How to Fix Wood Stain Mistakes: 9 DIY Solutions for Poor Stain Job

 Wood stain is basically a paint-like material that is used to colour wood and give it a rich finish. Paints usually stay on top of the piece you’re working on. But unlike normal paint, wood stain gets the job done by infiltrating the wood.

The stain gets inside the wood and needs to set for a specific amount of time to dry. In this period of time, the color saturates the wood while the solvent evaporates. This gives a new long-lasting tone on the furniture or the piece you applied the wood stain on.

Because of that, unlike paint, the application of wood stains requires more refined and careful workmanship. And it is particularly easy to mess up the stain job. So the project ends up nothing like you intended it to be. Even the experts sometimes face this problem.

So if you wind up doing a stain job which leaves you with the uneven finish, uncovered region, unwanted drips, or just a bad looking stain then there’s no need to panic. Because in this article we are going to walk through some simple remedies on how to fix wood stain mistakes.

How to Fix Wood Stain Mistakes

9 Ways to Fix Wood Stain Mistakes & Problems:

Find Out The Problem You’re Dealing With Before Going For The Fix

Not specifying the problem in hand a mistake almost everyone does when they first try to fix wood staining problems. Finding out the main problem or at least having a general idea will help you enormously on the fixing job.

So for starters, go in front of the faulty wood stain and try to find out what actually went wrong. Here are some common problems you may face when you try to finish the wood stain project.

  1. Uneven surface
  2. Unwanted stain marks or drips or streaks
  3. Uneven color shade
  4. Wrong colour shade
  5. Sticky stain
  6. Blotchy wood stain
  7. Stain not penetrating wood

These are usually all the problems you may face that made the stain work look bad. After you figure out which problem or problems you are facing, the fixing job will be much less confusing. All you have to do now is to follow the guideline for solving that specific problem and come out victorious.

1. Apply Another Layer Of Stain On The Uneven Color Area

Apply Another Layer Stain Uneven Color Area

When you start staining wood, you should have a specific color target in your head. If after the application of wood stain some area meets your target but some area looks lighter than it should be, then this is the step you must follow.

Firstly take the stain that you used on the first coating. Using a piece of cloth or rag apply another coat of the same stain on the wood. But only target the areas that have a lighter shade than you actually want it to be.

Be careful not to overuse the stain. Usually, only one coat of stain will get the work done for you. Try to avoid using stain on the surface that is already perfect in terms of color. If you accidentally put any stain on areas it’s not meant to go, just simply wipe it off gently.

This will result in a much even colour shade on all of the surfaces. Read Also: Best Concrete Stain of 2020 Reviews & Buying Guide

2. Apply Thinner To Fix The Uneven Shade

Apply Thinner To Fix Uneven Shade
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This is just the opposite of the step mentioned earlier. Instead of having lighter areas, sometimes you may see some dark spots on the surface. If you find some areas that are darker than what your target was, then the solution to this problem is simple.

There are many stain thinner available on the market. Try to go for a stain thinner that the manufacturer of the wood stain suggests. After getting your hands on the right thinner, apply it carefully to the specific dark areas only.

This will wipe away extra dark shade on those areas. But be careful not to use it anywhere else than the intended surface. Otherwise, it will take away the colour from the perfect spots.

Keep working on the dark areas and wipe it off with rags until it reaches the colour you want. To know if the applied thinner is working or not, you can simply check the cloth or rag you are using to wipe off. If the rag has a stain on it, then you can be assured that the thinner is working perfectly. Apply this process until fix stained wood that is too dark.

3. Apply An Extra Coating of Wood Stain To Even Out

Apply An Extra Coating Of Wood Stain To Even Out

Sometimes you may feel that in some places the color is uneven, but it’s too hard to figure out where. This happens when the color difference is really small. If this problem occurs, don’t try to target specific areas. As it will be hard to adjust the colour and you may end up messing it up even more.

Instead, you can opt for applying another layer of wood stain. It will help you even out all the colour variations.

To do this first apply the same stain you worked with previously on the wood. Then apply it on the wood again with greater speed to prevent any specific area to get darker than the rest. After the application, wipe off the extra and let it dry. This will give you a much nicer and even-looking stain job.

4. Sanding Stained Wood To Restart

Sanding Stained Wood To Restart

Sometimes you may end up with a very bad stain work on the wood. If the stain job is too terrible than it is advised to wipe it all off and start clean once more.

To start fresh, the best method is to sand stained wood to get rid of all the previous wood stains. Be careful not to start sanding before the previous wood stain dries. Otherwise, you’ll cause damage to the wood and won’t be able to properly remove all the wood stain or even worse, get the stain even deeper in the wood.

After the stains are completely dry, fix a 180-220 grit sandpaper into an orbital sander. Use the orbital sander to get rid of all the stain from the wood.

Beware that it is a very time-consuming work. So don’t think that it’s not working if it takes a good amount of time. Because it is meant to take a long time. But as a result, you’ll get a fresh new canvas to work on.

