Best Answer
Staining WoodApplying stains to most kinds of wood can be done with a fairly simple technique. I would start with a fine haired brush, one that will "suck up" alot of stain, which tends to be much thinner than paints and polyurethanes. Then lightly brush the stain onto the surface. Keep in mind that the harder you push your brush against the surface, the more stain will flow out of the brush. Make sure to apply your stain consistently to avoid variations in color. Then with an absorbent rag, wipe off the extra stain. The longer you leave the stain on the surface, the darker and deeper it will be.

If you are looking to stain and polyurethane your wood, here is a tip for that. If you like the true color of the stain combined with the color of the wood when applied and not wiped off, you can add some stain to your poly if they are the same base. Meaning, if they are both latex or oil based. You can now get the staining and polyeurothaning done in one step. Brush it on evenly and carefully to avoid little bubbles in the poly. Lastly, remember when doing this, what you see when you're applying it, is what you get when it's dry. Good luck! Eric Oberg, Owner, Finishing Touch Painters http:/

Minwax makes a wonderful product called Polyshades which is a mix of stain and polyurethane in one. Great if you don't want extra steps but bad if you want a variety of color options. If you are looking to apply stain to something vertical like trim or a door, consider using a gel stain which is much thicker then regular stain.---Addition: Whenever I stain wood, I find it easier to not use a brush. All I do is take an old rag (NOT a towel, but something like a soft old cotton shirt that's been ripped up), dip it in the stain of choice and rub it over the wood. It makes the clean-up much easier, and the results are just as great. If you want the color to be a darker shade, go over the wood with the same technique again after the first coat. Make sure the color throughout the piece is a consistent shade, and remember to dip your rag in the stain after every couple strokes on the wood. Most woods (all soft, and even some hard types) retain more stain than most people think, so you can get a great color by just taking a rag wet with stain and rubbing it on your piece of wood. It sure does for me. [:

-Katiebear71 [:

Remember if you are staining items to be kept outside, use a spar urethane instead of polyurethane due to its capability of withstanding the elements.

The following is an exert from

"Whether you're planning to build or refinish furniture or bookshelves for your room, make gift items for your family, friends or a local charity, or take up woodworking as a profession, you'll find woodworking to be a rewarding experience. It's a practical skill that you'll take with you throughout life. After all, even novice woodworkers can save money by building or refinishing their own furniture, or by doing their own renovations - making woodworking a particularly important skill during challenging economic times. And, whether you're a novice or a regular in the workshop, you can succeed in creating a professional-looking project which is both beautiful and functional by taking a common sense approach to woodworking. An important part of this approach is developing fundamental wood finishing skills.

Today, the secret of a fine wood finish is no secret at all. Beautiful results can be obtained easily if you prepare the wood surface to accept a finish, "troubleshoot" before application to minimize problems during the finishing process, and use high-quality wood finishing products. Always read the label directions and cautions.

Choosing the Right WoodLook around your home. The floor may be oak or maple; the baseboard and window sills may be clear-finished pine, poplar or cherry. Kitchen cabinets could be solid or laminated, from knotty pine, oak, maple, or cherry. With so many types of wood available, it's important to learn how to recognize and evaluate basic types of woods to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

How do you know what type of wood to use?

Before making your purchase, think about how you intend to use the wood. When choosing the actual piece of wood, check for any twists or warping. Look for splits at the ends of the board and surface defects like knots. Look for machine marks, insect holes, dents, and shipping scars. Will these defects affect how you intend to use the wood? Compare the different types of grain patterns. Try to match grain patterns in boards that will be used next to one another, since differences will become more pronounced once you brush on a coat of stain. Finally, once you've made your decision, be sure to measure the wood before you buy it.

