Have you ever tried stripping and sanding an old piece of furniture so you could restain it? It’s soooo much work! Is there an easier way? Can you stain over stained wood? Yes you can!! We show you how to make stain darker on wood without stripping or sanding.
The before – light stairs before making stain darker on wood
These are the stairs from the main floor to the basement of our house. When we bought the house, the hardwoods upstairs were a very unattractive red. Our floor refinisher said the only option was to go darker to cover the natural red tone of the wood. So we did. But since these stairs only led to the basement, we opted not to have them professionally stained dark at the same time.
Fast forward a couple years and we were ready to tackle these stairs to match the rest of the floors in our house. Luckily we knew just how to make stain darker on wood by using stain over stained wood!
The process – stain over stained wood
This process works for any wood surface that has previously been stained, whether it’s a piece of furniture, stairs or even a countertop. We’ve also used Cottage Paint’s Color & Seal to stain over stained wood, which you can read about here.
Step 1 – clean the wood surface
We cleaned the stairs with a TSP alternative. Make sure to go over the wood surface with a damp cloth to remove any residue of the cleaning solution because you don’t want it to compromise your finish.
Step 2 – light scuff
Okay, I know I said there’s no sanding involved but it IS a good idea to do a very light scuffing of the wood surface with a medium grit sandpaper. You do not need to sand off the previous stain and finish. The purpose of the light sanding is to give a little tooth to the surface to help your new stain colour stick.
Step 3 – remove all dust
We used a damp cloth followed by tack cloth to make sure we removed all the dust before we applied our stain. Even if you can’t see the dust particles, they’re there! Making sure your wood stairs are as clean and dust free as possible before you begin staining will really help get the best finish possible.
Step 4 – tape the risers and sides
If you are only staining the stair treads like us, you will need to use painter’s tape to tape off the risers and the side of the staircase so you don’t get any stain on them. Ok, you’ll probably still get a little stain on them but it will be much easier to touch up quickly with paint if you’ve used tape.
Step 5 – stain stairs darker
We used Fusion Mineral Paint’s Stain & Finishing Oil (SFO) in Cappuccino to stain over our stained wood stairs. To apply the SFO, you will need:
- Fusion’s Stain & Finishing Oil
- Applicator pad or lint free rag
- Chip or foam brush
- Small stir stick or plastic spoon
Begin by stirring the tin of SFO. Don’t shake the tin because it will create air bubbles that can carry through onto the wood you are staining.
Using a chip or foam brush, apply the stain in the same direction as the grain. Depending on how opaque you want the stain, you can leave it as is or you can use your lint free rag to wipe back the stain until you get the stain colour you are happy with. The longer you wait before wiping back the stain, the more of it will stay on when you wipe. Even without wiping off any of the stain, you will still be able to see the wood grain come through.
Step 6 – let dry
If you are happy with the colour after one coat, then you are done! If you’d like the stairs to be a little darker, add another coat of the stain over the stained wood.
Pro tip: If you need to use your stairs within 24 hours, only do every other stair at a time so you can step over the fresh stained stairs to get up and down while you wait for them to dry.
The great part about SFO is that it has a built in top coat and you do not need to apply anything else to protect your stained wood finish!
The final step is to remove the painter’s tape and make any touch ups to the risers and sides of the stairs. We used Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White (which is the colour on all the trim in our house) to touch up the areas where the stain bled a bit under the painter’s tape.
The after – wood stairs stained darker
We hope you’ve learned how easy it is to stain stairs or stain wood darker. By applying stain over stained wood, you can completely change the look of your wood surface without a lot of preparation or a tonne of mess. Our basement staircase now matches the rest of the wood in our house and we couldn’t be happier. Have you tried to stain over stained wood? Have you stained stairs? Do you have any tips or tricks for how to make stain darker on wood? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Want more? We shared some tips, along with other experts, for 21 easy DIY home improvements here on the Redfin Blog!