How Long Do You Leave Stain on Wood?

We research in-depth and provide unbiased reviews and recommendations on the best products. We strive to give you the most accurate information. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Whether you are looking to give your woodworking project a fresh new look or want to protect it from damage, you’ll want to know how long to leave stain on wood. Oil-based stains can take up to eight hours to dry, but they should be stirred thoroughly before you begin. Apply the stain with a high-quality brush and wipe away excess with a clean rag. Allow the stain to dry for at least eight hours, or overnight, before you apply a second coat, which will give it a deeper hue.

Oil-based stains

When staining wood, oil-based stains have several different drying times. Each time has a different duration, depending on temperature and humidity. The maximum and minimum times vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally, a stain should be left on for 24 to 72 hours, depending on the brand and type. If you plan to apply oil-based stains to a large surface, the longest drying time may be 24 hours.

The first step to remove an oil stain is to apply a damp microfiber cloth to the area. While it may be enough to blot the stain, it may not be enough. In order to remove an oil-based stain completely, you must act quickly. Raw wood absorbs fatty substances and unwanted oil stains. The longer you wait, the more likely it will become difficult to remove the stain.

You must also ensure that your stain is applied to wood with large pores. To do this, you should brush against the grain of the wood to apply more pressure. Once applied, you must wipe off the excess stain with a clean rag. Water-based stains do not require long drying times. You can apply a second coat if you desire a darker shade. If you’re working with wood that will be exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of time, you can apply it a day before or the night before it’s fully dry.

There are many different stains for wood, but they all require different drying times. Depending on the type of stain, a water-based stain will dry in 24 to 48 hours. Generally, the longer oil-based stains take to dry, the more time you’ll need to wait before applying a polyurethane layer. If you’re staining interior wood, the drying time may be only four to eight hours. If the stain is not completely dry, it will cause streaks, blotching, and other undesirable effects.

Cabot, another well-known brand, has many types of oil-based stains. Cabot oil-based stains take about 72 hours to cure, and Australian Timber Oil stains take 48 hours to dry. Depending on the type of stain you choose, you can reapply a fresh coat within the first 24 hours. Cabot offers many oil-based stains, most of which dry in 24 hours and others require up to 48 hours to dry.


When applying Varathane stain, it’s important to follow the directions carefully. Applying the stain can be done with a paintbrush or a lint-free cloth. Experienced woodworkers prefer using a cloth, and use it to spread the excess stainer before applying more. Varathane is usually applied in thin layers, and it’s important to allow the stain to dry before handling it or reapplying it. The next step is to apply the topcoat.

Oil-based stains typically last three to five years, but this timeframe is influenced by factors like weather and traffic. Exterior wood is more exposed to UV rays, which reduce the stain’s lifespan. Interior wood, on the other hand, is protected from UV rays. Several factors may also reduce the stain’s service life, including high traffic areas and weather conditions.

Read More:   How to Set Up a Block Plane

Water-based stains come in liquid, gel, and aerosol form. Some will dry quickly, while others will take anywhere from several hours to 24 hours to completely dry. Performance stains, such as Minimax standard stains, can be reapplied after eight hours, while standard stains require at least 24 hours before reapplying polyurethane. Those with gel-based stains will need at least eight hours before they can be reapplied.


If you’re looking to add a new coat of stain to your wood furniture, you’ll want to consider using a pre-stain conditioner. These products will penetrate the wood grain to promote uniform acceptance of water-based wood stains. They also control the grain raising on both hard and soft woods. The recommended size is one Quart. Use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For best results, apply it a day before staining.

Natural conditioners like black tea and coffee are excellent pre-stain conditioners. Allow these substances to cool before applying the stain. Teas and coffee contain tannins that react with the pores of wood to provide a more even surface for staining. To determine which one will work best for your specific wood type, test it on a scrap board to ensure its compatibility. Pre-stain conditioners may not work well with certain types of wood, such as oak. These products partially seal the pores, which may inhibit stain absorption.

After the pre-stain conditioner has been thoroughly applied, it should be allowed to penetrate the wood for about five to 15 minutes before applying the stain. To ensure an even coat, wipe off excess pre-stain with a clean, dry cloth. After applying the pre-stain conditioner, it’s important to wait at least two hours before applying the stain. If the wood is too absorbent, a second coat of conditioner might be needed. Clean up with paint thinner or mineral spirits after the stain has set.

Once the wood is properly sanded and stained, it’s time to apply the stain. Apply a wet coat and wipe off excess before it dries. You can also use a roller or spray gun to apply the stain. A second coat of stain will produce a deeper coloring than the first. But it’s important to note that staining over stain requires two coats, which slows down the production process.

Soft woods are easier to stain than hard woods, but some types of hardwoods, such as cedar and fir, aren’t suited for staining. The porosity and density of wood will make staining uneven, creating a blotchy appearance. A pre-stain conditioner will help even out the color of bare wood. Pre-stain conditioner penetrates the wood, sealing the stain while temporarily sealing it.

Foam brush

When using a foam brush to apply stain, you should make sure to stir the mixture with a stirring stick rather than shaking it. Shaking the stain could cause bubbles to transfer to the wood project, leaving strange marks. Also, use the foam brush liberally, against the grain of the wood, to ensure a complete coverage. How long to leave stain on wood with foam brush?

Using a foam brush, apply the stain in a circular motion, working the stain into the wood with the grain of the wood. Always work with the grain of the wood to minimize blotting. If the wood is new, apply the stain directly after the conditioner, and allow at least 24 hours for the wood to dry. On very hot or dry days, you can skip the 24 hour waiting period.

Read More:   How to Neutralize Oxalic Acid in Wood

Once the stain has dried on the wood, the final step is to apply a finish coat. A foam brush will do this job for you, but it does not lay down a smooth topcoat as a quality bristle brush does. When using oil-based stains, use heated air to speed up the drying time. This will vary depending on the brand and type of wood. The ideal heat is direct sunlight for about three hours.

To protect the wood from damage, it is important to use a topcoat. Water-based polyurethane will not work with oil-based stains because it will bead up on the stained wood surface. Moreover, too much water-based polyurethane can raise the grain of the wood. To protect your wood from moisture, you should apply three to five thin coats of water-based polyurethane.

Apply stain with a brush. Remember to brush the stain in the direction of the wood grain. When using a foam brush, make sure that you apply the stain evenly. When you are finished with it, you should wipe the wood with a cloth to remove any excess stain. This way, you won’t have to worry about your finish getting stained again. If you’re unsure of how long to leave stain on wood with foam brush, read this article to help you choose the best stain for your wood.

Why trust Handyman.Guide?

s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Itamar Ben-Dor has been in the home improvement business for over 25 years. Itamar Ben-Dor is a jack of all trades. He's worked in the renovation field for years, doing everything from locksmithing to carpentry. He's a small repairs specialist. But his true passion lies in furniture construction and renovation - he loves seeing old pieces come back to life with some new woodwork or a fresh coat of paint.

He has taken courses on many topics in these fields at professional colleges in Israel. Over the years, Itamar has also become quite skilled in gardening, carpentry, and renovations. He's worked on projects of all sizes, from massive renovations to small repairs. No job is too big or too small for him!

Disclosure: participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.