Staining Wood for Beginners: The Best Way You Should Know

Staining wood for beginners is a matter that many people care about it. They love the striking wood grain on their furniture. 

However, they may not have stained wood before. They want to do it at home, but there are many things they don’t understand. How to stain wood for beginners? In this article, we will share the best way to stain wood for everyone!

How to stain wood for beginners?

For perfect staining wood, take these simple steps:

  • Choose the right stain
  • Prepare the wood
  • Stain wood
  • Drying
  • Make a topcoat
  • Final finishing

Staining wood is not mandatory on all types of furniture. But it makes the woodwork look more beautiful with clear wood grain. Many people want to do this work at home. But it doesn’t seem that simple at first.

Staining Wood for Beginners The Best Way You Should Know


Follow our way. You can get the perfect staining wood finish right the first time.

1. Choose the right stain

The first and also quite important step is choosing a stain that suits your preferences and needs. There are four popular types of stains on the market that you can choose from:

Water-Based Stain

This is a widespread stain on the market; its drying time is very short. You can save even more time with this stain.

Water-based stains give you a deeper wood color after finishing. Wood after finishing with water-based stains will not burn easily. The color of the wood also lasts longer and is more durable. It is easy to clean and is resistant to mildew.

However, water-based stains can only combine with water-based finishes. They will also cause streaks in the wood if they dry too quickly.

Oil-Based Stain

Oil-based stains can create smooth finishes. They penetrate deeper into the wood more and more easily. Therefore, they stick firmly to wooden surfaces. It ensures a higher level of safety for the wood when finishing.

Choosing a stain that suits your preferences and needs

You also do not need to re-maintain the wood too much when using this stain. They can last a long time in extreme conditions.

However, this type of stain will take up a lot of your time. They have a plodding drying speed. Usually, people will leave them overnight for them to dry completely.

Gel Stains

This is a stain with a thicker texture than an oil-based stain. They will be thick like your mayonnaise.

Gel stain creates transparent colors on wood. They have thickeners, so they are better at protecting the wood than other stains.

However, due to their dense texture, they cannot penetrate the wood. Most of them lie on the wooden surface. Suppose your wood has cracks or holes. Be especially careful with this stain. It can create uneven surfaces.

Stain Original Varnish

Varnish-based stains are like alkyd stains, but they don’t come in many colors. They use as coatings for wood furniture. It has a high gloss finish; when finished, it creates a reflective layer on the wood.

You will have a hard time removing varnish-based stains. When you want to wipe them clean with a rag, you will have less time than other types.

2. Prepare the wood

Wood is the most important part of the staining process. You need a perfect wood surface for the best stains.

You need a perfect wood surface for the best stains

  • First, use sandpaper to rub the wood surface with increasing grit to smooth the wood surface.
  • Next, wipe the wood surface with a rag before you begin. A rag made of spandex and moderately damp will remove dirt better.
  • Put water and two teaspoons white vinegar in a spray bottle, shake well. Spray this solution on a lint-free rag.
  • Rub the rag over the wood in the direction of the grain. Be careful not to use paper towels or rags with lint. They will leave the wooden surface unpleasant.
  • Let the wood surface dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

After the wood surface has dried, you can use a wood conditioner. This type of substance helps the wood absorb stains better. However, this is not a mandatory step.

3. Stain wood

Choose an open space and not many obstacles. Limit animals such as dogs or cats from running back and forth.

After you have selected the stain that you feel is suitable. We will proceed to stain the prepared wood surface.

You should lift your hand slightly at the end of each stroke

Choose a brush that is high quality and works well. Brushes greatly affect the surface of stains.

  • Dip the brush into the stained wood mixture. Brush the brush in the direction of the wood grain and vice versa. Note that the brush should not move sideways, it will create a messy surface.
  • Move your hand gently and make long, even strokes. You should lift your hand slightly at the end of each stroke. It gives a better surface stain finish.
  • Repeat the steps until all of the stained wood covered on the wood surface.

Control the intensity of the shade by wiping away excess stain. You can wipe it off immediately for a bright tone. Or leave it on for 10 minutes and then wipe for a darker tone.

4. Drying

Let the stained wood dry before you proceed to the next step. Depending on the type of stain, the drying time is also different.

Let the stained wood dry before you proceed to the next step

Water-based stains tend to dry faster than other stains. Especially oil-based stains, it takes up to a night to completely dry.

You can also stain a few more layers for a perfect finish. Usually, people will stain two layers. For water-based stains, it will usually be four layers. Because they have the fastest drying time and are the lightest.

5. Make a topcoat

This step is not mandatory for all processes. But it will give a better coating for stains and wood.

You can choose from different topcoats. It depends on the type of stain you used before. If both types are closely combined, the wood will be more durable and beautiful.

For water-based stains, you should use water-based polyurethane. It will give you the best effect. Use sandpaper to smooth the dry wood surface. Wipe off dust and coat with water-based polyurethane.

A topcoat it will give a better coating for stains and wood

Note that water-based polyurethane cannot use for oil-based stains. This combination will create bubbles or granules.

Oil-based stains should use with oil-based polyurethane. It is the best combination to create the perfect staining wood.

You can use some other topcoat like alkyd or alkyd varnish. They have a fairly stable effect on wooden surfaces.

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6. Final finishing

After all steps have completed, allow all coatings to dry completely. It would be best if you kept them in a cool and dry place. An empty room without many people or animals is best.


Staining wood for beginners is not difficult. You will find it quite troublesome. But when it comes to working, it becomes more straightforward than anything. Feel free to take the steps we share if the first result is not perfect. You will do better next time!

Reference Source: How to Stain Wood | Easy Tips for Staining Wood & Getting a Beautiful Finish!




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