When the color is almost gone from the wood and the wood starts to look natural, switch this sandpaper with much finer grit sandpaper until you’re satisfied with the removal. Or else the 180 grit sandpaper may damage the wood itself.

5. Fixing Blotchy Wood Stain With Sanding And Gel Stain

Fix Blotchy Wood Stain
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Even if you are very careful with your wood stain work, some problems are not in your hands to avoid. One of them is blotching because of the type of wood you’re using. Birch, maple, pine, and some other wood tend to soak up a different amount of liquid on different parts of the wood surface depending on the density.

This results in a blotchy wood stain. To prevent this from showing in your final result, you can sand blotchy part of the surface with aggressive grit sandpaper. Using an orbital sander and a 180 grit sandpaper start sanding.

After the sanding is performed, use mineral spirit and wipe the surface clean. Then apply a gel stain evenly and wipe away the extra with a rag to get a blotch free wood stain.

6. Fixing Sticky Wood Stain

Fixing Sticky Wood Stain

As mentioned earlier, wood stain infiltrates the wood and the colour is saturated from the inside. But if you apply a generous amount of wood stain on a surface or forget to wipe away the extra after the application, you may end of with a sticky wood stain surface. This happens when the excess material doesn’t evaporate and stays on the surface.

If you’re facing a sticky wood stain mistake and can’t get it off then there’s no need to worry. Because the solutions are simpler than you can imagine.

a) Using Stain Thinner

Using Stain Thinner
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The first solution to this sticky problem is stain thinner. First, get some stain thinner onto a rag or a piece of cloth. Then simply apply it onto the sticky surface.

The trick here is to wipe the thinner off right away. Very quick removal of the thinner removes the excess stain from the surface and make it less sticky. Do the same process all over again until you’re satisfied with the result.

b) Applying More Stain

Applying More Stain
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This may come off as a surprise, but the simplest way to get rid of sticky wood stain is to apply even more stain on top of it.

Sometimes the wood surfaces stay sticky because there isn’t enough binder left for the stain to dissolve. If you apply another coat of heavy stain, the excess leftover stain will dissolve into the new coating. Then you can simply wipe it off with a rag and save yourself from this sticky situation.

7. Dealing With Stains Not Penetrating Wood

Stains Not Penetrating Wood

Most of the time the reason for stains not penetrating wood is because of three simple mistakes. The first one is not giving enough time for the stain too dry.

Sometimes the easiest solution is the best one. Just give your stain more time to dry and you’ll see all of the stains going inside and binding with the wood.

The second reason may be that you used more stain than necessary on the surface. Every wood surface has a finite limit to how much stain it can absorb. After that, the wood gets saturated with stain and can absorb no more. So you should wipe away the rest of the extra stain on top of the surface.

The next problem occurs when you’re dealing with a previously stained wood. You may be using finer sandpaper than you should.

If you’re trying to get rid of the previous stain you should go aggressive on the sanding and use a 180-220 grit sandpaper. This will help with the problem of stains not penetrating.

8. Apply Mineral Spirit To Fix Drips And Streaks In Stained Wood

Apply mineral spirit fix stained wood
soak a rag in mineral spirit & wipe the affected area=>

Making mistakes like having drips and streak in stained wood is very common, even with experts who have long term experience.

To fix this mistake, the general rule of thumb is to apply enough stain to the area and mask the mark. This will hide the stain streak or spot, but for obvious reasons create a darker area on the surface.

To prevent that from happening, firstly soak a rag in mineral spirit generously. Using that rag, wipe the affected area gently.

In case the stain mark dries, you can still use mineral spirit to remove any sort of unwanted marks. But make sure you use the rag gently over the stained surface.

9. Using Chemical Stain Stripper

Using chemical stain stripper
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When the stain job went far south and there is no other way to fix it anymore, it’s a good idea to remove all the stain and start fresh all over again. For even surfaces, using an orbital sander is the way to go. But for the area that is curved, tight, and very hard to reach, using an orbital sander is not the optimal choice. This is where chemical strippers come into play.

The best thing about chemical stripper is that it can remove stain from anywhere it gets applied on. There are plenty of chemical strippers found on the market. Some are very strong and corrosive, where some are not.

Titan Mini Razor paint Scraper set
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Instead of going for the strong ones, trey getting a weaker one. Because the weak ones are much safer and only take a bit more time to get rid of the same level of stain. So putting safety as a first priority, avoid the harsh ones.

Start by applying a thin layer of stripper on surfaces you want to remove stain from. Wait for the recommended period of time written on the stripper container and then wipe it all off. This will give you a fresh new natural look to your wood and you can start from scratch.

Final Verdict

Now that you know all the ins and outs on how to fix wood stain mistakes, follow them, and make adjustments if you feel necessary.

Staining wood is a form of art and may take a long time to perfect. With practice comes perfection. So the next time you stain your piece try not to make the same mistake again. And if you end up doing so, you can simply go ahead and fix it, and bring your woodwork game to a whole new level.

If you know any more solutions on how to fix a poor wood stain job let us know in the comment section below.

Last Updated on July 17, 2021 by Rogers Weber

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