Staining PVC: A Boswyck Farms Guide


These are the supplies that you’ll need.

At Boswyck Farms we use a lot of PVC piping, and we’re always looking to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Here’s our handy guide to PVC staining for anyone else who might need to do a bit of the same for their own systems.

Why Stain?

  1. PVC is ugly.

  2. Paint does not adhere well to PVC, and it actually increases the diameter of the pipe, making it hard to use the fittings. (The tolerances are so tight that the thickness of a coat of paint makes a difference.)

How it works.

By using a PVC solvent with dye mixed in, a thin layer of the surface of the PVC is melted, allowing the stain to penetrate. The solvent evaporates, leaving behind a nicely stained (hopefully) piece of PVC.

What You’ll Need

  • PVC Cleaner: a solvent that will melt a thin layer of the PVC, allowing the dye to penetrate the surface. Make sure to use the clear stuff, because purple PVC primer will just dye your pipes purple.
  • Petroleum-based Dye. We used this kind.
  • Disposable pipettes.
  • Nitrile gloves. Don’t use latex as the solvent will eat right through it.


  1. Make sure that you’re in a well ventilated area. The fumes are pretty powerful.

  2. Using a pipette, place a small amount of the desired color dye into a can of PVC solvent. A little goes a long way.

  3. Replace the cap on the solvent can and shake gently.

  4. Test to see how dark the stain is.

  5. Keep adding dye until you get the desired intensity. If you go too far, you can dilute the solution with clear solvent.

We started by using the applicator that’s in the can of solvent. This lead to uneven staining with lots of drips. It was hard to control how much was being applied.


Next we tried using a paper towel. This allowed for much more control. In the beginning it feels like the stain is going on very lightly, but it will darken the more you rub it in. It took a while to get a feel for how to do it, but after a while it went pretty easily.


Using paper towel to apply. No drips but some streaking.


Close up of pipes stained using paper towel to apply solvent.

We were able to play around with blending multiple colors both by starting one at each end, and also by applying a thin coat of a darker color on top of a lighter one. The dark green pipe is an example of the latter technique.
After that, the sky’s the limit. We used the paper towel in a blotting technique to achieve a sponged look. We also tried using tape to mask successive coats, achieving a spiraled effect.


Happy PVC staining!

Categories: R&D