Painting Furniture: Black Stain vs Black Paint

How to use black stain instead of black paint on a piece of wood furniture to achieve a super smooth durable factory-like finish.

When assessing what furniture to keep for a client’s room makeover, I thought of a way to change the look of two country pine tables she had. Instead of buying new black tables to add modern style to the room, I stained the existing pine tables black to give them more modern appeal and save her money at the same time.

Sealed pine tables before using solid black stain to change the color

These pine tables with a clear polyurethane finish on them are clean-lined and classic in form. The natural pine finish just had to be changed to update to look to more modern.

I wanted the pine tables to have a solid black finish, but I didn’t want to use paint to make them black.  If you have ever painted furniture with latex paint, then you know it can get thick since you need a coat or two of primer and then two light coats of paint.

Transforming a piece of furniture using paint this way adds 4 layers – which can make any piece look painted. I wanted a sleeker look for the tables and knew I could achieve that with stain. Yes, stain. Not wood toned stain, but solid color opaque black stain.

two brands of black stain that can be used over pre-finished furniture.

I particularly like Minwax PolyShades in Classic Black and have been using it for many years. This stain formula comes in a satin or gloss finish. I have also found that General Finishes Gel Stain works just as well.

Black Stain vs Black Paint on Furniture

Here are a few reasons why I think you may want to consider using black stain instead of black paint on a piece of furniture.

1. The black Minwax wood stain I use is thin and sheer looking. It won’t look thick or heavy on your furniture the way paint sometimes looks on furniture when dry.

2. The black stain has both color and polyurethane in it and can be applied in 1 step – which gives you a thin and durable finish. The stain does take time to cure – a few days to a week or more depending on the humidity level before the finish will be super durable.

3. Black stain can be applied right over any existing finish. I usually just take a piece of fine grit sandpaper over the surface quickly to roughen up the surface before I apply the stain.

4. I love the results – smooth with a factory finish-like!

The only thing I don’t like about using black stain versus black paint on a piece of wood furniture is the fact that stain is oil-based. Your paint brush will need to be cleaned-up with paint thinner.  I don’t let this bother me too much though, because the finish comes out perfect – it is worth having to clean up the brush or just throw it out.

How to Use Black Stain On Wood Furniture Instead of Black Paint

When using a solid color stain on furniture, don’t skimp on a cheap paint brush that will leave brush strokes or bristles in the dried finish.

The staining brush I use is made by Wooster. It is a little more expensive than a basic foam brush, but worth it as it will give your piece a nice even finish. I have also used Polyshades stain successfully with a wide Wooster bristle brush made specifically for staining.

supplies needed:

Minwax PolyShades Stain and Polyurethane in 1 Step and a foam paint brush on pine table.

1. Rub a piece of fine to medium – 100 grit sandpaper over the surface of your piece. All it needs is a quick roughing up you do not have to sand to the bare wood.  Clean off the sanding debris with a tack cloth.

2. Make sure you stir the stain well before applying.  Stir…stir… and stir until the stain is mixed well.

Dip the tip of brush into can of stain and start applying it to the surface from the center of your items out to the edges using long light strokes. You don’t want to apply the stain too heavily. 2 or 3 light coats are much better than a heavy coat to get complete opaque coverage.  Let dry.

How to stain furniture black instead of painting using Polyshades. Black stain on half the table.

3. When staining over a furniture finish that has a clear topcoat finish already on it – like these two tables shown above did, you may get this spotting.

air bubbles showing up in first coat of black stain on table after it dried.

If spotting that happens – don’t worry – you haven’t failed.

To Fix Spotting When Staining a Piece of Furniture

If spotting appears in the finish of a just applied coat of black stain, let the coat of stain dry. Once completely dry, go over the surface with 180-220 fine grit sandpaper again to smooth the finish a bit. You do not have to remove the coat of stain. Clean the surface with a tack cloth to remove the sanding debris.

Apply another light coat of stain. Let dry.  The spotting will be gone. If needed, apply another light coat of PolyShades making sure to use long light strokes to get the coverage you want.

Blogger of DIY Decorating blog Diane Henkler of In My Own Style

Helpful Tip When Applying Black Stain

When staining or painting any piece of furniture black or a very dark color, make sure you have a few good light sources directed on every side of the piece you are staining. This way you can see if you are covering the surface completely and catch any drips before they dry.

Black Stained Furniture Makeover After

No more country pine tables. Hello… modern and chic black tables.

Finished black stained tables. i

You can see how smooth the solid color stained finish is… black stain is so much better than black paint when you don’t want a “painted furniture” look on furniture.

The long table went in the client’s dining room.

Newly stained black table against a white wall in a dining room.

I love the way it looks against the white board and batten walls.

After shot of living room makeover showing black stained table next to a light brown sofa.

The end table went in her living room next to her sofa.

Image graphic showing one step in the process and on the bottom the finished tables.

More Furniture Makeovers You May Like

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  1. Lori Heisz says:

    Can I use this to stain an ugly pine floor??

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori – I would not use this on a pine floor, it is great for furniture that doesn’t get beat up and walked on. You could use it, but if you do, I would add at least two coats of clear polyurethane over it to protect it. The poly is not needed for furniture since it is not walked on. You would be better off using regular Minwax True Black or Varathane Classic Black and then using a clear polyurethane over it. Two coats at least to create a durable floor finish. Most polyurethane comes in a variety of sheens from matte to gloss so you can get the shine you want.

  2. Hi I have a question.. I recently painted my kitchen cabinets black in a semi gloss paint which was recommended by everyone I spoke with due to its durability. Now I have white fingerprints all over my cabinets. Would using a stain like this over the semi gloss black paint stop the fingerprints from happening or would it be a waste of time? Thanks in advance!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Misty – Can you explain in more detail what the fingerprints look like? Are they just smudges on the black surface that you see in the light or are the fingerprints actually leaving a white residue on the cabinets. If you can take a photo and send it to my email I can help you better figure out what to do.

  3. Wow, you are so gracious with your readers / subscribers. So many questions on this topic and you answered them – so very kind of you to take the time to do so. 💗 Your knowledge on paints, stains, poly, bristle brushes vs. foam, etc. is impressive.

    This article gave me some ideas. I have a black lacquer dresser that I don’t like and would love to paint it. I may look into this approach. Thank you for the information!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tonya – Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. It makes me happy to know that you found my post helpful. I have been DIY’ing for a long time and do know my way around paints, stains and using them. I also like to share what I know and enjoy writing about it to help others. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

  4. What do you recommend when it comes to repairing nicks or gouges in wooden furniture before staining or painting a wooden dresser?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jessica – To repair nicks, holes and other more in wood furniture you can use a few different wood filler products. First sand over the area, the fill with one layer of wood filler, let dry, sand smooth and apply one more light coat, let dry and sand with 100 160 – 220 grit sandpaper to smooth.

      If painting the wood, make sure a brand of wood filler that says ” paintable” on the label. Most are. If staining the piece you have to make sure the wood filler you get says that it is “stainable on the label. As many are not. You will find many Wood Fillers in the paint aisle at the hardware or home improvement store. I have used ones made by Minwax to Elmers and all do a great job.

  5. Melissa Goodrum says:

    I have a small dining table and chairs I purchased for JC Penny’s years ago. It’s a distress white but mainly white. Do I sand it completely or use stain over it? My first time and I’m nervous. Thank you in advance.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melissa – You do not have to sand the table and chairs to the bare wood, but just enough to rough up the surface a bit and smooth and rough or damaged areas. Clean off the grit and then apply the stain. If you are nervous – practice first on the underside of one of the chair seats to get used to how to apply the stain.

      Since the base is white and distressed, after the first coat of stain, you may still be able to see the distressed areas. It may take a few light coats of stain for full coverage.

  6. Hello thanks for this old post but super helpful! Question – I’m going to use this to refinish my “90s butterscotch” oak balusters AND stair treads. But what about my white spindles? I’d like them to also match. Can I use the gel stain on those too? After sanding ?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kristin – Yes, you can use the black stain to change the color of the white spindles. You may want to use an angled bristle brush to do it though. It will be better than a foam one. If you have never sanded balusters/spindles before, check out my post where I show a tip that will make the process go faster. See it here:

  7. Hi, we have solid oak doors with a pretty shiny coat of poly on them. In your opinion, which product do you think is best to use on these? They get semi-mild use as they’re in a finished basement. Do we need to sand all the poly before staining? Thanks for the helpful tips!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sarah –

      Since the surface on the doors is flat and large, paint may be the better option. When staining, streaks can happen if you have never done it before. When using the black stain on smaller items – streaking is not a problem.

      Either way – you need to sand to knock down the sheen – but not to the bare wood. I would go over the surface with 100 grit sandpaper to rough the surface up. Doing this will provide some “tooth” for the paint or stain to stick to.

      If painting – get a good brand name paint. Most are paint and primers in one formulas nowadays. Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Water-based Alkyd is self leveling and it very durable. When painting – use more thin coats than one or two heavier ones.

      I hope this helps you decide what to do for your doors. If you have any other questions, just let me know.

  8. Can you still see the wood grain with this technique? I would still like some of the graining to be seen.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Erika – The stain is opaque, so you will not be able to see the wood grain. If you want to see the wood grain, I would use a black stain – Minwax has a few and then seal with Polycrylic in the sheen that you want.

  9. Alicia Dixon says:

    Hello! I’m so sorry if I’m being redundant but I just don’t want to mess this up lol. I have a dining table that is light medium stained and sealed with polyurethane. So even with the polyurethane, I can just rough it up and the stain will still adhere without major staining?? It will still be durable enough for a wel used table. Thank you!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Alicia – No worries about making sure what you want to do will work. The poly finish on the tables I used the black stain on was a thin finish, so a light sanding was enough to knock down the sheen with sandpaper. If your dining table has a thicker layer, you may need to sand a little more.

      If you want to be sure the stain will work, buy a small can of the stain and try it on a small section first or on the inside of a table leg. You will have to wait for the stain to fully cure for at least 3 weeks to get the can’t scratch off durability – so be gentle with the finish.

      Are you planning to use the Polyshades or the General Finishes stain?

  10. Galvin Darius says:

    The black spot looks gorgeous! Would love to try this with our old furniture. I have tried many times without success. Thank you for guidance. I will try it right away.

  11. Lauren Baxter says:

    Can you use this on kitchen cabinets? Old oak cabinets need some help ;)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lauren – Yes – you can use the stain on cabinets. Just sand the surface a bit to provide some tooth for the stain to stick. Then wash well and dry the surface well. Apply the stain in a ver thin coat, let dry and apply another thin coat. Let dry. Try not to use them for a few days to allow the stain to cure. It can take a few weeks, so be gentle with them at first Once cured – the finish will be very durable.

