Blotchy stain often occurs because wood unevenly absorbs stain, causing some areas to be darker than others. Blotchy stain is more likely to happen on soft woods such as pine. Stain rarely turns out blotchy on hard wood like oak.
Any excess stain will redissolve and come off, leaving only the stain that penetrated into the wood. If almost all the stain comes off when you wipe it, the surface probably wasn't sanded enough.
Wood Stain Drying Time
Depending on the type of stain you are using, most stains are dry and cured within 24 hours to 48 hours. After that time, it's safe for additional coats or to apply polyurethane or the sealer of your choice.
Sand. After the first “sealer” coat has dried, sand it smooth using very fine sandpaper. Not doing this is probably the single most common cause of finishes not feeling smooth after all coats have been applied. The most important thing you can do to achieve smooth results is to sand the first coat smooth.
Let water-based stains dry for two to three hours and oil-based stains for four to six hours before applying a polyurethane sealer. The best way to get a smooth finish is to apply the first coat of sealer, let it dry, and then lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper before applying a second coat.
Wet the Wood
If you don't raise the grain at this point in the process, the stain will raise it later. However, re-sanding to get the wood smooth again removes much of the stain. Let the wood dry, then sand with 180 to 220-grit paper. Remove dust with a clean cloth.
Leave the stain on the wood longer before wiping off. This allows some of the thinner to evaporate, which increases the ratio of pigment to vehicle. (It's a myth that the stain penetrates deeper.)
Apply a second coat of stain after the first has dried fully. This will usually produce a darker coloring, but it adds a step to the process and slows production. Substitute a glaze or gel stain for the liquid stain. Glazes and gel stains usually contain a higher ratio of pigment.
We always recommend two coats of stain for any wood project, but you should only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. Extremely dense hardwoods may only be able to absorb one coat of wood stain. The general rule of thumb is to apply only as much deck stain as the wood can absorb.
Stains lighten as they dry, then return to their damp color when a finish is applied. So the quick method of seeing the color you'll get with the finish applied is to look at the stain while it is still damp. If you're using a satin or flat finish, however, you need to factor in the impact of the flatting agent.
Can I stain on top of old stain? Yes! In fact, applying stain over stain is a fairly simple process. It works especially well if you're applying a dark stain over a lighter stain.
Botching happens when areas of varying wood density absorb liquid stain differently, resulting in an unevenly stained surface that detracts from the natural beauty of the grain. Some woods, such as oak and walnut, absorb liquid stain evenly.
Applying a second coat of stain to change the color is something you might try once, but the chances of success are not very good. A second coat of stain can cause other issues like peeling of the top coat(s).
Lap marks and variances in sheen disappear with the second coat of paint. Your walls will have richer look and the color will deepen. The second coat of paint builds up the paint millage (thickness) which helps in the ability to clean the surface without it blemishing.
Good news, you can stain wood without sanding the old finish off! But you'll still have to do some prep to make the new gel stain bond properly with the old stain. Start by always cleaning the old finish with a good cleaner and degreaser, like TSP. Be sure to rinse all of that cleaner off before moving on.
It's best to allow the stain to set for at least 10 minutes before wiping it off. However, remember that the time you'll have to wait will vary. You may have to wait longer (at least 20 minutes) for a darker shade. A lighter shade may require you to wipe the stain instantly.
Heat can set stains permanently. Once you toss the item into the dryer, the stain is set for good. If the stain remains after the first wash, pre-treat and wash again before drying to try and remove the stain.
The longer a stain is left untreated, the less likely it is to be removed. When a spill first occurs, it sits on the surface of the fabric, but over time, that spill can start to react with the fabric causing the fabric to actually change colors.
On average, wood stain takes about 24 to 72 hours to fully dry and cure, though you can typically add a second coat after about four hours.
Generally speaking, it's a good idea to completely remove all traces of the previous coat of deck stain before applying a new one. The reasons for this may be fairly obvious -- a previous coat of stain might be peeling away from the surface in several areas.
Make sure you sand the wood well before applying stain. Any scratches will be enhanced by stain. Sanding will also help open up the pores of the wood so that they can absorb stain better.
Supplies you'll need:
Steel wool 0000– for smoothing out after applying each polyurethane step. Polyurethane– for sealing in the wood after staining.
Sanding does help to lighten wood in many cases, but this only applies to surface soil or grime, and even then only if the discoloration has not penetrated very deeply. In addition, heavy sanding is not always practical. It may result in changing the contours of the piece, or in removing more wood than is advisable.