I am looking for advice on a home DIY mistake. We have 4 cypress posts in the front of our house, and 2 cypress posts in the back. They are new and had never been finished. I stained the back two posts using MinWax Special Walnut Stain and they came out great. When I began on the front, I started on one post and noticed it was darker than the back but it was in an area that is shady & was also still wet so I didn’t think otherwise. Confused, I picked up the can and saw it was MinWax Dark Walnut. I purchased this on a Lowe’s curbside pickup and should have double checked but rookie mistake. To be honest I looked and saw Walnut and went ahead not realizing.

How can I correct it now? Should I sand it back down first? Or should I use a paint thinner before? I’m also worried it will make this one post look slightly different from the other three once I finish them all. Please no rude comments. I am aware it was my error. I’m just trying to fix

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    It's more Lowes mistake than yours. The cans are identical except one word. That said it will be hard to get the 2 posts back to their raw color. Re-staining the other posts to match would be easier if that is a something you'd consider. You learned a lesson not to trust the big box building supply chains. They're only as good as the person giving the advice. – Rich Feb 27 at 17:42
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    Are the posts relatively smooth or textured with saw marks? – Jack Feb 27 at 17:42
  • They were relatively smooth. I was able to get the stain off by sanding! Thank you for answering – Tiffany Breaux Feb 27 at 20:22
  • I totally agree Rich. Definitely going to shop small next time!! – Tiffany Breaux Feb 27 at 20:23
  • Unfortunately that alternative is slowly disappearing. I still shop at big box stores but very rarely use their advice. And it's worse in the big city areas. – Rich Feb 28 at 0:30

Typically, I find sanding is the most sure way to remove a staining mistake. To use a solvent or thinner will not remove enough of the wrong stain to make the difference you are looking for.

When sanding by electric sander, it will leave marks that will not be apparent until, you stain. Those marks will also make the stain look slightly different than the other posts, even when using the exact same stain. You should finish the sanding by hand and sand up and down the post with the grain, not across the posts the short way, across the grain. This will even out the swirl marks left by most electric sanders.

You would need to start with a relatively coarse grit, like 80G to start, to remove the bulk of the stain. Switch to a finer grit like 120G to remove the swirl marks from the 80G. Then move onto the hand sanding with 120G and maybe finish with 180G.

Since the other posts are typically not sanded before staining, they are never touched by sandpaper. This surface usually stains differently than a sanded surface, so the need for a fine sanding with the grain is important.

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    Thanks so much y’all for the help! I am definitely a rookie so any little mistake usually discourages me, but making mistakes is how we learn. Fortunately I was able to sand all the stain off. Took a little elbow grease but it looks back to normal now – Tiffany Breaux Feb 27 at 20:20

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