Blog / How to Stain Wood Using Cloth Wipers

December 5, 2019

From small scale DIY woodworking projects to large, professional flooring jobs, staining is one of the most popular coatings in the painting industry for finishing or refinishing wood. However, wiping stain can be a difficult task if not done carefully and correctly. Before jumping into techniques, it’s important to understand what type of stain will work best for your specific home improvement project.

What is Stain?

Just like paint, wood stain is composed of 3 basic elements: pigment, solvent and binder. Unlike paint, stain is absorbed into the wood’s surface, which naturally brings out the texture and grain of the wood. Stains are typically less expensive not only to apply, but to maintain as well.

Before diving into what stain color or finish you want, be sure to research the type of wood you’ll be applying the stain to. Some woods are better off maintaining their natural color, while others desperately need a stain and finish. It’s also important to consider if the stain will be exposed to outdoor elements or not.

Once you’ve decided to move forward with staining your wood, choose your stain type and color. There are a wide range of stains to choose from including oil stains, water-based stains, gel stains, varnish stains and many more. We recommend testing out different types of stain on the specific wood you’ll be applying it too. In addition, test out the number of coats. Remember, if you decide to add a finish to the wood, the stain will dry a bit darker.

How to apply wood stain with a lint-free cloth or rag

Once you’ve tested and chosen the type of stain, you’re ready to begin applying the stain. Staining takes patience and focus to ensure an even and streak free look. To avoid disaster, we’ve compiled these easy steps to apply stain:

1. Research

Understand the wood you’ll be staining, the different stain options available and the different types of cloths.

2. Gather materials

The last thing you want in a staining project is stop mid-stain because you forgot something. Avoid the mess and uneven strokes by gathering your materials first.

  • Leak Resistant Drop Cloth
  • Sand Paper
  • Tack Cloth
  • Cotton Rags, wipers or T-shirt Cloth
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Stain and Sealant
    • 3. Prep your space

      Once you’ve gathered your materials, we recommend laying down the leak resistant drop cloth to avoid staining unnecessary surfaces.

      4. Test

      Use the stain you have chosen on the same wood type to determine how many coats you’ll need.

      5. Sand & Clean

      Before applying any stain, sand the wood to ensure a smooth, even and absorbent surface. After sanding, remove small wood particles, dust and dirt with a tack cloth. The sticky fabric will pick up any loose particles on the surface. (We recommend wearing rubber gloves, since the tack cloth can be extremely sticky.)

      6. Wipe stain with a soft cloth wiper

      To avoid a brush stroke finish, we recommend wiping stain with cloth wipers. When wiping, go with the grain of the wood for a natural look. (Keep the rubber gloves on during this process to avoid staining your hands!)

      7. Let Dry, Clean and Repeat

      After completing the first coat, let the stain dry for roughly 5 minutes. Use a clean rag to wipe off any excess stain and continue to let the wood dry completely. Stain is a fast-drying liquid, so this shouldn’t take too long. Once dry, use a tack cloth to remove any dust or dirt. After the surface is clean, apply a second coat of stain. Be sure to go in the same direction, and use a similar amount of stain on your wiping cloth. Apply multiple coats until the wood has reached your desired color. Remember, if you do decide to seal the stain, it will dry a darker color.

      8. Seal the Stain

      Depending on the look you are trying to achieve, a sealant may or may not be necessary. If you are looking for a glossy finish, add a sealant coat once the final stain coat is dry. *Be sure to check if the stain you chose already includes a polyurethane sealer mixed into the stain.

      9. Let dry and enjoy!

      Be sure to let the stain or sealant dry completely. Keep the stain in a secure place, in case you want to refinish your project and want to use the same hue.

      With these simple tips and steps, staining is a breeze. Just remember to be patient and mindful. For more information on applying stain with cloth wipers check out this quick video, and these tips and tricks! Look for staining prep materials, be sure to explore our catalog as well!

      Have a staining tip of your own? Be sure to share any wiping stain tips & tricks below!

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