How Do You Stain a Table?


Quick Answer

A wood table is stained using three primary steps; smoothing the wood so that the stain adheres properly, cleaning the wood to help give the stain a smooth and even appearance, and then applying the stain itself. After staining, the table is then finished to protect the stain from damage.

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Full Answer

  1. Prepare the wood

    Sand the wood with a coarse sandpaper to level it out. Sand with the grain to avoid forcing open the pores in the wood and causing discolorations in the look of the stain. Wipe the wood clear with a tack cloth, and then sand it again with a medium-grit sandpaper to remove any minor inconsistencies in the surface. Wipe with the cloth a second time, and then sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface. Wipe with the tack cloth a final time to remove any wood dust.

  2. Clean the table

    Clean the wood using a sponge dampened with mineral spirits. The mineral spirits will bring out the natural variations of color contained in the wood. If working with soft wood, then apply a wood conditioner to the table surface with a cloth to aid in stain absorption.

  3. Stain the wood

    Apply the wood stain of your choice using a brush. Work along with the wood grain, overlapping the edges of brush strokes to ensure complete coverage. Allow the stain to sit on the wood to be absorbed. The longer it remains, the darker the coloring. Wipe the stain from the table once the desired color is reached, using a clean cloth following along the with the wood grain. For oil-based stains, make certain the room is well-ventilated, as the fumes may be toxic.

  4. Finish the table

    Allow the stain to dry completely, then apply a wood finish to the table to protect the stain from wear and fading. Common finishes include tung oil and polyurethane. Wipe the finish onto the table using a cloth, following the wood grain, and slightly overlapping each finished row.

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