Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

If you want to stain and varnish indoor wood furniture during the winter, how do you do it?

It's below freezing outdoors, but I don't want fumes to accumulate in the house.

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In the past what I have done is to isolate 1 room, generally in the basement, increase the heat to that room and open the window while running a fan. In general, once I've closed the can and am only waiting for the piece to dry the fumes tend to get much less noticeable and I can start closing the window.

This method doesn't prevent fumes from reaching other rooms, since they can travel through the ducts or even under the door, and so on, but you can reduce those fumes by closing the house ducts to that room, putting a towel over registers/returns/bottom of door.

With this method you'll want a heater for the room. I've used electric oil filled heaters but you'll just want to keep in mind that the fumes can be flammable, so keep your venting method running.

share|improve this answer
I have seen people use box fans with furnace filters as well in this scenario. – Evil Elf Jan 3 '14 at 13:33

I usually stain or apply brushed or rolled on finishes inside. Spray finishes I do in the garage, but quickly, then I immediately bring things inside to dry in an isolated room (usually the master bedroom, which has an attached bathroom.) I leave the fan on in the bathroom, which pulls the fumes out. If you're spraying from rattlecans or a gun, it's important to keep the materials inside until you're ready to spray, or they'll go on strangely because they're cold and sluggish. Your compressor needs to be outside though or you'll get serious amounts of condensation in the air lines.

share|improve this answer

I have a huge problem with paint and stain fumes. I love these projects but the fumes really get to me.

Today I found a good solution. I am very proud. Like said above, put the done woods in a closed room and close off the heater vent in that room. Use a fan and open a window. What I did was add a fragrance oil burning kit. The room will smell pleasant.

Note: always wear protective glasses and mask when painting + staining. You will be less dizzy than me when you are done.

share|improve this answer
Probably not a good idea to have a naked flame in a closed room with those fumes coming off the wood. – Niall C. Jan 3 '14 at 15:24

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.