Give a Different Look to Your Furniture with the Proper Stain over Paint Technique

You have probably heard of painting over antique stained woodworking, but what about stain over paint? This technique creates a fun finish with surprising effects.

Staining over paint technique basics

Staining over unfinished woodworking creates an enhanced finish. The result is the same as it has the same grain and texture but with a distinct richness and tones.

The result may vary based on the sheen and color of the paint and the stain types, like dark undertones, lacquered, or even glazed.

Streaks will always be noticeable to some gradation. But that’s a variety of products of the stain-over-paint technique.

By using different applicators, you can manage the streaks’ thickness. Broader streaks are suitable with rough bristled brushes, leaving the streaks looking like a grain of old wood.

On the other hand, horsehair brushes and sponges make the streaks look finer.

When is the best time to stain over paint?

The stain-over-paint technique is perfect for small projects like decorating woodwork or refurbishing old furniture. It’s a great way to transform old woodworking into an amazing one.

You can easily fine-tune your finished furniture by adjusting the gradation using different applications and stain techniques. Since the possibilities are limitless, trying this inexpensive project is always pleasurable.

Safety concerns

Keep in mind to work in enough ventilated areas with an open window or door like a garage. If you do this project indoors, the stain odor can be hostile and even dangerous.

Troubleshooting advice

  • The first thing you must consider when it comes to the stain-over-paint technique is to create a unique look instead of an original stained look. Rub all the paint over your furniture and then put the stain on.
  • When the furniture’s surface is less porous, it’s recommended to paint with greater gloss. The stain will simply slide away, creating a lighter color. Contrastingly, if you desire a darker result, it is recommended to use flat sheen paint as it absorbs more blemishes and has better porosity.
  • Certain glues or silicone caulking can shed stains, creating lighter spots.
  • Part of unsealed wood enthusiastically absorbs the stain, making more noticeable and darker spots.


  • Stain applicator like roller frame, cotton cloth, sponge or foam brush, and bristle brush.
  • Uneatable marker
  • Staple cloth or clean cloths
  • Waterproof or rubber gloves like nitrile gloves
  • Eye shield
  • Drib cloth
  • Sandpaper


  • Artificial sandwich bags
  • Painted furniture
  • Water-based or oil-based gel stain


  • Preparing the work part

Lay a clean cloth under the furniture and then spread the cloth beyond to hook the stain spatter. Put on waterproof or latex gloves since removing wood stains from your hands is difficult.

  • Removing accessories

If you are working on furniture items like a nightstand or dresser, unscrew the hinges, hardware, and other items that won’t be stained. Save these items and their hardware parts in a bag, and set them aside.

  • Testing and assessing the painted surface

Before making sure you are painting the right area, experiment on a sample remote part as overall surface form and paint sheen can intensely affect the results.

  • Sanding the surface

To snatch more stains, sanding the furniture’s surface is the next step. It can give more indentation and porosity. However, it doesn’t need to sand all the surfaces as well.

This is prepared for an embellished outcome, not for permanency. Therefore, try to sand as much as you wish. Rub the surface of the furniture with a tack or clean cloth.

  • Mixing the stain

As stain comes with pigments, it is important to mix it well. Mix the stain cautiously with a hygienic stirring stick. Let it sit for about 15 minutes or until the bubbles form before using the stain.

  • Applying stain

Before using stain in stain over paint technique, make sure to mix the stain thoroughly. Gel stains are more glutinous than conventional ones, making it simpler to manage the products while minimalizing the paint drips.

Dip the tip of the brush in the stain. Transfer it to the painted surface, and brush it gently. If you desire a darker effect, apply multiple layers of the stain.

  • Allowing the stain to dry

After applying the stain, the next step is allowing it to dry. Let it sit for about 2 hours or until it is completely dry.

Before reinstalling the hardware, let it dry overnight, especially if you stain certain furniture like nightstands or dressers.

Beneficial tips for success stain over paint technique

  • If you consider using oil-based stains, it’s recommended to use natural applicators such as cotton pads or horsehair brushes. On the contrary, if you consider using a water-based stain, you can use synthetic or natural applicators.
  • To deepen the stain effect, wipe the freshly applied stain in the direction of the wood grain. You can use a clean cloth to do it.
  • To create a deeper visual depth, apply the stain over furniture filigrees as it will highlight the raised parts.
  • If you desire a marble effect, try to utilize a sponge. Soak it with the stain with a glove and then squeeze it out. Dash it on the surface of the furniture afterward.
  • For a more stippled look, consider using a thick-nap paint roller instead a regular paint roller.
  • Chiseled paint creates the uppermost color contrast as the stains saturate into and deepen the parts of bare wood while remaining brighter color on the painted parts.
  • Using a high-quality paintbrush will give you the smoothest stained paints.
  • If the furniture’s surface is smooth, use sandpaper from lower to higher grit numbers.
  • A cheap chip brush or rough brush will have a heavy look that looks almost like wood grain.
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