How to Seal Raw Wood Without Changing the Color

December 21, 2022

Apply clear stain to preserve wood natural color.

Wood, of course, is susceptible to expansion and shrinking, especially if it gets exposed to moisture. Thus, you need to seal the wood to prevent any change in its dimensions and protect it from damage. However, there will be instances when its color will change after sealing the wood. 

In such a case, the wood might get damaged. Thus, it will be best to know how to seal raw wood without altering its color. Your choice of a sealer will help you get that rustic and classic look for your wood. Besides, the sealer should complement the wood’s rustic and raw beauty to give it a natural finish. 

Golden Rules of how to Seal and Produce that Raw Natural Look

There are techniques, however, that you can learn to get that natural and raw look for your wood. So, if you’re at a loss as to how to produce that natural look after sealing, it will be best to learn the following tips and techniques when sealing the wood to get that raw natural look for your wood:

1) Use the Appropriate Water-based Sealer

Choosing a water-based polyurethane sealer to seal the wood sans altering its color will be best. You can also select an acrylic lacquer. Your choice, however, between these two types of sealers would depend on your preference. 

Whichever you choose, however, you should opt for a white-water option. Water white is a sealer category that is colorless. This sealer type is suitable for enhancing the wood’s natural grain without altering its color.

2) Avoid Using Oil-based Finishes

Experts would not recommend using an oil-based finish if you intend to produce that raw and rustic look on the wood. The use of oil-based polyurethane, for example, isn’t recommended because it will alter the wood’s color, adding a shiny amber-golden glossiness to the wood. Remember that high-gloss lumber doesn’t look natural. 

3) Use Clear Sealer

The most natural look you can achieve for wood necessitates using a clear sealer. The use of natural clear sealer will let you protect the wood while preserving its original color. 

Steps on How You Can Seal Wood Without Altering Its Color

If it is your first time sealing the wood, you might be at a loss on how to proceed with the sealing process. Below are the simple steps you can follow to achieve a natural and raw look for your wood after sealing it:

Step 1: Pick A Water-based Clear Sealer

As you search for a wood sealer product, you will soon come face-to-face with myriads of sealers in the market. Choosing water-white sealers for your wood project will be best if you intend to achieve a clear and raw finish. This sealer type stays entirely clear compared to other sealers that become cloudy or yellowish over time. 

Clear sealers are resistant to moisture and UV rays. Thus, they are perfect for outdoor projects. You can apply them on varied surfaces, including plastic, glass, or metal. You can likewise use them outdoors or indoors. Yet, before zeroing in on a particular clear sealer, ensure that you choose something that suits your project.

Make sure you test the sealer before using it on your project. Apply the sealer to an area that is not conspicuous to onlookers. Check how it impacts the color of the wood. This way, you can figure out if it alters the color of the wood. Avoid selecting oil-based sealers because they would make the wood color more opaque and darker. 

Step 2: Do the Sealing in a Well-ventilated Room!

When sealing the wood, ensure that you do the sealing process in the proper location. It will be best if you do it, for example, in a well-ventilated place or area. If you do it indoors, it will be best to open the doors and windows to provide excellent ventilation. 

Turn on fans when sealing the wood indoors. If you don’t have a room that is well-ventilated, you might as well do it outdoors. 

Step 3: Sand the Wood Before Sealing

Before sealing the wood, you need to prepare its surface. It will help if you sand the wood’s surface to prep it for sealing. If you have a power sander, you can use it to speed up the sanding process. You should sand the surface to smoothen the surface to enable the topcoat or sealer to adhere quickly to the wood surface. 

Don’t skip this process because you may end up with an improperly adhering sealer, or the sealer might flake or peel off over time. You can also remove any blemish or existing finish on the surface of the wood via sanding. 

