Though timber already looks beautiful in its natural state, there are moments when it stands out in an awkward manner. Timber stain & varnish is the perfect solution for this type of dilemma.

Adding timber stain & varnish to your stripped or bare timber allows you to modify and highlight the grain pattern of any type of wood. Timber comes in different shapes, sizes, and colours. It’s important to know everything about adding colour to your timber, whether it’s choosing the appropriate stain color, or the different timber stain & varnish types. What’s even more important is the basic knowledge of applying timber stain & varnishes. Here are some tips on how to properly apply timber stains to add colour to your project.

Selecting the Right Type of Timber Stain & Varnish

Choosing the right type of timber stain & varnish is probably the most important step. A simple mistake in selection could potentially have you starting your project all over again, which is a waste of effort, time and money. Before you go ahead and buy a timber stain & varnish, be sure to compare them first.

Base Ideal for Use On Number of Coats Dry Time
Oil-Based Timber Stain Cabinets, hardwood floors, doors, wood furniture, molding, woodwork, and trim 2 coats max 8 hours
Water-Based Timber Stain Trim, woodwork, doors, wood furniture, cabinets, molding – not recommended for floors 1 coat max (additional coats may be applied for those seeking a darker and smoother finish) 2 hours
Gel-Based Stain Fiberglass, furniture, trim, veneer, doors, accessories and non-wood surfaces such as metal, woodwork, molding, and cabinets – not recommended for floors 1-2 coats max (depending on the surface) 24 hours


Application Tips

Applying timber stain is more than just brushing or ragging it onto the surface. There are specific procedures you should remember to get the best results.

  • Open Pores – Stains require open pores for proper timber absorption, so applying stain over a surface that has a finish will not bond properly.
  • Sand bare timber lightly – Start with a medium-grit sandpaper, then work your way to a final sanding with the use of a fine-grit sandpaper. Take note to always sand in the direction of the grain to avoid making unpleasant scratches.
  • Foam Brush, Cloth, Bristle Brush – Stain can be applied using either of the three. Be sure to rub or brush against the direction of the grain to help reach deep pores with the stain.
  • Pay Attention to Duration – Be mindful of how long you’ve left the stain on the timber before wiping any unabsorbed liquid off. For consistent colour use careful timing as the longer the stain is left on the surface, the deeper and richer the colour will be.
  • Unabsorbed Stain Removal – With a dry cloth, wipe off the last of any unabsorbed stain.
  • Colour, not Protection – Unless you’re using a “Stain and Varnish” product, keep in mind that stains are mainly for colour, not protection. Get the right advice on different timber varnish types as it’s quite possible that you will need to use an appropriate coat to finish.

The Do’s and Don’ts

It’s important to remember the do’s and don’ts of timber staining. Following them will give the timber an even more beautiful tone to it letting you enjoy its appearance longer.



• Always sand the timber lightly to prepare it for staining.

• Stir the can of timber stain thoroughly to evenly distribute any colour pigments that might’ve settled on the bottom.

• Before applying them, test any of the stains that you are considering first.

• Apply a second coat if necessary.


• Forget to remove handles, pulls, hinges and knobs to avoid getting the timber stain on them. Take note that wood stains can change the color of any metallic item.

• Leave any unabsorbed stain to dry on top of the timber, thinking it would help give the timber a darker finish. Stains are formulated to seep and dry in the timber, not on the timber.

• Apply transparent timber varnish types, or any protective finish before the stain has had time to dry.

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