How to Apply a Stain Over Wood Filler

Applying wood filler with a putty knife.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 60-200
What You'll Need
Palm sander
Mineral spirits
Tack cloth
Air compressor
Wood stain
Foam brush

Wood filler is a great tool to help you fix the surface of a wood piece; all you need to do is just apply it with a putty knife over a nail hole or in a crack. Applying a stain over wood filler spots is not a very difficult task either. Instead of calling in a professional to do the job, you can take up the task and complete it yourself. Use the right set of tools and materials and you will be able to get a perfect finish every time.

Step 1 – Check the Wood Filler

Check out wood filler stains on Amazon.

Before you embark on filling an area, make sure that the wood filler can be stained. If you use wood filler that does not react positively to a staining agent, then it will be impossible to match the color of the parent wood when you're finished.

You should also check for stain compatibility even if you have already used the wood filler. This way, you don't go through the trouble of trying to stain your wood piece only to find out it doesn't look the way you want.

Step 2 – Let it Dry

Make sure your wood filler had had ample time to dry before you prepare to apply a stain. You can read the instructions on the pack to find out the amount of time you need to let it sit.

Step 3 – Prepare the Surface

Start by cleaning the wood to make sure there is no paint or old stain on the surface that may interfere with a new coat of stain. First, take a fine-grit sandpaper to the surface to remove debris, or light finish. With the help of a palm sander with 220-grit sandpaper, sand the areas specifically where you have applied the wood filler. You can also use an electric sander, but if the areas are small, there's usually no need.

If the sandpaper can't get off some paint or stain, use a solvent to remove it. Wearing a pair of rubber gloves, soak a rag in mineral spirits and scrub at the wood until all old paint and stain have been wiped away. Allow the wood surface to dry properly and remove all sawdust with a clean tack cloth. If there is still sawdust remaining, try using an air compressor to clean the surface. Finally, wipe the area lightly with a clean cloth, making sure you do not wipe harshly as that can lead to scratches.

Step 4 - Buy the Right Stain

Select a stain that is as close to the original wood color. Take a piece of wood along and try the stain if possible.

Step 5 – Apply the Stain

It is mandatory to shake the stain can well before you start applying it. Then, with the help of a brush, preferably a foam brush, start spreading the solution on the wood. The foam brush helps apply the stain evenly and does not waste any, unlike cloth.

Allow the stain to remain on the surface for a couple of minutes so that the wood absorbs it well. Use a cloth to remove any excess that is not absorbed, and then let the stain to dry completely according to the instructions for dry time on the packaging.

Step 6 – Finish

After the drying period, check to see if you're satisfied with the resulting color. If it's too light, add another coat. In the event that you've used too much and the color is too dark, you can either try to balance it out with more stain on the rest of the wood, or you can remove it and try again.

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