How to Stain Wood and Finish your Wood Project?

Every piece of wood, whether it’s new or antique, requires staining. It goes without saying that stains give an attention-grabbing look to a wooden surface by enhancing its natural beauty. However, this is not the only reason why every woodworker prefers to apply stain on their wooden articles, but there are a lot of them. Before we get into how to stain wood, let’s look at what makes it so important.


Why Stain Wood:

Stain protects and preserves the beauty of the wood, so it lasts longer. Mentioned below are some of the other benefits of wood stain.

  • Staining keeps the wood from splitting
  • Protects against UV Damages
  • Helps in increasing visual appeal of wood
  • Protects from rotting and deteriorating
  • Increase lifespan

Although staining a wooden surface is an easy task, yet it is necessary to know its proper application and instruction so that you can avoid unwanted issues such as uneven color on the surface, fading in color over the time, etc.

You can follow this step by step guide of wood staining and how to stain wood efficiently:

Here is what you will need to stain the wood

Before you start your project, it is recommended to know about the type of wood you are dealing with. It will help you in determining the correct procedure for your wood that will eventually lead to better outcome. These are the two basic categories of woods;

  • Softwoods: Softwoods come from evergreen and conifer trees, such as pine, cedar or spruce. These kinds of woods require additional treatment like conditioner for a better finish.
  • Hardwoods: Hardwoods, on the other hand, come from the deciduous tree such as Oak, Ash, Beech, Elm, Walnut, Birch, etc. These woods do not require any additional treatment and hence, you can directly apply stain to enhance the wood grain.

Step 1: Preparation

A little basic knowledge of preparing wood before staining helps in staining project go faster and easier. Following the below-mentioned process for preparation.   

  • Use Wood Conditioner (Pre-Stain)

As we mentioned in the above section, softwoods such as pine, cedar or spruce require wood conditioner as they usually have uneven wood grain or blotchy patterns. Staining these wood without using wood conditioner can leave an uneven stain on their surface. In order to avoid such issue, use pre-stain wood conditioner before applying the stain.

  • Sand the Surface:

Sanding the surface helps in removing the scratches, dents and rough edges. Also, it aids in opening the porous of the wood that allows the stain to adhere and penetrate into the surface completely.  For better result, start with sandpaper that has a grain of about 120 grit and further process with 220 or 240 grit sandpaper.

Note: When done with sanding, use a dry cloth to remove the dust from your wooden article and make sure wood is free from all debris.

Step 2: Stain the Wood

After completing the sanding process, it’s time to stain the wood. Follow the below-mentioned instruction to apply it effectively.

  • Apply a small bit of Varathane Fast Dry Wood Stain with a clean brush to an inconspicuous area of a wooden surface. If it is absorbing well, move on the rest of the piece.
  • Do not leave an excess amount of stain on the wood, as it may leave blotches and an uneven surface.
  • To get a lighter color on your wooden surface, wipe the stain immediately after application. For a deeper color, either allow the stain to rest for an hour before wiping or apply additional coats of stain.
  • Stir the stain thoroughly before use. Apply it with a brush or a clean lint-free cloth. Spread over the stain across the grain until the wood is saturated on top.
  • Wipe the excess stain off in the direction of the wood grain. Do not let the stain dry before wiping excess.
  • A second coat can be applied after two hours. Also, do not sand between coats.
  • Allow the stain to dry thoroughly.

Step 3: Protect with Topcoat:

After preparing and smoothing the wooden surface, apply a coat of either polyurethane or spar urethane to protect it against damages from spills, UV rays, scratches, etc. Both the products are synthetic varnish that is used for finishing and sealing the wood. However, there is some difference between them that you should know before applying them on the wooden surface.

  • Polyurethane

Polyurethane is formulated specially to treat wood materials that are used for an indoor purpose like hardwood floors, chair, table, cabinets, etc. It creates a tough coat over the wooden surface and protects it from scratches as well as other damages. Also, it offers an excellent protection to the surface from dirt, grime and moisture.

  • Spar Urethane

Spar urethane is manufactured for outdoor wood surfaces that are going to be exposed to water, sunlight and changes in temperature.