How to Use Stain Over Paint or Painted Wood [Updated for 2023]
If you’ve been following along, you know I just finished up this carved DIY angel wings sign. And, you guys, I *love* it.
That pretty design, that rustic feel, it’s just so, so lovely. But I’m gonna be honest and tell you I spent hours (literally, HOURS) googling how to finish this beauty.
Can you apply stain over paint? Google didn’t have a clear answer.
Turns out, YOU CAN. So, if your are curious like me about how to use this finishing technique, then keep on reading all about how to apply stain OVER paint like a pro!
How to Apply Stain Over Paint
Why Use Stain Over Paint?
Refinishing Painted Furniture
Adding Depth to Carved Details
Supplies & Materials You’ll Need for Using Stain Over Paint
- Latex paint. I almost always buy the oops paint in the paint section at Home Depot. I look for a nice bright white that has more of a blue than yellow undertone. You could buy a color from the swatch, but I almost always find what I need (for cheap!) in the oops section.
- Paintbrush. Hands down, a good paintbrush is worth the investment.
- Sanding paper. I typically use 120 grit, then 220 grit sandpaper.
- Sander. My favorite sanders are the Ryobi orbital sander and the Ryobi corner sander. Either will work great for this!
- Respirator mask. Because you can’t buy new lungs.
- Stain. My favorite shade **hands down** is Minwax Provincial. You can buy this at Lowes or Amazon. Home Depot stopped selling this brand a little while back.
- Optional: Floetrol additive to ensure a smooth finish on your paint.
- Staining rags, foam brushes, or staining brush. I use both, honestly, and flip back and forth with which I prefer. I keep a dedicated paint brush on hand for stain since it’ll get a brown hue over time, no matter how much you wash it.
How to Use Stain Over Paint Step-by-Step
Step 1: Paint Your Piece
Tip: Read the Can
Tip: Mix Your Paint Well
Tip: Consider Additive
Tip: Paint Your Surface with a Good Brush
Step 2: Sand Your Paint Off
Tip: Sand Select Areas Only
Tip: Use a Light Hand
Step 3: Add the Stain Over Paint
Tip: Choose the Right Stain
Tip: Apply the Stain Correctly
Safety Tips To Keep in Mind when Applying Stain over Paint
- Be sure to wear a respirator when you’re sanding paint or stain! You don’t want any of that dust to get into your lungs. Safety first!
- Wear gloves when you’re staining to protect your hands.
- Also, work in a well-ventilated area, particularly when applying stain over your paint. Having air circulation will help the fumes spread out.
Another Idea: Work in Thin (We’re Talking THIN) Layers
Update: this article has been VERY popular on this site. I’ve gotten so many questions from readers. Let’s cover some of the main questions people ask when wondering how to apply stain over paint.
Leave questions in the comments below!
Can water-based stain be used over paint?
Yes, a water-based stain can be used over paint!
This type of stain is ideal for use on various surfaces, including wood, concrete, brick, and metal.
It is also suitable for use on both interior and exterior surfaces. Water-based stains are easy to apply and provide a unique finish that adds character to any project.
They are available in many colors. You can mix them to create custom shades.
The quick drying time makes it a good option when you don’t have time to wait for oil-based stains to dry.
Additionally, water-based stains are easier to clean up than oil-based products and do not emit any harmful fumes during application or drying time.
Can you stain over paint without sanding?
Sanding is usually a necessary step before staining. Sanding makes an even surface for the stain to stick
But, if you are in a pinch, it is possible to stain over paint without sanding.
- Make sure that the paint is completely dry. Also, make sure to read the back of the can.
- You should also apply a coat of primer beforehand to create an adhesive surface for the stain.
- Lastly, you’ll need to use extra-fine steel wool or sandpaper with grits ranging from 220 – 400 over the painted surface. This will help the stain stick.
With these steps, you can successfully stain over paint without sanding!
What happens if you put wood stain over paint?
If you put wood stain over paint, the result can vary! It depends on the type of paint and the type of wood stain you use.
Generally, if you use a water-based wood stain over an oil-based paint, the wood stain will not stick. You may see signs of cracking and peeling.
On the other hand, if you use an oil-based wood stain over latex or acrylic paint, it is likely to adhere better and create a stronger finish.
However, this should be tested beforehand. Results can still vary depending on the types of products used and how well you apply them.
How do you make painted wood look stained?
You can make painted wood look stained. Here’s how:
- To make painted wood look stained, you’ll need to start by sanding. Use a medium-grit sandpaper.
- This will help give the paint a rough texture and create a more authentic look.
- After sanding, apply a coat of stain.
- Make sure to use an oil-based stain formulated for use on painted surfaces.
- Allow the stain to dry completely.
- Apply a clear protective sealant.
- Finally, you can use a rag or brush to lightly buff the surface of the wood. This will create an even finish. The project will look like it has been stained naturally over time.
Is there a stain that goes over paint?
Yes, some stains can be applied over paint. Stains can be applied over oil-based paints, water-based paints, and even latex paint.
Depending on the type of stain used, you might need to take special steps such as sanding or priming before it is applied.
Applying a stain over paint can help enhance the color and texture of an object. Also, it will allow the underlying paint to still show.
It is important to follow all instructions for mixing and applying a stain properly to achieve the desired results. (Have I said read the can enough in this post?)
How to stain over painted cabinets?
Staining over painted cabinets is a great way to give them a fresh look.
- Start by cleaning the cabinet surfaces well.
- Lightly sand any glossy areas with a fine-grit sandpaper.
- You can then apply a gel stain evenly with a foam brush or cloth, working in small sections at a time.
- Allow the stain to penetrate for several minutes before wiping off any excess.
- Once all surfaces have been stained, seal the wood with an appropriate sealer. This will help protect your finished project from dirt and moisture.
With patience and attention to detail, staining over painted cabinets can be an easy DIY project that yields beautiful results.
How to stain over painted furniture?
Staining over painted furniture is a great way to give your furniture a unique look!
- The first step is to choose the right stain for the project. You’ll need to ensure that the stain you choose is compatible with the paint used on the furniture.
- Once you have selected your stain, properly sand the furniture’s surface to create a smoother surface. This will help the stain stick.
- Before applying the stain, use a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris on the furniture.
- Then apply one thin coat of stain with a brush or rag.
- Allow it to dry completely before adding additional coats as needed.
- Finally, seal off your stained piece with a coat of polyurethane for added protection.
How to stain over paint for antique look?
Staining over paint for an antique look is a great way to add character and charm to any piece of furniture.
- To start, begin by sanding the painted surface with medium-grade sandpaper.
- Then wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust.
- Next? The paint job! Add a coat of paint and allow to dry.
- Sand the edges.
- Next, stain the wood! Apply a wood stain of your choice using a brush or cloth.
- Make sure to work in the direction of the grain!
- Allow plenty of time to dry before applying a sealer or wax.
- Once the sealer has been applied, you can use steel wool or wire wool to create an antiqued patina on the surface.
This will help bring out some of the details that may have been hidden.
Can you apply stain over milk paint?
Milk paint is a type of decorative paint that is made from all-natural ingredients. Milk paint does not require a primer.
It has an old-fashioned, chalky look to it, which I love. Milk paint is used to paint new or old furniture and craft projects.
The question then becomes, can you apply stain over milk paint? The answer is yes, but with some considerations.
First of all, it is important to make sure that the surface is extremely clean before applying the stain.
You should also use gel stain to stain wood with milk paint. Gel stain will stick better.
Also, you may want to add a few drops of mineral spirits to the gel stain. This will make it more translucent.
Let’s Wrap This Up!