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Staining Wood With Any Color

In order to alter the appearance of the wood, you use a stain to apply to the wood. A stain is a finish that changes the color of the wood and provides protection to the wood from damage. At the same time, it can make ordinary wood look amazing and vice versa. Today, we are going to learn a thing or two about staining wood with any color. You are going to find some tips and tricks regarding staining wood, and maybe they are useful for you.

What Are Wood Stains?

Wood stains come in the form of either gel or liquid that you can use to color and protect the wood. You will find many types of wood stains, but all of them will come in a carrier substance. The substances can be alcohol, oil, polyurethane, or water. Their differences include:

Gel-Based Stains:

Are very thick, so you can achieve fast wood staining. You will need to apply it with a rag, and it can hide natural defects in wood very well. This type of stain gives less or more color depending on how hard you rub it into the wood.

Oil-Based Stains:

Form a thick finish with rich color that can penetrate deeply into the wood. You can use them for most interior wood projects, especially the ones that require extra protection. This type of stain dries slowly, which results in a smooth finish.

Water-Based Stains

dries so fast and they provide the best protection against mildew and mold. However, it does not penetrate wood fibers as deeply as oil-based stains. To achieve that, you will need to apply many coats to get rich colors.

How To Stain Wood With Acrylic Paint

Although not common, it is possible to stain wood with acrylic paints. The convenient thing about this strategy is that it is easy because you can find acrylic paint anywhere you are. Just a simple few steps, and your mini wood staining project will be ready.

  • First of all, use sand paper to smooth away all the rough edges on the wood. This is to make sure the color can penetrate the wood as deeply as possible to achieve the best color.
  • Mix one part of your acrylic paint with three parts of tap water to dilute the paint. Stir the mixture well, and the final result shouldn’t be too thick.
  • Use a sponge to dip into your mixture and coat the wood completely with it. You have to work quickly so that the color can penetrate into the wood before it dries.

The video below is going to show you to stain wood using acrylic paint; it is quite cool.

How To Stain Wood With Clear / Semi-Transparent Dyes

Many people like using clear or semi-transparent wood stain because it allows for more natural wood grain to come through. That is understandable because a solid stain looks like paint in the end although it lasts longer. This type is also more common and ideal on deck made of tropical hardwood like mahogany or teak.

  • Clean and sand the wood if it has been stained before and stated to flake or peel.
  • Buy your clear or semi-transparent dye of your choice, then use a synthetic brush or roller to apply. Look for the one with a very short nap so that you can apply the stain as thin as possible. Avoid thick coats because it can result in bubbles and it won’t look nice.
  • Let it soak into the wood, and you are good to go. For a clear or semi-transparent wood stain, applying a second coat is not necessary because it will start peeling under the sun.

Lowe’s does have some tips that you can easily follow, so take a look.

How To Stain Wood With Wood Stain

As for this one, it involves applying a coat of stain to a wood surface. The purpose is to emphasize the wood grain or to transform the color of the wood. Depending on the type of wood stain that you use, there will be different applying methods. However, below are the steps to stain wood with a wood stain.

  • Begin by sanding the wood until the surface is smooth, then wipe off dust with a tack cloth.
  • Before using the stain, use a paint stick to stir the stain can to fully mix the solutions first. This part depends on the brand that you use; some require you to stir while others require you to shake. There will be instructions on the can, so simply follow those.
  • Use a clean rag or a paintbrush to apply oil-based stains. As for water-based stains, use a form brush or synthetic bristle brush instead. You can either apply in a circular motion for deep grain woods or apply it evenly in the wood grain direction.
  • Let the stain dry before applying a polyurethane sealer for the best results. Start by applying the first coat of sealer, let it dry, sand it, and then apply a second coat.

How To Stain Wood With Any Color

It is true that not all colors stay on the wood, but there are always ways to make that happen. Just follow a few steps below, and you will know how to stain wood with any color that you like. Make sure you have all the important materials, and you are good to go.

Things You Will Need

  • Clear mixing gaze
  • Paint
  • Transparent dye
  • Water

Method 1

Mix one part of paint with 4 parts of clear mixing glaze. You can add or decrease the ingredients based on how many solutions you will need to stain the wood. Put more glaze into the mix if you want the final result to be transparent. In case you want it to be brighter or more vibrant, just put some more paint into the mixture. Stir the solution well until you don’t see any white color, and apply it onto the wood with a foam brush.

Method 2

Mix water with acrylic paint using a 1:1 ratio by adding one part paint and one part water, then stir them well. Keep adding more ingredients if you want more amount to stain your wood. You can also put two parts of water if you want the mixture to be more translucent. This method is not as good as the previous one, but it will do the job.

