How to Stain Wood

Stained wood has warmth and depth and can show off the unique granulate of a wood project. And while most know the basic steps to stain wood, it ’ s actually the nuances of the application that can make or break to look .

How to Apply Wood Stain

here are the steps I take to get professional looking results .

Step 1: Proper Prep

It ’ south easily to lightly sand a clean board and think it looks all right, but boards from the dwelling center sometimes have a bendable coat that about has a visible shininess. If I were to apply mark immediately to this board, it wouldn ’ thymine drench in and would look splotchy. Likewise, when stained, the color along the texture of an raw board will appear mottled rather of crisp and evenly colored .


  • To properly prep bare wood, first sand with 120-grit sandpaper to open the grain of the wood.
  • Wipe the dust away, and then sand again with 120 grit.
  • Next I wipe the dust away and then sometimes wipe the wood with a damp cloth to raise the fibers.


  • Then, sand one more time with 120 or 150 grit. If you’re working with a softer wood, you can sand with a higher grit to help close the grain so it doesn’t soak in as much color, but I never really push over 180 grit, even on pine.
  • It’s also really important to use a truly clean cloth to wipe away the dust between sanding, because a dirty cloth will just push the dust around. Also, use a cloth that is lint-free or else you risk leaving fibers which can get caught in the finish.

Step 2: Apply conditioner

I build a distribute of my projects from voiced wood like pine and plywood, so applying pre-stain conditioner is a must. But it ’ sulfur equally significant to wipe on the conditioner and expect for it to soak in.

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For example, if I just quickly apply the conditioner and then the stain, the stain mixes with the conditioner that ’ s still sitting on top of the wood and waters down the color of the blot. rather, let the conditioner soak in for at least 5-10 minutes, but no more than 2 hours, and then apply the mark .

Step 3: Coat the Wood with Stain

Once it ’ randomness time to apply the stain, I ’ molarity not excessively finical about how I get it on the woodwind, whether it ’ s a brush, sponge, or fabric. Depending on the application, I reach a childlike chip brush for flat surfaces, a sponge brush if my project has any grooves or tight corners, and a fabric if I ’ molarity working with sparse pieces and want to avoid drips along the edges .
The key to getting the stain on the wood is not to splatter or create an end-point where the tarnish soaks in and appears dark. In cosmopolitan, I like to complete my most visible edges first indeed the dirt doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate drip, and then work nearby open areas in retentive, broad passes.

Step 4: Wipe off the Excess

When it comes times to wipe off the excess tarnish, proficiency matters. A balled-up torment rubbed randomly over the stain will create little lines as it drags through the mark. alternatively, I fold a fabric with the edges tucked inside, and then pull the politic close up over the wood in the direction of the grain—again in long, even passes .
once you ’ ve wiped off the excess, fight the urge to keep wipe, as this causes the tarnish to pull as it gets brassy. I typically let my mark dry nightlong to be sure none will pick up as I apply the protective top coat .
In the morning, my iniquity stain constantly looks like mud, and the grain international relations and security network ’ thyroxine crisp. Don ’ t panic—the contrast is highlighted in the final examination pace.

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Step 5: Apply a Topcoat

The last mistreat is to apply a greatcoat to protect the tarnish. I like the heat of traditional polyurethane or shellac, but you can besides reach for a water-based intersection depending on your preference .
Whatever you choose, mix it in a name 8 motion, don ’ metric ton shake the can or else you ’ ll have bubbles in your finish. Apply it with a high-quality brush first coating the surface and then lightly pulling the brush in retentive, even passes to smooth it out. just as with the stain, fight the cheer to over brush the poly, or else it excessively will start to pull and won ’ thyroxine lay fluent .
The key to a clear smooth finish is to allow the polish to dry, and then lightly sand it with 180 grit emery paper, wipe away the dust, and then apply one last coat. This is always the game changer on my finish and gives it the smoothest, most professional-looking palpate .

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