This is my first carpentry project where 'looks matter'… I recently installed a new window in my living room, and it's now time to trim out the interior. The other windows in the house have simple stained pine as moulding, so I will attempt to do the same for this window.

Obviously I will need to stain and polyurethane the trim, cut it to size, affix it to the wall, and fill the nail holes with wood putty. What I'm not sure about is what would be the best order to do these tasks. What would you recommend?

Some orders I've considered are:

  • Stain → Poly → Cut → Install → Putty
  • Stain → Cut → Install → Putty → Poly
  • Cut → Install → Stain → Putty → Poly
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    Stain - Cut - Install - Putty - Sand - touch up Stain - Poly Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


I usually stain & poly the pieces, cut to size, stain the exposed end-grain, install, putty, then one more coat of poly.

So... Stain -> Poly -> Cut -> Stain -> Install -> Putty -> Poly

Staining & poly before you cut makes sense when you're doing alot of trim - you can fit alot more material on your saw horses when its in 10' pieces. But if you're just doing one window it probably doesn't matter. Staining the ends again after the cut helps them to not stand out if your joints aren't perfect. And the final coat of poly after everything is done helps the putty and other dings, imperfections, etc. that may accumulate during the install to not stand out so much.

And as Chris C points out - lots of sanding.

  • I followed this advice (mostly) - it was definitely easier to stain and poly the trim on the bench before it went up vertical. I used a "triple thick" poly which (improbably) worked well enough that I only needed to do one coat, which saved me lots of waiting and sanding time.
    – kgutwin
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 12:16

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