10 Tips for Staining Wood Furniture

Staining your own wooden furniture can save money and provide a great refined look; however it is not always an easy task. Staining wooden furniture is not a quick process and often times you will spend more time prepping the piece instead of actually staining. I worked for a local DIY hardware store for a few years and will provide some tips that help make staining a less painful experience. These tips will focus on application, pre-staining procedures, and safety recommendations.

1. Safety first

When working with stain, especially an oil base stain you will want to wear old clothes as well as painters’ gloves. If the stain gets on clothing you will not be able to get it out, it is about as hard to get out as paint tint (which is near impossible), and if you get it on your hands it will take about a week of washing to get out.

2. Pre-Staining Bleach

Most often when working attempting to stain an old piece of wooden furniture you will want to make it look new again, instead of that piece you avoid. If the piece has stains or water rings on the surface then you will want to bleach the area and or remove the stain. Wood stains will not cover the preexisting stains; in some darker color cases it can, but it is hard to know when it will and when it won’t. Ask a sales associate at a DIY home improvement store to find the best kind of bleach to use for the wood.

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3. Sanding

Before attempting to stain the wood furniture you will want to sand it down to make sure you get a nice even coat of stain when you get to that point. I highly advise against skipping sanding because it is a hassle; you may get very poor results otherwise. I recommend using fine grit sandpaper or even a very fine grit to get a smooth down appearance.

4. Choosing a stain

There are various types of stain as well as colors to choose from; for instance you can have an oil base or water base. The best way to choose the stain is to either bring in a sample of the piece you are staining or provide an accurate description to a sales associate. You do not want to take the risk of picking the wrong stain because you will get very undesirable results.

5. Fixing loose ends

If the piece of wooden furniture you are staining has loose legs or any other loose part you will want to tighten these down before staining. Staining is a rather quick process; therefore you will not want to deal with these loose ends while staining.

6. Test, Test, Test!

Test the wood stain before using it; this is absolutely necessary in picking the right color and base. You can either test the stain on a paint stick (which is very cheap wood) or test it on a sample piece of the same wood type as your furniture. Wipe the test piece down going with the grain of the wood and let it dry before proceeding.

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7. Get the can shaken in store

For best results ask the pain department to share the stain can for you in a machine shaker. If you are using an oil base it can be sometimes hard to get the stain evenly mixed; if it is not evenly mixed you will get horrible uneven results.

8. Applying the stain

There are multiple ways to apply stain, most commonly the use of rags and stain brushes are used. I prefer a brush for a large piece and a rag for touch ups and smaller pieces. The Wooster Pro Stain brush from www.acehardware.com is a decent inexpensive brush for applying a large amount of stain on a larger wooden furniture piece.

9. Don’t skimp on the stain

When applying the stain do not use a thing coat; you will be wiping the piece down afterwards so it will not matter the amount you use. I know stain is expensive, but so is redoing the entire project.

10. Wiping the wood furniture down

After the stain is applied you will want to wipe it down in the direction of the grain of the wood. You want to get the excess stain off the piece; remember you are trying to compliment the wood grain not paint! The stain will become lighter as it is wiped down and it will sometimes even dry lighter to the desired color; however if you tested it first you will know what results to expect.



Personal experience