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8 Best Wood Stains in 2024

    When it comes to choosing the right wood stain for your project, you’ve got plenty of options. But which ones are truly the best? You’re about to find out. From fast-drying formulas to eco-friendly and low-odor choices, the top wood stains on the market offer a range of benefits. You might need a stain that enhances the natural grain of your wood, or one that provides exceptional UV protection for outdoor use. Whatever your needs, you’re about to discover the top 8 wood stains that’ll help you achieve professional-looking results. But first, let’s take a closer look…

    Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain

    Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain

    If you’re looking for a wood stain that offers one-coat coverage and fast drying, Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain is an excellent choice, perfect for those who need to complete their wood projects quickly.

    This oil-based formula dries to the touch in just one hour and covers up to 275 square feet, making it ideal for those with time-sensitive projects.

    You’ll appreciate its high-performance stain system, enhanced with nano pigment particles, which highlights the natural wood grain and seals wood pores in just one hour.

    What’s more, you can easily brush it on without the need for a pre-stain or wood conditioner.

    With its impressive features and benefits, it’s no wonder this product has earned an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars from over 8,581 customers.

    Best For: Those who need to complete their wood projects quickly and require a one-coat coverage with fast drying.

    Pros:

    • Offers one-coat coverage and fast drying, perfect for time-sensitive projects
    • High-performance stain system enhanced with nano pigment particles that highlights the natural wood grain
    • Can be easily brushed on without the need for a pre-stain or wood conditioner

    Cons:

    • No specific drawbacks mentioned in the product description
    • May have strong fumes due to oil-based formula
    • May require additional coats for optimal results

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    General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain, 1 Quart, Walnut

    General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain, 1 Quart, Walnut

    For those seeking a high-quality, low-odor wood stain that’s easy to work with, the General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain in Walnut is an excellent choice.

    You’ll appreciate its high-quality pigments that produce rich, dark colors, making it perfect for interior wood projects.

    Since it’s formulated to provide workability similar to oil-based stains, you’ll find it easy to apply by hand or with a sprayer.

    Plus, its low-odor, low-VOC, and water cleanup features make it a pleasure to use.

    With its thicker formula, you’ll enjoy controlled penetration, reducing blotching on softer woods like aspen, pine, and maple.

    With over 1,840 ratings and a 4.5-star rating, you can trust this product to deliver exceptional results.

    Best For: Interior wood projects, particularly for those who prioritize low-odor, low-VOC, and easy cleanup.

    Pros:

    • High-quality pigments produce rich, dark colors
    • Formulated to provide workability similar to oil-based stains, making it easy to apply by hand or with a sprayer
    • Low-odor, low-VOC, and water cleanup features make it a pleasure to use

    Cons:

    • Not suitable for outdoor use
    • May require thinning with water for easier application
    • Not specified for use on certain types of wood or surfaces

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    qt Minwax 70009 Cherry Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood Stain

    qt Minwax 70009 Cherry Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood Stain

    The Minwax 70009 Cherry Wood Finish Oil-Based Wood Stain is the best choice for DIY enthusiasts and woodworkers seeking a rich, cherry-colored finish for their interior wood projects.

    With its ability to enhance the natural wood grain in just one coat, it resists lapping for an even color and allows recoating in just 4-6 hours.

    This stain dries quickly, too – you can expect it to be fully dry in about 8 hours.

    When using this stain, you’ll need to clean up with mineral spirits, and you can reapply coats for a deeper color.

    With its special formula, it deeply penetrates wood pores within 5 minutes of application, making it a great choice for your next project.

    Best For: DIY enthusiasts and woodworkers seeking a rich, cherry-colored finish for their interior wood projects.

    Pros:

    • Enhances the natural wood grain in just one coat
    • Resists lapping for an even color and allows recoating in 4-6 hours
    • Dries quickly, fully dry in about 8 hours

    Cons:

    • Must be cleaned up with mineral spirits
    • Requires multiple coats for deeper color
    • Has a strong formula that deeply penetrates wood pores within 5 minutes of application

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    Storm Stain Protector for Outdoor Wood

    Storm Stain Protector for Outdoor Wood

    You’ll get the best protection for your outdoor wood with Storm Protector, a penetrating, semi-transparent stain and sealer that shields your wood from water and UV rays while showcasing its natural beauty.

