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How to Apply Wood Stain Techniques

When staining wood, use proper techniques in order to achieve a professional-looking finish.

More in Painting

go over stain with rag in direction of grain
  • Time

    2 hours

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Test the Stain

Before you begin staining, test the stain on a scrap piece of wood to see how many coats of stain you need. Apply one coat to a small section of the wood, two coats to a second section, three coats to a third section and so on. Allow the stain to dry between coats. Once the stain is dry, you can determine which section looks best.

achieve professional looking finish staining wood

Step 2: Sand the Surface

Sand the surface of the work piece. Wipe any debris from the work piece with a tack cloth.

use tack cloth to wipe dust after sanding surface

Step 3: Apply the First Coat of Stain

Use a small paintbrush to apply the first coat of stain. Brush in the direction of the grain. Wear a mask or respirator for protection from the stain's fumes and open the windows in your shop for ventilation.

apply stain in direction of grain

Step 4: Wipe Stain With a Cloth

After every three or four strokes of the brush, immediately go over the stain with a rag. Sweep the rag across the stained surface in the direction of the grain.

If you apply too much stain, pour a small amount of paint thinner on a clean rag and sweep it over the work piece in the direction of the grain.

go over stain with rag in direction of grain

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