What is Minwax Polycrylic

What is Minwax Polycrylic

When painting a wooden bench, you should ensure that you use an appropriate finish to prevent premature wood damage. Understanding the difference between chemical wood finishes, such as Polyurethane and polycrylic, will help you make prudent decisions. 

That said, Minwax polycrylic is a clear and fast-drying water-based proactive wood finish commonly used on wood surfaces of doors, cabinets, trim, furniture, and paneling. 

Minwax polycrylic can be applied over bare wood or surfaces with oil-based and water-based coatings. The coating protects and enhances the beauty of interior wood surfaces, keeping colors vibrant, and intact much longer than without a clear coat.

polycrylic vs polyurethane

Polycrylic vs. Polyurethane?

Polycrylic and Polyurethane are both chemical wood coatings with similar functionality. Despite the seemingly similar naming, these coatings are not the same and have varying applications.


To begin, Polyurethane is a viable polycrylic alternative to most woodworkers looking to give their wood pieces a shiny look. Polyurethane is liquid-based and dries on wood and oil surfaces. It also comes in different finishes, including satin for a smooth finish and glossy for a shiny appearance. 

Polycrylic ….

On the other hand, polycrylic sprays are water-based solutions that can be used on water and oil surfaces as well. It is available in various sheens, including gloss, semi-gloss, and stain, which add subtle appearance to your piece. Polycrylic finish is comparably less toxic than Polyurethane, but not heat resistant. 

That said, before choosing between polycrylic and polyurethane finish, always think about what you need from the painting project. For instance, if the wooden piece will be exposed to high temperatures and water, the polyurethane finish is more effective than polycrylic. 

On the other hand, if you want to apply a sealer, consider polycrylic paint over Polyurethane, which typically causes a yellow color tint. 

What Finishes Does Minwax Polycrylic Come In?

Minwax polycrylic is available in four sheens. They include;

  1. Matte
  2. Satin
  3. Semi-gloss
  4. Gloss
Graco Paint Sprayer

Can Polycrylic be Sprayed?

Minwax polycrylic can be applied in two ways. Woodworkers can choose between using the aerosol polycrylic spray or applying it with a brush. 

For both cases, ensure that you prepare the surface adequately. Among the preparation measures include repairing dents and cracks and cleaning the surface. 

Using the polycrylic spray is easy and straightforward. It is recommended that you hold the spray at approximately 1 foot away from the woodworking piece and apply an even layer by ensuring that you regulate airflow in the room. 

You should as well put on protective equipment to avoid risks associated with inhaling the spray. 

On the other hand, applying polycrylic with a brush may be a better fit for some large projects. Similarly, repair and clean the workpiece before applying. Use a high-quality synthetic brush, ensuring that you avoid leaving streaks and brush marks. 

To avoid leaving brush marks, use high quality and fine bristle brush and apply the polycrylic in one direction, always in the direction of the wood grain. Also, don’t apply excessive pressure on the brush to make a thin layer.

How Many Coats of Polycrylic are Recommended?

As mentioned, regardless of your method of application, ensure that you apply thin layers of polycrylic at all times. 

Manufacturers recommend that you apply 2 – 3 coats of polycrylic over each other rather than applying one thick layer at once. Users of polycrylic finish also recommend up to three coats with a light sanding between the coats. 

Sanding is essential to remove the fine dust particles that settle on the finish as it dries. It also helps in abrading the surface, improving the overall intercoat adhesion. 

Can You Use Polycrylic Over Paint?

Yes. Polycrylic coats can be applied over latex, oil-based paints, and well-bonded coverings.

However, since it might result in slight ambering, beginning with a spot test on an inconspicuous woodworking surface and allowing enough time to dry is essential.

If there is no ambering, you can proceed to use polycrylic over your initial paint.

Will Minwax Polycrylic Turn Paint Yellow?

Those who have used polycrylic attest that polycrylic does not change the color of the paint. However, it does tend to turn yellow over white paint.

What is Polycrylic Dry Time?

Applying polycrylic and allowing it to cure requires some knowledge. So to say, polycrylic is fast drying and dries faster than most finishes or varnishes. However, this doesn’t mean that it dries or cures instantly. 

Polycrylic drying time depends on the number of layers. The coating will dry to touch within 30 minutes and can be handled 1 hour after application. 

If you have to recoat, you can apply the second coat 2 hours after applying the first coat. You should repeat the same for the third coat as well. 

After the third coat, your woodworking piece will take 24 hours before curing fully. Therefore, depending on how much coating you apply, polycrylic takes roughly 24 hours to dry.

Is Polycrylic Food Safe Surfaces?

Generally put, all wood finishes are food-safe, only if they have cured. Polycrylic does not present any known hazard but is not safe until fully cured. 

As a rule of thumb, complete curing is achieved by a wood piece after 30 days at room temperature. However, issues with food safety arise due to the metallic driers included in the varnishes and oils to speed the drying process. 

Initially, most manufacturers used lead as a drying agent but it has been banned. Regardless, there is no evidence stating that modern driers used in coatings are safe. Besides, no cases of poisoning from polycrylic finishes have ever been reported. 

The FDA also approves the use of these driers in wood coating with no warnings on cans and safety data sheets.

The Bottom Line

Any woodworking piece is incomplete without a durable coat or finish. For many DIYers and avid woodworkers, the challenge is in choosing what to use. In most cases, you will have to choose between polycrylic and Polyurethane. 

These coatings are essential when it comes to finishing your woodworking pieces, as they ensure the durable finish that you want. However, you should only pick one. The best way to make a good choice is by understanding each, their best uses, and more.


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I am a seasoned woodworker with many years’ experience creating custom furniture among other projects. In 2015 my family and I relocated from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to sunny Saint Johns, FL. It is here that I refined my skills into fine woodworking & home decor. I currently specialize in rustic home decor & furnishings. This has given me the opportunity to explore the creative side of woodworking to a different level.


This site is owned and operated by Home Built Woodworking. Home Built Woodworking is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Home Built Woodworking also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank and other sites. Home Built Woodworking is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

Gel Stain.. What is it?

What is Gel Stain

Gel Stains are specially formulated with a combination of oils, pigments, and urethanes to give a durable and deep finish. The Gel Stain lies on the surface therefore it does not soak into the wood. Gel Stains color both porous and nonporous surfaces uniformly. 

These stains are suitable for applying vertical surfaces. The Gel Stains neither run nor splatter. This article will focus on the differences between Gel Stains and regular stain, Minwax Gel Stain available colors, and how to apply Gel Stain to finished wood. 

Additionally, it will focus on how to apply Gel Stain to unfinished wood, can one use Gel Stain over paint and how to use Gel Stain on a garage door.