You can use medium-grit sandpaper with 100-grit for all your projects. Nevertheless, if the wood is damaged or rough, you can begin sanding using 60-grit sandpaper before transitioning to finer-grit sandpaper. Ensure you sand along the grain direction to prevent scratching the wood surface. 

Once done sanding, you can vacuum the wood surface and the area to do away with dust. You can also use a clean cloth to wipe away dust remnants. 

If you deal with unfinished wood, you can stain it and seal it afterward. However, if the wood got finished before, you can do away with the old finish. After that, you can apply a new finish. 

Step 4: Apply the Sealer

Once you’ve prepared the wood, you can now apply the sealer. It will be best to apply the sealer using a lint-free cloth to prevent the emergence of streaks. Ensure you follow the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual when applying the sealer. Remember that incorrect application might lead to wood damage. 

Saturate with the sealer the cloth you will use to wipe the surface. Afterward, you can apply the sealer to the wood’s surface using long and even strokes. If you are dealing with lengthy wood, tackle only small sections to ensure you apply the sealer evenly. After applying the sealer, let it dry for at least a day.

Step 5: Apply a Second Coat

You can achieve an excellent finish with one coat. However, you can still apply a second coat to ensure optimum protection for the wood. Nevertheless, if you apply a second coat, ensure that the first coat has dried completely. Only then should you apply the second coat. Let the second coat dry to ensure that the wood gets wholly protected against UV rays and moisture. 

Step 6: You can also Apply a Topcoat

You can apply a topcoat once the sealer has dried. The application of a topcoat might be unnecessary. Yet, it can provide the wood with an additional layer of protection. It also offers extra luster to the wood surface. 

Use a lint-free cloth to apply the topcoat. Saturate this lint-free cloth with the topcoat. Afterward, apply the coating to the wood surface using a consistent even stroke. Ensure that you cover the whole surface of the wood, including the hidden and difficult-to-reach surface. 

Step 7: Touch Up the Work

Let the wood surface dry after applying the coats. Drying the wood surface may take several hours to several days. Once the surface has thoroughly dried, you can inspect the wood surface and see how it looks. Check for any missed area that needs touching up. If you find nothing to touch up, you did a great job. However, you can touch up those minor areas that need touching up. 

What Will Happen If You Don’t Apply a Sealer on Unfinished Wood?

If you don’t apply a finish or sealer to raw wood, you leave the wood susceptible to damage due to moisture, UV lights, or many other factors. You can prevent damage to wood by sealing it using Cerusing or Liming Wax. These types of wax will not darken the wood. Other wax types, however, might darken the wood.

Will Sealing the Wood Alter Its Color?

Using the correct sealer will not alter the natural color of the wood. Yet, if you use the wrong sealer, you risk damaging the wood or altering its color. So, ensure you use the correct sealer if you want to preserve the natural color of the wood. 

Will Polyurethane Alter the Wood’s Color?

Polyurethane will not change the color of the wood because it is water-based. Nevertheless, you must apply it correctly to ensure you will get the best result.

How can you seal the wood surface while not making it turn yellowish?

First, you must ensure that the room where you apply the sealer is suitable for the sealing process. Check the humidity level and temperature of the room. Besides, you should not rush the sealing process by applying thick layers of sealer. 

How to Seal the Wood Without Making It Stain?

If you follow the correct techniques on how to seal the wood, you can prevent the wood from staining. The trick is to let the first coat dry completely before applying the next coat. Besides, the surface should be thoroughly cleaned and sanded. Let it dry entirely likewise before you begin sealing. 


Wood will not last forever. They are natural materials that would decay over time. So, if you use them for furniture or whatever purposes, you must protect them by finishing or sealing them. You must provide them with the best natural finish to ensure it gets protected from the elements of nature. 

The wood’s beauty excels and becomes very apparent if it looks natural. Using a natural sealer will let you bring out the raw and natural color of the wood. If you intend to preserve the natural color of wood, you can follow the abovementioned tips on maintaining the natural color and tone.

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