Getting StartedBefore starting almost any wood finishing project, you should have these items on hand: heavy plastic drop cloths and newspapers, rags, brushes or other applicators, #120 and #220 sandpaper, paper towels, cotton swabs, mineral spirits and sealed metal containers, such as empty paint cans (for cleaning brushes, and, with the addition of water, for disposing of rags and waste soaked with oil finishes). Rubber gloves are recommended for keeping your hands clean. Old clothes are recommended because they are usually expendable and generally lint-free.

For best results and your own safety, remember to follow carefully all label directions and cautions.

Choosing the Proper ApplicatorStains may be applied with clean rags, cheese cloth, brushes, and other applicators. For best results when using a brush, we recommend the use of a high quality brush. Why?
  • It carries more finish, meaning fewer trips to the can
  • Your work will be neater, with fewer runs and drips
  • It won't leave bristles in your finish
  • It won't leave "holidays" or lap marks
  • It responds better to cleaning and storage
  • It springs back to life the next time you reach for it
  • It will last longer

What are the characteristics of a high-quality brush?

  • Long, silky, flexible bristles of varying lengths
  • Bristles with "flagged" or split tips
  • A non-corrosive metal or plastic ferrule
  • Contoured wooden handle
  • Tapered, well-secured bristles
  • Well-balanced feel

Use natural bristle brushes only if working with oil-based products. They are not recommended for use with water-based products since the water makes the fibers swell, resulting in an uneven draw on the product. Both polyester bristles (medium to high-quality brushes) and nylon bristles (low to medium-quality brushes) can be used for either oil or water-based finishes. However, nylon bristles are not recommended for shellac or two-part epoxy finishes. Finally, disposable foam poly brushes are best suited for applying stain to small projects and hard-to-reach areas, like those between chair spindles, since they provide better control. Foam poly brushes are not recommended for fine finish work, shellac or lacquer.

Wood PreparationOne of the most important steps in wood finishing is sanding. A thorough sanding is often the factor that separates "acceptable" results from "professional-looking" results. Start with a medium grade of sandpaper (e.g. #120) and gradually work your way to a finer grade (e.g. #220). Sand in the direction of the grain for a smooth, uniform finish and remove all sanding dust, using a vacuum, dry paint brush or cloth, before finishing. Look out for dried glue, especially in the joint area. If it's not thoroughly removed by sanding, it will interfere with the staining process. End-grains (areas where the wood has been cut against the grain), such as the front side of a table, tend to soak up more stain than surfaces cut with the grain. With additional sanding to end-grain areas, you can better control the absorption of stain.

All wood is divided into two categories: Soft and hard. It is important that you understand which type of wood you're dealing with in order to properly prepare it, since softwood absorbs color quickly and may take stain unevenly. Refer to the "Wood Species Identification Guide" for more information.


To sand between chair spindles, wrap a strip of sandpaper around the spindle and work it back and forth like dental floss. For bigger jobs, use a power sander, but first practice on a spare piece of wood. To check your work, run a sock over the sanded wood. If it snags, you'll need to resand the area.

The "Fingernail" Test:

If you are uncertain as to what type of wood you are working with, conduct the "fingernail" test to determine if you have a softwood or a hard wood. If your fingernail dents the surface, you have a soft wood, like pine. Since softwoods tend to absorb stain unevenly, pre-treat the wood with Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner before staining. This extra step will help you control color penetration. Note: Although maple and alder are hardwoods, they frequently absorb dark stains unevenly. Play it safe and pre-treat these woods with Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Also, don't forget the porous end grain; it may need an extra coat of wood conditioner to help the wood absorb the stain evenly. A thorough sanding will also help control color penetration.

Choosing a ColorColor is determined by four factors: The color of the stain selected; the nature of the wood and how porous it is; how long the stain is left on, from a few seconds to a maximum of 15 minutes; and the extent of wiping when removing excess stain. Choose from the many wood tone colors, using a dealer's sample board or manufacturer's color cards. But remember: Different species of wood absorb stain differently. Test the color on a hidden section of the wood you are using.

