How To Stain Wood Furniture


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We recently moved into a new apartment  (YAY!), but we still have all IKEA furniture. And when I say all, I mean literally all of our furniture is from IKEA. 

Don’t get me wrong, I looove me some IKEA. But we’ve gotten to the point where we just want to mix things up a bit – have a little more style to the decor in our home. 

All of our furniture is black, so I really wanted to add in some nice wood to pop against it and make a bit of a statement. 

Now if you venture out to any real furniture stores, wood furniture can get so friggin pricey! So scratch that, we had to come up with a new plan. 

In comes a lovely donation from Justin’s parent’s – an old wooden coffee table that’s been sitting in their basement for years without use. Awesome!

But for us, it was a little too light and orangey colored. And how did we fix that?

With stain of course!

Now we were pretty much newbies at this whole staining thing. I had stained a couple of things before, so I knew the gist of what I was doing, but never something this big before.

So we did our research and jumped right in!


How To Stain Wooden Furniture


Items You Will Need:

  • Rags (we picked up a bag of them from Home Depot, these rags work, or an old cut up t-shirt)
  • Sandpaper
  • Plastic Gloves – maybe a few pairs; it gets messy!
  • Foam Brushes – just like these!
  • Wood Stain


I know some people don’t like to read, so here’s a quick run down on the steps:

Step 1: Clean Your Wood

Step 2: Remove Hardware

Step 3: Sand

Step 4: Stain (Paint On, Wipe Off, Repeat)

Step 5: Let it Dry & Reattach Hardware


To start, you’re going to want to choose what colour you want your wood to become. This is where you may want to do a little research into what brand and colour you want.

Depending on the starting colour of your wood will depend on the finishing colour. Do a little research to see what finished products look like with your chosen brand of stain with similar starting colours. 

I chose a Minwax Gel Stain in “Walnut”, because my mom and myself have used it before and I liked the result. Gel stains give you more time to work with the product before drying, which is great if you’re doing this for the first time. 

Our project was a coffee table with hinged tops for lots of storage. 


Here is the before & after:



We chose to rid of the flower hardware on the front since the latches were broken anyways. They’re really just their for decoration. 

This colour was achieved after just one coat of stain! Our wood is quite worn and rustic looking, and that’s just how I like it!

Now to begin the process! 


How To Stain Wood Furniture

Step 1: Clean your wood. 




Ours started off super dusty, and we don’t want the stain clinging to that dust do we? Give’r a good wipe down and it’ll be good to go.


Step 2: Remove Hardware




Make sure all of the hardware is removed from your wood or it’ll be really difficult to stain. If you can take all hinges off and separate pieces, definitely do it. 

The less awkward creases you have to get into, the better. 

This particular table had a bajillion hinges on it – some practical, others decorative – that took for friggin ever to take off, but definitely worth it. It would have turned out horribly if we tried to tape them off. 


Step 3: Sand




If your wood is nice and smooth, you’re going to need to sand it down so the stain has something to stick to. Our wood was already quite rough (which is what we were going for, more rustic!) so we only had to sand a few spots. 


Step 4: Stain!

First start off by cracking open your can of stain and giving it a good stir. 

Once it looks a little less clumpy, grab your foam brush and dip it in. Get a good amount onto your brush and start lathering it onto your piece.



You’re going to want to put a lot on. 

Remember, with stain you wipe it off after you paint it on. Once you have painted on a substantial chunk, grab your rag and make straight strokes and wipe the excess off (like wiping a glob of ketchup off the counter.) 

(I don’t have a photo of the wiping, because that was my job!)

We chose to do basically piece by piece at a time to give longer time for the color to absorb. It’s your personal preference as to how large of sections you want to do before wiping it with the rag.

Continue this process until you have covered the entirety of your furniture. 

Here is a comparison of the before and the after (plus someone snuck some hand prints on there… )


Step 5: Let Dry & Reattach Hardware

Let it dry for 24 hours (or however long according to your can of stain) before starting a new coat or reattaching hardware.

At least two coats is recommended to help cover up any streaks from the first coat. 

But remember, if you like it after one coat, or you’re at three coats and you want it darker, you do you girl.

We came back the next day to do a second coat and actually loved the way it looked with just one, so we decided to just add the hardware back on and leave it as is!


And our finished product!





The new and improved table tends to change in color depending on the lighting, but that’s what I love about it! It’s so rustic looking and that is exactly the look we were going for. 

If you try your own staining project, post a picture and tag me in it on Instagram! I would love to see some finished products. 


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