  12. I am so happy to see that I haven’t messed up my kitchen cabinets! I had slight spotting & am so relieved to hear it will come out. I am using polyshades for the first time, and now I want to put it on all my doors too!
    My only hesitancy is that the finish is fairly glossy and I know how black gloss can highlight dust. Do you know of any way to put a matte finish over it?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Laura –

      I am pretty sure that Polyshades comes in two sheens – Satin or Gloss. You may want to use the satin finish if you don’t want a high shine.

      Here is what Minwax says about putting another finish over it: : For additional protection, without adding color, add a coat of Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane or Minwax® Wipe-On Poly. Please refer to the back label of the container for application instructions.

      If you use this, I would use the Fast-Drying, not the wipe-on. Wipe on can be very finicky and leaves swipe marks.

  13. Hi. I’m not sure of the date of this post but I see the comments are quite current. Firstly, is black furniture a thing in 2021? The tables look lovely. I’m just starting off woodworking and I have reclaimed pine for coffee tables. I wanted to do a dark brown stained top with black or white bottoms for the classic rustic farmhouse look, but I read that rustic is going out or at least the heavily distressed is, and lighter shades of stains are in. I believe Japandi is the new trend also with lighter wood tones. So I’m not sure about black. I was thinking of a black top after considering the issue of matching grain pattern, so I thought maybe it’s best to cover the grain. I was looking at black or white stains anyway, and not paint. We do have a few stain and seal in one products here in South Africa and they are also water based. Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rod – Black is a classic and will never go out of style. Even when decorating in Japandi style – black is used. So I if you like the color – go for it.

  14. Jean Johnson says:

    Beautiful job. This is exactly the look I want. I have an old dining room table that I want to use as a game table for grandkids. It is a veneer that was refinished back in the 70’s by my mom with the fake antique-like paint. The original finish was a light oak and she wanted it dark. It does have damage on the edges that I will need to fill with wood filler. If I strip off the finish and repair the damage with wood filler, do you think I can still use the black stain on it? I do want to look like a painted table, but not paint. Thanks!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jean – I remember that fake antique paint. My mom had used it on a side table. :-) Yes you can use the stain as long as you sand the surface and clean it well. The only problem could be the wood filler areas. You may have to spot coat them first, let dry and see how the stain covers them, then stain the whole table so you get an even black finish.

  15. Cathy Crawford says:

    The tables are beautiful. If I am doing a piece of furniture that is curvy and has lots of grooves, how much do I need to sand it?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Cathy – When sanding a piece of furniture with lots of grooves in it, fold the sand paper and use the fold and the end tip of the fold to get into the grooves. You just want to make sure you knock down the shine off the previous finish. It does not have to be to the bare wood. Clean it well and let dry, then paint or stain.

  16. Brett Ehlert says:

    The black stain looks magnificent! Would love to try this with our old furniture. Thank you for sharing, Diane!

  17. Faizan Shiakh says:

    Black is one of the best colors for any background; if it’s black, it’s beautiful, and thanks to you for sharing this page, many people have had the brilliant idea of painting their furniture black for a fantastic look.
    And best regards,

  18. Hi there. I was looking at changing the look of my honey oak railings and spindles throughout my house. Would solid stain or paint be a better route. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Leeanne –

      You can use the stain. Are you going to stain/paint them black? Using the stain would give the railing and spindles a deeper black look. I am not sure if that makes sense, but it will work. If you can buy a small can of the stain, try it on one spindle. Sand, clean and apply. Let it cure for a few days and see if you like it. If not, then use black paint. If going the paint route with black make sure to get the deepest black paint. Some blacks can look blue or grey.

  19. Thanks for the tutorial. Just what I was looking for!

  20. Hello! I want to refinish our kitchen table a black satin. Is this product water/heat resistant, or would I get rings? 4 kiddos! Looks for durability. Would I need to use a Poly on top?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sherilee – The product that I used has a poly in it, so if you use that you won’t need to add a poly coat. As for standing up to 4 kids, if you sand and apply light coats it will hold up like paint. I am not sure if it would get water rings from drinking glasses or heat resistant. Where I used it was on living room tables that didn’t have food placed on them. Sorry I don’t have the answer. It could be on the can’s label.

      Just an idea, but have you ever used chalk paint and clear wax on furniture? It provides one very durable finish, much better than poly. When painting with it, many think it is only used when you want to create an aged finish, but this is not true. You can paint anything using it. When a water ring or damage happens in a polyurethane coated surface, the fix will be seen and not blend in. When damage or a water ring show up in a buffed and cured coat of wax, all you need to do to fix is add another thin layer of soft wax over it and buff.

  21. LarryDurrer says:

    Hi,I am a pretty good woodworker but finish work..
    So so I wanted to finish an ET center so it didn’t look painted but didn’t look stained,your article on black “Polyshades “had me hopeful but was looking for the same effect in sort of an espresso color.I was wondering if you had any ideas for this.Thanks in advance……. LarryDurrer

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Larry – If the Espresso stain color is as opaque as the black stain I used then it should work in the same way. Is there a way to get a sample of each color and test it out on the least seen spot on the ET center?

    2. I am planning on staining an old console table black and want to follow your instructions. It is between a cherry wood color and a dark walnut. How much sanding is required and do I need to top the stain with a finish or sealant? – Thanks

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Kathleen – You should sand the surface enough so that it is scratched. A 10 minute going over will be enough when using 100 grit sandpaper. If oyu use the product that I did, it has a poly in it so you don’t need to add a separate one.

  22. Mary Engstrom says:

    I am wanting to paint my pine benches black. They are not the smooth pine but the knotted wood
    that is rough. Will this work ? If so, what would I use?


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – For your bench, I am not sure the black stain will work, it may go on uneven since the wood has various texture. Do you want to see the knots in the stained or painted surface? The texture of the knots will show up in the finish. If you want them to look smoother, you can sand the knots and put wood filler into them and then sand smooth. Then use black primer and paint in the finish you want to make the benches over to the color you want. If there is a poly finish on the benches now, make sure to sand well to knock down the sheen so the primer and paint will adhere better.

  23. says:

    When someone writes an post he/she retains the plan of a user in his/her brain that how a user can be aware of it.
    So that’s why this piece of writing is great. Thanks!

  24. Marilyn Goure says:

    Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! I have been at this for days, weeks, and months. This is exactly the look I want for my oak table and chairs. Im never going to paint wood again. I hate the glob. Especially from chalk paint! Paint is for walls. Stain is for wood. <3

  25. For this furniture did you use the satin or gloss finish? It looks glossy, but just wanted to double check. Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jessica – I used satin finish to stain the tables.

  26. Hi! Im painting a wooden wine rack black. I first tried varnish but it wasn’t the colour i wanted so i went for a black wood stain. I gave it a light sanding and went for it. Ive done almost 4 coats but there are streaks that are almost blue-grey in colour – what would cause this?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Victoria –

      I am not sure why you would get a blue/grey tint in the stain. The only thing I can think of is that the can of stain was not mixed well enough before you applied each coat of stain and the colors that make up black dried separated. Another thing maybe was that the brush you used may have had residue from a previous project?

      What grit sandpaper did you use? Somewhere in the range of 220 – 600 would be best and should not expose or break up colors in the stain.

      Did you stain over the varnish? That could have changed adhesion, but not the color.

      If not any of these, I am not sure what else could have happened besides the wrong color getting in the can at the factory.

  27. Hi Diane. When I read your blog I was so inspired to paint my dining room chairs. The chairs are wood tone and I plan to paint them using the minwax polyshade classic black. The decor in my dining room is asian and i think the black chairs will ready add a punch to the room. I can’t thank you enough for your inspiration. I started to paint the two armed dining room chairs this morning. I live in California and the weather is pretty warm. Im assuming it will take at least 8 hours for each coat to dry and maybe 5 days before the stain is really ready for use. Please correct me on this . Thank you again for sharing and being such an inspiration. Donna from Elk Grove CA

  28. Linda Levering says:

    For a kitchen table which gets lots of use, do you recommend a polyurethane finish or will the wood stain be enough? Your tables came out beautiful!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Linda –

      You will need to use a polyurethane over top for a kitchen table that gets a lot of use and abuse. I would suggest using Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane. It comes in different sheens so you can choose that.

      Also follow the directions on the can’s label about how many coats to use and drying times in between. I think they also recommend that in-between the poly coats you should lightly sand.

  29. Dave Katona says:

    I like your post on this topic. I bought an old Williams-Sonoma dining set and need to refinish it. It is from Italy so I am sure it has oil based paint or stain on it. I have refinished a black table before but this one is solid black. Any giudance on how I should proceed?
    Sanding with my random obit sander worked before but I really need a mirror smooth finish.
    Lots of scratches etc. Happy to send photos too!

    Thank you

  30. Stephanie White says:

    Hi – I’ve purchased an unfinished piece of wood to make a writing desk for my daughter. I picked this type of black stain because she wants a modern industrial look. A couple of questions: Should I still rough up with sand paper and do I need to use a pre-stain before I apply the black stain, since it is an unfinished piece of wood?. BTW these two pieces turned out beautiful – hoping by desktop does as well.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Stephanie – It is always a good thing to sand over raw unfinished wood as it may have a factory coating on it that you don’t see. A quick going over with 100 grit sandpaper is all that is needed. 5 minutes. Putting the conditioner down first will help you get a more even coat of stain on the wood. If you are really going to make the finish opaque, then you may be able to skip the conditioner. You can test the stain out on the underside to see how it takes and then decide if the conditioner is needed. To get a nice smooth even finish, use light long fluid strokes when applying the stain.

  31. Did you leave the oil based stain on the furniture? You didnt wipe it off, correct?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Arthur – Yes that is correct. I did not wipe the stain off. I left the black stain on. It is not like normal stain. It is opaque an will look like paint.

  32. Hi
    I’ m from Chile.
    I was watching a lot of web sities about how upgrade wood furnitures and I found this site that I like so much.
    I want to upgrade a traditional wood table to a modern table with black color. I think the stain black is better . What do you think?
    What are the steps for work in this proyect?
    Thanks so much
    Best regards

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Irene – I like the look of opaque black stain over black paint as the color is deeper and most of all thinner. It looks great. To apply it just follow the steps in my blog post that you commented on.