Gel stain vs. regular stain

Gel Stain vs Regular Stain

When updating the look of wood furniture, one can choose either Gel stain or regular stain.  Staining wood is an activity that requires patience because it is time-consuming, but when you choose the right stain, it becomes much more manageable. There are distinct differences between gel stains and regular stains.

Gel stains are usually oil based. They have high viscosity and thick consistency. The thickness makes it not run or splatter, making the surface you are working on clean. Gel stains are great for vertical surfaces. They cover both the porous and nonporous surfaces evenly. The gel stains dry very fast, keeping the project you are working on moving.

The regular stains come in both oil or water-based. The regular stains penetrate the wood as you apply it. Due to their water-based element, they smoothly flow on the surface; hence if one is not careful, they can be messy to work with. The regular stains are easy to work with. They are also long-lasting. The regular stains are  available in a variety of colors.

If you’re getting ready to stain your next project be sure to check out my article “Complete Staining Guide for Beginners”.  It will give you some helpful tips for starting out on the right track.

Minwax Gel Stain colors

The Minwax Gel stain is available in 8 distinct colors that will give your surface that desired look. The available colors are chestnut, aged oak, antique maple, mahogany. Walnut, cherrywood, and Brazilian rosewood.

Minwax Gel Stain Color Chart

Chestnut: The chestnut is suitable for several surfaces like plywood, fine wood, veneer, metal, fiberglass, and fibreboard. This product leaves your surface looking beautiful.


Aged Oak: The aged oak gives a uniform look to both wooden and non-wooden surfaces. It is suitable for woodwork, cabinets, fiberglass, metal, and other surfaces. The aged oak color gives a fascinating look that goes beyond wood. 


Antique Maple: The antique maple gives a uniform color to surfaces making the final results to be very appealing. The color is suitable on a number of surfaces like wood, fiberglass, veneer, and metal. It is ideal for vertical surfaces.


Mahogany: It is designed to give you full control of the staining process to provide appealing results. It is also ideal for both wooden and non-wooden surfaces. It is easy to use on vertical surfaces. It leaves the surfaces with a uniform color.


Walnut: Designed to use on both non-wooden and wooden surfaces. It gives surfaces a uniform and beautiful look. It is ideal to use it on vertical surfaces. This color gives a natural look to the surfaces with its unique look.  


Cherrywood: the cherrywood color is specially formulated to give your surfaces a special. The color provides a natural look that is appealing to the eyes. The color is suitable for both wooden and non-wooden surfaces.


Brazilian rosewood: the dark color of this gel stain gives a natural feel to surfaces. It is suitable for both non-wooden and wooden surfaces. The color is ideal for both household and commercial surfaces.

How to apply Gel Stain to finished wood?

Applying a gel stain to finished wood is an excellent way of giving it a unique look. The process of applying gel stain on sanded wood is not a complex one. The following are steps to follow in applying gel stain to finished wood.

  1. Identify areas that may require sanding and use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the areas.
  2. When you are sure that all areas are smooth to your requirements, vacuum as much dust as possible.
  3. Using a tack cloth wipe the entire surface that requires staining to remove excess dust.
  4. Using a rag or brush, apply a generous amount of gel stain to the surface being stained following the natural direction of the wood grain.
  5. After a few minutes, using a clean cloth wipe off the excess gel and this gives an even tone to the wood
  6. Leave it for a considerable amount of time for it to dry.

How to apply Gel Stain to unfinished wood?

Gel stains can also be applied to unfinished wood. Below are the steps to follow when applying gel stain to unfinished wood.

  1. Prepare the unfinished wood that needs to be worked on.
  2. Clean the surface that requires staining using a vacuum cleaner and a cloth.
  3. Using a brush or a cloth spread a good amount of stain gel to the wood surface following the direction of the wood grain.
  4. Using a clean cloth wipe off excess gel stain after some time of applying it.
  5. Give the gel stain some time to dry off before applying a second layer.
  6. After you are satisfied with the results, please leave it to dry completely for about 24-48 hours

Can you apply Gel Stain over paint?


There are times when one wants to renovate painted surfaces and give it a different look. Applying gel stain to a previously painted surface gives it a new look and feel. 

Gel stains contain urethane that allows it to be used on painted surfaces. It is NOT necessary to strip off the paint on a painted surface before staining it. Gel stains can stick to the paint on various objects without the risk of chipping off over time.


Before applying the gel stain over a painted surface, it is very vital to clean the surface with a cloth. Also, it is good to peel off chipped paint to ensure that when the gel stain is applied, the surface will be smooth and even. 

It is also advisable to spread a thick coat of the gel stain to completely seal the paint underneath.

How to use Gel Stain on a garage door?

A coat of gel stain can give your garage door a new look. Applying a gel stain is one of the cheapest (around $20) and easiest ways of giving your garage door a fascinating new look. 

The process of applying gel stain on the garage door is easy and is not time-consuming. The following is a step by step process on how to use a gel stain on a garage door.

Here is a cool little video I found on Youtube!

  1. Using sandpaper, remove any glazed paint or rust spots on the garage door if there are any.
  2. Using soap and a pressure washer remove all the dust and dirt from the door.
  3. Leave the door for a while to dry completely
  4. Apply a small amount of gel stain on a single spot of the garage door and leave it to dry completely. This step will help decide if the chosen color is the one you want on the garage door.
  5. Spread a drop cloth, sheet, or trap to protect the drive away from any gel stain that might fall to the ground.
  6. Once satisfied with the results of the spot you applied a little gel stain, it is time to continue with the staining process. Add the gel the stain to a paint tray and begin staining. When brushing, it is essential to try and follow the direction of the garage door pattern.
  7. Once the staining process is complete, leave the garage door untouched for about 48 hours to permit the gel stain to dry completely.
  8. For most garage doors, one coat is enough; however, if you need to apply a second wait until the first coat is completely dried up.

The Gel Stain Wrap-up!

To wrap up the mystery, the main difference between Gel Stains and a regular Oil based stain is the way they sit on the surface.  Gel Stains sit mainly on the top of the surface while Regular stain seeps into the wood.  

Give Gel Stains a try on your next project.  You may be surprised what you can do.


Home Built Woodworking Logo


I am a seasoned woodworker with many years’ experience creating custom furniture among other projects. In 2015 my family and I relocated from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to sunny Saint Johns, FL. It is here that I refined my skills into fine woodworking & home decor. I currently specialize in rustic home decor & furnishings. This has given me the opportunity to explore the creative side of woodworking to a different level.


This site is owned and operated by Home Built Woodworking. Home Built Woodworking is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Home Built Woodworking also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank and other sites. Home Built Woodworking is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

Complete Staining Guide for beginners

Staining wood for beginners

Are you getting ready to stain your wood project and have some questions?  In this blog post I have scoured the internet searching for the most common questions people have when tackling a staining project. 

Most of the questions I can answer from personal experience but there are a few that even me “The Professional” had to look up. 

