Posted by on Jul 4, 2013 in Blog, How To Tips, Staining Furniture | 141 comments

Have you ever stained a piece of furniture and thought you picked the “perfect” stain but then realized it wasn’t what you wanted? Did you live with it, or decide to sand it down and start from scratch?

I’ve learned that staining furniture isn’t much different than dying my hair. I’ve been blonde, strawberry-blonde, streaked-blonde, red-head, black and brunette so I know what I’m talking about. 😉

Like any good hair stylist will tell you, you can apply a dark hair colour over a light colour, but not a light over a dark. To go from a dark shade to a lighter shade, you must strip and remove the dark shade first.

When it comes to furniture and wood, staining over stain works exactly the same way!

Today, while trying to turn two dirty scratched road-rescue tables into “Country-Charm”, I chose Peacan Minwax for the tops. Once applied, I decided I wanted to stain the tops much darker. What I didn’t want was the hassle of stripping and sanding all the wood over again.

I was feeling adventurous so I applied Dark Walnut Minwax stain over the already stained Pecan wood. It worked beautifully!


Side tables before stripping and staining


Minwax Dark Walnut over Minwax Pecan


Minwax Stain over Stain


The end result didn’t turn out the exact shade/colour which is shown on the Dark Walnut Minwax label, but, somewhat warmer due to the golden tones of the Pecan underneath. Seeing as I’m not trying to get an exact match to any existing furniture, no biggie… and I quite like the warm tones coming through.


stained side tables

Stain over stain close-up


So here’s my lesson for the day which I’m sharing with you ~


1. Staining over stain is easy and works beautifully if your applying a dark stain over a lighter stain on raw wood.

2. You can mix 2 or more stains together to make DIY custom stains.

3. Warm stains work great to slightly warm up cooler toned stains.

4. Pick an inconspicuous spot to test your stains before applying to the entire surface.

5. Last but not least, it’s not advisable to stain over polyurethane or any other protected finish such as wax, varnish or shellac.

Here’s why. Last summer I tried touching-up scratches on a head & foot board by applying a matching cherry stain over the finish. Big mistake!  After applying it, it did help camouflage the scratches but; the end result was horrible. Regardless of how many times I tried wiping it down, it felt tacky to the touch and rubbed off on my hands and clothes every time I was near it.


staining over stain


Have any questions or staining stories of your own?  Or maybe we should have some fun and share hair dye stories gone horribly wrong… I have a few of those!

Have a great day!