outdoors?

While Blue Stain Pine can be used outdoors, it’s essential to ensure it’s adequately protected from the elements. Using the right finish and regularly maintaining the wood can help prolong its lifespan outdoors.

Advanced Tips for Working with Blue Stain Pine

Achieving a Rustic Look

For those aiming for a rustic or vintage appearance, Blue Stain Pine is an excellent choice. Its natural blue-grey hues can be further enhanced with the right finish, giving projects a unique and aged look.

Mixing Blue Stain Pine with Other Woods

Combining Blue Stain Pine with other types of wood can create stunning contrasts. For instance, pairing it with a darker wood like walnut can highlight the blue stains and make them pop.

Safety Precautions

While Blue Stain Pine is safe to use, it’s essential to take standard safety precautions when working with any wood. This includes wearing protective gear, ensuring proper ventilation, and being cautious of any allergic reactions.

The Environmental Impact of Using Blue Stain Pine

With the rise in beetle infestations in certain areas, many trees are affected by the blue stain fungus. Utilizing this wood can be seen as an environmentally friendly option, as it makes use of trees that might otherwise be discarded. Moreover, by promoting the use of Blue Stain Pine, we can reduce the wastage of these affected trees.

Videos to Enhance Your Understanding

For a visual guide on how to avoid and fix sanding scratches, check out these videos:

Incorporating Blue Stain Pine in Modern Design

Modern interior designs often seek unique elements that stand out. Blue Stain Pine, with its distinct appearance, can be a focal point in contemporary spaces. Whether used for wall paneling, furniture, or accent pieces, it adds a touch of nature and character to modern interiors.

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