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Frequently Asked Questions
Start your project confidently and get the answers
to some of the most frequently asked questions
regarding wood staining.
Color - Using Darker Watco After Natural
Q: I finished a chair with several coats of natural Watco. I’d like to darken the finish by using Watco dark walnut. Will this work?
A: Yes, but I suspect it will not work to your satisfaction. The first coat of Watco Danish Oil is heavily absorbed by the wood. Thus, if there is color in it, a lot of color goes into the wood as well. Subsequent coats are much thinner because the wood is already sealed, and as you wipe off successive coats you leave only a very thin film. Consequently, it will take quite a few coats to get even a nominal color change.
A much quicker way to do this is to add color with One-Step Stain and Poly in an aerosol can, a spray on tinted finish that comes in a wide range of colors. Add as many coats as you need, with sufficient drying time in between, to get the color and intensity you want. And yes, it is compatible over Watco Danish Oil.
Color - Matching Stain on Oak Veneer Plywood and Oak Rails
Q: I made some new cabinet doors for my kitchen cabinets, using oak rails and oak veneered plywood and MDF inserts. The solid oak stains very nicely but the veneer is not the same tone or shade as the door frame. Is there anything I can do so that they look the same?
A: Yes, but what you can do depends on whether you are telling me this based on test samples or whether you already stained the doors. If you have not, make sure you sand both the solid and veneers through the same grit sequence, starting with 100 or 120 grit and going up to 180, even though it appears that the veneer does not need it. Sanding all the wood the same will help it all take stain the same.
If you have already stained the pieces, you can often even up lighter areas by adding color with tinted finishes. Use the tinting topcoat that matches the finish. For example, if you are using oil based polyurethane, add color with One-Step Stain and Poly in an aerosol can, a spray on tinted finish that comes in a wide range of colors and is compatible with oil based finish. Add as many coats as you need, with sufficient drying time in between, to get the color, uniformity and intensity you want.
Color - Restaining Dining Table to Ebony
Q: We have a dining room table that was stained and sealed with Watco Danish Oil Medium Walnut about 25 years ago. We would like to stain the table to ebony.
A: You have a couple of choices. You can strip the finish that is on there with paint remover, after which you can stain the raw wood black and refinish, but that is a fairly major, and somewhat messy job. The good news is that since you plan to go darker rather than lighter, you can also simply add color, though not with stain per se. Stain is designed to color raw wood, and will wipe right off finished wood. However, you can add color with tinted topcoat. Here’s how.
First clean the surface by scrubbing with mineral spirits or TSP on fine nylon abrasive pads. The solvent will remove any surface grease or oil while the pad lightly abrades the surface. After that, you can add additional coats of Danish Oil, which is available in dark walnut, and to be honest, it will take a lot of coats to create something as dark as ebony. A quicker way to add color is with One-Step Stain and Poly in an aerosol can, a spray on tinted finish that comes in a wide range of colors. Add as many coats as you need, with sufficient drying time in between, to get the color and intensity you want.
Color - Consistent Stain Color on Trim and Paneling in Railroad Car
Q: I’m refinishing an old railroad car from the 1940s. As part of the project I am replacing the wood trim and paneling in some of the rooms. I’m using African mahogany veneer on the walls and solid mahogany on the window trim and doors. Massive project but we’re making good headway. Do you have any advice on how to keep the stain color consistent from piece to piece, given there is variation in the wood tones?
A: As a rule, both mahogany and khaya (African mahogany) take stain very well and evenly. Thus, if your stain color is dark enough, chances are you won’t have a lot of problems getting it even. If you do, I would suggest layering, the process of adding color in more than one step.
First, stain all the wood and seal it to see your true color. Then, go back and adjust those areas that are too light using tinted topcoat, which comes in a number of forms in aerosol cans depending on what finish you are using. There are aerosol toners compatible with shellac and lacquer as well as tinted aerosols of waterbased polyurethane and oil based. Add as many coats as you need, with sufficient drying time in between, to get the color and intensity you want in order to blend the lighter areas to the darker.
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