    This product is suitable for various outdoor wood applications, including siding, fences, and decks.

    You can easily apply it to different wood substrates, such as redwood, cedar, and pressure-treated lumber.

    The ready-to-use formula makes application a breeze, and the 1-gallon container is convenient for your projects.

    With a 4.4-star rating based on over 1,159 customer reviews, you can trust Storm Protector to provide long-lasting protection for your outdoor wood.

    Best For: Homeowners and outdoor wood enthusiasts who need a reliable and easy-to-apply stain and sealer for their decks, fences, and siding.

    Pros:

    • Easy to apply with a ready-to-use formula
    • Suitable for various wood substrates and outdoor wood applications
    • Provides long-lasting protection from water and UV rays

    Cons:

    • No specific warranty information available
    • Oil-based coating may have strong fumes and require special disposal
    • Limited information available on the product warranty

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    Minwax PolyShades Wood Stain + Polyurethane Finish – ½ Pint, Tudor, Satin

    Minwax PolyShades Wood Stain + Polyurethane Finish – ½ Pint, Tudor, Satin

    When seeking a rich, dark brown finish with a satin sheen, Minwax PolyShades Wood Stain + Polyurethane Finish – ½ Pint, Tudor, Satin is the best choice, as it combines beautiful stain color with long-lasting polyurethane protection in one easy step.

    You’ll love how it enhances the wood grain, and its oil-based formula makes it suitable for use on bare or already-finished wood.

    To apply, simply use a high-quality natural bristle brush and follow the instructions for a flawless finish.

    With its 4.5-star rating and over 1,400 customer reviews, you can trust that this product will deliver a stunning result.

    By using Minwax PolyShades, you’ll save time and achieve a professional-looking finish that will make your projects stand out.

    Best For: Those looking for a convenient and time-saving wood stain and polyurethane finish that provides a rich, dark brown color with a satin sheen.

    Pros:

    • Combines beautiful stain color with long-lasting polyurethane protection in one easy step
    • Suitable for use on bare or already-finished wood
    • Saves time by cutting out a step in the finishing process

    Cons:

    • Requires following instructions carefully to achieve the best results
    • May require multiple thin coats to achieve the desired finish
    • Some customers may not achieve the exact finish they want without proper application

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    SamaN Interior Water Based Wood Stain – Antique Walnut

    SamaN Interior Water Based Wood Stain - Antique Walnut

    Those seeking a low-VOC, odorless, and eco-friendly wood stain solution will appreciate the SamaN Interior Water Based Wood Stain in Antique Walnut, which offers a high-quality, risk-free option for health and the environment.

    You’ll love that this stain is easy to use and clean, with a beautiful, natural color that features gold tones. With no odor, no fumes, and quick drying, you can work comfortably and efficiently.

    You can even mix it with other colors to create a custom look. Plus, it’s a great value, and the seller is highly recommended.

    As a beginner or professional, you’ll find this stain forgiving and easy to work with. You can use it to match antique oak furniture, layer and build up color, or pair it with a wood conditioner and shellac finish coat.

    Best For: Woodworkers, DIY enthusiasts, and professionals seeking a low-VOC, odorless, and eco-friendly wood stain solution for interior projects.

    Pros:

    • Easy to use, clean, and apply with no odor, no fumes, and quick drying
    • Offers a beautiful, natural color with gold tones and can be mixed with other colors for a custom look
    • Forgiving and easy to work with, making it suitable for beginners and professionals alike

    Cons:

    • None mentioned in the product description or customer reviews.

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    Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer-1 Gallon can (Natural Cedar 112)

    Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer-1 Gallon can (Natural Cedar 112)

    If you’re looking for a wood stain and sealer that offers exceptional UV radiation absorption, the Ready Seal Exterior Stain and Sealer in Natural Cedar 112 is an excellent choice, thanks to its trans-oxide pigments that provide superior protection against the elements.

