Even those who do not take part in DIY wood project could tell that staining is not a simple task. Before you start the process, you need to determine which stain to take. Then you need to prepare the wood and paint the surface. One mistake in either step might leave clear stain. Are you ready for some tips?

1. Choose the Paint

When you go to the paint store, the staff might ask which product you want to buy. If you cannot answer right away, then the question will go to water based or oil-based paint. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages. With oil based, you will need more time to finish the project. It offers glossy finish and better coverage than water-based product. This paint could also cover the previous paint.

On the other hand, water-based paint is better in terms of odour. It has neutral scent and you can definitely work in indoor setting. Be careful when painting with this product, as it dries quickly. Calculate your brush stroke carefully. Also, you might need second or third coating to get the intended colour.


2. Sanding Wood

One tip before you start painting; wood pores need to be opened before applying any stain. If you work with finished surface, then you need to sand it. You could grab sand-grid paper or turning on the grid machine. The point is getting the outer layer peeled so you could see the wood grain. If you do it by hands, then start with 120 options then to 220.

Another tip for sanding process; it is better to sand according to grain direction. If you go against the grain, the result won’t be great. You might also have spindles on chairs. Instead of regular grid-sand, you could use foam sanding block.


3. Applying Wood Conditioner

Have you heard of wood conditioner? This item helps the paints to stick better. It also decreases the chance of getting blotches. Before applying wood conditioner, the previously sanded wood should be cleaned up properly. Double check for any debris or fine dust on the surface.

Later in the process, you will need to alternate brush type depending on the surface you are working with. For wood conditioner, you can use any paintbrush. There is no need to buy special brush for the job. Leave the wood for approximately 15 minutes. If the conditioner is not absorbed yet, then wait a little longer.

Prestain wood conditioner

4. Applying First Layer

Think you are ready for staining process? Do small preparations before doing the job. Grab your chosen paint and the brush. You could use bristled paintbrush, but be prepared for thorough cleaning later. Stain is not the easiest to clean. If you want something more functional, then pick the foam brush. It could be thrown away after use.

Previously you have to choose between oil-based or water-based paint. For oil-based paint, you need to stir well before dipping the brush. This type of paint is made from mineral spirit, pigment and dyes. When the paint sits still for a period of time, the pigment often buried at the bottom. Some professional workers even bring new basket to pour the paint and stir it again.


Different types of wood might require different painting technique. Here are some tips to handle popular wood types.

1. Oak

This wood is probably the most favourite among all woods. It has big pores, so the stain will be absorbed well without any blotches. For even better result, you are suggested to apply stain in circular motion, following the grain.

2. Alder and Alphen

Those who complain about blotches are more likely to use either wood types. Despite of their light wood, easy affordability and handling, you need to be extra careful while staining. It is a must to apply wood conditioner beforehand. If you forget, then the stain absorption won’t be even.

3. Ash and Chestnut

These two are loved for their hardwood nature. It is guaranteed to serve for long time before breaking down. As for the characteristic, it possesses similar quality to oak. You also need to apply the stain in circular motion.

4. Birch

People often use this to compensate the expensive hard wood layer. It could be found as kitchen counter and furniture surface. One warning for you; birch wood doesn’t match with dark stain. It also has problem to absorb stains. Best way to handle it is applying wood conditioner and choosing light tone.

5. Cherry And Mahogany

It is rare for people to stain these woods. Cherry type has distinct colour which inspires its name. Also, cherry wood has very tiny pores. You would spend a lot of time and effort for nothing. Mahogany wood is known for its dark tone and need no more staining. Even carpenter only applies finishing layer on them.

6. Hard Maple

The characteristic of this wood is similar to cherry wood. It has tiny pores that cannot absorb stain well. As expected, this variant is doing great with stain. To make things worse, you will see how the grain is not balanced. If you insist to stain it, then you have to apply wood conditioner then pick neutral to medium light only.

Just like sanding, you should go with wood grain direction. Aim to have even coat rather than pretty layer. You could fix that on the next layer. To work on vertical surface, there is one product called gel stain. It won’t drip and stick nicely on wooden surface. Allow the stain to dry for about three hours for water-based paint and 24 hours for oil based before adding another layer.

5. Applying More Layers

Have you thought about the shade and wood colour you want? Depending on the wood types and darkness tone, you will recoat the wood surface again. For your information, normal shade could be seen after one or two layers only. It applies for both oil-based and water-based paint. If you are not sure, try double coating before adding another layer.


Keep in mind that stain is not finishing. You still have another job to apply sealant on the furniture surface. It is important to apply this layer after the stain completely dries. Popular options for the finishing touch are wax, polyurethane and oil. Each of them has different look once applied. Ask some experts for their opinion or you could ask the staff in paint shop.

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