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How To Stain Wood Furniture Without Stripping (4 Easy Steps And Video)

Using Gel Stain, you can stain wood furniture without sanding or stripping the old finish. It’s so easy! Just follow these quick DIY steps.

Stain Wood Furniture Without Sanding or Stripping

Every DIYer should know how to stain wood furniture without stripping or sanding off the old stain. It makes furniture, table top, or cabinet makeovers SO MUCH EASIER.

Furniture takes a beating over the years. The stain finish can get worn down, dinged, scratched and chipped. But, thankfully, you can give stained furniture a quick refresh in just one day.

Using most gel stains, you can darken wood furniture, or stay the same color, without sanding off the old stain. But, I usually use General Finishes Gel Stain because the finish always looks beautiful.

Before and after images of wood furniture darkened with stain. Text says " Easy DIY To Stain Wood Furniture Without Stripping or Sanding".
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AND, if you have that old-fashioned orange tinted stain on any furniture, doors, stair railing, or any wood in your home, you can use these exact steps to cover that orange wood look with a darker wood stain.

So, the big question I always get about restaining wood furniture is “Can you stain wood without sanding”. You can, AS LONG AS you still prep the surface properly.

Now, let’s get to the steps to Stain Furniture Without Stripping or Sanding Off the old finish.

Easy DIY Steps to Stain Wood Furniture Without Stripping the Old Stain. I'm using General Finishes Java Gel Stain for this makeover.

How To Stain Wood Furniture Without Sanding

Here’s What You’ll Need

Please Note: You can also see the steps to stain wood furniture without stripping or sanding in the video below the written steps.

Before getting started with the makeover, the old finish on these stools had worn down. Read the steps below to see how to darken wood furniture without sanding or stripping off the old finish.

These steps are only for previously stained wood – painted and bare wood would have a few different steps. Always follow safety directions on any product you use.

If you want to stain bare wood a deep rich brown stain color, check out my Steps to Stain Wood post. Those steps will work on any bare wood.

Step One – Clean The Surface

Use a little dawn and warm water or TSP to clean your furniture. Follow the directions on the container to get the best result.

Step Two – Scuff Sand Or Apply Liquid

If you’re old finish is smooth enough for you to leave it alone, then lightly scuff sand with a fine grit sanding block. That will rough up the old finish enough for the new finish to bond to it.

If you don’t want to scuff sand, you could apply Klean-Strip Sander Deglosser instead.

If the old finish is rough to the touch, chipped, or uneven, then start by sanding it smooth with a medium grit sanding block.

You don’t need to completely sand off the old finish, just sand the finish smooth so that it looks nice.

Then lightly sand the entire surface with a fine grit sanding block. That will rough up the old finish enough for the new finish to bond to it.

Step Three – Apply Gel Stain

Next up, apply the Gel Stain with a foam brush. Apply a light even coat. Gel Stain can stay gummy and not dry completely if applied too thick.

Always follow directions on the container for dry time and safety. I used 2 coats to cover the original stain.

Step Four – Protect The New Stain

Seal and protect with 6 coats of Matte Finish Wipe On Poly. Or, if you prefer thicker, use your favorite water-based brush on poly top coat.

Furniture takes a beating over the years. Luckily, there's a pretty quick and easy fix. Here's how to stain wood furniture without stripping. Yay!
These stools are looking new again, in just a weekend. Yay!

That’s it for how to stain wood furniture without sanding or stripping off the old finish! Easy, right? It just takes a little time to get this beautiful stained wood look on your furniture. 🙂

How To Restain Furniture Darker Without Sanding – Video

Seeing someone do something always helps me understand the DIY better. Watch this 3-minute video for a better look at each of the written steps.

How to Gel Stain Wood Furniture Without Stripping Or Sanding The Old Finish Off!

Can You Stain Wood Without Sanding?

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.

After that, there are two good ways to prep before you restain wood.

