How to fix a bad stain job

How to Fix a Bad Stain Job the Right Way

If you want to showcase the character and natural, organic beauty of your wooden crafts, staining is the perfect way to do so. Stained wood generally looks great, and the staining process itself is permanent and doesn’t really require a lot of work. You can easily do it yourself. However, if you choose to do so, and you’re still new at it, you might make some mistakes that will jeopardize the look of the wood instead of embellishing it. That brings us to the million-dollar question: how to fix a bad stain job?

You don’t have to worry too much about making mistakes though, because, in this article, we’ll be showing you how to fix a bad stain job in order to bring your woodworking skills to a whole new level.

We’ll cover everything you’re going to need and detail the steps along the way so that you can be more creative and take more risks without worrying too much about the consequences.

And now, without further ado let us dive into the article: how to fix a bad stain job!


How to Fix a Bad Stain Job: Here’s What You Will Need

For this job, you won’t really need much equipment. Most of it are hand tools that you probably already have. With that said, here’s what you’re going to use:

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Besides those tools, you also need some items that can be found around the house, which are:

  • Empty bucket
  • Clean rags
  • Water-filled spray bottle

How to Fix a Bad Stain Job in Four Easy Steps

First Step: Remove the Stain

The first thing you need to do is to get rid of the primary stain.

If this is all uncharted territory for you, don’t worry, just remove the entirety of the stain and just begin from the beginning. If you’ve done this a lot of times before and are confident in your ability to fix the exact spot, you can just use tape and tape off the area that you aim to fix before you begin the work.

With that said, you need to know what you’re in for if you want to do some spot-fixing. This process can be quite hard and delicate, and it’s not recommended unless you know exactly what you’re doing and all of this is just second nature to you.

The problem with spot-fixing is that it’s very noticeable if you mess up, even if it’s a minor slip up. This is one of the main reasons we will not be covering this technique in this article. We’ll just assume that you’ll start the stain job from scratch.

Pour the proper amount of stain stripper onto the wood surface and use a paintbrush to spread out the stripper evenly. However, you’ll need to be quick about it as paint stripper tends to evaporate quickly.

After you’re done with this process, wait for the stain stripper to do its job. Generally speaking, most paint strippers will take no more than 15-20 minutes to take care of the stain. Once the wait is done, scan the surface to see if there are any spots, and just to be extra sure that the paint stripper has completely dried off, try rubbing some cloth on a small part of the area you’ve covered in order to make sure the paint stripper has completely dried off.

If the paint stripper hasn’t entirely dried, give it more time. However, with most paint strippers, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 20 minutes.

Second Step: Remove the Stripper

Once the paint stripper dries off completely, it’s time to get rid of it.

Take a plastic scraper and use it to remove the paint stripper and covered stain altogether from the surface of the wood. Hold the empty bucket at the end of the table, so it gets filled with the scraped liquid.

Continue scraping the piece’s entire surface until there’s no more stains or loose paint strippers. Once you’re done with that, you’ve done 95% of the work. However, there’ll always be some paint stripper that’s trapped inside the wood.

In order to remove it, use a small amount of paint stripper on the surface of the wood and swoop in with a palm or orbital sander in the direction of the wood grain. We recommend using 80-100 grit sandpaper.

Don’t put too much pressure while you’re using the sander as you risk jeopardizing the wood’s natural texture. If you don’t have a sander at your disposal, you can use some coarse steel wool which should do the trick pretty well.

Third Step: Neutralize the Stripper

Once you’re 100% rid of the paint stripper, you’ll need to remove the trace amount of chemicals that it leaves in the wood. Leaving them there will hamper the wood’s ability to absorb the new stain later on. This is why the paint stripper on the piece of wood needs to be neutralized.

To achieve this, spray a lot of water on the piece, then use some cloth to wipe out the surface of the wood. Once you do that, proceed to use a sander and give the piece of wood one extra pass. For this step, we recommend using higher grit sandpaper than what you used previously. Something like 150-200 grit sandpaper should be optimal.

Fourth Step: Restain the Piece

Once you’ve completed eradicated the paint stripper from the piece of wood; now it’s time to start over! The lumber becomes your canvas once again, and you can restain it.

Before you restain the wood, we recommend using wood conditioner as the wood has been recently laced with a caustic chemical. Proceed to use a paintbrush to apply the conditioner.

Once you’re done with that the conditioner has dried, you can start restaining the piece! Be careful not to make the same mistake twice!

How to Fix a Bad Stain Job: Final Thoughts

Knowing how to fix a bad stain job is essential for every DIYer. Stained wood brings with it a lot of challenges when it comes to working with it, and it’s understandable that a person would feel intimidated when trying to tackle such a project.

Hopefully, once you’ve read this article, you don’t feel as overwhelmed or intimidated as you did before. Now that you know how to fix a bad stain job efficiently, go out and let your creativity be the only limit!

If you like this guide, don’t forget to take a look at the rest of our articles, where we like to review different tools, such as sliding miter saws, 12-inch miter saws, miter saw blades, and track saws.

Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Hello, I've been working with power tools since I was a young kid helping out grandpa on the farm. My interest in building things started with him and helped me decide to make a career out of construction. I've built just about everything from pipe organs, custom cabinets, to houses.