• Karlyn

How to Properly Stain Your Wooden Furniture

Sometimes the layers of your furniture could be nice just the way it is, but change isn't always a bad thing. For us, we wanted something different. We wanted to modernize this piece and make it as classy looking as possible.

So we decided to start from the top try the weathered gray stain that we've been seeing a lot of on Pinterest. Below are the steps we took to getting the top of this dresser to look like the picture you see at the bottom of this page.


We had a vision for the top of the dresser and were much too excited about it. So we started there. And lucky for us it didn't have any vinyl, veneer or extra top layer on it. It was just clean wood. So clearing the top part of the dresser wasn't too labor intensive.

The entire furniture is obviously covered with wood stain. So we knew we had some sanding to do. We started with the 120-grit sandpaper, but it just wasn't doing what we needed it to do fast enough. We wanted it sanded to bare wood so we can easily put our own stain on it without worrying about the possible mixture of colors. So we changed it over to the 80-grit sandpaper and all was well!

Table top was done, but we needed to make sure the sides were sanded too. With this step, using a machine would have destroyed it little by little. So we did it by hand.


This step is a given. You want to make sure your surface is nice and clean before you apply ANYTHING on it, especially wood stain!

Our favorite solution is vinegar and water. It gets debris and any left over dirt right off! Plus you just feel better knowing it's disinfected, especially since you got it second hand!


The key to proper wood staining is conditioning. Conditioning your wood will help your stain go on more evenly. We love this part, because it makes your hard sanding work look like it was done really well. Just take a look at the difference here:

Some wood conditioners tell you how much time to wait before you add your stain. We recommend being as patient as possible and just waiting after 8 hours. Sometimes both solutions just don't react well with each other. So to be safe, just wait.


This was our favorite part! We've seen a lot of pieces with the distressed looking weathered gray stain on. And although we love the farmhouse style, we also started to really love the gray color. After the first coat of stain, we thought we'd make just a little more gray.

Somehow we weren't as excited about the second coat as we thought we'd be. So we tried one more coat of the premium wood stain from Varathane and voila! It looked amazing!

Step 5: SEALER

The sealer you use makes a HUGE difference in the longevity of stain. For us, we try to apply oil-based to oil-based. So here, we used used the oil-based polyurethane.

WARNING!! Waiting is a BIG DEAL here. The Varathane wood stain we used says it dries in an hour. However, because we applied three coats of stain, it took longer than 8 hours.

Remember when we mentioned the importance of patience? Well, we waited 8 hours and thought that was long enough, despite it not feeling completely dry. So we listened to that crazy voice that said, "just do it!"

We applied the top coat when it was still slightly sticky and it started sticking in a really messy way. It was NOT good!

I'm a bit of a perfectionist so although my husband kept saying, "you can't really see it!" I just could not leave it be. I resanded the entire table top and repeated all the steps all over again!

In the end, it was all worth it!

This piece has already gone through a lot of compromising situations, but the stain and sealer seem to provide the tough protection it promises!

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