How many coats of stain should I use on this piece of furniture?

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**UPDATE** Thank you all for your advice. I didn't feel like sanding it down and attempting it again. After reading a comment I realized I would have to to get the look I wanted. Then I found a different color stain and applied it. It was still splotchy but better. I figured it was sand it down or just paint it a color. Nothing to lose so I tried to mix acrylic craft paint to make the brown but nothing matched. I then found a metalic chocolate brown and dry brushed it on the peice. I think it looks okay. Can I stain over it? Also should I do a dark charcoal gray, a light gray, white, blushish gray or a dark greeny blue for the base. Also there will be gold accent peices and feet



was going to stain the top of this night stand and paint the bottom. I applied the first coat of stain and I don't like it. I was hoping for a dark gray wood but it doesn't look anything like I expected. Will it look better after a 2ñd or 3rd coat? Should I sand it off and just paint it. Also here are some color I was deciding between. Any thoughts. It will have gold metal accent peices on the nightstand.

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  14 answers
  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Feb 29, 2020

    Hello, It all depends how deep you like to have your piece of furniture. I would say examine that after first coat will dry completely

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Feb 29, 2020

    I would maybe strip it and paint it as it may not darken as much as you're wanting

  • Annie Annie on Feb 29, 2020

    Wouldn't extra coats of stain just make for a deeper colour?


    I really like that first colour (the blue?) on the last photo. But really, it's up to whatever colour you like!

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Feb 29, 2020

    Hi! I am going to make some educated guesses based on your pictures. Did you strip it down to bare wood? Stain needs to be able to soak into the wood, unlike paint, which sits on the surface. The blotchy and uneven way the stain took makes me think there was finish still on the wood. I've made the same mistake and it frustrated me, because I THOUGHT I had it down to bare wood. What did I do? Stripped it back off with Citristrip, sanded it and finally got it ready for stain. There are stain conditioners you can apply to help the stain go on more evenly. Personally, I rely on stripping and sanding it, but some people swear by it. I really like your plan for painting the lower part. The colors are pretty. I would work on the top at least once more, before giving up. Another option is using a gel stain. It sits more on the surface and you need to wipe it quickly or you will get a gummy residue. It is more opaque, showing less wood grain. If you are hoping for a gray result, you may need a different stain. Yours looks very brown on my monitor.

    • See 1 previous
    • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Feb 29, 2020

      You can still sand it if it doesn't give you the look you want. Good luck!

  • sand off and start again with a different color. You can also keep going in a small area to see how it will look.

  • If your going to use water based stain, you will have to sand it down to the bare wood. Water based stain needs something to penetrate. :)

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Feb 29, 2020

    The longer you leave stain on, the darker it will be. You might try one more application but it doesn’t look like it will have any grey tones on that color. You can get a grey stain to go over that and possibly achieve the color you desire.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Feb 29, 2020

    You could always paint it with milk paint or something like that instead of staining it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6L-l5sgFEQ

  • William William on Feb 29, 2020

    Usually one to two coats of stain depending how dark you want the finish. Also the color of the stain your using. If you want dark gray wood you need to use a gray based stain. The longer you leave it on the more stain absorbs and darker it will be.

  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Mar 01, 2020

    When I am working on a piece like this, I typically just sand the top down to the bare wood to remove all of the old stain and finish. Then you should be able to stain it any color you'd like. If you don't remove all the old finish, the stain will only take well where the wood is raw and it will appear blotchy. Also, if there are any repairs to the surface-like putty to fill in dings and holes-they will not take the stain in the same way. A gel stain tends to cover better, but it is thicker and covers up some of the wood grain as well. Good luck!

  • Megan Megan on Mar 01, 2020

    You can also try a gel stain they tend to look darker!

  • C.B. C.B. on Mar 01, 2020

    Nice project! Many who answered had good ideas; what most people don't realize is that the final color will show after 3 months AFTER the stain is applied due to the wood itself "aging" after having been sanded down to the raw wood. Now, 1 coat of stain usually does not or rarely gets you the effect/color you want; it's a waiting game with staining wood, which I love! IF you want a more even color across your wood surface & not a "more natural look" of the wood surface...THEN you should always, always, always use a product on the raw wood BEFORE you apply the desired stain; that product is "Tulane" (pronounced "two-lane"). Tulane is highly flammable & should only be applied outdoors or in a highly ventalated area; it is a clear watery looking liquid. Tulane goes on quickly so be careful when applying it. Once the Tulane has been absorbed & dry, the surface can be stained as desired...please follow the directions on the container. As for me, I would apply a second coat of stain, see how it looks once dry & apply additional coats of stain if it's not quite what I want; always remember that it will deepen in color "3 months down the road."

  • Zard Pocleeb Zard Pocleeb on Mar 01, 2020

    First off, it’s a beautiful piece. My personal opinion is that it would look great painted. You could paint the body one color and the top another color to give the piece some contrast. If you are are going to stain the top remember that adding the topcoat will darken it further. Good luck with your piece.

  • Dee Dee on Mar 01, 2020

    If you have a palm sander I would definitely re-sand it down to get the look you want. I would stain the top dark and then paint the bottom a lighter color.