  33. Pamela @ DIY Vibes says:

    I was wondering about black stain for an outdoor project and came across your sight. Very helpful! I’m going to try the stain, your tables came out beautiful!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Pamela – The stain works very well. Make sure to sand the surface a little and then stir the stain very well to get a smooth lasting finish.

  34. I am doing some barn doors for a niece and was wondering if I had to prime tongue & groove boards (knots) if I am going to stain or paint it black?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tammy –

      If you use white primer, like KILZ over the knots and then paint the doors black that is a good thing. Even with the dark color of paint, the tannins in the knots can be seen in black paint, so I would go over the knots with a stain killer first. If the barn doors are bare wood, you should use a primer coat on the entire surface first, then paint. Or use a paint & primer in one. If you don’t prime the wood first, the paint may sink right into the wood and you will need more paint to get a nice finish. When using black paint, you can ask to have the primer tinted grey, so it is not as hard to cover the white with black paint

      If using black stain, I don’t think you need to add the primer. If you do, just use a small tipped paint brush to just put it on the knots themselves and not any of the surrounding area.

      I hope this helps.

  35. Looks great!! What would you recommend on a small laminate honey oak vanity? Should I prime it before the gel stain? Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim –

      If the surface is laminate, the gel stain will not work, even if you sand it well. It is too slick a surface and not porous like wood.

      You will need to paint it. First sand, then use a gripping or bonding primer first. One to two light coats. Letting the first coat dry well before applying the second. Once this coat is dry, then you can successfully paint the laminate surface.

  36. Susan Tracy says:

    Hi! I came across your post and am using your guidelines to restain a dresser for my son’s room. I had a question. After the first coat, where did you you let your piece dry? I have a room indoors that I was going to use but I’ve noticed dust has settled on it. I still have to do a second coat so I’m not too worried about this but when I’m finished and do the final coat, is there a specific location you would recommend for drying? Thanks! Your post has been super helpful so far and I’m excited to see how this turns out!

    1. Susan Tracy says:

      Also, how long should you wait for drying between coats?

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Susan – On a dry sunny day that is around 78 degrees, a few hours will be enough. If it is damp or humid, I would wait at least 6 hours and even them, make sure the surface does not feel tacky before applying the second coat.

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Susan – When staining it is hard to find a dustless space for drying. I usually close the door in the room where the piece is to lessen the dust. Also close any heat or AC vents in the room. If you find your piece has gotten dust on it, you can try wiping the surface soen with a tack cloth. These are sold in the painting area of any home improvement store. It is a sticky cheesecloth that will pick up grit on a surface before you stain or paint. If there is dust imbedded in the stain, then I would wet some 220 grit sandpaper and run it across the dried surface. Clean off the grit with a damp cloth until dust is gone. Let the surface dry and then add your second coat of stain.

  37. Can you stain an exterior door. I was already to paint it until I saw this. This looks great,

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Shelly – Yes, you can stain an exterior door. If you are going to leave it in place to stain, just be mindful of drips. Keep enough light on the door as you stain and then check about 10 mins after finishing and then a little while later for drips. Otherwise I would do a wood door the same way I did the tables. Also remember that you have to stir the stain well before using. If it isn’t stirred well, you could end up with streaks.

  38. Rowan Stainsby says:

    Hey there, great post. I just got a desk. It’s melamine faced and I want to get a similar finish to the black-brown kallax from ikea as I have other furniture like that.

    Any advice? Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rowan – Melamine can be painted when you use a bonding primer first. To get the smoothest finish possible, use a flocked foam roller that has rounded ends. Like this: Most paint brands sell bonding primer. A few to check out would be KILZ Adhesion and Zinseer BONDZ. For a desk you would only need a quart. Sand the surface first with 100 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface a little, clean the surface well and let dry. Roll on one light coat, let dry. Go over dried coat with 220 sandpaper to smooth, then clean the sanding grit off and then add another thin coat of primer. Let dry. If you see any ridges, smooth them with 220 sandpaper. Then paint the surface using light coats of paint, letting each coat dry before applying the next. Use the flocked foam roller and an angled 1 -2″ paint brush to get into the corners of the desk.

      To match the IKEA finish, choose a matte, satin or semi-gloss finish for your paint.

  39. Be wary of “sticky” tack cloths. Many of them contain waxes or varnish. If you rub your piece with a tad too much force , it can cause inconsistencies in your applied finish and you’ll have to start over with a good sanding. I’ve seen this enough times to not use them at all. I suggest a “dry” tack cloth or a clean microfiber towel making sure to switch to a clean side of another clean cloth often so contaminants don’t scratch the surface of your piece before actually applying your chosen finish.

  40. I stained a rocker and it seems I have Matt and glossy spots. Is it not fully dried? Or did I have something wrong.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – There could be a few reasons why there are matte and glossy areas. The most likely is the stain wasn’t mixed well enough or was applied in too thick coats. Before using, mix it well with a stirring stick and then while you are staining, mix it every few minutes so none of the solids in it settle to the bottom. The other thing that could have happened is the surface was not the same smoothness all over. It could have been sanded more in one area and not the other or there could be dirty in some sections and the paint adhered in a different way.

      To remedy the situation, wait a few days to a week for the rocker to really dry and begin to cure. If you try to fix it too soon , you run the risk of gumming up the surface. You don’t want this to happen, so wait until it is dry, not just to the touch, but really dry.

      Wait for at least 3 day to see if you see differences in the sheen, lessen. If you don’t, you can lightly sand the surface with 220 sandpaper, clean it off well and add one more thin coat of stain to the surface, stirring the can every few minutes.

  41. Hi! Is the light sanding necessary? Can I just use the poly shades straight on my furniture? Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melina – When putting a coat of paint or stain on any surface, it is always best to sand first. This ensures that the stain or paint has some “tooth” to attach to. If a surface is too slick, shiny or dirty, the paint will not stick over the long run and will not be a durable surface. A quick 5 minute going over the surface with 100 grit sandpaper and cleaning is worth the time spent for a long lasting finish.

  42. Hi ,we have a black stained coffee table which is not very old but on close inspection it looks like the stain hasn’t penetrated the grain in some spots. It is only every cleaned with plain water . My question is can I stain over the top of the existing stain and what preparation would it need ? I will be re-staining black . Thanks in advance.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi David –

      You can re-stain your coffee table. First you want to determine if it has a polyurethane finish on it. If it does, you will have to sand it a little more as I show in my post before applying a new coat of stain. Then you can use the Polyshades I used in my post.

      If the table is simply stained with no protective finish, then you can simply go over it with 220 sandpaper to lightly rough up the surface a little. A 5 minute going over is all that will be needed.

      Clean the sanding grit off and clean surface well, let dry. Apply a new coat of stain with a rag with circular motions making sure you get all over the table. Let sit for a few minutes then go over again with a clean rag to even out the stain, let dry. Repeat process until you get the desired coverage.

      You can use any brand of black stain. Stain alone or the Polyshades. It may be better for your table to use black stain alone, as Polyshdes can be tricker to get an even finish. Let it dry and then protect with Minwax Polycrylic. It comes is 3 sheen finishes and is waterproof.

  43. Hi, i bought a wooden headboard with a gray paint, can i stain it black? Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sheena – You can stain over the grey paint with the Polyshades stain/poly mix, but not with regular wood stain.

      To do it, make sure to stir the container of Polyshades very well to make sure it is mixed throughly before using. Sand the surface of the headboard with 100 grit sandpaper to rough it up a little to provide some “tooth” for the stain to adhere. Clean off the sanding grit and wash the surface well with hot sudsy water and then rinse it a few times and then let it dry.

      Use a high quality foam brush will help lessen brush marks. Follow the other directions in my post and you should be good. The stain does take time to cure fully, so be gentle with the piece for a few weeks. Once it is cured, it will be very durable.

  44. Christine says:

    I want to achieve the results you got when staining those tables black, but I sanded the top of a chest already so there is no more varnish, just the raw wood. Will I still get the same results?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Christine – Yes you will still get the same results. Before you stain though, make sure the wood is very smooth. If you used 100 grit sandpaper to sand the wood, go over it with 220 grit or higher number grit of sandpaper to really smooth the wood. This way when you brush on the Polyshades it will not bring out any rough texture in the surface. Does that make sense?

  45. Yolanda lewis says:

    Thank you post this article . Paint the furniture show the diffrent look . Paint furniture makeover the room and home . Through this furniture decorate our home and give the look great . Its make furniture very smooth and gently . I will share this post.

  46. Yolanda lewis says:

    Thank you post this article . Paint the furniture show the diffrent look . Paint furniture makeover the room and home . Through this furniture decorate our home and give the look great . Its make furniture very smooth and gently . All furniture paint the need . I will share this post.

  47. Does the stain work on everyday use of chairs and have durability? They are currently a dark stained chair but I would like them black. I was going to actually buy new chairs today to replace these then I came across your post. I have painted many pieces of furniture but never chairs because I worry about them being worn to easily.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tracy – I have never used the stain on chair seats, only on the back of them, so I can’t be sure about how it will wear when sat on frequently. On the chair backs I used in on, the stain looked amazing and never came off, it wore just like paint.

      If you do decide to try, it does take time to cure… about two weeks. After that time, if you sanded the surface and cleaned it well before staining, you won’t even be able to scratch it off the stain if you try.

  48. Hi! I’m interested in staining my furniture black too! If i use the Minwax PolyShades in classic black satin, do you recommend a top coat of any kind to seal the color in? i don’t want people to sit on the furniture and get black residue on their shirts!

  49. Brad Edwards says:

    It will hold up longer if you take the corners and top of the table as well as the outside legs and orbital sand with heavy grit 80 sandpaper the top to take off any protetive coating that way the stain can penetrate the wood. Before doing this, apply wood stain conditioner and let it sit for 5 mintues before applying the stain so it has a chance to soak in. That way your actually staining the wood and not stainging over a laqured table. The bottom isn’t a big deal nor are areas not likely to get bumped. I suppose on pieces not being used often or being covered this is pefectly fine but for a coffee table or kitchen cabinets if you want this to hold your going to need better adhesion.

  50. Ethel Appling says:

    Good Morning, so many great tips for a first timer. I’m going to take your advise and use Minwax PolyShades, (black). Can I use clean rags to apply, so I don’t have to worry about brush strokes showing, I’m thinking it would be easier and even, and just throw the rags away rather then do clean up. please advise I have 5 tables to do.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Ethel –

      I have only used a brush to apply the Polyshades Black Stain over a pre-existing sealer or finished piece of furniture. If you use a sponge brush, you should not see brush stokes. You can try applying with a rag, but you would need to make sure you got the entire surface evenly covered. If not, the dried finish may look uneven.