You can mix Minwax® stains together to create custom tones. It's easy to lighten any tone of Minwax® Wood Finish™ by adding Minwax® Wood Finish™ Natural. Before mixing wood tones, look at the predominant color of the wood you are matching. Is it reddish, grayish, blondish or yellowish? Use a stain with that hue as your base and add lesser amounts of a secondary stain until you reach the desired tint or tone. Try not to mix more than three wood tones at a time. That way it's easier to control and replicate the outcome. Be sure to mix enough to complete the entire project.

You can also use stains to give inexpensive wood expensive-looking results. But you must use wood with a similar grain. For example, if you want to stain an inexpensive wood to achieve a cherry appearance, you must use a wood like maple, which has a tight-grained pattern similar to cherry. Likewise, poplar is often used as a substitute for white oak.

The Traditional Two-Step Finishing SystemStep One - Applying the Stain

For the traditional two-step finish, you first stain the wood and then add a clear protective finish. The two-step finishing system permits independent control over each step - the depth of color, and the level of protection. This system is used to obtain rich, professional- looking finishes on small and large projects as well as on antiques. The first step is to apply Minwax® Wood Finish™ stain, which penetrates deep into wood fibers, the color becoming part of the wood and not just a surface film. Since Minwax® Wood Finish™ does not raise the grain of the wood, there's no need to sand in between coats.

TIP: They say that the best medicine is prevention. To help prevent wood swelling and warping due to changes in temperature and moisture, finish all exposed surfaces of the wood item with stain and finish. This includes areas not easily visible, like the insides of cabinets and drawers and the undersides of tables.

If you're interested in easily achieving the popular "pickled" look, consider using Minwax Pastels®, which provides rich, transparent color while highlighting the grain of the wood. Work in small sections and maintain a wet edge, since pastel stains tend to dry quickly.

Step Two - Applying the Protective Finish

The second step in the process is to apply a hard protective finish. This protects, preserves, and enhances the natural beauty of the wood. To select the best finish for your project, consider: Is the project meant for interior or exterior use? Is superior durability demanded? Is it going to be subjected to moisture? Now review the different types of protective finishes that are available to determine which best meets the specific performance needs of your project.

For furniture and other wood surfaces subject to heavy use, it is preferable to use Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane. Its slightly warm tone adds a rich appearance to the wood. Minwax® Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane for Floors is perfect for use on hardwood floors. Minwax® Polyurethanes give beautiful, long-lasting protection to any finished or unfinished wood. If using a brush to apply Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane, make sure you brush in the direction of the grain. This will ensure that you won't have cross grain strokes when finished.

We recommend using Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish over pastel wood stains. Polycrylic® is also convenient to use indoors due to its easy water cleanup and low-odor formula.

Recoat Preparation & Dry TimeIf you intend to apply a clear protective finish over previously stained wood, it is critical that you allow the stain to dry the recommended amount of time before applying the first coat of clear finish. Applying the protective finish before the stain has completely dried may result in chipping, peeling, or bleeding of color. Minwax® Wood Finish™ directions recommend you wait eight hours before applying a clear finish; for Minwax® water-based stains wait at least 3 hours.


When using Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane, "tip-off" each section. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and lightly run the bristles over the length of the finish to remove all evidence of brush strokes and break any bubbles that may have occurred.

When applying additional coats of a protective finish, the bottom coat must be dry before recoating. It is also important to sand between coats to improve coat-to-coat adhesion, and to remove all sanding dust before recoating. Failure to follow these steps may result in adhesion problems.

If you have product left over, wipe the can rim so that the product doesn't dry out and so that rust doesn't form on the can. This will also help you seal the can properly. After sealing, store cans away from heat.

Clean brushes soiled with oil-based finishes using mineral spirits; soap and water are all that is needed for brushes used with water-based products.

