Tips For Using Wood Stains

Using Wood Stains

Things to do and not to do while applying stains.


In staining wood, be aware of the possible variations in the grain of the wood.


When asked, each painter will defend has his or her preference on how they apply stains. Some use bristle brushes, others a foam pad or a plain old rag. On woods with large, open pores, such as oak, mahogany and ash, increase your pressure to work the stain into the pores. Rubbing or brushing against the direction of the grain will help fill deep pores with stain.




Oil-based stains, are still the most commonly used stains, though the use of water based stains is definitely gaining momentum. Each has its pros and cons. In any case make sure to stir the can thoroughly before staining, so as to bring any settled dyes and pigments from the bottom, and to achieve consistent and intended stain colour. When working with oil-based stains, always ensure adequate ventilation of the area. To avoid fumes altogether use water based stains. But, Oil based stains penetrate the surface better and generally protect the wood better than water based stains.




Always test a small piece of the wood to be stained, or a patch in an inconspicuous area that may be hidden, in order to see how the colour looks on that particular surface. This also applies in trying to determine whether to use one or two coats. A test patch in each would allow you to determine your preference before proceeding to do the job.


Use a soft brush or cloth to apply an even coat of stain, then wipe with a soft clean cloth to bring out the highlights of the wood. Wipe in a circular motion. The length of time between applying the stain and wiping it off determines the depth of colour. Start to wipe the surface between five to ten minutes after applying the stain. If the stain is too deep in colour after wiping off as much stain as possible, using a little paint thinner on the cloth, as this will help to remove some more of the colour.


Stains generally provides colour and are in themselves not finish coats. For this reason it is recommended to apply a finish over stained wood.

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