Skip to main content

How to Stain Wood

Highlight and protect the character of your unique wooden furniture by adding a professional-looking finish – right at home!


  • : Wood stain and polyurethane are highly flammable and contain harmful vapors. Work in a well-ventilated space and wear rubber gloves and a face mask.
  • Step 1: Choose your stain Pick a shade and style of stain that will give your piece the look you want. Oil-based stains are the easiest to work with and the longest lasting.
  • Step 2: Prepare the wood Prepare the wood by sanding it. Start with the rougher, lower-grit paper to remove scratches and other blemishes.
  • TIP: Remove dust after each round of sanding. It allows subsequent sanding to go more smoothly.
  • Step 3: Finish prep Finish preparing the wood by sanding it with the higher-grit sandpaper until it is even and smooth.
  • Step 4: Wipe Wipe the wood with a damp rag to remove debris.
  • Step 5: Apply stain Apply the stain evenly with a brush or sponge, stroking with the grain, making sure to cover all areas.
  • Step 6: Allow stain to dry Allow the stain to dry for one to 15 minutes in an area protected from the sun or excessive humidity.
  • TIP: The longer the stain sets, the darker the finished product will be.
  • Step 7: Remove excess stain Gently wipe the excess stain from the piece with a dry rag.
  • Step 8: Add polyurethane For added protection, add a light, even coat of polyurethane. Allow three hours to dry, then sand with the 220-grit sandpaper.
  • Step 9: Dry and repeat Repeat the sanding and polyurethane process. For ultimate protection, apply three coats total to be sure that your piece of furniture will retain that classic look well into the future.
  • FACT: Traditionally, rusty nails were soaked in vinegar to create wood stain. You can still use this eco-friendly option today.

You Will Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • A face mask
  • Stain
  • 60-80
  • 100-120
  • and 220 grit sandpaper
  • Polyurethane
  • Rags
  • A brush or sponge

Popular Categories