I stained a piece of wood for the first time today. What happens if I re-apply the stain? Does the stain darken, or does nothing happen? If it matters, it is a Sherwood BAC Wiping Chestnut stain.

Also, I noticed if I heaped a good amount of stain on the wood, the stain looked darker. After I immediately wiped it with a rag, the stain returned to a lighter color. What if I did not wipe it with a rag, and the stain dried like that (with a thick layer)? Would the stain turn out darker?

  • You do not want to leave stain on as a "thick layer". It sounds like you may want to take some scrap wood and experiment to see what a "thick layer" looks like after a while. You will note that it is pretty hard to get an even finish that way that still shows the wood grain in a uniform manner.
    – Michael Karas
    Jun 16, 2015 at 12:22

1 Answer 1


Stain never "dries" the way a lacquer or poly finish does. It will cease to be "wet" after awhile, but it will still just come off on your hands and clothing etc. Not a good idea to just leave it on there.

Ultimately it is only darker if more of it soaks in. Reapplication after wiping will darken it only slightly, as most of the wood pores are already saturated.

The darkness achieved by staining wood is effected somewhat by how much you use, but more by the color of the stain and the absorption qualities of a particular wood.

If you want your project darker, I suggest you sand it down (to get fresh wood that can absorb new stain) and apply a darker stain.

  • Hi Jeff, so just to be clear, it is pointless to re-apply a stain after the first or second coat?
    – Kyle
    Jun 16, 2015 at 17:08
  • 1
    Maybe "nearly pointless" would be more accurate. If it is still light enough after the first application that you look at it and say "darn, I wish it was darker"...then applying stain again will probably not get you there. Jun 16, 2015 at 17:58

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