I have recently finished staining some wood 2x4s but I accidentally put too much stain on the wood. It dripped down to the other sides of the boards and it now looks sloppy and tacky. We considered re-sanding the wood and starting over or just going over the stain again to try to even it out. Will re-staining it work? I don't think it will and I feel like it would be a waste of time. Any help? I am an amateur and don't know a lot about this.

  • 4
    Were you using stain, or a colored varnish? Stain you normally apply, let sit a bit, and then wipe off the excess. Tinted varnish is a different beast.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 23:13
  • @keshlam If it penetrates into the wood it is called a dye; if it consists of a pigment held in a transparent binder on top of the wood, it is a stain. Dyes are applied to bare wood, and it is not considered finished after dying; stains are finishes.
    – Kaz
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 20:08
  • 1
    @Kaz: Not quite. There are actually three categories. Stains (which, as you say, soak in or are captured by pores in the wood) may use either dyes or pigments. There are also tints which are what you're calling a stain. See, eg, woodworkersjournal.com/Main/Articles/…
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 21:23
  • @keshlam I'm only using the terms the way hardware stores in north America use them, like Home Depot. What they sell as "stain" is basically a paint base of some kind that is tinted translucent. See here: highlandwoodworking.com/woodnews/march_2006/… Calling this a "stain" does seem like an obnoxious misnomer, and has always bothered me, but the usage is what it is.
    – Kaz
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 22:00
  • Trying taking a piece of painters tape and tape the other side of the wood where you don’t want to have the paint drip down to . Once your done just remove it. Hope it helps
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


Well you can do one of a couple things.

  1. Stain the entire board. This may be the easiest option, just clean up the drips down the side a bit (sanding them). Then stain the sides and the back side of the board as well. Rub it on, let it sit for a couple minutes and then wipe it off. Unless of course as Keshlam mentioned you are working with a stain/sealer combo. For reference stain sealer combos tend to fade much faster and protect for far less time.

  2. If you don't for whatever reason want to stain the entire board simply sand the sides down and you're done. It shouldn't be too bad since it ran down the sides, should not have penetrated all that much. Make sure to sand evenly along the length of the side (including the spots not hit with the stain).


I did the same thing. I had to start over. But only in the small area that had the drip. I am redoing my kitchen cabinets, and while putting the glaze on the doors some dripped and got on the other side of the door, did not notice it until it had dried. So on the small area I repainted and then glazed. Can't even tell it happened.I was using The Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations Kit.

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