Staining unfinished wood

Applying stain to an unfinished piece of wood is one of the more common applications people run into. This whole process can be so satisfying as you watch the plain wood quickly transform. 

When staining unfinished wood always properly prepare the surface prior to applying the stain. The quick skinny on prep is to always sand, condition and evenly apply stain to the surface. I will get into more specifics later in this article.

Applying wood stain with a rag

This is my preferred method for applying stain. When using a rag to apply stain I personally feel that I have much better control than with a brush. As the say in Karate Kid “Wax on Wax off”. Using a 2 rag technique you can apply with one rag and wipe with the other. 

Using a rag rather than a brush to apply also makes for a more hand finished piece.  I recommend using simple cotton painters rags as they will hold stain well.  

I also recycle my old white t-shirts using them as rags too!  I tend to only use white t-shirts as there is always a possibility of colored t-shirts bleeding while using oil based stains or mineral spirits.

What happens if you don’t wipe off wood stain?

Although the application process is quite quick never let stain set or puddle on an unfinished piece of wood. The longer the stain sits on a piece of wood the more it soaks into the wood. 

What the worst thing that will happen? It can become a nightmare to blend areas that soaked more than others. 

There are times that I would recommend leaving stain sit longer on the wood.  If there are areas that the stain does not soak in, you can try leaving a dab of stain to soak for a bit. I often use this technique to touch up spots.

How long do you let stain dry between coats

Working with stain is much different than working with paint.  There are manufacturer recommendations from 30 minutes to a mind blowing 2 hours.  I follow none of these time frames. I simply rub the surface with the tip of my finger.  If my finger get covered in stain I may wait a little longer.

Regardless, You will not hurt the finish if you don’t wait.  You will just need to work the stain into the material a little differently.

How many coats of stain on pine

The coats of stain needed for pine will be determined on your personal preference of color.  An important fact to keep in mind is that pine is a soft wood. Stains will penetrate soft woods much faster than hard woods.

Starting with one even coat of stain on pine will surely tell the tale. I typically only plan on one coat of stain on pine on going back to touch up areas with a second.

Why is my stain spotty 

Have you stained a sanded or unfinished piece of wood only to end up with a spotty or blotchy finish?  There may be a few areas of the prep that you will want to revisit. If you’re staining a pine board just understand that pine is a soft wood which absorbs stains like crazy.

Sand finished wood done to bare material

If your piece was stained before you will want to make sure that you sanded all the prior finishes off down to bare wood before applying a new stain. If you’re starting with an unfinished wood make sure to sand as well.  Using a fine grit sandpaper (220+) will help in achieving an even coat with minimal spots.

Was the piece stained prior?

If you are trying to stain a cabinet or piece of furniture that was stained prior you may be able to eliminate some of the prep work.  Have you considered using a Gel Stain? Gel Stain is a colored varnish that can be applied over pre-existing finishes. You may prefer using Gel Stains over traditional oil stains if your a beginner.

Wood not taking stain evenly

Wood conditioner?

There are also conditioning products on the market that can be used on bare wood prior to staining.  These products are to be applied prior to staining and help to achieve an even or more consistent coat of stain.  I personally do not use conditioners but always keep this knowledge in my pocket just in case.  

What is gel stain

Despite the name “gel stain” it is not really stain. It is actually a colored varnish in a gel form. Gel stains do not absorb into the material they sit on the surface while allowing some of the wood grains to shine. 

Gel stains have a purpose for sure. They make a great choice if you’re refinishing a cabinet or piece of furniture. You will save tons of time eliminating a complete sanding. Gel stains are also easier to get that even coat you’re trying to achieve. 

If you haven’t tried a Gel Stain I would definitely consider picking some up and trying them out. You may be surprised. 

Do I need varnish or clear coat after staining?

Adding a varnish or clear coat is completely up to you.  The traditional oil stain soaks into the wood. Adding a clear coat or varnish will help protect the original stain color and wood allowing it to last much longer. 

For surfaces that get a lot of wear & tear I would definitely recommend adding a protective coat. If you have a stained table top the clear coat will protect the wood from spills. 

How long to let stain dry before polyurethane

Unlike the wait time between coats of stain, polyurethane is different. Always follow the recommended dry time before applying a polyurethane. 

If the proper dry time is not met you can end up with a cracked clear coat as time goes on. 

How to get a glass like finish on wood

Whether you’re looking for a glass like finish or just a really smooth finish on your project it just takes time and effort.

To get that really smooth finish on your steam project requires lots of sanding. Most of the sanding can be done in the prep stages prior to staining your piece. 

After your piece is stained I like to start with 220-320 grit sandpaper on an orbital sander.  You will want to get your steam surface as smooth as possible prior to applying any clearcoat or polyurethane.

After the stain surface is sanded smooth you will need to apply your choice of polyurethane, varnish or shellac. There are different advantages in disadvantages to each one of these products. One example is the potential of color change. Shellac has been known to add a yellow tint to the finished stain color.  Oil based clearcoat will hold up much longer in high traffic areas than water-based.

After choosing your clearcoat it is a simple process of applying clear coat and sanding.  We typically end our sanding with a 1200 grit sandpaper to achieve a really smooth surface.

If you want the wood surface to appear more glass like you will most likely be looking for a 2 part epoxy.  This type of finish is often found on bar tops as it will withstand all sorts of abuse.

Well I hope this article has helped you with any of your staining questions.  Happy Staining!

What is paint sheen?

What paint sheen do I need?

Are you getting ready to tackle a painting project and not sure what sheen paint finish to use?  You’re not alone. In this blog I will list some of the main paint sheens and where they are typically used.  

What will you be painting?

The first thing we need to know is what you are planning on painting.  Are you painting walls in a bedroom, kitchen or bathroom? Are you painting trim, doors or maybe your kitchen cabinets?


As little as it may seem, these are the details that we need to decide what sheen paint will be best for your project.  When visiting your local paint store be sure to go prepared with the details of your project.

What exactly is a paint sheen?​

When we think of sheen typically we think of how glossy it looks.  The more glossy or shiny the paint finish appears the more scrubbable the surface is.  This can make a huge difference if you have kids.

There are roughly 6 different kinds of paint sheens. Below I will go into some of the details and common uses for all the different paint sheens. 


Flat or Matte Sheen (1-9% gloss)

Flat / Matte sheens have the least amount of shine in the bunch.  Flat sheen paint work great for hiding minor imperfections in drywall and in low traffic areas.  This sheen is typically what is used on 90% of your homes walls & ceiling.

If you are concerned with getting fingerprints or scuff marks on your wall you may want to skip the flat sheen paint finish.

Typically used for:

  • Walls (low traffic areas)
  • Ceilings

Eggshell (26-40% gloss)

Eggshell paints are great if you’re looking for a sheen that is not too shiny but is more washable than flat.  This will make life much easier when dealing with fingerprints or scuff marks on your walls as you can wipe them clean.

