How To Prepare To Stain Unfinished Furniture - UnfinishedFurnitureExpo

How To Prepare To Stain Unfinished Furniture

by Matthew Cutler January 13, 2017

How To Prepare To Stain Unfinished Furniture

Getting ready to start your unfinished furniture project is the second most important step after finding your perfect furniture piece. It is said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” If this is your first time staining wood, the last thing we want for you to do is feel like you didn’t know everything you could have. DIY furniture can be one of the most rewarding projects when the end result is exactly what you envisioned. Let’s jump into “Getting Prepared” to stain your unfinished wood furniture piece.


1. Have The Right Tools

What’s in your stain kit? Well, there are some essentials that are a must. You can easily get started with a stain kit from our site, but feel free to pick and choose the products you are most comfortable with. These are easy to pick up at a local hardware store.

  1. Brushes. This is important. You can use foam brushes or bristle brushes. But please note if you choose a bristle brush, use only ones with synthetic bristles for water-based stains and finishes. Natural-bristle brushes will soak up water, which you do not want. However, with oil-based stains a natural bristle brush works perfectly.
  2. Sandpaper. All the furniture from Unfinished Furniture Expo is pre-sanded from the factory, but light sanding is still recommended for a smooth stain application before you use a wood finishing product.However, having a few different grits on hand is a good idea. When sanding you will want to begin with a medium sandpaper of 180 grit and then move to a finer sandpaper of 200+ grit.
  3. Rags for wiping.
  4. Stir sticks to stir the stain.
  5. Rubber gloves to keep your hands clean.
  6. Paper towels to clean up small messes.
  7. Safety glasses for your protection.
  8. Drop cloths or newspapers to keep your area clean.

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2. Have the Right Workspace

Expert craftsman Bruce Johnson shares a few of his top tips on staining preparation.

Before starting any wood finishing project, it’s important to have a proper workspace and supplies. When creating the ideal area, keep the following in mind:

  • The workstation must have adequate light.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated area.
  • The workspace should be dry and warm. If the area is cool or damp, it may affect the dry times indicated on the labels.


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3. Prepare The Surface 

Most unfinished pieces need additional fine sanding before finishing to avoid surface fuzz or roughness that will show when the stain is applied. You should always sand in the direction of the grain. Pine, Alder and Parawood should be sanded with medium sandpaper, generally no finer than 180-grit. 

If wood fill has been used to cover nicks or holes, be sure the residue has been sanded well. If not, the area around the fill will not stain properly and may have a blotchy look. A nifty trick to spot glue and/or putty marks is using a black light if one is available.



We hope that you take the proper preparation steps before starting your unfinished furniture stain project. And we’re always here to answer any questions you may have about how to stain your unfinished furniture piece before or after your purchase from us. 

Matthew Cutler
Matthew Cutler


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