      I will note that since I posted the post you read, Minwax has changed the stain formula. Some readers have told me it didn’t go one well for them. It may have nothing to do with the product and more about the how it was applied. Was it stirred well, applied in thin even coats? If you prep the surface, stir the paint well, and apply light even coats you will get a great finish.

  51. I am buying a wood table that’s is already black from an antique shop and it isn’t already stained black. It needs a lot of touch ups for scratches. Should I restrain the whole thing or just certain areas?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Courtney –

      It all depends. If you had the same stain that was originally used, then touching up would be the way to go. Since you don’t have the same stain it will be hard to match not only color, but sheen. I would go lightly go over the entire surface with sandpaper to add some tooth to the surface. Clean it well and then add a light coat of stain over the surface, working it into the scratches and then all over. You may have to use a few light coats. Much better to use more light coats then one or two heavier coats.

  52. Let’s say you scratch the paint afterwards or had some nail polish remover accidentally remove the paint. Would you go over it with the same paint to fix it? :) Thank you

  53. I have an older dining table that is painted white. Do you think this technique would work for me?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathy –

      It may, but I have found that the formula has changed since I used it to stain the tables and also on white wood chairs. Paint companies are constantly changing formulas, labels, packaging etc. It is hard to retest it all. If you can buy a small can, you can give it a test on an unconspicuous area and see. Make sure to lightly sand the area first, clean off grit. Stir the can well and apply a thin coat let dry and see what happens. If it goes on evenly, you should be good to go. It also does take time to cure. So if you can scrap it off in a day, that is not cured. I would wait a week then do the scratch test.

  54. I’m getting ready to do this exact Minwax stain on my cherrywood dining table & large hutch. I’ve already used ASCP on the chairs. Painted them French Grey & followed up w/a wet wash of Graphite-water-French Grey. Thanks for being my inspiration to do this black stain! I ❤️ Contrast of dark & light so this should be PERFECT.

  55. Hello Diane!

    I love your blog! I have a knotty pine dresser that looks just like your tables in this post. I want to use this Minwax color stain because I like the way it looks but I’m concern that it won’t cover the knots without putting a primer on first. If a primer is NOT required, will two coats be enough? Also, does this color stain come in a dark walnut brown
    Or expresso brown? I’m looking forward to reading about more DIY from you in the future! Thank you ?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Colette – I stained the tables a few years ago and I am not sure if Minwax still makes the same formula stain I used. Companies seem to change their products and this was one of them. If you go to Lowes or Home Depot you will see what they sell now in the stain/poly line and the colors available. If you use black, the knots will blend in, but you will still see where they are since they have a different texture. I would sand over them well. If you use a primer, you may see white or a lighter area under the stain.

      Have you considered black or brown chalk paint to transform the dresser? When I did the tables with the stain/poly chalk paint was not around yet. Using chalk paint does not mean you have to distress or make a piece look old. I like it because it goes on like a dream and can be cleaned up with soap and water. It is thin like stain and will cover the knots. With a coat of wax and some buffing with a soft cloth, your dresser will look great. Waverly Inspirations sold at Walmart in the craft section has black chalk paint that is affordable. Use the clear wax over it and it will look just like the stain, even better. If you are new to my blog, you may want to check out my chalk paint posts. I usually make my own so I can get the exact color I want, but many brands are affordable now and for basic white and black, I use the Waverly chalk paints.

      Here is the page about furniture I painted with chalk paint:

  56. So glad I found this post. I am refinishing my dining table and wanted to go black. I have a brother who teaches carpentry and told me to brish the stain off then wipe it with a rag which in my option took too much stain off. So I saw your post and went for it. Turned out exactly how I wanted it. Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Becky – Love hearing success stories!! Thanks for taking the time to tell me about how your table came out using the black stain. :-)

  57. I’m so glad I found this refinishing post! I’m in love with polyshade now. Used it to do a quick flip on a big project, it worked better than regular paint!

  58. Janie Bonds says:

    Love the Polyshade idea. I want to stain my coffee table black and this might work. However, there is a damaged place where I had placed fresh flowers and the moisture damaged the finish. The table is stained oak and I do prefer stain over paint.
    Will the Polyshade cover the damaged section or will it need sanding?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Janie – I would sand the moisture damage to smooth it out. Use medium to fine sandpaper gently over the area. Once it is smooth, then stain. If you don’t smooth the damage, it will show up texture wise in the stained finish.

  59. Hi Diane,

    Approximately how much PolyShade did you use for one table? I’m trying to gauge how much I may need to purchase. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Naitasia –

      The Polyshades goes a long way. One quart will cover a few pieces of furniture.

  60. Lynda Starceski says:

    When using the MInwax Ployshades can you use a staining pad instead of a brush?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – I have always used a brush, but I think a staining pad will work if you apply it in the same way across the surface. For instance, if using a pad and a circular motion to apply, then stick with that. This way the surface will look uniform, even when the light hits it. Since it is glossy, the application has to be even, If applied in an uneven manner you may see the application marks in the sheen. I hope this makes sense.

  61. Hello Diane,
    I have a very good China Chest and dinning table in a cherry finish. They are about 20 years old. They are in perfect condition. I have been redoing my home room by room. I have been dying to have the pieces refinished in black stain just like you did on the line pieces. I was wondering if the black stain will work on the cherry finish. I got a few estimates to have someone do it for me, but they wanted 1500 to 3000 for each piece. I can’t afford that. You made it look so simple.

  62. Love your information, just what I was looking for. I would love to learn more from you. Do you have more pictures and ideas?

      1. Diane,
        Loved your tables! I am a “beginner” and just bought a little table at Goodwill to play around with. I thought I wanted to “stain” it dark and chalk paint the legs. I tried the stain this morning. (I sanded, prepped wood and cleaned off..applied a minwax stain) It’s not coming out like I thought!! GRRRR! But after looking at this..maybe I wanted more “complete” coverage and should try the polyshades? Can I buy a polyshade and just apply over what I already attempted to stain this morning?
        Help!!! You seem like a pro!!! Thanks!

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Ann – Yes, you can apply the Polyshades over stain. I would wait until the stain is dry and run sandpaper over the surface and then clean and let it dry. When using PolyShades be sure to stir the can very well. Do not shake, stir only. If you shake, you will get bubbles and you don’t want them showing up in your finish. Make sure the surface is smooth and not tacky anywhere. If it is not tacky from the earlier stain, then you are good to go to apply the PolyShades. Polyshades is a very different than just plain stain. You want to make sure you apply it evenly so when the finish is dry, the shine of the poly looks smooth and even in the light.

          1. Thanks Diane!!!
            Will give it a go!!!

    1. Angie Finch says:

      I have a question; my grandma’s old furniture has ALOT of polyurithaine on it…. do I have to remove ALL of the polyurithaine before painting it back ???

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Angie – If you want to paint the piece, not use black stain on it, you do not have to remove all the poly, but you do need to sand the surface to provide some “tooth” so the paint has something to adhere to. You mentioned the piece has a lot of poly on it. If this is so, when painted over…you may see all the imperfections in the level of the poly. I would sand it, not to the bare wood, but enough to smooth the surface down, then paint.

        If you want to use black stain, you will need to do the same and even more if there is a lot of poly on the piece. Newer pieces with a thin protective layer of poly over it are good candidates for the black stain, older pieces with layers of old poly or varnish are not. I think your best bet would be to sand the surface so it it smooth and then use primer, then paint or chalk paint.

  63. Hi I have a bed and dressed that I decided to paint with a latex paint years ago. Well I’m not redoing the bedroom and wanted to do black like in your pictures. Would the color stain your using in the picture cover over the paint? I was going to sand the paint off but that was taking to long. Thanks for your time

    1. Sorry.. auto correct was trying to correct my wording. LOL i meant a bed and dresser and Im now redoing the bedroom

  64. How long does the drying/curing time take? Ive used the black polyshade on a window seat and mantel. I want to put cushions on the window seat and decorations on the mantel. How long should I wait?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi JoAnn –

      It is best to wait a few days. When it does not feel tacky to the touch and your fingers glide over the surface without any hesitation then it is dry enough to use. If you live in an area that is humid or hot you should wait a little longer as it may take days for the stain/sealer to dry and then cure.

  65. Did you put a sealer on the the furniture (after staining)?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Christina – No, I did not seal the furniture after staining since the product had a sealer in it already.

  66. Thank you. I am thinking of using this method on an old dresser. Any suggestion for a 1950s mahogany red colored hope chest. It was my mother’s & the top is all scratched up. I didn’t know if I stained the top only & left the rest original? What do you think? Thank you.

  67. El;aine Williams says:

    Diane! Your hints are so helpful. I would never have the guts to tackle staining. Your words and pictures give me courage.

  68. bernadette homen says:

    Diane, I was looking for a finished pine end table to match one I already have and WALA your site came up with the exact end table. It’s the small table you painted black. Where did you get it? I was hoping you were selling it. But I need mine in pine with the clear finish on it.

    Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bernadette –

      I stained the tables for a client of mine a few years ago. I believe the tables came from a store called Yield House. I think if you do a Google search for “Yield House Pine Furniture” a lot of online sites will come up that sell the accent tables.

  69. Cindy Pina says:

    Do you wipe the stain off after brushing on?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi – Cindy – No you do not wipe it away. Brush it on as you would paint and let it dry.

  70. I thought I would share with you those little dots on the furniture after your first painting is whats known as Craters…These could be cause by several different things…If you notice over a big section of your piece it could be what the person used to clean the table…I would suggest to maybe use an alcohol wipe to help reduce in this before painting and after the sanding phase to help reduce this. If you paint and get this make sure to try and sand down past that level on the wood or else it may continue to crater or it may cover but create little indents where the craters were.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks for the tip. Little craters (perfect name) is what happens sometimes when using the stain or even paint sometimes over shiny and smooth finishes. Using alcohol would be a good way to help reduce it from happening. Thanks for taking the time to share what you know. It will help everyone :-)

  71. Would the stain technique work with a bathroom vanity

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Janell – If the vanity cabinet is wood, then yes. It even is OK to use over laminate or painted surfaces as long as you sand the surface to provide some “tooth” for the stain to grip on to. It would not work on the counter top though. That would get too wet and adhesion would peel eventually.

  72. I love the way your tables turned out. Just what I’ve been looking for. I have dining table and six chairs and a hutch with drawers that I want to stain/paint a very dark brown close to black (espresso). I like the idea of the stain. Paint does always look too thick. Do you think I could mix this stain to get the color I’m wanting? And also do you think this technique is going to be durable enough for a dining table with small kids? I am willing to let it cure a few weeks if I need too! I’ll do whatever it takes to get the best result for durability.

