I have stained a desk top and where the stain crosses over the slightly earlier application there is a dark mark. There's no finish on top of the stain. The wood was prepared properly for the stain but when the stain was applied across the large surface when you go from one area to the next there's a crossover and that created a dark area or darker stain.

Should I take it all back down to the bare wood and start again or can I re-stain it trying to make the entire surface dark? Your thoughts?

  • Is there a finish on top of the stain? Did this occur while you were applying layers of stain? If so, what type of stain?
    – bib
    Sep 16 '14 at 11:21

That sounds like what we call "water marking", which is an unsightly doubling of color where the brush strokes overlap. Typically it's what happens when you don't apply your subsequent passes of stain soon enough. Your best bet is to remove the strain with a cabinet scraper and resand. I've heard of wetting the whole area with mineral spirits first, to prevent this but I've never actually tried it myself. Just work quickly and maintain a wet edge and you should be fine, or better yet switch to gel stain which is much less susceptible to this problem.

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