Stain and Protective Finish in OneUntil recently, wood finishing required two steps: the application of a stain plus a clear protective finish. Today, stain-and-protective- finish-in-one products, like Minwax® Polyshades, are convenient because they simplify the finishing process and cut finishing time in half. They're ideal for use on smaller pieces, like decorative items that don't experience high wear and tear. However, keep in mind that you don't get the same depth of color and durable protection that you do when using separate stain and finish products. Proper and Safe CleanupSafe Disposal of Rags & Waste

Please be mindful of the safe way to dispose of used rags and other waste. Rags, steel wool and other waste soaked with oil finishes may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Place rags, steel wool and waste immediately after use in a water-filled metal container. Tightly seal and then dispose of in accordance with local regulations. Be sure to keep the container out of reach of children.

One final commentStain can also be sprayed. I've never seen it in an aerosol can--then again, I wasn't looking--but furniture factories, cabinet shops and manufacturers of wooden Musical Instruments like pianos or Guitars spray their finishes. There are a couple of advantages to it: it's faster, it's easier to clean up and, assuming you know the technique, it's easier to get a consistent finish.

I don't have a spray rig, so I use one of two techniques to stain woods--assuming I stain them at all; many of my projects I just apply six coats of oil and two of wax, then call it good...especially when I'm working with cherry, which is notoriously difficult to evenly stain. When I work with oak I brush in gel stain with a Purdy brush. I just dip the tip of the brush--never more than about one-half inch of the bristles--into the stain, then brush and brush and brush until the finish is nice and even. This really works stain down into the open grain of the oak, giving it a really nice "oak" appearance. If I have poplar, maple or birch, I will flood the surface with oil-based liquid stain and keep it wet for twenty or thirty minutes, then gently wipe off the excess stain with flannel. Flooding doesn't mean "put the wood in a washtub and pour the stain over it." You use a brush--brush on a lot of stain, enough that the surface will be wet, then keep brushing on stain as areas absorb the liquid.

Another thing that works very well to stain wood with is Rit fabric dye. Mix it very strong and be prepared to sand because the water in the dye will raise the grain of the wood, but you can get really nice colors out of it. There are dyes that are intended for wood; if you can get them, they're even better than Rit.

User Avatar

Wiki User

โˆ™ 2011-10-20 16:59:47
This answer is:
User Avatar
Study guides
See all Study Guides
Create a Study Guide

Add your answer:

Earn +20 pts
Q: How do you correctly apply wood stain?
Write your answer...
Related questions

Can you apply wood stain with a sponge?

Yes, you can apply wood stain with a sponge.

How do you apply a stain to sanded furniture?

Using a paint brush preferred for the type stain you have, apply stain always going with the grain of the wood.

What is the best way to stain bathroom floor cabinets?

The best way to stain bathroom floor cabinets is to first sand the wood. After that, apply the wood conditioner, then the stain and finally apply the finish.

What is the effect if you apply wood stain without wood conditioner?

It could look blotchy depending on the type of wood and if it's a colored stain.

How do you stain wood lighter?

When you apply the stain, immediately wipe it off with a dry rag.

How do you stain over water damaged wood?

Try using oxalic acid, also called wood bleach, on the water damaged area before attempting to stain the wood. If that removes the stain, sand the surface, use a wood conditioner or a clear stain as a first coat, then apply the colored stain. Once that's dry, apply a clear polyurethane for interior use, or a spar varnish for exterior use.

Can you revive dried out wood stain by adding paint thinner?

No, I have tried this and the end result you get is a very washed out blotchy stain that is very hard to apply. You can try bleaching the stain, and re-apply a stain that has a very close color that can mimic the stain you already have.

Do you apply waterproofing product before or after staining the deck?

After. If you waterproof before staining, the stain won't make it to the wood to stain it.

When doing wood finishing do you need to sand the old stain completely if the new stain is much darker?

I agree with Charles. I would also sand the piece of wood with the stain a bit then apply the darker stain.

What if you apply to much oil based stain to your wood?

the deck or porch will become darker and darker after every stain u put on

How do you stain and finish interior wood?