Typically used for:

  • Walls (low traffic areas)
  • Trim
  • Cabinets
  • Doors 

Satin (26 -50% gloss)

Satin is typically my go to paint. It is not too shiny and can be washed. I find that is is also more durable that then some finishes. 

Typically used for:

  • Trim
  • Cabinets
  • Doors 
  • Furniture
  • Walls (High traffic / moist areas)

Semi-gloss (40-69% gloss)

Semi-gloss paints really start to show a noticeable shine. This sheen also delivers more durability than the previous sheens. This sheen is often a go to choice for baseboard trim as it can take a beating. Although you can use it on walls I tend to stay clean of that simply because it does show any imperfections your wall may have. 

Typically used for:

  • Trim
  • Cabinets
  • Doors 
  • Furniture

High-gloss (70-89% gloss)

High-gloss paint are very similar to a semi-gloss but are highly reflective. This sheen offers the most durability compared to the other sheens.  High-gloss paints are typical used for trim working, doors or cabinets but can be used wherever you’d like. To ensure the best results be sure to properly prepare the surface removing any imperfections prior to painting. 

Typically used for:

  • Trim
  • Cabinets
  • Doors 
  • Furniture

.Ceiling flats


Ceiling paints are just that. Paints that are designed for the sole purpose of painting ceilings. Ceiling flats are able to hide many imperfections that you may have. 

Typically used for:

  • Ceilings

Hopefully this information has been helpful.  Happy Painting


Home Built Woodworking Logo


I am a seasoned woodworker with many years’ experience creating custom furniture among other projects. In 2015 my family and I relocated from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to sunny Saint Johns, FL. It is here that I refined my skills into fine woodworking & home decor. I currently specialize in rustic home decor & furnishings. This has given me the opportunity to explore the creative side of woodworking to a different level.


This site is owned and operated by Home Built Woodworking. Home Built Woodworking is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Home Built Woodworking also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank and other sites. Home Built Woodworking is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

20 Ways to make wood look old

20 Ways to make wood look old


There is something special about the aged wood that draws everyone’s attention.  It adds a real warm and inviting feel to any space.  Often you have to wonder what story’s that board would tell you if it could talk. 

Unfortunately for us there is a limit to the amount of aged wood that is available.   Most barn wood on the market comes in at a high price tag as well.

There are few simple ways you can achieve that old wood look. 

Simple methods such as basic painting techniques, using chains or screws to add texture or simply applying an antique wax over your painted piece may add the old look you want.

In this article I will try to go a little bit more in depth with the techniques that I have used as well as discovered online by doing some research.   

Simple painting & staining techniques to make wood look distressed.

1. Dry brushing

This is a simple painting technique that will give you an incredible rustic look very quickly.  This method involves dipping the tip of your paint brush in paint.  Remove a majority of the paint on a scrap piece of wood or towel.

Afterwards, lightly drag the brush across the surface of the piece using minimal pressure.  This will add a light grain like texture to your piece. 

Dry brushing works best when you use complementary colors.  Starting with a dark base color and dry brushing a light color.  You can also start with a light base color and dry brush a dark color but start lightly as the effect can be drastic.

2. Wet wash with paint

Have you ever heard of a white wash finish?  Well this is basically the same technique.  I like to use darker browns or mud colors for this technique as you can get really cool effects when working on unfinished wood.  When using darker colors the water really help enhance the wood grains.

You will need to find an old spray bottle and fill it up with some water (warm or cold), a sponge and a paint brush. 

Spray the surface of the piece you are finishing using the water bottle.  Apply the paint of your choice to the wet surface using the paint brush. 

Using a wet sponge wipe the paint (you just brushed on) around the surface.  After a few passes your sponge should be pretty full of the color you’re using (this is a good thing).  Lightly drag the colored sponge following the woodgrain for an even finish. 

If there are dark areas that need to be lightened simply use the spray bottle to soak the area and drag with the sponge until you achieve your desired look.

Be sure you work in small sections with this method.  If you notice that the color is more opaque simply rewet the surface and wipe with the sponge.

3. Staining over wet paint or Painting over Wet stain

This method is similar to the wet wash with one key difference.  You’re not using water but instead you’re using stain (or paint) as the moisture.

I have found that this method is best used on unfinished wood surfaces.  You can really get an amazing wood grain look simply by choosing to complementary colors.

I like to start with stain first as you tend to have a longer working time.  If you choose to start with the paint just be sure to work fast so that it doesn’t dry out before mixing.

First, apply a heavy coat of wood stain to the surface almost so that it is puddling in areas.  Next using a paint brush, brush a few random lines of paint on top of the wet stain.  While everything is still wet use a rag to blend all the colors together.  Moving with the grain will give you the best results.

After you have blended the colors together try to remove all the puddling.  You will need to check the piece a few times as it is drying to make sure it looks the way you want it to.

If there are areas that need to be touched up simple rework the smaller areas using the same process.

Interested in seeing this process? Check out a video I made on mixing stains and blending colors to get a cool effect!

4. Painting in layers with different colors

Have you ever saw a really old piece of furniture that looks like it has been repainted 100 times?  Well that’s what painting in layers is except we want to choose colors that all work together.

Start by applying a base coat of paint to the entire piece.  I like to start with a dark color and work through the lighter colors but you can do this either way.

After the base coat has dried add the next color to the piece but this time not the entire piece.  As we work through the colors the sections we paint will be smaller and smaller.  Your last coat (lightest color) will just be areas that you want to highlight such as edges or small cracks and creases.

After all layers are dry go over the piece to check for areas that need darkened or lightened.  You can choose to add more paint as needed or use a sander to remove paint.

5. White Vinegar & Steel Wool

Have you ever wondered how to make your own wood stain?  Well there are a few ways to do so.  One common method that has been around for a while is using white vinegar & steel wool.

What you will need to do is fill a container up with the vinegar and add some steel wool to it.  Tear the steel wool into smaller pieces to speed up the process.  The vinegar will breakdown the steel wool and create a rust colored stain.  This takes a few days to do but this can be a cool effect when it’s all done.

How to make wood look old with white paint

6. Stain & White paint

This is probably one of the most popular methods of really adding that distressed look to any furniture.  When working with a newly built piece you will want to completely stain the piece.  Use a dark colored stain for a bold distressed look.  The darker the base stain the more prominent it will be after distressed.

Let the stain dry completely.  This is important as you do not want the colors to blend.  Also the dryer the stain the less it will bleed through the coat of paint.

First consider how distressed you want the final piece to be.  If you’re looking for a lightly distressed piece you will want to completely paint the piece white after the stain has dried.  If you want a heavily distressed piece you can simple dry brush white over the stained piece.

