I built a headboard out of 1x4 common boards and stained them with Minwax Wood Finish Honey Oil-Based Interior Stain. Since the finished product will be in close contact to bed sheets, pillows, etc. - I want to make sure that the stain will not rub off on the bedding. Do I need to further finish the wood with a finish/top coat or similar product to protect my bedding?

The headboard itself is rough/rustic and I'm not interested in protecting the headboard itself from elements per say, I'm interested in protecting the bedding.

stained boards


While oil-based stains dry and fix the colors (dyes and solid pigments) to the wood, stain manufacturers (Minwax, Cabot, others) strongly recommend a topcoat of finish to lock in the color and add a protective finish.

Everything abrades. When you abrade a wooden surface that has pigment or dye in it, that color will often transfer to the abrading surface. Even cloth abrades wood.

The color will last longer and the surfaces in contact will be protected if you topcoat. Even with two coats, a simple scratch on uncoated stained wood often leaves a light stripe.

Also the topcoats reduce the likelihood that you will be exposed to skin or airborne contaminants from the stain. While the formulations are made for general use and are not highly toxic, it is not good to get metal oxides and petrochemical binders into the human system. The topcoats are much harder and less prone to transfer ucky stuff.

If you want a natural look, there are matte or very low gloss satin finishes available.


Once dry, the stain won't rub off on the bedding. However, a sealer of some sort (polyurethane, shellac, etc.) will make the surface much easier to clean, resist staining, & wear better, etc. I understand that it's a "rustic" look, but without a sealer it will tend to get grimy & dirty - even from skin oils - and you won't be able to clean it. It won't look rustic - just dirty.

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