Providing the wood is already free of any old finish, paint or dirt, apply the stain with a clean, dry cloth. If it's a large project apply the stain to small area at a time, using the wipe on, wipe off method - meaning after you wipe the stain on, going with the grain of the wood, use another cloth to wipe off any excess. Allow the stain to dry thoroughly. Once it has dried apply the finish with a short nap sponge roller for larger projects and a brush for the smaller jobs.

What does a wood stain do to the wood underneath?

Wood stain is abosorbed into the wood, so the wood takes on the color of the stain. This is why the features of the wood are still visible, unlike with paint.

Can you stain balua wood?

You can stain balsa wood.

What does Stain do on wood?

Stain soaks into wood and changes the colour, or if clear stain, brings out the wood's natural colour..

Can you leave stain on your wood panels without wiping it off?

Yes, if it's a gel stain. However, if it's a penetrating stain it will not dry correctly. If you try to clean it, it will smear. If you put a clear topcoat on it, the topcoat will smear the excess stain.

What is wood stain used for?

Wood stain is for sealing and emphasising the natural colour of wood

How can I exchange the oak wood for the cherry wood?

All you need to do is apply a coating of cherry wood stain. You can save money by not having to buy new wood or cabinets and get the look you wanted!

What is the best mixture of linseed oil and wood stain to finish a new pine door?

Add the wood stain to the linseed oil until you have reached the desired color for your new door. Be sure to test the stain on the same kind of wood as the door so you will know the true color once you apply it to the door.

How do you wash wood stain out of hair?

removel of wood stain in hair

How long should paint dry before adding stain?

You should not apply stain after paint . They are two different things and there is no point doing this. Stain is for bare prepared wood, not for going over paint.

How do you stain wood railings?

I stain them with a rag.

How do you stain a white bathroom vanity darker stain?

You will first have to remove the white paint. Use a paint thinner to help you get the paint off. Then you will want to use a light sandpaper and smooth the wood of the vanity. You can then apply the dark stain. The final touch is to apply a clear sealer and then lightly sand it.

Can you stain your deck over old stain?

yes you can. You need to prep the wood correctly first. Start off be applying chlorine to the wood and pressure clean, running the length of the boards so you dont make marks. Stopping in the middle will make a mark so run fully across. Then apply a conditioner to the wood, Behr conditioner for decks to open the pores on the wood and brighten back to original, in areas that the stain has wore off. Then apply 2 coats evenly. After first coat, apply second when the first is tacky. If not the stain will repel the second coat. If your deck has existing stain and spots have wore completely off, you will see the difference, so go darker, of go to a solid for of stain, percect consistance, lasts long time. Remember stain semi or solid, no paint.Hope this helps.JasonI would not recommend staining over stained wood. First of all, it all depends on the type of stain that is covering the wood deck. There are three types of deck stains out there:Oil-basedLatex-basedWaterborneAlthough it is okay to stain on top of oil-based and latex-based stains, there is a possibility that the result will be darker than you expect it to be. Personally, I would never stain on top of the old stain. I would remove the old stain first.To remove the old stainClean the wood from any dirt or mildew (use pressure-washer for that)Apply stain stripper with the use of a regular brush and let it there for up to 15 minutes.Use a hard bristle to take the old stain off.Neutralize the stain stripper either with a ready made chemical, or by using a mixture of vinegar and water.After that you just need to apply a new coat of stain. There is no need to sand the wood surface as stain stripper does the job pretty well.Source:

Can you wait two seasons before staining pressure treated wood?

Yes, pressure treated wood is made to withstand weather without being coated, so there will be no problem waiting to apply a stain. Once you are ready, be sure to clean the wood, then allow the wood to dry before applying any stain or coating.

How do you even out the color on stained wood?

It's difficult to even out the color once you've already stained it. Too keep your stain color even, use a "sanding sealer" first to seal the wood surface and apply your stain over the sealer.