After the piece is painted and dried simply sand the edges that you want to distress.  This will show the stain that was left underneath.  Stain soaks into the wood and tends to stay behind during the sanding.  Dark stains really stand out under white paint and give you a great looking piece.

Make sure to highlight areas using these techniques

7. Layer different paint colors in spots

As I mentioned previously layering different colored painted is a great way to distress a piece of furniture and make it look old.   When layering paints it is important to make sure and highlight areas that typically are abused and show wear.

 Make sure to go back and check the edges of your piece.   You may tend to find more wear around doors and handles.   If your piece has fine details in it you may want to add darker spots down into grooves and crevices.

 In the end just have fun with it, take your time and think outside the box.

8. Sand down edges

After you’re done painting or finishing your piece be sure to go back over the entire piece and look for places that you can highlight.   Going back over the edges of your piece with an orbital sander really make your piece shine.  

This is really simple to do and can really make it pop.  If you want a more heavily distressed piece try going over some of the flat surfaces with a sander as well.  Adding bare stops to the top or side can add a really aged look.

Finishing techniques you can use to achieve a rustic look

9. Antique Waxing

Antique waxing is another technique that you can use. This is really easy to do and from what I have learned it works great over top of white paints. If you’re working with more detailed pieces this can be an easier option than sanding edges down.

 Antique waxing comes in a few different colors. Choosing a darker color over top of white paints can really make the fine details stand out.

 After the paint has dried on piece that you’re trying to antique you can simply apply the antiquing wax with a dry rag to any details you want to distress.  

Before and the wax dries you’re going to want to wipe it away from areas you do not want distressed with a clean rag.  The longer you leave the wax on the surface the darker and more difficult it will be to remove.


How to make wood distressed with texture

Sometimes when you’re working on a piece you may really want to add a textured distressed look. There are many ways to accomplish this and I will just mention a few of the more popular methods that I have used.

 Always consider the type of material that you are using before choosing the method that you use.  Softer woods such as pine distress very easily while hardwoods such as oak take a lot more effort and force to distress.

10. Chains

Using chains to distress a piece has one of the most popular methods. Basically all you’re doing is whipping the piece of wood with a chain.

I know it sounds violent but it does leave some ice textured two-piece after you’re done. I actually have a chain attached to a small piece of wood that acts as a handle.

11. Sea shells

Using seashells may not be the best option if you’re not close to the beach. Fortunately for me the beach is right down the road. What you need to do here is find some seashells that have a nice texture on them with very prominent lines.

 You can either do this one shell at a time or use a whole handful. Place the shells with the textured side down on the piece of wood you’re trying to distress.

Lay a flat piece of wood over the shells and strike it with a hammer creating indents in the wood below. What you’re trying to do here is create a manmade fossil.  When the piece finished the stain or paint will soak into the textures creating dark spots.

12. Screws

If you’re going for that farmhouse look you may want to consider using screws to distress your piece of furniture. You can use either a single screw or a handful at a time.

I like to use one screw at time randomly creating divots and textures throughout the piece.   Move to screw around and use a hammer to lightly tap in the screw texture.

13. Gravel

Using gravel can give your piece a lot of texture very quick.  Similar to using shells you will want to place some gravel onto the surface, place a piece of wood over it and hit or step on it creating small indents in the surface.

14. Hammer

If you’re looking for the easiest method well look no further.  Using a hammer is your ticket.  Simply give your piece of furniture a few swift smacks with a hammer and you’re sure to add some nice texture.

15. Belt Sander

I know we have talked about using a sander to distress the edges but this can also be used to add texture.  This is one of my favorite methods for adding texture to farmhouse tables.

Using 50 or 60 grit on a belt sander will leave behind some cool looking texture.  If you’re looking for a lighter texture I would suggest running the sander in the direction of the wood grain.

To create a rough cut lumber look run the belt sander against the wood grain.  I like to make an X pattern to really add to the look after it is stained.

How to make new wood look like barn wood

There is something special about barn wood.  Old wood had that texture that is difficult to recreate.  Here are a few methods that you can try to make a new piece of wood look and feel like barn wood.

16. Wire brush

Use a stiff wire brush or maybe a wire brush similar to the type that is used for clean a grill.  Treat the wood like your combing your hair.  Try to create a lined texture to the surface.

Any texture that you create in wood will take stain differently making your finished piece of furniture look older than it is.

17. Wire grinder for drill

Have you ever seen the old steel brushes that are made to fit a drill?  This can be a faster way to add the lines to wood giving you that old barn wood look and feel.

How to make authentic looking worm holes in new wood

Now this is probably something that you didn’t think of recreating.   Let’s dive into how we can recreate wormholes.   With our method though we can leave out all the bugs and worms.

18. Nails

Pretty simple! Get a hammer and some large common nails or spikes.  Drive the nails into the wood to create a random hole pattern.  Be sure not to drive them in so far that they can’t be removed but far enough to make it appear deep.

19. Drill

Similar yet easier than using nails.  Grab your cordless drill with a ¼” drill bill.  Start drilling holes into the wood in random locations.  You can also drill holes at angles to create a real looking worm hole

20. Cork Screw

A little more difficult but totally possible.  Grab a cork screw and start hand drilling some holes. 

Thanks for stopping by

So there it is folks, that’s my 20 methods for making wood furniture look old. Lots of these methods I have personally tried with great success. When learning how to make wood furniture look old it is always a good idea to test any of these methods on scrap wood first. 

Don’t be afraid to test different colors and combinations of colors to get the look that you’re going for.  The right color combination will go a long way in your woodworking project.

 I hope that you have found this information helpful in any way.  If you’d like to check out some of my projects visit me on Facebook @homebuiltwoodworking


Home Built Woodworking Logo


I am a seasoned woodworker with many years’ experience creating custom furniture among other projects. In 2015 my family and I relocated from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to sunny Saint Johns, FL. It is here that I refined my skills into fine woodworking & home decor. I currently specialize in rustic home decor & furnishings. This has given me the opportunity to explore the creative side of woodworking to a different level.


This site is owned and operated by Home Built Woodworking. Home Built Woodworking is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Home Built Woodworking also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank and other sites. Home Built Woodworking is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

What kind of wood finish should I use?


What type of wood finish should I use?

The use of a piece of furniture or ravages of time can be limited by a finish coat or durable top. While the terms stain, polyurethane, varnish, and lacquer are commonly used in referencing a final finish in overall, these products are not similar and are also not recommended to be used interchangeably. 

Now that you have finished your woodwork project, you will need to protect it with a top finish. What do you choose between the different wood finishes? Here is an exclusive look at the difference between stain, varnish, lacquer and polyurethane.

What is Stain?

Wood stain is basically any translucent or transparent agent used in coloring wood. The coloring agent in the stain is usually a dye dissolved in a liquid, unlike paint that contains pigment suspended in a binder. 

