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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 - Pickled finish
Q: I have new casement windows, and the manufacturer recommended an exterior grade finish, such as a polyurethane. I’ve stained them pickled white, and want to apply a finish coat that will not yellow the light-colored
stain. What is your recommendation?


A: Exterior waterbased polyurethane will go on clear, and will not yellow over time. It is durable and has outstanding UV resistance. However, not all waterbased polyurethanes will go comfortably over oil based stains. If you used a waterbased stain, simply move on to a waterbased exterior polyurethane. However, if you used an oil based stain, you would be wise to add one coat of Zinsser SealCoat, a clear sealer and tie coat, before moving on to the waterbased coating.
Color - Matching Walnut Color
Q: I have an antique stool with two very different color planks on the seat. The darker, I’m sure is walnut, but could the lighter plank be walnut also? I can stain the lighter wood to match the darker, but I wanted to use the Watco Dark Walnut Danish oil for the finish. Why does it say on the label that the wood has to be dry, meaning no finish? What would happen if I were to put Danish oil over stain?

A: Yes, walnut varies in color, and walnut sap wood is quite light in color. It is very possible that one of the planks is sapwood. As for your other question, you can put Danish oil over stain, but if you are using a colored Danish oil, like the dark walnut you mentioned, that rather defeats the purpose, since the first coat will act as both a stain and a sealer. Most other stains also act as sealers to some degree, so they will change the way the wood absorbs the color in the Danish oil. I would suggest staining the stool to get the color you want (and to make the light and dark pieces match), then using natural Danish oil for the finish.
Color - Lightening Dark Stain
Q: I stained my end tables with red mahogany, and it is too dark. Can I lighten the color a bit?

A: If it is only stain, and no finish atop it, you can usually pull off a decent amount by scrubbing the piece with lacquer thinner and Scotchbrite, and sopping up the resulting slurry with paper towels.
Color - Matching Stain To Previous Furniture
Q: I want to stain an unfinished storage chest to match some furniture that a manufacturer stained in "Heirloom Cherry". I wondered what color stain you would recommend and where it can be purchased. It is a darkish stain and doesn’t appear to be reddish. I have not seen the furniture; only an e-mail of the stain.

A: Go to your local paint or home store, look at samples posted above or beside the wall of wood stains, and choose the one you think looks closest to what you would like your unfinished storage chest to be. Before you apply it, do a test sample in a hidden area, or on scrap wood of the same type, to make sure you like the color.
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