White Paint & Stain? What order to apply?

I’m working on a large sign out of edge-glued pine. It’s cut to a shape, and then text is carved into it. I’m wanting the entire shape of wood to be a dark stain, and then the text to be white. My concern is, if I make the text white by spray paint, then sand off the extra, and then stain. The stain will run over the edges of the white paint making it no longer all white.

What order should things be applied?


  1. Stain entire piece
  2. Clear coat
  3. White Paint
  4. Sand off overspray
  5. Re-stain non-text areas
    (or would this be wasted double staining time?)

I just painted the lettering white, sanded off the overspray and then used a dry cloth (no stain dripping) for applying the stain. I just lightly rubbed the stain on in the areas around the lettering. If you get a little careless - you can always go back in and touch up the white paint if the stain drips in. Overall this method seemed to work when and went quickly. Sprayed a clear coat over everything at the end.


Awesome sign and thanks for the great tips! @PhilJohnson thanks of the link. well detailed alternate option!

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No what would be the process if this is an exterior sign?

I have exterior stain and paint.

  1. stain everything
  2. go over letters and shamrocks with white ext paint?

I continue to do the option that @DanielWahlig mentioned above. Paint first, then be real careful and stain next.

I’ve also adopted epoxy as a fill option (especially for the last sign which is an outdoor sign).

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Thanks guys!! Def will do this tmw during the day and post a pic after done

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Just wanted to be clear because I never did this before. When you said stain and clear coat. Do I also stain and clear coat the letters too? Then paint over top. Or go around letters and just paint them. I will watch your video when I get home. I’m at work at the moment.

Ok thanks!!!

Your technique is awesome! I only have one coat, but totally breezed through it!! Thanks man!! Def a ton of fun when I’m not messing around fixing my machine!!