The stain color penetrates the fibers of the wood while the paint rests on the wood surface film. Wood stains mimic the color of the wood after being absorbed. This is different from varnish, which is transparent and clear. Coating laying on top of the wood. 

Wood stains come in three forms, including resin, oil, or alkyd. Once the stain has been absorbed into the wood, you can wipe the excess stain. It is after completing the staining process that you need to finish the job by applying a protective coat. 

Some of the best protective coatings include varnish, lacquer, and polyurethane.

What is Varnish?

The name varnish is commonly used to refer to a top coat or finish generally. However, this is, in a real sense, a very specific product. The terminology confusion is aggravated by manufacturers who refer to lacquers, and polyurethanes as varnish for marketing sake. 

As popular as it is, the varnish is a hard, clear solution that forms a protective film around the wood and gives it a glossy finish. The components of varnish include a solvent or a thinner, drying oil and an alkyd resin. It is not a lacquer and is not a polyurethane. 

The varnish is ideal for raw wood and outdoor projects such as rustic homes and exterior trims and doors the fact that varnish has little color makes it viable in application over wood stains to enhance the wood shine.

Varnish is closely related to polyurethane because Poly is a varnish type. However, Poly has less oil and is more rigid and harder than varnish. Varnish is flexible and contains more oil. Chemically, the two products are very distinct. This makes varnish suitable to all types of climatic conditions as its flexibility enables it to expand and contract depending on the subjected temperatures.

As mentioned above, the wood varnish is perfect for use on outdoor furniture and is resistant to heat, UV light, cold, and saltwater. Though a bit durable, the varnish is not as durable as polyurethane. Its ability to give the wood a warm grow makes it sometimes to be used on indoor furniture.

What is Lacquer?

Lacquer has been used for more than seen a thousand years. The first lacquer was found in China during the Neolithic age. Initially, it was obtained from the Chinese lacquer tree. Modern lacquers are manufactured synthetically. 

This product is a solvent based product made by dissolving nitrocellulose, pigments, and plasticizers in a volatile solvent’s mixture. Its name originates from the Portuguese language with ‘lac’ meaning a particular resin form expelled from insects. 

This product also has a shellac solution in alcohol that makes a synthetic coating creating a high gloss surface. This makes it impervious to alcohol and most household liquid that might spill on it.

Lacquer has the fastest drying time for about thirty minutes and is best for crystal clear finish. You can hence get about three to four coats in a single afternoon. It is one of the hardest top finish and is exceptionally durable. 

It is better wearing and stronger than varnish and shellac. It is still debatable on which among lacquer and polyurethane is more durable and harder. Lacquer finish can produce an excellent high gloss finish. 

Lacquer has two classes, those that dry through a chemical reaction and those that dry via solvent evaporation. The lacquer that dries via chemical reaction is known as catalyzed lacquers. They are available at paint specialty store but have a short shelf life.

Lacquer is the best top coats in terms of forgiving mistakes. You can easily sand away a run or patch a furniture area that was not well coated. Applying a new coat redissolves the previous coat, and they blend perfectly together. 

In cases when you want the natural wood beauty to show through, lacquer is the best choice as it is the clearest top coat. However, in some instances, lacquer can get rid of the 3D wood quality that would be achieved by a polyurethane finish.

When it comes to drawbacks, lacquer may discolor over a long period; it contains a high volatile organic compound (VOC), and dust mast cannot shield you from the lacquer vapor.

What is Polyurethane?

Polyurethane was first discovered during the second world war. This product is a set of human-made synthetic organic compounds. As its word suggest, it is a polymer resulting from the reaction of a diol and diisocyanate. 

According to a research study conducted, polyurethane has been proven to be the most durable and hardest among other existing topcoats. For the past years, this has become the favorite topcoat finish for most of the woodworkers worldwide. 

Almost all the topcoat & finish manufacturer has developed a polyurethane product for sale.

Polyurethane can be purchased in all topcoats from gloss to matte. This product can be brushed on, wiped on, or sprayed on. A natural bristle brush is needed to brush on poly to avoid the formation of bubbles that in case a foam brush is used.

Polyurethane exists in two major types. It has a waterborne and oil-based form. The waterborne version is newer in the market and has some benefits. Waterborne polyurethane is created by mixing small polyurethane microscopic particles with water to form a colloidal suspension. 

This waterborne polyurethane dry fast as the polyurethane microscopic particles cures quickly with the quick evaporation of water. It has a quick dry time of approximately two hours. It is easier to clean using soap and water, offers a more transparent finish and a lower VOC.

Oil based polyurethane takes longer to dry approximately about twenty-four hours. This type cures through a chemical reaction and must be sanded between the coats to make a tooth to be grabbed on by the next coat. 

Oil based polyurethane gives the wood a warm glow for the most beautiful furniture’s.

Looking to paint your wood furniture?

If your looking to paint your wood furniture you may find it helpful to check out our article “What is Chalk Paint”  



Many types of finishes are available for use in refinishing your furniture. To know the type of finish that will apply best to your furniture, you need to understand their differences. The information in this article will help you achieve more satisfying results in your woodworking.

Whenever you’re working with any of the above products be sure to read and follow all manufactures safety precautions.


Home Built Woodworking Logo


I am a seasoned woodworker with many years’ experience creating custom furniture among other projects. In 2015 my family and I relocated from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to sunny Saint Johns, FL. It is here that I refined my skills into fine woodworking & home decor. I currently specialize in rustic home decor & furnishings. This has given me the opportunity to explore the creative side of woodworking to a different level.


This site is owned and operated by Home Built Woodworking. Home Built Woodworking is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Home Built Woodworking also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank and other sites. Home Built Woodworking is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

Tips for removing 6 common Stains in Wood

Farm House Kitchen
Farm House Kitchen

How to remove 6 common stains from wood furniture

Many of the
finishes on our furniture does protect the wooden surface from damage by
offering a protective coating. However, when you expose your wooden surface to
stains, they can decolorize it and damage it if you do not act as fast possible
in removing the stains. By removing the stains you can save the color of your
furniture and enhance the natural beauty of the surface.

There are so
many stains which can damage your wooden surface some of them are oil stain,
paint stain, permanent marker stain, red wine stain, coffee stain, and water
stain. If you wish to know on how you can remove the above stains your wooden
surface then you should read the guide below.

Precautions when removing stains from

When removing any of the above stains with chemicals, it is important to wear protective gear such as chemical resistant gloves and safety goggles. Wear closed toe shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. By doing this, you can prevent any stain from getting into direct contact with your skin.

You should
also read the instructions written by the manufacturers about the stain

White ring stain caused by moisture (heat stain)

1. How to remove water stain from

Using a hairdryer

Just put it
at its lowest setting before you direct it at the water stain. Make sure that
you only move the dryer around the mark so that there is not direct heat onto
the wooden surface as it can overheat and damage it.