    This 1-gallon can of oil-based stain and sealer is designed for exterior use only and covers approximately 125-150 square feet per gallon.

    You’ll appreciate the Goof Proof application process, which guarantees a smooth, even finish without peeling, cracking, or chipping.

    As a VOC-compliant and biodegradable product, you can feel good about using it on your wood surfaces.

    With a 4.4-star rating and over 70 customer reviews, this product has proven to be a popular choice among homeowners and DIYers alike.

    Best For: Homeowners and DIYers looking for a reliable and eco-friendly wood stain and sealer for their exterior wood surfaces.

    Pros:

    • Offers exceptional UV radiation absorption with trans-oxide pigments
    • Goof Proof application process ensures a smooth, even finish without peeling, cracking, or chipping
    • VOC-compliant and biodegradable, making it an environmentally friendly choice

    Cons:

    • Some customers have reported fading after a few months of use
    • Limited coverage area of approximately 125-150 square feet per gallon
    • Mixed reviews on product performance, with some customers experiencing varying results

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    General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1 Quart, Java

    General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1 Quart, Java

    With its heavy-bodied gel formulation that guarantees consistent color control and easy application, the General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1 Quart, Java is an ideal choice for woodworkers seeking a hassle-free staining experience.

    You’ll appreciate the convenience of using a foam brush or lint-free cloth to apply this stain, which eliminates the need for sanding between coats.

    The quick re-coat time and ability to achieve a hand-rubbed look without the extra work make this product a gem.

    Suitable for even the most difficult woods like aspen or pine, this stain is a reliable choice.

    With an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars from over 11,000 customer reviews, you can trust that this stain will deliver professional-looking results.

    Best For: Woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts who want a hassle-free staining experience with consistent color control and easy application.

    Pros:

    • Easy to apply with a foam brush or lint-free cloth, eliminating the need for sanding between coats
    • Quick re-coat time and achieves a hand-rubbed look without extra work
    • Suitable for difficult woods like aspen or pine

    Cons:

    • No specific cons mentioned in the product description
    • No specific cons mentioned in the product description
    • No specific cons mentioned in the product description

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    Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood Stains

    When selecting the perfect wood stain for your project, you’re faced with a multitude of options, but what should you prioritize?

    You’ll want to ponder factors that impact the final result, from the color and finish options to the durability and protection the stain provides.

    Color and Finish Options

    When selecting a wood stain, you’ll be faced with a multitude of color and finish options, making it essential to weigh the desired aesthetic and functionality of your project.

    The color palette ranges from natural, transparent tones to rich, vibrant hues, allowing you to achieve the perfect look for your woodwork.

    Consider the type of wood you’re working with, as some stains complement certain species better than others.

    When it comes to finish options, you’ll find a range of sheens, from matte to glossy.

    A matte finish provides a subtle, understated look, while a glossy finish adds depth and shine.

    Semi-gloss and satin finishes fall in between, offering a balance between the two.

    Some stains also offer texture and effects, such as glazes or metallic accents, to add an extra layer of visual interest.

    Think about the style and atmosphere you want to create, and choose a stain that aligns with your vision.

    Durability and Protection

    As you select a wood stain, ponder that the durability and protection it offers will substantially impact the longevity and appearance of your woodwork project. You want a stain that can withstand the elements and daily wear and tear.

    Look for stains with high-quality pigments and UV-resistant ingredients, which provide long-lasting protection against fading and discoloration.

    The durability of a stain is often measured by its resistance to wear and tear. Some products offer up to 5 years of protection against cracking and peeling.

    You may want to ponder oil-based stains, which tend to be more durable than water-based stains. They form a harder, more resistant film on the wood surface, but keep in mind they may take longer to dry and have stronger fumes.

