How to Make Finished Wood a Darker Color

Darken the color on any type of finished wood by following a few simple steps.
Darken the color on any type of finished wood by following a few simple steps. (Image:

Cabinets, furniture, railings and banisters often feature finished wood. What happens if you get tired of the shade of the finished wood in your home? Fortunately, you can easily make finished wood a darker color without all of the hard work involved in completely refinishing the wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Stain
  • Rags
  • Clear polyurethane finish
  • Screwdriver
  • Painter's tape or masking tape

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Remove any hardware from the finished wood piece with a screwdriver. If the piece you want to make darker borders anything you don't want stained, mask off the area with painter's or masking tape.

Lightly sand the finished wood with a medium-grade sandpaper. You needn't sand the finish off. The aim is simply to rough up the surface enough for stain to adhere. Brush away the dust with a clean paintbrush or rag.

Apply a coat of wood stain that is one shade darker than the finished wood. Use a paintbrush to apply the stain, and follow the direction of the wood grain. Wait a couple of minutes and wipe away any excess stain with a clean rag. For a darker shade, apply another coat of stain. Allow the stain to dry for 10 to 12 hours.

Apply a clear coat of polyurethane finish with a paintbrush. Allow the finish to dry for 10 to 12 hours. If the wood piece or area is prone to nicks and scratches, apply a second coat of polyurethane and allow it to dry for another 10 to 12 hours.

Re-attach any hardware with a screwdriver. Gently remove any painter's tape.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wash and dry your finished wood with mild soap and water, or a cleaning product designed for use on wood.


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