Petroleum jelly

Apply a
small amount of petroleum jelly into a soft, clean piece of cloth and use it in
rubbing around the water stain in a circular manner. In case the stain still
exists, you can try to apply more petroleum jelly product and allow it to stay
there for around 1-2 hours before rubbing the surface so that you can remove
the stain.


If you have a stain as a result of a water stain, then you can use toothpaste. However, before you use it, you must ensure that you are using a plain white toothpaste and avoid using colored one or one which is made of whitening chemicals.

Gently squeeze some toothpaste onto a clean piece of cloth and rub it gently into the water stains. Dip another piece of cloth into the water so that you can use it in wiping your wooden surface to remove the stains and toothpaste.

Steel wool

When it
comes to removing water stains using steel wool, then you must use one with the
finest grade so that can avoid scratching your table. Dip the steel wool into
lemon oil and start rubbing it gently over the affected area. Be careful as you
are doing this so that you do not damage your wooden surface finish.

Red Wine

2.  How
to remove a red wine stain in the wood

possible that you accidentally spill a glass of red wine while you are at home
sitting quietly of holding a party. However, if this wine happens to land on
your hardwood table or flooring it can easily soak into thereby having a
permanent mark on your wood. Fresh red wine will be much easier to remove
compared to a stain which has been there for a longer period of time. If you
wish to remove the red wine stain then you should follow the methods below.


In case the
red wine has not dried fully, then you can use your kitchen faucet to dampen an
absorbent cloth or paper towel. Blot up this wine by pressing the damp towel
directly onto the stain without wiping it.

Oil-soap solution

In case the
wood has been stained mildly, then you can use an oil soap solution in removing
it. Just mix about 60ml of oil soap with 3.8 liters of hot water. After you
have mixed this solution just dip a dry and soft cloth onto the mixture. Make
sure you wring this cloth so that it becomes slightly wet before you can use it
in scrubbing the wood which has a red wine stain. After scrubbing the stain,
rinse the area with warm and dry it using another clean damp cloth.

Using a vinegar solution

Just mix an
equal amount of water and vinegar solution. Mix enough solution which can cover
the stained area. Soak a clean cloth into the mixture, but in this, you should
not wring it since the solution is expected to seep into the wood for you to be
able to remove the stain. Place the cloth over the red wine stain such that it
starts to lift. After the stain lifting, you can use a clean rag in scrubbing
the stain until you completely remove it.

Coffee Stains happen

3. How to remove a coffee stain in
the wood

When you
accidentally spill coffee wood but you are able to wipe it immediately, you are
likely not going to leave ant stain. However, if you allow it to soak into the
wood, it can leave a tough stain which may be difficult to remove.

To remove a
coffee stain from wood just use the procedure below.

Things which
you require:

  • One tablespoon of a wood polish
  • A clean buffing cloth. Absorbent clean cloths or paper towels.
  • One tablespoon of white vinegar
  • Water
  • ½ teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent.

procedure of removing the coffee stain

  • First, you will be required to take a paper absorbent paper towel and dip it into the ½ teaspoon of liquid detergent and water so as to moisten them. Use the wet paper towels in wiping off the stain from the wooden surface. This method is very useful when it comes to fresh coffee stains.
  • Wipe the stain carefully using the towel and try the blot the stained area using another clean paper towel.
  • Next, you will be required to treat the coffee stain which might be remained by making sure that you use a stronger cleaning agent. In this case, the agent is white vinegar.
  • Pour one tablespoon of white vinegar onto the coffee stain and leave it to settle there for about 1 minute. Using a clean towel to wipe away the vinegar. Allow the wood to dry.
  • If your wooden surface has been discolored by the coffee stain, then you can easily restore its natural shine by using a wood polish.
  • Just pour one teaspoon of wood polish onto a clean cloth and rub your surface using this cloth. Allow it to dry before rubbing again using a clean cloth.

4. How to remove an oil stain in the

Since wood
is very porous it’s able to absorb oil quickly, thereby leaving a nasty stain.
However, there are so many ways on how you can remove the oil stain, the guide
below can give you what you can do.

Things which
you need

  • Baking soda
  • Dish liquid
  • An iron
  • Thick brown paper
  • Mineral spirits
  • A scrub brush
  • Bowl

Steps for removing an oil stain from wood

  • You can start by pouring an absorbent powder probably baking soda over the oil stain until it is about 0.25 inches thick.
  • Allow the stain to stay there for about 6 hours.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner in removing the stain from the wooden surface. In case the stain has not been removed completely, just repeat the procedure as the many times until you completely remove it.
  • If the above procedure does not seem to be successful, juts ray a piece of thick brown paper over the oil stain.
  • Set the iron at its lowest setting, so that you can start rubbing it slowly over the thick brown paper. When the oil is exposed to cool temperatures they can solidify and by doing this it can liquefy them. Just allow the paper to soak them and in case the paper becomes saturated you can replace it with a new one.
  • After doing this, you can repeat step i-iii
  • In case there are stains which have remained, then you a mix some dish liquid with water and swish it on your hand so as to create suds.
  • Scoop the surface using these suds. Use a dry cloth so as to remove oil residue and soap.
  • In case the oil stain is still stubborn, then you also try using mineral spirits so as to loosen the stain.

5. How to remove a paint stain in the

When you are
remodeling or painting the interior of your home, some drops of paint are
likely to spill onto your wooden surface. The best thing you can do in this is
to try removing the paint immediately since if you leave it longer it can seep
deep into the wooden surface, making it harder for you to remove it. You can
use paint thinner and water in removing the stain.

You must
first determine, the kind of paint stain you want to remove. Pain stain which
is water based can be best removed with a clean towel and warm water. If it’s
paint which is oil-based it will require you to use a paint thinner.

Apply a
paint thinner on the stained area in a sparing manner so as to prevent removing
the wooden finish.

Using a heat

In case you
have a heat gun, then you can point it close to the pain stain so that it
softens it. After that, you can try to scratch the paint layers using your
putty knife. Use a damp cloth to wipe the stained area. In case this method
does not work, then you can try to use a Goo Goo painter’s pal. Just apply
directly this product to the paint stain.

mineral spirits:

Oil-based paint
can continue to cling onto your wooden surface if you use plain water in wiping
it away. Just dip a clean, soft cloth into the mineral spirit and use it in
wiping the stain. Repeat this process until all the paint stain has been

Using boiled
linseed oil:

If the paint
spills have dried up you can soften them by soaking a clean cloth into boiled
linseed oil and rubbing it over the stain.

6. How to remove permanent marker
from wood

Nail polish remover

  • Pour a nail polish remover onto the permanent marker stain.
  • Scrub the permanent stain using a towel and you will realize that it will start to lift u slowly.


Another is
using a regular toothpaste by applying it directly onto the stain.

