How To Stain A Basket

Are you reading this title asking why in the world you would ever need to stain a basket? Yeah, I know, we typically look for that finished product that already matches all our criteria. Which means our baskets are already perfectly stained.
Well I have been looking for the perfect small basket that will match the large dark stained ones I found for my upstairs bathroom, but to no avail! Then it occurred to me, why limit my search by looking for the perfect shade when I can create that shade myself?

After my “oh duhh” moment I realized that I already owned the perfect baskets for the job…and while I love the beautiful bleach tint, I needed these baskets to blend with the dark shades I had already chosen for my bathroom space. 

So when you want to pinch those extra pennies, look around your house at what you already own, or perhaps feel more free to search the thrift stores and craft store deals for that perfect shape and texture, knowing that you may be able to tweak the stain. Look for baskets without a hardened enamel-like coating, and haven’t already been painted…these are not ideal for staining (although not impossible). Consider painting these types of baskets, or giving them a good sanding before staining. Your ideal baskets are those with a textured or grass-like material, these absorb stain without any prep work. 


  • Gel stain
  • Small – medium paint brush
  • Rag
  • Disposable gloves
  • Wipe-on polyurethane

Make sure you have adequate ventilation for this project. While the staining only took me 8 minutes per basket, this project takes several days for the stain and finish to set, so find a covered outdoor space or garage where you will have good ventilation, and you can leave your baskets to dry multiple nights. 

Step 1. Use a cheap stiff bristled paint brush to apply the stain. A rag won’t do it…you will definitely need that paint brush to get in all the cross-over grooves, just use a dabbing action to punch stain into the grooves. Be sure to use a brush you can throw away when you are done. 

Step 2. Use a rag to wipe off the excess stain. Getting the desired tint or shade all depends on how much you apply, how long you leave it, and how much of the stain you wipe off. 
After applying and wiping off the excess stain on all sides (including the inside), and you are satisfied with the results, allow it to dry for 12 hours. 

Step 3. Finally seal your stain using a wipe on polyurethane. I used a thin coat of Minwax clear gloss wipe-on poly. You only need one thin coat of poly wiped on with a rag. Allow it to set for at least 72 hours before using it. Then enjoy your perfectly stained basket!


4 Comments on How To Stain A Basket

  1. Lisa
    September 4, 2019 at 11:22 pm (2 years ago)

    Hey Ursula, thanks for this easy to follow tutorial. I love how rustic (to me) the stained basket looks. I’ll definitely give that a try someday!

  2. Lei
    December 27, 2015 at 10:37 am (6 years ago)

    Love how you always come up with a thrifted DIY and I feel ….Hey, I can do this ! Thanks for the inspirations.

  3. Shelly
    October 5, 2015 at 11:51 am (6 years ago)

    Love that I found this blog, been reading through all your posts and I’m super inspired to do some amazing DIYs with a limited budget.

    Keep up the amazing work, you definitely got a new follower me in 😉


  4. Kate @ Unique Gifter
    September 9, 2015 at 11:56 pm (6 years ago)

    The title is really interesting! 🙂 Thanks for this very simple instruction.


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