    When choosing a stain, opt for one with a high level of solids content, usually above 20%, as they tend to provide better durability and protection. Additionally, some stains come with extra protective features, such as mold and mildew resistance, to safeguard your wood surface remains safe and healthy.

    Ease of Application

    With ease of application in mind, consider wood stains that simplify the process, saving you time and effort.

    You’ll appreciate wood stains with a ready-to-use formula, eliminating the need for mixing and reducing the risk of errors. Look for stains with a gel or thick consistency, which are easier to control and less likely to drip or run, resulting in a more even finish.

    When choosing a wood stain, opt for one that can be applied with a variety of tools, such as foam brushes, lint-free cloths, or sprayers, to accommodate different application techniques and preferences.

    You’ll also want to select a stain that doesn’t require sanding between coats, saving you time and effort in the application process. Finally, choose a stain with a quick ‘re-coat’ time, allowing you to complete your project faster and minimizing downtime between coats.

    Environmental Impact

    When selecting a wood stain, consider the environmental impact of your choice, as it can substantially affect indoor air quality and the planet’s ecosystem.

    Many wood stains contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can contribute to air pollution and negatively impact indoor air quality. To minimize this impact, choose stains with low VOC levels or opt for water-based stains, which have lower VOC levels and are easier to clean up.

    You can also look for stains made with environmentally friendly ingredients, such as plant-based oils and natural pigments.

    The production process of wood stains also has an environmental impact, so consider manufacturers that use sustainable practices and source materials locally to reduce their carbon footprint.

    When shopping for a wood stain, look for certifications from organizations like Greenguard Gold or California Air Resources Board (CARB), which have strict standards for chemical emissions and VOC levels.

    Surface Preparation

    Prepare the surface of your wood carefully, because the success of your staining project hinges on it.

    A well-prepared surface guarantees that the stain adheres evenly and consistently, resulting in a professional-looking finish.

    Start by cleaning the wood thoroughly with a wood cleaner or a mixture of soap and water to remove dirt, grime, and old wax.

    Sand the wood to smooth out the surface, removing any scratches or imperfections.

    Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratching the surface.

    If you’re working with a previously stained or painted surface, you’ll need to strip the old finish before applying a new stain.

    Use a wood stripper according to the manufacturer’s instructions, taking necessary safety precautions.

    Once the old finish is removed, clean the surface again and sand it lightly to create a smooth surface for staining.

    Remember to dust the surface thoroughly before applying the stain to facilitate proper adhesion.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I Mix Different Wood Stain Brands for a Unique Color?

    You’re wondering if you can mix different wood stain brands for a unique color. Yes, you can, but it’s crucial to test the mix on a small area first to ensure the desired shade and avoid uneven finishes.

    How Long Does It Take for Wood Stain to Fully Cure?

    You’re wondering how long it takes for wood stain to fully cure. Generally, it takes 15 minutes to an hour for the stain to dry, but it can take 24 hours to a week for it to fully harden and cure.

    Is It Necessary to Sand Wood Before Applying Stain?

    As you envision a silky-smooth finish, you wonder: do you really need to sand before staining? Yes, you do – it’s essential to remove imperfections, ensuring a strong bond between wood and stain for a professional-looking result.

    Can I Use Wood Stain on Pressure-Treated Lumber?

    You’re wondering if you can use wood stain on pressure-treated lumber. Generally, it’s not recommended, as the chemicals in the treatment can affect stain adhesion and appearance. You’ll need to wait until the lumber is fully dried and cured.

    Will Wood Stain Protect Wood From Insect Damage?

    “Did you know that termites alone cause $5 billion in damage annually? You’re right to wonder if wood stain protects wood from insect damage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t; stain only enhances appearance, not providing protection against insects like termites or carpenter ants.”

    Conclusion

    You’ve finally made it through the exhaustive list of wood stains, and honestly, it’s a miracle you didn’t lose your mind.

    But don’t worry, you now possess the ultimate power to transform that bland wood into a stunning masterpiece.

    Go forth, stain like the wind, and remember, a well-stained wood is a happy wood.

    Happy staining, and may the odds be ever in your favor!