Toothpaste can offer you so many cleaning features apart from those of oral hygiene. If you have a stain as a result of a permanent marker, then you can use toothpaste.

However, before you use it, you must ensure that you are using a plain white toothpaste and avoid using colored one or one which is made of whitening chemicals.

Gently squeeze some toothpaste onto a clean piece of cloth and rub it gently into the stains. Dip another piece of cloth into the water so that you can use it in wiping your wooden surface to remove the stains and toothpaste.

Penetrating oil

This kind of
oil has low viscosity and that is why it’s mainly used in loosening rusty bolts
and nuts. If you are able to use it well, it can lift the permanent marker
stains. Just apply this oil directly onto the stains on your wooden surface and
leave it to stay there for a few minutes. Use a clean piece of cloth to wipe
off your surface so as to remove the stains.

Melamine foam erasers

Normally the
melamine foam erasers are used in removing scuff marks from painted surfaces,
vinyl, tile, and wood. These erasers can be used in wood surfaces in lightening
or completely removing the permanent marker stains.

Isopropyl alcohol

Dip a clean
piece of cloth into alcohol and gently wipe over the affected areas so that you
can remove the permanent marks. Avoid pouring alcohol directly onto the wood
surface or saturating the wood as this can damage it more.

As you can
see there are many different approaches to removing many of the common everyday
stains from your wood furniture.  Some
many work better depending on the type of stain that you have on your wood

attempting to remove any stain it is important to try the method on a concealed
area to test as you do not want to cause permanent damage to the wood finish.  I hope that this information has helped you
with your project.

Remove white rings from wood table in seconds

Heat mark on Wood table

What causes white rings on wood furniture?

Stains on wood furniture are the worst!  The white rings that appear on a table out of nowhere can drive you nuts trying to remove them.   In this article I will give you a few tips on how you can remove white ring stains from your wood furniture.

The first time I noticed one of these white ring stains on my brand new table it infuriated me!  I tried all types of cleaners which almost seemed to make it worse!   Products that claim to remove any stain we’re useless. In this article I will give you a couple of quick home remedies for removing these pesky white ring stains from your wood furniture.   

Main cause of white rings on wood furniture

First it’s important to understand where these stains come from.   Is it that I didn’t use a coaster when I put down my glass?    Could it be from the oils in your skin as you rest your arms on the table?   Did somebody spilled an entire thing of bleach on my table?

There’s a simple answer to this common problem that we all have. The main cause of these white rings are actually caused by hot plates.  That’s right, hot plates are the main cause of white rings on your table. I guess I should have listened to my mom when she told me to use a placemat at dinner time.

Now don’t get me wrong hot plates are not the only thing that causes these white rings.  That hot coffee cup that you have every morning, the warm pizza box that you set on the table on a Friday night or that quick TV dinner that you just whipped up on a Wednesday while watching Jeopardy.

These white rings you’re seeing or actually called heat stains. What’s happening is the heat is being trapped under these things.  When the heat is trapped underneath the moisture is building up as well which is causing these white rings.

Not to worry before you go spending thousands of dollars replacing on your furniture there are some easy fixes.  Now granted all these fixes May not pan out the same depending on your situation.

Five ways to remove white rings from your wood table

1.  Get yourself a hot iron

That’s right, this is one of the easiest ways to remove these white stains.  I was actually freaked out the first time I attempted to use a hot iron on my brand-new table. I mean who in their right mind uses an iron on a dining room table?

So how do you use the iron to remove the stain? 

First you’ll want to go ahead and grab yourself an old white T-shirt or cloth. The T-shirt or cloth is going to act as your barrier between the iron and the wood surface. Then you will want to empty out all the water that maybe in the iron as many recommend.  Although I have found success with using the steam as well but always proceed with caution! 

Now go ahead and fire up that old iron that has been sitting in your closet for the last 15 years. Once your iron has had a chance to heat up you will want to place the cloth over the stain and slowly move the iron back and forth over the stained area for a short period of time.   Now that your t-shirt is completely wrinkle-free lift it up and use a dry white cloth to wipe away the stain.

So why does this iron method work?

Essentially what you’re doing with this method is heating up the moisture that is trapped in the wood causing it to evaporate and rise to the surface.   Once the moisture reaches the surface you’re wiping away the white ring stain at its root cause.  

2.  Some good old Toothpaste

 I mean if toothpaste is good enough to clean your teeth it should be good enough to get that stain out of your wood table right?  

 I can honestly say I’ve tried this method a few times and it didn’t pan out too well for me but it may for you. What you do is place a dab of toothpaste on your finger or on a towel and rub it into the wood grain until it gets a little warm.  After you’re done applying toothpaste take a damp chow and wipe it down.

 It’s recommended that you use the standard White toothpaste not the gel. Also be sure not to scrub too long or outside the stained area which may put a little unnecessary wear on the wood finish.  Always remember to test a small hidden area.   If at first you don’t succeed try and try again until the stains are gone.

3.  Let’s give that stain the Salon treatment

Now were going to turn your dining room into a full-fledged salon so break out the hair dryer.  Now take your hair dryer and turn it up to the highest setting. Get that baby close to the stain and hold it there for about 30 minutes moving at back and forth over the area.  What we’re trying to do is evaporate the moisture that is in the wood causing the white ring.  If and when the stain goes away add a little olive oil onto the wood to give him a little finish.

I would definitely recommend this method if you have about 30 minutes to kill on a Saturday afternoon. What better to do then sit in your dining room holding a hair dryer (just kidding?) 

4.   Time to bake with some baking soda

 This method is very similar to the toothpaste method.  What we’re going to do is make a paste with baking soda and it little bit of water.   It is recommended to use two parts baking soda to one part water but you can just eyeball this as it’s not rocket science.

I’ll grab one of those white rags you have laying around and apply it to the surface gently.   Baking soda can be abrasive I’ll be sure not to scrub too hard so that you don’t damage the finish.

 Afterwards use a damp cloth to wipe away the baking soda.   if the stain did not disappear by now you can always try again.

5. Let’s break out some steel wool

For this method you will need some fine steel wool and a little bit of lemon oil. You will want to soak the steel war in the lemon oil for a little bit.   Now take out the steel wool in ever so gently start rubbing the white ring away.  

  The lemon oil will help to prevent scratching the wood surface but that’s essentially what you’re doing with this method.   Think of it as a real light surface sanding.   After you’re done taking it clean cloth and wipe down the surface.   If the stain is still there you can always give it another go.

As you can see there are many ways that can help in removing white rings from wood furniture.  All furniture finishes are not created equal so if one method doesn’t work you can always move on to the next.  Just remember to always test the method on a hidden spot so that it doesn’t make more issues!

Need professional help?

If you are tired of trying to remove wood stains from your furniture give Home Built Woodworking a call!  We specialize in custom built farmhouse furniture & refinishing.