How to Make Old Stained Wood Trim Look New

Stained wood trim retains a home's architectural qualities.
Stained wood trim retains a home's architectural qualities. (Image: Wood door image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

Many homes have stained wood trim that may have seen better days. While a coat of paint will instantly refresh stained wood trim, completely restaining the trim will preserve the beauty of the wood and maintain a historical feel in the home. Homeowners can easily restain their old wood trim with a little bit of work and the right tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Bucket
  • Dish detergent
  • Water
  • Sandpaper in varying grits
  • Dust mask
  • Paintbrush
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane

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Remove the wood trim from the doorway if possible. This will make it easier to sand and stain.

Use a damp rag to clean away dirt and debris from the wood trim. Use a mild soap such as dish detergent and water to clean the old, stained wood trim. Dry the wood trim with a dry cloth.

Sand the wood trim. Start by sanding the old, stained wood trim with low-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper should remove the varnish and wood stain from the trim. Use finer grit sandpaper to smooth the wood trim.

Apply a wood stain to the wood trim with a paintbrush. Once brushed on, use a clean rag to remove any excess stain and smooth the color. Allow the stain to dry as the manufacturer recommends.

Apply a coat of polyurethane with a paintbrush. Allow the polyurethane to dry and then lightly sand with fine-grit sandpaper. Wipe the trim with a damp cloth and apply an additional two coats of polyurethane, sanding between coats. Do not sand after the last coat of polyurethane has dried.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because much of the older wood trim can contain lead or other contaminants, always wear a dust mask to protect yourself when sanding.
  • Always properly dispose of stain-soaked rags. Do not leave them in a pile as they can spontaneously burst into flame.


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