How to Make Your Own Wood Stain With Watercolor

Wood stains come in a variety of colors and types, but the stains often have harsh fumes and are limited to wood colors. When the preferred effect of the stain is a light blue, green, pink or any other non-wood color, the options are limited. Painting the wood often results in dark colors, and they are not always appealing. When the preferred effect is a light stain, it is possible to make a wood stain with watercolor paints.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar

  • Bowl, bucket or similar container

  • Watercolor paints

  • Mixing stick or paint brush


This project should be done in an open, very well ventilated area.

Step 1

Pour some white vinegar into a bowl, bucket or similar container. The amount will depend on the size of the wood stain project. For example, a small side table might only need about a cup or two of vinegar while a large TV case or bookshelf might need a quart or more of vinegar. The vinegar forms the base material for the stain, so add the appropriate amount for the project. Typically, a quart is enough.

Step 2

Add watercolor paint to the vinegar. Use the artist watercolors found in a tube to make adding and mixing easier. Add about a quarter of the tube.

Step 3

Mix the color with the vinegar until the watercolor dissolves in the vinegar. Look at the color. Add more paint as preferred until the color reaches the desired wood stain color. If the original color is too dark for personal preferences, add more vinegar until the right color is achieved.

Step 4

Use the stain on the wood. According to the Vinegar Book, the stain color will have a slightly silvery sheen.


Sand the wood smooth and condition the wood before applying the stain. This will give the best results and appearance at the end of the project.

References & Resources