How to Take off Excess Wood Stain

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves

  • Respirator

  • Paint stripping solvent

  • 2- to 4-inch natural-bristled paintbrush

  • Nylon pad

  • Shop rags

  • 5-gallon bucket with lid

A good, quality wood stain can transform bare wood into something beautiful. Unfortunately, over-application can lead to a dark, unappealing finish on softwoods and uneven, splotchy results on hardwoods. If you need to remove wet excess stain shortly after application, the process is as easy as it is fast. If the stain has dried, you'll have to employ the use of a petroleum-based stripping solvent. Take adequate safety precautions before beginning this sort of do-it-yourself project.

Dried Stain

Step 1

Put on your rubber gloves and your respirator.

Step 2

Apply solvent to the dried stain, using a 2- to 4-inch natural-bristled paintbrush. Don't use a synthetic brush; solvents will ruin their bristles.

Step 3

Scrub the dried stain, using a nylon pad. Stop once you've removed enough of the excess stain to lighten the wood to your liking.

Step 4

Dry the solvent and liquefied stain, using shop rags. Wait two hours for the wet stain and solvent to dry before applying new stain; wait four hours before applying varnish or a polyurethane topcoat.

Wet Stain

Step 1

Wipe wet or pooling stain from the wood surface, using shop rags.

Step 2

Wait four hours for the wet stain to dry before applying varnish or a polyurethane topcoat.

Step 3

Place the shop rags inside a 5-gallon plastic bucket and seal it shut. Take the rags to your local municipal recycling plant. Don't throw your rags in the garbage; don't leave oily rags exposed to air, or a fire could ignite.


Paint stripping solvents expel harmful fumes; wear a respirator, or you could suffer health problems.