  73. i love the look and i have been trying so hard to get into the diy stuff and failing every time. i bought the same stuff, or so i thought before i read your blog (Minwax Polyshades 1-Quart Classic Black Oil Wood Stain) and tested it on another surface that wasn’t a huge deal if it didn’t work out. but it looks nothing like yours. yours looks like a paint, mine looks like a stain and it’s ugly at this point (i’m only one coat in). my can looks different than yours though, it’s a little hard to tell from your picture. any help or suggestions would be appreciated. also, the project i originally got this for is to redo a coffee table. how are yours holding up? i’ve got kids and dogs that knock stuff around all the time, so i’m worried about the paint chipping or scratching off. thanks!!

    1. The more coats the darker the stain will look. She obviously used at least 3 coats and be sure to run a fine grit sand paper between each coat for a smooth finish. And you did buy but the right one.

  74. Joyce Paarman says:

    Thank you for your great instruction! Question: I would like to change the color of my currently white latex painted bedroom doors to black. I was going to paint them but am not crazy about adding yet another layer (or probably more!!) of paint on top of what already exists on these 1950’s era hollow wood doors. Do you think it is possible to apply this black stain over the white paint on theses doors? I am assuming several layers of black stain would be necessary to cover the white paint. I am also concerned that recent 2014 responders on this site seem to be having problems with the product, where you did not seem to encounter any problems in your application. Have you tried he product recently?? Thanks again for any advice on application over white paint.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joyce – I have used the stain over a white painted chair. At first I did not think it was going to adhere and I put the chair in my basement and forgot about it. About a month later I did a scratch test on it and I could not scratch it off. It just needed curing. It works if you have the time to let it cure over paint. Product formulas do change. I did this a few years ago and the formula may be different than what I used. I also know that when you stain, you need to apply with steady fluid strokes. Since your doors are large flat expanses, you may see streaks if the application is not smooth and fluid.

      If you decide to paint, I would use Glidden Gripper primer in grey first – one light coat. Then black paint. The grey primer helps so you only have to paint one or two coats of a dark color over it to get full coverage. Use light coats and sand with 160 grit sandpaper in between coats to lessen the build up.

  75. how much stain did you need, i want to do a similar size table and 3 chairs?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kaitlyn-

      2 quart size cans will be plenty to do the chairs and table.

  76. Tara Taylor says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. Have been thinking of trying this but was unsure of whether to go with paint or stain. Very helpful!

  77. I have a oak triple dresser that I would like to paint black. If I use the Color Poly Stain. can it be applied with a paint roller ? I have a hard time keeping my strokes even and straight on large surfaces.

  78. vee_evans says:

    Hey Diane. Love your work! A quick question. Can I use liquid sandpaper instead of hand sanding? I have a couple of old pieces I’d rather not risk to sandpaper or blocks. Thanks for your advice. Keep up the good work. You inspire.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Vee – I have never used anything but sandpaper. I would do a small test on the underside of the piece or a scrap piece of wood to see if the stain adheres. I am not too familiar with the liquid sandpaper and would make sure the stain does not streak when applied on top of it.

  79. So I used the PolyShade also and a foam brush (not the more expensive one though) and it seemed to be inconsistent compared to your work. I wasn’t able to make one struck with the stain. The foam brush seemed to just soak up the stain and I had to kind of paint it on rather then one smooth struck. The black paint was fine for the most part b/c it is black and you can’t see the inconsistencies, but I also used antique walnut and it seemed to get sticky as I was applying another row and it didn’t blend well. I have to sand down and redo a couple drawers b/c of this.. Do you know what I’m doing wrong? I read that people apply the stain then wipe it off but I think they were just using regular stain not the poly mixed in. So confused…

    First time stainer

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Leanna – I am not sure what you are doing wrong, but here are 3 things that could be happening. 1. It could be that Polyshades has changed their formula since I did the tables. 2. It could be that the air temp is too hot or humid for the stain to go on and dry correctly. Temp can effect the way paint and stain go on. It is best to apply in in a low humidity 75 degree day. I know that is hard to come by in August. :-) If you wait for a dry day and really stir the stain well, it should go on and dry smoothly. 3. You could be applying the stain too thick. Stir the stain well and dip once and then make long fluid strokes over the surface with the brush.

      It sounds like you haven’t given up on the piece – with sanding and some more effort you just may come up with one great looking piece. This has happened to me more than once when I paint something. On one table I thought it was a disaster and I tried to clean off the paint and let the piece dry Once it was dry there was still some residual paint on it, but it looked fabulous!! It was not how I intended the piece to look, but it ended up looking even better. You just never know – so don’t give up.

  80. Kelly Rose says:

    I have a bedroom set that I’m looking to change to a black finish. The wood is an orange colored oak. I read on the Minwax Polyshades site that this type of stain will not work on wood coated with laquer or shellac finishes. I did the cotton ball test, and it stuck, which means my wood furniture is not coated with a Polyurethane finish. What do you suggest I do? Is there another product you recommend for this type of project? I’m really not looking to sand down the entire set… Thanks for your help!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kelly –

      The only other way I know to get your set black is to paint it. I like using the Polyshades since it is thinner. If you go over all the surface with 100 grit sandpaper on a sanding block and then use the Polyshades, I think you will like how it turns out. Try it on the underside of one of the pieces. Let it cure for at least a few days before doing a scratch test on it and see how you like it. Then you can make your decision. If you go with paint – you don’t have to sand to the bare wood, just go over with a sanding block to rough up the surface and then use a light coat of stain blocking primer. Have it tinted grey. Then use 2 light coats of black paint. Use a foam roller with rounded edges – it will give you the best finish. Do not roll the paint on hard, use a light touch so you don’t create air bubbles in the paint.

  81. Hi Diane! After remodeling 95% of my basement TV room. Taking it from what was essentially a cave decorated by the prehistoric ancestors of the partridge family to a brighter highly contrasted more modern minimalist look. I was left with a hideously stained desk that I have to reuse since i’m $957 over my original $123.44 budget. (Hehe Bah! Pfffffftt!)
    Painting furniture a flat or satin black is great unless you plan on actually touching it.
    Thanks for showing what can be done with black stain!! This particular product is exactly what I’m looking for. ;)

  82. Hi Diane, I recently came across your post and decided to give it a shot with a couple of antique pieces of furniture I bought at a Salvation Army. Unfortunately, I am dealing with the same issue michelle ^ is dealing with. Streaking.. Lots of it! I could not get it to look smooth. I also couldn’t get it to look black. It just looks like a dark brown and a lot of the original color still comes through. I only worked on it once. I am hoping I can go over it again this week.. And maybe get it to look better.. But I am almost regretting doing it-the pieces are beautiful and the stain sucked! :( any recommendations? Should I lightly sand again and go for another coat..?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Liz –

      Sorry to hear that your finish got streaky. One thing that could have happened is the stain was not mixed throughly. Every so often even as you work, stir the stain in the can. As far as it not looking black, you do need more than one coat. 2-3 light coats are needed. To remedy your finish, I would go over it with a sanding block with 100 – 160 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I would also make sure you have a high quality brush made for stain for your next coat. It may take a few coats and light sanding in between each to get the finish dark and smooth.

      Another thing that sometimes happens is manufacturers often change their formulas. I bought my stain a few years ago. What is on the shelves now, may have the same label, but the formula may have changed. Not sure, but since you are not the first person to have the streaking problem, I am thinking this is the case with this product.

  83. Hi Diane!!
    Loved your blog. I’m doing my first paint job of furniture ever. Do you think a stain like you used here would work on a same colored wood dining table?

    Here is a picture I found of someone else’s blog with the same exact dining table I have and want to paint black- . She used sanding and then painting with General Finishes milk paint in Lamp Black. She says that looking back on it, she would have used primer and maybe a top coat. If you think it will last with a stain alone (or primer/stain or stain/topcoat), I would obviously just use that . :) What do you think? Thanks in advance!! – Jenny

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jenny – She did a fabulous job. She used many coats of sealer on the top that is labor intensive.

      The stain works beautifully, but you do need to have nice long strokes for large areas to get a smooth streak-free finish. You also have to let it cure before using or it may chip off. Up to 3 weeks. This may be hard if you use the table.

      Another way I would recommend that is super durable is to use chalk paint. Many think that chalk paint has to be distressed or aged, but it does not. If you want black black, I would buy it and not make it yourself. Making black chalk paint sometimes ends up lighter since you need to add white powder to make it. You can roll it on and then use an angled brush on the rungs or chairs and table legs. For shine – use a non-yellowing water based poly like Minwax Polycrylic or Zinseer Ultimate Polyurthane to seal it.

      Sand the table first to rough up the finish – a hand sanding block with 100 grit sandpaper will do the job. Then two thin coats of black chalk paint and then 2 light coats of poly.

      For this dresser:
      I used DIY chalk paint, I aged and glazed it, but I am showing you it so you can see how smooth and thin the paint went on. It is not sticky, thick or rubbery like regular latex paint cures.

      1. Thanks for your helpful tips, Diane!

        So do you think the results with the stain and the chalk paint are about the same–except that the stain needs longer time to set and long strokes?

        Do you like the chalk paint over the milk paint that the girl in the blog used?

        And lastly– do you think primer is necessary for any (stain, chalk paint, or milk paint) ?

        Thanks again :D

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Jenny – I do think if you use thin coats of black chalk paint – you will like the results after the poly is on. The finish will be flat until you seal with wax or poly. The stain can streak on large flat areas – so if you have never used stain before, you may have to practice on a board first to get the staining technique down. Milk paint is thiner than chalk paint, but you do have to have a binder mixed in it so it will stay on – otherwise it will chip off easily. Some like this chippy look. Since the photo you showed me was a shiny black table and chairs with no aging or distressing you would have to make sure to use a binder. With chalk paint, you do need to sand it well to rough up the surface but do not have to remove the finish to the bare wood. You do not need a primer with chalk paint.

          With that said – a primer is never a bad thing. Since you are not distressing -you could use a gripping primer after sanding. Glidden Gripper is one of my go to primers. The other is Kilz. Roll it on very thin. Get it mixed to a grey formula – don’t use white. It will be too hard to cover with black.

  84. I used wood paint stains over laminated surfaces. What is the best method to treat or remove the stains layer to avoid staining other contacting surfaces or leaving prints on clothes

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nay – I am not exactly sure what you are asking. I would use Painter’s tape to mask off any areas you don’t want stain to get on. After placing the tape on, seal the edge of the tape by running a finger nail or the edge of a credit card over it. Then add or remove the stain.