The first option is to apply Klean-Strip Sander Deglosser to the entire surface. Sander Deglosser doesn’t remove the old finish. It just makes the surface rough enough for a new coat of gel stain to stick.

Easy DIY Steps to Stain Wood Furniture Without Stripping the Old Stain. I'm using General Finishes Java Gel Stain for this makeover.
That dark gel stain matches our kitchen island nicely. It’s available in 15 colors, so you can pick the one that matches your room. 🙂

The second option is to scuff sand the piece. Now, don’t worry, I said SAND but scuff sanding it’s not hard at all. You just lightly rub the entire surface with a fine grit sandpaper or sanding block.

With scuff sanding, you DO NOT have to sand off the old finish. You just want to make the old stain slightly rough so that the new stain can bond properly.

Check out the full steps for how to restain wood furniture above this question.

Before and after images of wood furniture darkened with stain.
Easy to follow steps for how to darken wood furniture without sanding or stripping off the old stain finish.

How To Restain Furniture Darker Without Sanding

You can restain furniture darker without sanding with these simple steps. First, clean the furniture with a cleaner & degreaser, like TSP.

Then apply Klean-Strip Sander Deglosser or scuff sand the surface with a fine grit sandpaper to make the surface rough enough for the gel stain to stick.

Next up, if you want to darken wood furniture, apply 2 or 3 coats of a darker gel stain over the old finish. Finish up with 2 coats of your favorite water-based top coat.

These steps work when you want to darken finished wood. You can also follow these steps if you want to stick with the original stain color.

This won’t really work if you want to lighten wood stain without sanding or stripping. If you want to go lighter, you’ll need to strip off the old finish somehow.

Easy DIY Steps to Stain Wood Furniture Without Stripping the Old Stain. I'm using General Finishes Java Gel Stain for this makeover.
After reading these steps for how to restain wood, you can see before and after pictures from our kitchen makeover here. This room used to have a lot of orange tile, guys!

That’s it for how to stain without sanding. Good luck with your project!

More DIY’s For You

Here’s another distressed furniture painting project you might like, here’s the steps for the DIY White and Grey Distressed Paint Finish I used on my DIY Pedestal Dining Table.

Here's how I get the perfect layered paint and distressed paint finish with chalk paint on furniture. East how to distress paint steps and video to help you do it too! DIY White and Grey Distressed Furniture Look #PaintTips #Painting #Crafts #DIYCrafts #ChalkPaint

Or, check out this classic Dark Blue with Dark Wax Cabinet Makeover.

DIY Napoleonic Blue Bathroom Vanity Makeover with dark wax and pretty chrome knobs. #AbbottsAtHome #BathroomIdeas #BathroomDesign #BathroomCabinets #AnnieSloan

You can also find this popular Blue Distressed Paint Using Vaseline Tutorial and a beautiful DIY Weathered Paint Effect Tutorial, on this blog.


Feeling inspired? Now that you’ve seen this Stain Wood Furniture Without Sanding tutorial, you can do it too.

Let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

Meegan

Thursday 27th of February 2020

Thanks for sharing this. I have a thrifted table that I have been needed to refinish, so this is great timing.

Stephanie

Friday 28th of February 2020

Thanks, Meegan. So glad I could help!

Marty Walden

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

What a great transformation! I'm all for doing it in as few steps as possible!

Stephanie

Thursday 20th of February 2020

Thanks so much, Marty! Me too. :)

Jenny

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

Your stools look amazing and those are great tips for not having to strip stuff.

Stephanie

Thursday 20th of February 2020

Thanks, Jenny!

Sherry Denise Cole

Sunday 16th of February 2020

I hate to strip furniture so this tutorial is perfect for me! The stools look great.

Stephanie

Sunday 16th of February 2020

Me too! Thanks so much, Sherry!

Lia White

Sunday 16th of February 2020

Great project! I hate stripping furniture so Ill definitely be saving this technique!

Stephanie

Sunday 16th of February 2020

Thanks so much, Lia!