How to Stain Over Latex Paint

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Things You'll Need

  • Mineral spirits

  • Rags

  • Professional painter's tape

  • Canvas drop cloth

  • Shellac-based primer

  • 2 to 4-inch natural-bristled paintbrush

  • Denatured alcohol

  • Solid stain

If you'd like to stain a wood surface that has already been painted, accomplish your goal by applying a solid stain. Unlike semitransparent stains, which are absorbed into bare wood and enhance its natural appearance, solid stains add a rich colorful film that sits atop the wood's surface. Because latex paint is water-based, it is incompatible with oil-based solid stains. To generate a durable finish, you must apply a special primer that will bond to both coatings.


Step 1

Wipe the latex finish with a rag dampened with mineral spirits. Let the latex dry for one hour.

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Step 2

Cover surfaces adjacent to and below the latex finish, using tape and drop cloths.

Step 3

Coat the latex finish with shellac-based primer, using a natural-bristled paintbrush. Be careful to smooth any flaws, such as runs and sag marks, as you apply. Let the base dry for two hours.

Step 4

Clean the shellac-based primer from the brush's bristles, using denatured alcohol.

Step 5

Coat the dried shellac-based primer with solid stain, using the clean natural-bristled paintbrush. Let the solid stain dry for two hours; add a second coat.

Step 6

Clean the solid stain from the brush's bristles, using mineral spirits.


Do not use a latex or acrylic primer, or the solid stain won't stick. Don't use an oil-based primer, or peeling will result.


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