How To Stain Wood Furniture

You can always start with a wooden chair to train and hone your wood staining skills. It takes from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the furniture that you work with. And you can always expand the furniture once you are good at it. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to stain wood furniture; it will be useful, so check it out.

Step 1

The first thing that you must do before staining your wood furniture is to prepare it. You may remove the decorative pieces, hinges, knobs, etc., from the furniture before sanding it. Make sure to sand it down to bare wood in order to make it accept the stain. If not, the remaining coating, paint, or stain will affect the appearance of the furniture when you stain it.

After sanding it, use a vacuum brush to clean the furniture by removing the dust. Then use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe down the furniture again to make sure that it is completely clean.

Step 2

Put on your latex gloves before opening the stain can with an opening tool. Use a paint stick or a wooden popsicle stick to stir the paint slowly and thoroughly to mix the stain. You can pour the stain into another container at a desirable amount to prevent air from getting into the can. Then use a brush or a rag to stain your wood furniture. Begin staining with the most visible areas on the furniture, then finish staining with the least visible spots.

Note: During the staining process, make sure to wipe off excess stains with a fresh microfiber cloth every now and then. Doing so is to achieve a more consistent color and prevent blotches. Always come back before the stain penetrates the furniture.

Step 3

Wood stain dries pretty fast, and you can move the furniture in about a few hours after staining. Once it dries, apply a clear protective coating to seal the stain and protect it from outdoor elements. You can also use oil-based or water-based polyurethane spray to protect the furniture and let the stain show. Then let it dry, and your furniture is stained.

Rag Types To Use For Staining Wood

Little did many people know that there are many rag types that they can use for staining wood. First of all, rags make wood staining easier and faster due to the fast absorption and penetration of the stain. At the same time, it also enhances the quality of the stain. All you need is to choose the right kind of rag for staining, and you are good to go. There are some types that you can go for, so feel free to check them out.

Amber Knit Rags

This type of rag is large, and it is highly absorbent, which is super easy to use. Another great thing about them is that you can reuse them after each use. Just rewash your amber knit rags, and then you will be able to reuse them for applying stain. When buying amber knit rags, don’t forget to make sure that they are lint-free.

Disposable & Paper Wipes

You can always save the costs if you have plenty of wood to stain, and disposable and paper wipes are the solutions. These wipes do not leave lint on the stained wood surface, and they are so easy to use. Some DIY wood stainers use baby wipes, and the final results are just as great. It is also quite convenient because most households these days do have disposable and paper wipes. They are good for small projects, so maybe you want to give that a try.

New Cotton White T-Shirts

We all have old cotton white t-shirts sitting somewhere, but those are not for wood staining. You will have to use the new ones because they make large staining projects easier for you. Cotton white t-shirts show the actual stain color really well, and they are large enough for you to work with. Not to mention that they are easy to find; you can buy them online for such a cheap price.

White Polo

Sounds fancy, right? This kind of rag is made from reclaimed white polo shirts, and it is actually quite inexpensive. The color of the rag is specifically white, meaning it will bleed any color and affect the stain appearance. And if the price of white polo rags is quite high for you, you can opt for the gray ones. Gray polo rags are also great, and they are cheaper.

Stain Colors For Wood

Before you color stain on wood, you want to choose the stain colors for wood first. It is easy if you already have what color you want in mind. However, below are some of the most popular stain colors for wood to consider if you need recommendations. Let’s see if any of them matches your favor and interest.


We all know that black is extremely classy and elegant, and black lovers wouldn’t choose anything different. Besides the appearance, black on wood makes a perfect pair with minimalist themes at home. From furniture to the wall and more, nothing can go wrong with black. It adds a great accent to the room, and you will not regret choosing this color.


Since when blue is among the most popular color stains for wood? Blue comes in so many nice shades, and they all look amazing. You can stain the wooden door, fences, frames, and other objects with this color. At the same time, blue is also popular for various interior wood projects as well. Blue is a unique color for wood, and that is why it is not a cliché to try if you want something new.

Flagstone Brown

Darker than yellow but brighter than brown, flagstone brown is a beautiful and warm stain color to take into consideration. Most designers use this color on furniture projects or on aged wood replication. Along with the appearance, it also gives chilling vibes to the space, which is a total plus. No matter if you are in the city or country, flagstone brown is ideal for them all.


