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Get The Perfect Stain Every Time

Get The Perfect Stain Every Time

Hi and welcome back to a new blog post all about staining. This is probably the most frequently asked question I get on social media,

“Why is my stain so blotchy and uneven” so here are some details and techniques you may not be aware of and I hope, after reading this you will Get The Perfect Stain Every Time. I am talking about water based wood stains in this post. It can also be applied to coloured varnishes.

First things first, know the wood you are staining. Hardwoods are easy enough and usually don’t cause any problems ,but soft wood like PINE is where most of you come unstuck. You will see preconditioner etc on the market and I have used them, as well as danish oil. But once I learned about GRAIN RAISE, I didn’t need any of that ! So lets go through a few things now . Then you can check out the video below.

  • You must be working with raw wood to start with,  as the stain need to sink into the grain.


  • If you are sanding back a pre painted or varnished piece of furniture , you will probably have used a medium or coarse sandpaper to remove the coats of paint. This will cause the grain on the wood to OPEN


  • You MUST then go up the grades of paper finishing with a fine or superfine.  I had heard this over and over but never understood the reason why. No one actually explained why ? Then after a trip to a woodworker in the USA,  I learned about open grain and grain raise. This changed everything. My whole approach to staining and wood finishing changed, as I  understood what was happening.              When the grain is open the stain will absorb more ( be much darker like on the sides of rough wood) and when you put any water based product on raw wood you RAISE the grain. Which makes it feel rough. So even after you have sanded and sanded and thought, yes thats good, when you paint or stain, the wood will again feel rough. You want it smooth. So what do you do?


  • First of all you ensure the wood feels smooth before you start. Yes, use you hand and run it over the wood.  I usually finish with this 500grit pad ( have a few to hand, as once you use them they will become an invaluable part of your projects ). The wood then goes from feeling rough to feeling quite smooth. You have started to close the grain you opened when sanding, When you are happy with the FEEL of the wood, you will know the stain will flow more evenly and absorb more evenly


  • Applying the stain with a sponge brush like THIS will ensure a smooth application and you can rub the stain in and off, there is no need for a cloth to RUB OFF THE EXCESS. However if you are using a bristle brush you should have a cloth to hand for the excess.


  • Apply one or two coats of stain until you get the desired colour


  • When thoroughly dry you can apply varnish to seal


  • This is when I FEEL the wood again. It may feel a little rough, so I then rub lightly over  the surface with THIS sanding pad again. This totally closes the grain and the wood will feel and good as it looks.

Hope this makes sense and if you have any questions pls give me a shout by DM on Instagram or comment under the video below.

Product LINKS:

Sanding Pad,

Sponge Brush for Applying Stain and Varnish. 

Here is my latest video on restyling a faded, tired looking picnic bench. In this video I stain the top of the table but I have also created a design under the stain by using paint and a stencil.  Did you know that you cannot completely cover paint with stain??? This is such a fun technique and can be used on everything from breadboards to tables and creating your own wall hangings.

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