Easy2 Technologies - Applying an Oil or Water-based Stain Product Demo

Applying an Oil or Water-based Stain Instructions

  • Applying an Oil or Water-based Stain

    Staining wood is a fun step in your refinishing process. Staining brings out and enhances the patterns in the wood grain and unifies an overall color scheme. You can use either a water- or an oil-based stain, each of which offers advantages and disadvantages. An oil-based stain creates more fumes and requires more care in use and cleanup, but it offers a richer color and added conditioning properties for dry wood. A water-based stain, on the other hand, presents less of a problem with fumes, and takes less care and cleanup, but it requires an additional step in the refinishing process—a sanding sealer.

  • Overview


    Staining a piece of furniture is a fairly simple process that should take no more than a couple hours. Start with furniture that has been stripped to bare wood…

    Sand thoroughly with extra-fine sandpaper.

    Use one cloth and a clean brush for staining, and another cloth for wiping.

    Take care to apply stain evenly to avoid color differences. It’s as simple as that.

  • Take Cation with Fumes

    Fumes can be a problem, especially when working with an oil-based stain. Wear safety goggles and rubber gloves, and work in a well ventilated area. Avoid breathing dust particles when sanding, and wear old clothes in case of spillage.

  • Sand the Wood

    Using a drop cloth to protect your floor, sand the wood thoroughly with an extra-fine grade of sandpaper to remove oil and debris. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain.

  • Prep the Wood

    Next, brush away the sanding dust with a small clean paintbrush, concentrating especially on joints, grooves and detail areas. Wipe with a clean dry cloth, but don’t use a tack cloth. Vacuum or shake out the drop cloth to avoid contaminating the stain with any sanding dust.

  • Prep the Stain

    Turn the unopened can of stain upside down and vigorously shake it for several minutes. Open it and stir thoroughly using a paint stir stick, which you should keep handy since you’ll need to stir again periodically.

  • Test the Stain

    Now you’re ready to begin staining. Keep two cloths on hand, one for applying stain and the other for wiping. Start on a hidden area of your piece, such as the underside, to test the stain for color and consistency, and to practice your technique.

  • Apply to Joints, Grooves and Details

    Apply the stain first to joints, grooves and detail areas using a small, clean, dry paintbrush. Wipe the excess stain from this area with a dry wiping cloth. As you wipe, some stain will migrate to adjoining areas, which you will need to blend as you apply more stain. Always wipe excess stain before adding more.

  • Apply to Flat Surfaces

    For flatter wood surfaces, fold your staining cloth into a small square. Dip one corner into the stain. Gently squeeze out excess and apply to a small area in the direction of the wood grain, allowing it to seep into the surface. Use the stain sparingly, because a small amount will cover a relatively large area.

  • Re-apply Stain

    Now wipe the stained section with your wiping rag. Older furniture is often made from different woods joined together, so if you see areas or boards that are dramatically lighter, reapply stain and allow it to soak in longer before wiping. This will even out your color. It’s best to complete this before moving to a new section in order to maintain color consistency.

  • Allow Stain to Dry

    As the stain dries, the wood will take on a dull appearance, but don’t restain it. When the final topcoat finish is applied, the color and wood grain will come back to life. Allow it to dry thoroughly for an hour or two. Take into account that the stain will dry slower in cooler, damp or humid weather. In this case, allow more drying time.

  • Clean Up

    Clean your brushes and tools using paint thinner or water, depending on the stain you used. Pour a small amount of thinner into a tin can for cleaning, and reseal the container. And don’t forget to properly dispose of gloves and rags.

  • Touch Up Stain

    After your furniture has dried, you can carefully restain problem areas where the wood turned out too light. If you have dark or muddy areas, use a small amount of paint thinner on an oil-based stain, or ammonia window cleaner with a water-based stain. Put a small amount on a clean rag to “rub out” and even the color. Your next step is to complete the refinishing process with a topcoat.


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