  85. This looks easy and fantastic! I read where the MinWax was only supposed to be applied to “naked furniture”. I’ve got an old buffet that I want to make a little more “with it” looking – I think I’m going to try this. Thanks!

  86. I love this idea! I am creating a nursery for my sister and I was wondering if this stain would be okay in a nursery and if so does it need to be completed a certain amount of time before it can be put into the nursery?

  87. I tried to email you…hoped it worked! :-)

  88. Thanks Diane

    Do you think that its going to look okay with using the gripping primer and paint and stain the wood areas? Or are you suggesting paint all of the furniture or did you mean use the gripping primmer and the stain. Sorry for all the questions.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Wendy – I think it will look great – a two toned look. The top, sides and front could be primer and black paint and the drawers fronts can be stained. With some interesting pulls or knobs, it will look very chic.

  89. Hi Diane

    I am planning to do my bedroom furniture black. I was going to paint til I came across your blog. The top surfaces of the furniture however are VERY slick and may be laminate not positive. My question is…is there anyway for the stain to work on this? My plan is to have the whole piece black except for the drawer facings… which I am leaving wood color. I will be making the wood a little darker, right now the wood is lighter than I would like. I wasn’t sure if the stain would work on the tops of the bedroom set. If I just the stain I may have to leave them as tbey are or decide to do paint to cover it all.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Wendy – I have only used the black stain over wood. I am not sure how it would adhere to slick laminate even with sanding. You would have to do a test and wait a few days to see if it adheres or not. Most laminate surfaces need to be roughed up and primed with a gripping type primer before painting. You may have to do this with the black stain also and then that would take away the reason to use it in the first place (thinner coat – no paint build up) I think I would go with gripping primer and paint over the laminate areas.

  90. I am planning on refinishing a dresser I had purchased at a garage sale and had a few questions for you. I plan on lightly sanding the top to get an even finish, as well as the drawer fronts, but would i also need to sand in the corners and small areas of the dresser design or could i just stain right over it without sanding first?

    Also, I saw that you can also buy the polyshade classic black satin in a spray form – have you tried that before and if so how does it compare to the painting technique? I cant decide if I want to spray paint it or brush it.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melissa –

      I have never used the spray version, but think it would work just as well. Use long strokes as you spray, don’t hold the nozzle too close or in any one spot for a long time. This will help you get a smooth even finish. Follow what ever the label says about how long you should wait to re-coat. I would sand over every part of the dresser. It is needed so the stain has something to adhere to. You don’t have to get it down to the bare wood, but just enough to rough the surface up. If the corners are ornate or decorated, cut up the sandpaper into smaller pieces and fold it so you can get into any grooves.

      If you are hesitant – try it on a small area or least seen area of the dresser first to see if you like it.

  91. Ok, just finished the sanding on my danish modern coffee table yesterday.
    Did the clean up and started the first coat of min wax polyshades/black.
    This is working great for me. I might have gotten a little thick on the top
    as it nearly looks like finished product. I will lightly sand in a day or two and do just one more coat. Thanks Diane for this awesome idea.

  92. hello, I just purchased a house with, dark brown knotty pine cabinets. i would like to stain/ paint then a dark grey/ black, what would u recommend, i have a have grey (barn board coloured hard wood floors in mind) and stainless appliances.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Matt – Do the Knotty Pine cabinets have polyurethane on them?

      1. they appear to be stained a walnut colour and then varathane. i would like the grain/ knots to appear darker

  93. Stephanie says:

    The table I want to stain has a small spot on it about the size of s 50 cent piece that my son scratched with a fork. What should I do to this area before using this product on the table?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Stephanie – To smooth out the scratch, just run a hand sanding block with medium grit -100 grit sandpaper over the surface. It will smooth out the fork marks. Once it is smooth – continue to rough up the rest of the surface so the paint has something to adhere to. If the fork marks are very deep, you can fill them with wood filler putty first. It is sold in the paint and stain aisle. Put the putty in the marks, let dry and then sand smooth then sand the rest of the table before staining.

  94. question…I am doing the exact same thing with 2 end tables that I bought from craigslist
    however…the top of mine does not look good. I sanded then did the polyshades black. it looked streaky especially when the light hit it. so I lightly sanded and did the second coat…still the same problem! I lightly sanded and did a 3rd coat on top…the same result!! What am I doing wrong? or is it just because the light is hitting it directly so it is noticeable?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michelle – The only thing I can think of is that the Polyshades may need to be stirred more and stirred throughout the application process. It could also be the brush. Many factors – temp in room, etc. It should not look streaky, but an even smooth coat of color. I have heard from another reader that they thought it could be a bad batch of Polyshades. I am not sure. I have used it two times so far and have not had the streaking problem.I even had the pieces out in the sun and the color was even. I think what you have done, sanding and reapplying is exactly what I would tell you to do. My next step would be to try a different brush and stir the can frequently.

      1. thanks for taking the time to answer me so quickly. I just tried it again and got the same results. I think maybe I sanded the original table too much to begin with and I am seeing the “scratches” from the sandpaper. Live and learn!!! Next time I will just rub the really fine sandpaper very lightly.

  95. Well, I finally got around to starting my chair. I have one coat on now and it is absolutely beautiful! I can still see the grain which I expected with one coat…so I’ll do another one in a couple days…I came down with a cold and can’t paint and sneeze at the same time, lol…I am soooo glad I found this site! I’m going to do more pieces black when I finish the chair…

  96. I am about to embark on a project as such . A coffee table, with stain and shine on it. I would call it danish modern. I can see it in black and it has a lip edge so I can add glass on top with black and white photos under that.
    I can see it looking so modern using the black stain. Wish me luck as I’m just beginning to lightly sand.
    I wish there was a way to share the end results as I get to that point.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience using the min wax polyshades. I will at least let you know my results. Thanks again, Cricket

  97. I can’t wait to try the black minwax stain. I have been agonizing for weeks trying to decide how to pain my furniture black…… I sure hope mine comes out as nice as yours!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jackie – If you give the surface a good overall sanding to rough up the surface a bit and then apply the stain in light even layers – you will love how it comes out. Super smooth and thin, no paint built up look. I wish it came in more colors :)

  98. I bought a beautiful dining room table and chairs from craigslist for $80 (pottery barn brand). I sanded it all the way down then stained it ebony. I did not like to see the grain so i investigated and found classic black poly shade glossy. I painted my table with a brush, looks great. A little too shiny but it is what i wanted. I applied 2 coats whch i think i only needed 1 but wanted it to be durable. My question is, how durable is it? Im going to let it cure for a week before using table. Ive read online that it will eventually peel and easily gets nicks. Is that true? If it does eventually peel, is poly shade easy product to sand and redo? Do or should i use coasters for water condensation? Thank you!!

  99. I just used polyshades to refinish a kitchen table top and got that same spotting. The second coat looks better but still has it. What did I do wrong?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tayna – You probably didn’t do anything wrong. The weather, temps and every surface will act differently. That spotting is called – cratering or pinholing. Depending on how deep it is, you may need to sand a bit harder to smooth it out. The next coat should fill the holes and create a smooth surface. Since you have applied two coats already – sand again and then make sure the stain is mixed really well. Apply it slowly so less air is pushed into each stroke. Let it dry and see how it looks. Sand gently again, but with very fine sandpaper (high number like 400 – 600 grit) Clean off then reapply stain if necessary.

  100. Nancy Hawkins says:

    Your projects are gorgeous. I would love any suggestions for houses like mine – a 1951 “rambler” (ranch, sort of) with a long narrow living room and puny little 8-foot ceilings. My house has lots of windows, and I like that very much, but it does make furniture placement tricky. The living room also has a fireplace and I’m probably going to get our TV our of the spare bedroom and put it in the living room. Tacky, I suppose, but I’d like to watch football and be in front of the fireplace at the same time.
    Again, your projects are the prettiest I have seen on the net, and your directions are very clear. Great blog.

  101. Bruce Johnson says:

    Great tutorial on using Minwax Polyshades. The pieces look great!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Bruce – that means a lot to me coming from you :)

  102. Hey Diane –
    I bought off white Pottery Barn furniture many years ago to match my current bedroom, but I am moving out in a few months and I am looking to paint or stain this furniture black. Would this stain work for Pottery Barn furniture, or does it only work for wood surfaces?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Abby – Is it a laminate? I have only used it over polyurethaned and painted wood pieces. It works on these. Without knowing exactly what the finish is I can’t be sure. The stain is sold in small cans for under $5 – you can test it out to see. It does have to cure for a few days to a week, so let it sit awhile before doing a scratch test to determine if it will stick to the surface.

  103. For this project, did you end up having to use a paint thinner? I see where you mentioned it early in your blog for this project. Just wondering if you used it and if so, how did you apply it.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi JM – I did not thin the stain. I only mentioned paint thinner in the post since the stain is oil-based. You would need it to clean your brushes when you are done painting.

  104. Awesome. Thanks for the help. I stubbled across your site when i had sanded two chairs and a table and was over it. I read this and just did the rest over the top with Japanese black and it looks amazing. Your a legend for sharing. :)

  105. Francesco Spicuzza says:

    Thanks, this was just what I wanted. Best part was your pix and list of items needed.

  106. Hello Diane

    Such impressive results. Not sure if I have the courage to try it on my dining table.

    My question though, Does it matter what type of wood you apply the stain on? Pine vs Oak vs cherry wood?

    My other question, you used sandpaper to roughen the surface but not all the way to the wood. How would you know that you reached to a good rough surface?

    Regards and thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      It should work the same on any wood. The smoother the surface (no grain) the better it will look. I rough up the wood surface until I don’t see a shine on the surface anymore. It will look dull even after wiping the sanding dust away with a rag. You need to provide some “tooth” for the stain to stick to. After staining – the curing process may take up to a week or longer for the stain to dry and cure to the lasting durable finish.

      If you are hesitant – try it on the underside of a chair or the table. Usually some of the finish is on the outer edges of the underside. That is where I would experiment to see if you like how it will look.

