Should You Sand After Staining?

You should not sand after staining most types of wood. Sanding is a process that prepares the wood before staining. To prevent the wood grains from raising after staining you need to sand first with 80 grit, then 120 grit, and final with 220 grit sandpaper.

Have you ever stained a piece of wood only for its grains to raise? This is a common problem in beginner woodworking and it can be a real issue for DIY wood projects around the house such as making a wooden fence or building wooden garage doors.

First of all – what is staining?

Staining is a process of wood coloration or wood protection that uses deep grain penetration. Sanding can be a finished look or an intermediary look before applying the first coat or a finish coat on the wood.

Unlike painting, staining penetrates the wood properly. Water-based stains penetrate the wood and cannot be sanded off.

This is why there’s no real reason to sand after staining as the stain remains. You might consider sanding as an exception when you’ve done a poor job preparing the wood with initial sanding. However, this will create an uneven staining appearance and you will need to stain the wood again.

Furthermore, after staining the wood again the stain will darken. Multiple coats of stain dark wood and this will happen to your wood which has been sanded as well.

Sanding after staining? Yes or No?

You should not sand after staining. Sanding is a preparatory process that the wood needs to go through before any staining.

If you’re manufacturing furniture you can start sanding raw wood with 80 grit sandpaper. 120 grit sandpaper can go on your sander next. Fine 220 grit sandpaper should be placed on your sander to perfect the wooden surface and to prevent wood grains from raising. This fine sandpaper should smooth out the wood surface.

Staining can be done with a cloth or a piece of soft paper such as a paper towel. You apply the stain once evenly for a cohesive result.

Unlike paint, a stain then needs to be wiped off. It can take up to 48 hours for the stain to dry but an excess stain can remain on the surface, just like water. Since the wood’s pores can’t be penetrated by more stain the excess stain will remain on the surface. You can wipe off the excess stain with paper towels or clothes. A secondary coat of stain might be needed if you want to darken the wood.

Do I have to sand before staining wood?

Yes, you should always sand before staining wood. If you’re working with raw wood you’ll need to start with abrasive sandpaper such as 80 grit first and move up to fine-finish sandpaper.

There are a few tips you need to remember before sanding as well. For example, you need to remember not to stain a piece of wood if you aren’t sure about its color first. Always test out a stain on a small piece of wood to see if you’re into the results and stain cannot be removed from the wood.

Another tip to consider is that you can combine certain paints with stains for a more distinct look.

A third tip to remember is that a stain is not a finished coat. Most stain manufacturers print their products with information that the stain is made for finishing, which isn’t the case if you want to take your project further.

Exceptions on when to sand after staining

One of the best exceptions to sanding after staining is furniture restoration. If you want to restore old stained furniture you will need to sand the surface before applying a new stain.

This is done by using fine-grit sandpaper. You will only sand the top surface of the wood and the stain will still be visible on the furniture. Applying a new coat of stain will make furniture look as good as new.

If you’re refinishing old furniture make sure to remove all of the dust particles left on the wood after sanding. You want to do this with a cloth and then a wet cloth to ensure there are no dust particles trapped under the new stain coat.

Final words

Sanding after staining is not recommended. The wood surface should be sanded properly before applying a stain. The wood can be sanded after the staining of wood grains has risen as a result of poor sanding preparation. However, the stain needs to be applied again after staining.


Do you sand after stain Poly?

Polyurethane stains are thin and sanding after application will produce uneven results and even show some wood pores that aren’t penetrated by the stain. Make sure to sand before applying poly stain.

Is it bad to sand extra-fine before applying Poly?

It’s generally not recommended to sand after applying poly.

What grit paper should I use after staining?

If you haven’t prepared the wood properly and you need to sand it again after staining make sure to limit your sander’s efforts to 200-grit sandpaper.

How soon can you sand after staining?

If you haven’t sanded properly before staining you can go through this process again after 30 minutes and after you’ve removed excess stain with a cloth. You will need to apply a second coat of stain after this.