In case you like neither black nor white, try gray instead. Gray is specifically ideal for exterior projects, especially for small outdoor furniture on the deck or patio. It simply makes the items stand out without looking too bright or too dark. The best part is that it does not show dirt or dust very clearly at all, which is a bonus. This is why gray is among the best color stains for wood that you keep outdoors.


Naturally dark and appealing, jacobean is one of the best color stains on wood to try. It is a rich dark brown color which is similar to dark walnut but darker with golden grain hues. Jacobean is one of my most favorite color stains on wood due to its beautiful and rustic color. Besides looking amazing, it is also very easy to maintain since it does not fade easily. Just choose the high-quality stain, and its appearance will last for months, even for outdoor use.


White wood is nice in a way, and it looks great on both deck and outdoor furniture. Along with that, things are the same with indoor furniture if you have a white minimalist décor. It looks bright and classy, and it creates a cheerful vibe both inside and outside the house. It could be a little difficult to clean up because it shows the dirt and dust very clearly, but it looks great.


Yellow is one of the closest colors to natural wood, and it brightens the entire place nicely. Mostly, lemony yellow is among the best color choices for interior furniture. It is nice and simple, and it complements a number of home décor settings out there.

Wood Staining Tips

  • Make sure to always wear rubber gloves when you apply the finish to the wood.
  • Avoid windy areas because the wind can cause dust and other debris to be on your work.
  • Apply a liberal amount of stain in sections the wipe with a rag. The longer you leave on the stain, the darker it will get in the end.
  • Cover your arms and legs with protective clothes so that the stain won’t stain your skin. It is difficult to remove from the skin, so be aware of that.
  • You will need to clean the application tools as soon as you finish applying. So keep mineral spirits, water, or any solvent for the cleanup.
  • Always read and follow the instructions that shown on the guide from the stain products. This is to ensure that you use it and clean it up correctly.
  • Choose well-ventilated areas to work in when you use coatings or stains. Doing so prevents the smell from affecting your breathing or lungs during your work.
  • Use a water-based pre-stain conditioner, apply a thin coat using a foam brush and let it dry. Wait for a few minutes, then give it a light sanding before applying your stain for a satisfying result.

Common Wood Staining Mistakes To Avoid

Beginners make mistakes at first, but that is okay because I am here to tell you what to avoid. Some mistakes can cost you another staining, while some others are not big of a deal. So let’s take a look at the common wood staining mistakes below and make sure to avoid them.

Applying Wood Conditioner

To achieve a uniform color, the important thing to do is to apply a wood conditioner before staining. You should stain the wood before the wood condition dries, which is around two hours. This is usually what beginners and some professionals don’t know about, while it is quite important. So what does a wood conditioner do? It evens out the absorption of oil-based stains in order to prevent blotches and streaks. You can use it on any type of wood, but it is important to use it on soft porous woods. Some of them are alder, birch, maple, pine, etc.

Excess Stain

As I have mentioned in the furniture staining above, wiping off excess stains is very important. This is something that many people forget to do or often skip, and here’s what happens if you don’t do it. The stain will become tacky and look blotchy, and that is not pretty. Bear in mind that some stains dry faster than others. Oil-based stain dries very slowly, while water-based stain dries very quickly because it evaporates. However, you want to wipe off the excess stain if you use gel stains.


The thing that you have to have in mind is that sanding is the most important step in wood staining. If you don’t do it right, it will affect the entire process, and you won’t like that. So why do you have to sand your furniture before staining? The purpose is to remove the imperfections from the wood and to open up the pores in the wood. That way, the stain can penetrate the wood easier and faster. Not sanding the furniture enough won’t result in a satisfying outcome.

Stain Is Not Paint

Simply put, you cannot fix or undo the stain once it is done. Stain penetrates deep into the wood through the pores, and you cannot remove the final color. Unlike paint that you can sand off if you don’t like it, stain stays for a long period of time. You don’t want to make mistakes when it comes to staining because you cannot go back. This is why you should always test the stain first before applying it to the entire piece of furniture.

Wood Stain

One of the first things that you should know about wood stains is that they do not protect the wood. What wood stain does is color the wood, and that is pretty much it. If you want additional protection for the wood, use a top coat finish after you stain it. The finish will protect your wood furniture from scratches, spills, UV damage, water, and more.

Wrap Up

Staining wood with any color is not a simple thing, but the quality comes with practice. This is why the tips and tricks above are going to be useful for you. Remember to try on small objects first to test the quality of the stain before applying it to the furniture. Once everything looks good, then you can move on to the bigger projects. Don’t forget to share your experience with us; I sure hope you enjoy this article.

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