How to Correct Wood Stain

Use a natural-bristled paintbrush to correct stain.
Use a natural-bristled paintbrush to correct stain. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

When properly applied, stained finishes can drastically enhance the beauty of ordinary bare wood. Unfortunately, inexperienced home carpenters often over-apply stain. This error can cause flaking and lead to finishes that appear too dark. If you've applied the wrong color of stain or too much of the right one, you don't have to live with the disappointing results. Learn how you can correct ugly or failing stained wood finishes. Take the proper safety precautions before tackling this type of task or you could suffer unexpected consequences.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Respirator
  • Paint stripping solvent
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • 2 to 4-inch china-bristled paintbrush
  • Nylon pad
  • Shop rags
  • Mineral spirits
  • Liquid oil-based stain
  • Gel stain

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Protect your hands and arms from potential burns by wearing a pair of long rubber gloves. Protect your lungs from fume inhalation by wearing a respirator.

Pour 1/2-gallon of stripping solvent into a plastic 5-gallon bucket. You may also use a 1-gallon painter's pot, however, this may allow solvent to splash out of the container.

Brush solvent onto the flawed stain, using a china-bristled paintbrush.

Let the solvent sit for 20 to 30 seconds. Scour the stained wood, using a coarse nylon pad. Use shop rags to absorb the loosened wet stain. Continue this process until the wood is lightened to your taste or continue until all of the stain is removed.

Wash the brush out using clean mineral spirits.

Let the wood dry for two hours. Apply fresh stain to the wood using the china-bristled brush. Apply only a light coat to prevent a repeat of problems. Dry excess wet stain by dabbing the wood with clean, dry shop rags.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a liquid stain on softwood; use a gel stain on hardwood.
  • China-bristled paintbrushes have natural bristles that can tolerate solvents; don't use brushes equipped with synthetic bristles.
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