  107. I love your square ottoman. Where did you get it? I have been looking for that exact piece.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Heather – It was for a client. We found it at a local furniture store: Raymour and Flanigan. They have a website where you might be able to find it. raymour and

  108. Diane, I was so pleased when I read your instructions for using Minwax Polyshades in black. I was planning to paint an unfinished pine chest but liked the sound of using the stain instead. I first used the Minwax prep for soft wood and then applied three coats of the Polyshade. I am very disappointed with the finish. It looks very streaky. I stirred the stain often while applying it, lightly sanded between coats, and used a new natural bristle brush that I bought especially for the project. Any suggestions about what I might have done wrong and what I should do to make it look better? I would appreciate any help you could give me.
    Thanks, Carol

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carol
      Many factors could have contributed to the streakiness. Wood quality, a veneer with an uneven grain, to the the air temperature when applied. Since you said you stirred the stain well, and used the right brush – The only other thing that I know of that may have happened is the stain was applied with uneven pressure. Without seeing the piece, this is my first thought. The other thing that might have occurred is there may have been unevenness on the surface before you stained. To try to fix it, I would go over the entire stained surface with very fine sandpaper. Clean it off with water and a clean cloth, let it dry. Then add another coat of stain applied with long even strokes. Add another coat after it is dry if needed.

      1. Thanks Diane, Your advice was very similar to that I got from the people at Minwax. Carol

  109. Could you do this with Ikea furniture? It looks great! I have a long table that is sitting in the basement collecting dust. I would like to try this on that table.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melanie –
      I used the stain on two different surfaces – polyed pine and over gloss white paint on chairs. It worked on both. On IKEA furniture if it is shiny melamine, I would use a fine to medium grit of sandpaper to rough up the surface first, then try the stain on a small section. Let it cure for a few days and then do a scratch test to see if you can remove it with a fingernail. If you can – then I would not use the stain, if you can’t scratch it off – then you are good to go. If you can scratch it off after letting it cure for a few days, I would suggest you use a gripping primer – Glidden sells one that I have used called, Gripper or a primer made especially for painting melamine. Once that is on you can paint the piece black. Use a roller and the best quality brush you can afford to get the best finish.

  110. Beautiful! Did you use Black satin or black gloss Polyshades? Also, did you have an issue evenly applying the stain in the nooks and crannies?

  111. Be careful using the Minwax Stain & Poly in one. I recommend you doing some research about the product online (as there are a HOST of problems with this product). It looks like this product worked in this situation, but when I tried to replicate, it failed horribly. The complaints online are the same that I had — after four coats, still patches of shiny and dull, ultimately resulting in having to put a poly on top of all of it anyways. I have since started using General Finishes Gel Stain and their Gel Poly (which, by the way, I was able to apply in a bedroom instead of in the garage with the Minwax which definitely had a strong odor). Read the reviews on the GF line of products and you may end up changing your mind!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carla – It is always good to know of other products on the market. I have never used General Finishes but will try one the next time I use stain and or poly.

  112. Ok, so I have a quick question. I found this post a little too late. We are currently in the process of painting the coffee, sofa, and two end tables (all oak…not much of a finish left because they are the tables that were in my childhood home) black. We have the sofa and one end table taken apart, sanded, primed with Kilz, and one coat of black(ish) paint on the tops. Turns out the guy mixing the paint put a little too much green in, and they have a green tint. What can I do to those table tops to get THIS kind of finsh on them, at this point. I would LOVE to do this much faster step for the other two tables, but I want all 4 to match, obviously. If you could email me with suggestions that would amazingly awesome, and I would be forever grateful!

    Thank you SO much, in advance, for any information you can get me!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Madison –

      Black is very hard to get the blackest black finish. I am not sure you should stain over the paint right away since I assume the black paint is latex? The oil stain applied on top of a newly painted surface may make the finish crackle. Water and oil don’t mix kind of reaction. You may want to let the paint cure for a few days before testing the stain on top of it. I would test it in an inconspicuous place. If it goes on smooth and you like it after letting it dry – 24 hours -then you are good to go and can do the rest of the pieces to match.

      If it doesn’t work, the best thing to do if you want everything to match is to go back to the paint store and tell them you want the blackest black formula. Keep having them add more black pigment. Put some on a piece of paper and let it dry. Take it out into natural light and then decide if it is black enough. If not – go back into the store and have them tweak it again. Once you like the color -re-coat the pieces that have the green tint and then use the good black on the rest of the pieces.

  113. I have a large kitchen table with 7 chairs. Some have the original stain on them and some have white paint that I recently applied, but do not want it to be white anymore. I would like to paint it black but am wondering if I can use the minwax stain such a big project?
    Thank you,

  114. I found your website and I was so happy! I have been trying to find something to help me either restain or paint my nursery furniture. They are all a light oak color and I wont them a dark either walnut or expresso type color. Do you think the minwax is safe for a crib? would I just apply it the same way with all the rails? or am I dumb for thinking I can make it look different. Thanks so much! I am also thinking of doing my cabinets and I love your makeover!

  115. The black stain looks great. Its just what i want to do to my hutch and kitchen table. Do you have any suggestions on making it looked destressed after it has been stained.

    1. Hi Brittany – If you want to have a distressed look you may want to use Chalk paint. It distresses beautifully. I haven’t tried distressing the stain, but if you want to try – runs a piece of medium grit sandpaper along a few of the edges. To find out more about Chalk paint you can see my post – here –

      I also have a few other posts showing pieces I painted and distressed.

  116. Hi Diane-

    First of all-beautiful job on the pine pieces! Well…I finally convinced my husband to let me paint our solid oak table and chairs black. I have to make sure we don’t live to regret this. Some suggest that oak is difficult to stain or paint because of its grooves and wood grain. Do you have experience with either painting or staining oak. I would like to get started ASAP. What do you think is the best method for transforming my light oak to black? I look forward to your response.

    Thank you,

  117. This is perfect! I love the tips, and I love how they turned out! I found you via a Google search, and your post was just what I was looking for. I’m going to go “stalk” the rest of your website now… :) Thanks again!

  118. Thanks Diane,
    In my research I have found a lot of mixed reviews on the polyshades but I have found everyone that has used a chemical stripper has had great results. I will report back on how it goes.

  119. Diane,
    I stumbled on your blog and this is exactly what I am wanting to do to my entire bedroom set this weekend. I was going to paint but this sounds so much nicer and easier. Only question is you mentioned 2 or 3 light coats. Do you do them at once or let it dry and then recoat? If so how much drying time?
    Also my furniture has a lot of routed grooves in it which would be very difficult to sand so I am considering using a product called “sander/deglosser instead of actually sanding. You wipe in on with a cloth.

    1. Hi Jon –
      Let each coat dry before applying the next coat. It will take an hour or two to dry depending on the weather conditions. I am not sure how the deglosser will effect the adhesion. Maybe try it on a small area first. It will probably be fine since it is meant to help adhesion, but since I didn’t use it, I am not sure.

  120. Elisabetta says:

    I just bought an old library desk with dark walnut stain. I sanded it down. I have both the polyshade in classic black and a black paint. I am so confused as which one to use. I prefer a smoother non-grain look. Help! I love your blog by the way!

    1. Hi Elisabetta – Try each one on the underside of the desk to experiment with both to see which one you like better. I think I would go with the black stain. It will give you a richer color and smoother finish.

  121. Diane, that looks so nice! I just bought a maple table from a yard sale and want to try to redo it myself, but to bombay mahogany color. I have no clue what i amd doing and its gonna be a project for me and a money saver,lol.. Anyway you can provide me with some helpful tips. Its currently a maple oak color with a gloss. Im not sure how far to sand it to, i bought sand paper of 120, due to 220 grit really didnt seem to do to much. I do have minwax 2 in 1, but really been hearing alot of bad reviews on it, so now i am skeptical about it, also i have a 2inch stain brush and hear not good things on a brush.. so i am so confused on what to use or how do it. Can you please help me out? Ty

  122. I have a plant box (table tall) with four legs. It was built for me, and has been used on the porch where it has been fairly well protected, but, it has some stains from watering, and some of the wood has grayed. Is it all right to use this technique with the raw wood? I really need to get something on it to protect it. Thank you for your video. The finished products were amazing.

  123. I’m so excited I found this. I recently decided I wanted to take an old bedroom suit and paint it black. It’s about 30 years old with a cherry finish that is coming off in places from being moved several times. Do you think this stain would work for that? Thanks!

    1. Hi Erin-

      I think it would work just fine. A friend of mine did it on her bedroom furniture and it worked great. Her furniture didn’t have a shiny surface, so she just cleaned the furniture, let it dry, and applied the stain. If your furniture has a shiny cherry finish you will have to sand it – to rough it up just a bit so the stain has something to hold onto. For the tables I did, I went over the shiny finish a few times with by hand with sandpaper.
      Recently I was at a blog conference called Haven. Minwax had a booth set up. They have a product that I never used before, but want to try. It is called Minwax Express Color and comes in a tube. It is like a gel and won’t run or drip at all. I want to try it to see if it will be even better than the traditional stain. The piece will have to be sanded to rough up the surface still, but I think may go on really well to give the piece a more factory finish painted look, not a brushed on painted look.

      1. I used the mind as with good results but some scratched it. Do I just lightly sand the scratch and repaint the area or do I have to repaint entire table top? Thank you.

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Gayle – Just sand over the area very lightly with 220 grit or fine sandpaper. Clean off and then repaint area using a few light coats so you don’t see a ridge in the paint. Feather the paint out so the new painted area blends in.

  124. I just bought a round table and 4 chairs. It is a very light shade of oak wood. It has already been stained a “blonde” color and sealed. I don’t like the color at all, so what can I do or buy to make it darker without actually buying like behr paint? It is a dining room table. I don’t want to strip the seal because I heard that is a lot of work and bad for your skin. I liked what you did to the black tables, but I don’t know if my table will work like that because it already has so much light stain and sealer on it. I just bought it yesterday from craigslist so I didn’t know it was going to be so light. Please let me know! Thanks! :)

    1. Hi Lesley –

      The tables I applied the stain had a sealer on them. It wasn’t super shiny, but they had a protective coat. You have to rough up the surface first so the stain has something to stick to. I used medium grit sandpaper over all the surface, then cleaned it with a tack cloth. If you still see any shiny areas – go over them again. Then you can apply the stain. Try it first on a hidden area of the table to see if you like it and it stays on. The only other option is to paint it. You would still need to sand it a bit first to remove or at least rough up the glossy surface. After sanding you should add 2 light coats of a gripping primer. Glidden makes one and so does Ben Moore. After that is dry, apply your paint. If you are going to paint it black, make sure to have the primer tinted to black to help get better coverage. If the primer goes on white – you will need more coats of black to cover it.

      I hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out.

  125. Furniture Importers says:

    It really looks great after painting… Perfect black is shinning in the sun.

