How I Stained & Painted Our Corn Hole Set

As a disclaimer, I did not make these boards. As much as I’m interested in DIY stuff, I’m honestly not terribly handy. These were actually gifted to us from our friends, the Guenin’s LAST YEAR as a birthday gift to Matt. But because they literally just sat in my garage for the last year, Matt gave me a deadline of July to finish the boards by then or else he was gonna paint them VT color [yeah NO] so here we are.


PREP WORK - SANDING

The front of the board is ply wood while the rest is real wood. This is important to know because plywood doesn’t take wood stain properly because it’s not entirely wood. First things first, everything needs to be sanded. I started with a 60 sandpaper to get out all the imperfections [basically so you can run your hand across it & not get a splinter] then 120 & finally 220 for that nice smoothness. After wiping off the sawdust with a microfiber cloth, I prepped for staining.

During the sanding.

During the sanding.

After all the sanding. Not even but it’s done.

After all the sanding. Not even but it’s done.

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STAINING

Alright - I decided to use Gel Stain because it’s easier to control however once it’s one, there is no wiping away. I’ve used other water based stains in the past & as great as they are for layering & making darker as you go, you have NO control over where the stain goes.

I watched a tutorial [that of course I can’t find now] on Gel Staining & was like THIS IS EASY AF. However, he didn’t do this on plywood hahaha. In the tutorial, he applies, leaves it for a couple minutes then wipes the excess away, exposing the STUNNING grain with the dark stain. Rude awakening when I went to wipe off the plywood & it essentially just smeared. BUT because stressing over it wasn’t gonna fix it, I embraced it. Decided it gave it character! I let them sit in the sun for a few hours to dry completely before applying the decals the next day.

Things to have on deck: LOTS of unused cloth pieces that will be trashed, gloves, foam brushes, tarp for under the board & gel stain.

Things to have on deck: LOTS of unused cloth pieces that will be trashed, gloves, foam brushes, tarp for under the board & gel stain.

Shout out to Bev for her just happened to have EXACTLY what I needed in her garage :)

Shout out to Bev for her just happened to have EXACTLY what I needed in her garage :)

WARNING: spread used cloths out to dry in the sun. DO NOT ball them up throw away. The chemicals in the stain can combust when stored that way.

WARNING: spread used cloths out to dry in the sun. DO NOT ball them up throw away. The chemicals in the stain can combust when stored that way.

Initial application.

Initial application.

After I started to wipe & it came out streaky AF but in a way, it looks like texture!

After I started to wipe & it came out streaky AF but in a way, it looks like texture!

All sides done & drying in the sun. Can you see the difference between the top layer & the sides [real wood]? That part wiped off beautifully & as planned.

All sides done & drying in the sun. Can you see the difference between the top layer & the sides [real wood]? That part wiped off beautifully & as planned.


DECALS

Honest to God, Matt said it looks like I smeared a mixture of dog poop & mud on the board but I legit don’t care because I’m so impressed with it! [He can’t see the vision until it’s almost done] Something I learned as an Art Major is I cannot be critical of everything not going right. More just move forward with it. So next move was putting the decals & border on. Originally, I was planning to hand paint the L & everything white on here but THE STRESS OF IT ALL got to me. So I ordered these decals from Etsy & they were easy AF to put on. I just had to measure the center of the board & move with purpose. Then was the ring then the scoreboard numbers on the the side. & now she’s looking classy AF!

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GLOSS LAYER

I was nervous about the final glossing stage because I know it’s going to take the longest, requires patience & I’m just so close to finishing!! I’m using Miniwax Polycrylic Semi Clear finish with a half foam roller. The directions say to apply a coat & wait 2 hours before applying more. I did this & decided to use foam rollers because my friends who have been designing their own use them. After 5-6 coats [I was applying until the decals were flush with the rest], I sanded the board 1 more time with 220 them went back over 1 more time with an actual foam brush in long streaks. I decided to go against the roller for the final turn because I didn’t want the bubbles to come back from the roller [lesson learned].

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FINISHED PRODUCT

In the end, I’m beyond impressed with how they turned out. There are plenty of places that I could have taken my time, gone a different route, etc. But all in all - I have completed, personalized corn hole boards that I can completely call my own. I ordered these bags in grey & navy blue because have you met me?? They’re done just in time for the end of Summer but they did get my “DIY project” nerve going so we’ll see what I start making :)

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