  126. I have two walnut dressers that are stained black–they are over 50 years old–and I was going to paint them black, but after seeing your results, I think I’ll restain them! I was worried that paint was going to be SO thick that the drawers wouldn’t close… now I’m excited to start the project!


    1. Hi Chris – the black stain is perfect for furniture that you don’t want to add the thickness of paint. You will love the finish. Just remember to give the dressers a light going over with sandpaper before using the black stain, especially if the pieces have a poly finish on them and are shiny. I would love to see them when they are done.

  127. Can you distress the furniture after it is stained? Will is look like a piece that is painted then distressed? Or is the wood stained permanently? I love the idea of doing this. I was going to paint my kitchen table/chairs until I came across this site. Now I’m staining them.

    1. Hi Sue – I haven’t done it myself, but I think it would distress beautifully. I would experiment by buying a small can of the stain and apply it on a scrap piece of wood to see.

  128. Diane,

    Thank you so much for this post.! I just purchased a set of bookshelves that came out of an elementary school library. They have some sort of finish on them already, but I want them to be black. They also have a little bit of a funny smell to them. They are taken apart and are all flat surfaces. I like the new finish being thin enough not to interfere with re-assembling them. I had intended to paint them, but I worry that the painted surface will take a long time to really be safe for me to put my beloved books on. Sometimes painted surfaces stay “tacky” for a while. How long do you think this product would take after application to be ready for use? Thank you!


    1. Hi Tanya-
      It dries to the touch in a few hours, but I would let it be for at least a day or two – just to make sure. If you live in a dry climate – less time. After that it should be fine. Just remember before staining to rough up the surface on all the pieces with sandpaper before applying the stain. If you are still uncertain, test a small area and see how long it takes to dry. You will be happy with the thinness of the stain once applied. I wish it came in lots of colors.

  129. Wow! We did it, thanks to your inspiration. My college-aged son now approves of his old This End Up furniture. And now my older son is planning to do the same with his pine furniture.

    1. Hi Cheri-

      That is so nice to hear. I remember when This End Up was “Cool”. I bet they look great stained black – timeless! Thanks for sharing your success.

      1. I would LOVE to see the This End Up furniture! I’m trying to figure out what to do at our beach place with it. Black sounds cool…..driftwood is a possibility. Any input? Suggestions?

  130. Hi Diane- I love you site. I check it out frequently and loved this post. I have one quick question. Can you use this type of stain over a painted surface? I have some chairs that are part stained pine and part painted white rails. Would this work on both surfaces or would I need to paint over the paint?

    1. Hi Holly-

      I know I answered your question via email that you can use the Stain/Poly over paint successfully, but I asked my friend who did it over a two toned painted green and stained oak dresser. She told me her hubby sanded the painted areas on the dresser a lot before she put the poly/stain on. So I would just do a test area where you have sanded the painted surface a bit. If after it dries and you can scratch it off – you may have to sand to roughen up the painted surface more. Every painted surface is different – latex, oil, flat, glossy, etc. Test first and then proceed.

  131. diane! great tips! I love the way the tables look! thanks for linking up!
    catching you this week

  132. Great tip! I think I know just the piece I could use this on. I need to cover some gold accents on a table I can’t bear to paint. thanks!

  133. I just discovered your site and I LOVE it! I am your newest Follower. You do so many great things! I will come back and look at all of your great projects on your sidebar. The black tables are great!

  134. Kim @ Sand & Sisal says:

    They look great! I’ve been wanting to redo my kitchen table black but didn’t want the heavy look of paint either (done that already). Thanks for telling us about the polyshade! (stumbled this today btw) :)

  135. Lisa @ A Room with A View says:

    Such a huge transformation and thank you, as always, for sharing such detailed tips on painting furniture.

  136. I had so much country blue in my house in the 80’s and some of the 90’s that I think I ruined the color blue for my daughter. :)

    I love the tables. Great idea.

    1. Hi Teresa-

      I think I did something similar to my daughters, but with floral fabric :)

  137. Hi Diane – another great re-do! Question for you about the stain… Can you can still see the pine grain through the stain? I’m wondering how thick it is.

    I have a golden oak finish cabinet that I would love if it something other than golden oak. (I would love it even more if it wasn’t oak at all.) I’d like to save the cabinet but need to do something to make it more aesthetically pleasing…


    1. Hi Shawn-

      No you cannot see any of the pine grain or color through the stain. It is totally opaque. It is thin which is why I prefer using it over paint. It create a more pro finish. Another reader asked if it came in white and it does, but I have never used it. I plan on trying it out soon.
      If you want your cabinets dark then you could do this to them. It is thin so I would suggest you remove all the cabinet doors and lay them flat – less drips. I painted my oak cabinets white about 10 years ago using Glidden gripping primer and latex paint. They have held up beautifully. I just read in House Beaufiful magazine last night that Glidden has a new no drip paint. Might be worth looking into. You can see how I painted my cabinets in this post –

    1. Hi Kristen-
      You will love the difference. The stain goes on so smooth and glass like when you use a good brush. I also like that it has the Poly in it to add durability.

  138. i love that you are not afraid of change. so many people live in the past and their homes really reflect that. it is important to keep things fresh!

  139. Jennifer Ferrell says:

    Thank you for sharing this very helpful info! I’ve been wanting to refinish my kithcen table set for years! Now I may just have the courage to tackle it!
    Kindest regards,

  140. That looks amazing! I never thought to stain something black, but you are totally right about it looking less heavy than regular paint!

  141. Wow… looks better already! :)

    xoxo laurie

  142. Wow, what an improvement! Can’t wait to see the rest Diane.

  143. Gosh, I never thought about using a black stain. wonderful !
    Have you used the Ann Sloan Chalk paint yet ?
    I’ve sure been hearing good things about it….

    1. Hi bj-

      I haven’t tried Chalk paint yet, but do have two corner cabinets that I may tackle eventually. I have heard good things also. I like the fact that you can paint right over the existing finish.

  144. I have a side table that’s blond wood and it has such a pretty wood grain top but my problem is blond wood is not my style :( It also have a clear finish already on it, so do you think if I stain it with the same stuff in Antique Walnut the wood grain will still show through following your steps? (great post btw!) Ty ahead of time, I’m new to DIY stuff :)

    1. Hi Kelly-

      I have only used the black which is opaque when applied. Not sure if the Antique Walnut is or not. It may change the color, but be a bit more transparent. If your piece has darker knots and grain swirls you may still see them. In the Lowes I go to, they have little sample swatches of all the colors on wood so you can see what the stain will look like. You can see the black totally hides the wood and grain. You can use the PolyStain over already finished pieces. The tables I did had a clear finish on them, too. Just go over the surface lightly with fine grit sandpaper first. If you are unsure on proceeding – maybe try it on the back of the table to see if you like it or not.

      1. Thank you so much Diane for taking the time to respond :)

  145. Just beautiful. Sleek and sophisticated. I can’t wait to see the finished room.

  146. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Wow, what a total redo that is for her house. I did not know Minwax came in colors too. I guess I just never looked. I stained a brand new door for one of my boyfriends rental houses and it had three rows of window panes…. I did not know how to do this without getting that stain on the glass, so I put Vaseline on the windows. Was that a bad idea? Do you think that the painters tape would have been better/easier?

    Also, I did not know to use the sponge brush. I used a piece of a cotton cloth to apply the stain and then wiped it off after a few minutes and then reapplied the stain and wiped again (dark wood stain). I found that my latex or vinyl gloves disintegrated on me.. what a mess. And my ex boy friend is really cheap, so to get a good brush was not an option, but the sponge I will use next time (if ever).

    Now if I was rich, I would certainly buy some of those new doors Lowes carries that have the mini blinds enclosed in solid glass. I love those!!!

    Thanks for the tip about the sponge brush. I make a lot of mistakes sometimes……..grin.

    Sheryll & Critters.

  147. Debbie-refreshrestyle says:

    Diane, the tables look great! The room is looking awesome!!!

  148. What a great tutorial…I hope you don’t mind, I just had to “pin it” on Pinterest. I did not know that this type of stain existed…no stripping, ya gotta love that! TFS!

  149. Julie @ Practically Spent says:

    Thanks so much, Diane, for the really great instructions. I’ve never done this before, but I have a table that’s perfect for it!

  150. The tables look amazing. I cannot believe what a HUGE step these homeowners took! Their look was so country and now it is so contemporary! This one must have been a fun one. Huge change.

  151. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    What a big difference in that room Diane! The molding is just beautiful. The tables came out great! I never would have thought of stain for them; it’s amazing how you changed them from country to modern chic with a new color.

  152. Can I do the same using a lighter stain, does it come in white?

  153. I first thought.. eek a black table – but it looks brilliant! Great job!

  154. It’s gorgeous! It’s gotten me thinking about a couple of projects also. I love everything you’ve shared on this blog. You have some wonderful ideas!

  155. Diane that is awesome. I’ve been considering using that for a project but wasn’t sure if it would really hold up over a finished surface. Do you go over the entire thing with clear poly after? And, if it is oil based, if your surface was finished with a water based product, will it adhere? (I guess it depends on how long that finish has cured…?) Great project and thanks for the information. I’m so excited now because I think my plan will work! Yeah!

    1. Hi Sandra-

      The PolyShades brand by Minwax has the polyurethane in it already. So no I don’t add a coat of poly after. The label says – Stain and Polyurethane in 1 Step. It goes on very smooth. If you have a water based finish you can lightly sand it, but you don’t have to go to the bare wood at all. It adheres beautifully.

      1. Can I rough up a PAINTED piece and also use that black stain successfully? I just bought an old dresser that is off white and want to paint it black for a tv stand. I thought I’d add some old glass knobs just to off set it. Or I heard of stenciling in a glossy black over a more matte finish on the front of the doors/drawers. I didn’t want that thick paint look so this might be what I’m looking for. Thanks for any advice. I haven’t done much furniture re-do cuz I usually LIKe the wood look. haha But I’m converting! :) Darla

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Darla –

          Stain alone won’t go over paint, it is meant to penetrate wood, but the Polyshades that I used did work for me when I wanted black chairs. It was what I tested it out on before I used it on the polyurethaned tables that I posted about.

          After I used it to paint a previously painted white chair, I thought it was a fail since the Polyshades scraped right off after it was dry. I put the chair in my basement and forgot about it. A few weeks later I was going to paint the chair and found that the Black Polyshades finish was smooth and shiny and was adhered. I could not scrap any of it off. It just needed time to cure. If you want to use it over paint, then just know you have to wait a few weeks for it to cure before using it. I always sand and clean a piece well before I stain or paint anything.