How To Sand Between Coats Of Stain?

If you’re a DIY home project guy, a common question you may face once in your entire life. Do its compulsory to sand between coats of stain? The answer may be summarized in one word, yes it is. Sanding between coats of stain gives perfection and a smooth finish to your wood. Again, it will also provide a perfect bonding inside the wood. But, sanding between coats of stain relies on some issues. It often depends on the kind of stain which you’re using.

If the stain is dye or water-based, you don’t stand between the coats to open the grain. Then what to do? It may get you confused, we know. Here, it would help if you sprayed a toner coat. That’s why we’re discussing how to sand between coats of stain and their necessity, types of stain, tips of maintenance, etc.

How To Sand Between Coats Of Stain?

How To Sand Between Coats Of Stain?

Steps Of How To Sand Between Coats Of Stain

If you’re like most of us, you probably stain your furniture, woodworking projects, and other pieces of wood at some point. Maybe you’ve heard that it’s important to sand between coats of stain, or maybe you’ve just done it without thinking about it. The truth is, sanding between coats of stain is a good idea for a lot of reasons.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what sanding between coats of stain does and how to do it correctly. We’ll also discuss the different types of stains and which ones require sanding between coats of stain. Finally, we’ll provide tips on how to sand wood after one coat of stain. So read on and learn how to keep your wood looking beautiful and smooth!

Which Stain Types Require Sanding Between Coats?

Sanding Between Coats

Wood floors can take a beating when it comes to staining – that’s why it’s important to be aware of the types of stains that require sanding between coats. Greasy, chocolate, fruit, and wine stains all require sanding between coats to be effectively cleaned. To determine if sanding is necessary, test a small area first in case of any damage. Next, use a pad or cloth soaked in concentrate (either water or club soda) to remove stubborn stains from hard-to-reach areas.

Be sure to use the right type of sandpaper for the type of stain – grit sandpaper for greasy, sandpaper for chocolate, fine sandpaper for fruit, and sandpaper with a medium grit for wine stains. After sanding, coat the stain with a stain-specific wood stain sealer to prevent staining and wood wear.

Should You Sand Between Coats Of Stain?

Should You Sand Between Coats Of Stain

There’s no one answer to this question – it depends on the type of stain, the level of saturation, and the condition of the wood. However, if the stain is old or has developed a lot of depth, it may be necessary to sand between coats. In general, always experiment with different methods to see what works best for your specific situation. The answer will become clearer as you continue to stain your furniture.

Steps Of How To Sand Between Coats Of Stain

Steps Of How To Sand Between Coats Of Stain

We may know how important it is to sand the wood after applying one coat of stain. It helps to get a better finish and a sparkling look. But this isn’t always compulsory. Let’s see how to do it.

How To Sand Wood After One Coat Of Stain?

How To Sand Wood After One Coat Of Stain

The wood needs to be sanded between coats of stain to assure a smooth end. If you over-sand, the finish will be rough and unpainted. To avoid any sanding mishaps, use sandpaper that’s finer than the original wood grain. Wait 20 minutes for the stain to dry before applying a coat of clear sealer. And that’s all there is to it! These simple steps will help you sand wood like a pro every time you want to change colors or repair dents in your furniture. So go ahead and sand away!

Different Types Of Stains:

There’s no need to be stain-phobic! In fact, sanding between coats of stain can actually help to clean and remove the stain. Different stains require different cleaning methods, so it’s important to understand the type of stain before getting started.

Here are some important steps:

  1. Test a small area first to make sure the stain will come out.
  2. For grease-based stains, use dish detergent and warm water (or cool water if the stain is fresh).
  3. For water-based stains, use a paste made from baking soda and vinegar or white vinegar.
  4. For oil-based stains, use mineral spirits or lacquer thinner mixed with ammonia (available at most hardware stores).

Steps One- Use A 220/240 Grit Sandpaper

Steps One Use A 220 240 Grit Sandpaper

First, take sandpaper around 220 or 240 grit, and sand the wood. You can give much effort while sanding as it will help to smooth the layer of the stain. But if there’s a water-based stain, use 80-grit sandpaper instead. Avoid using any steel wool to sand the timber because harsh bristles can damage the upper part of the wood.

Steps Two- Prepare The Surfaces

Steps Two Prepare The Surfaces

Before start sanding, It’s vital to prepare the surfaces. Some users suggest using some water for sanding it well. But we must say sanding the wood surfaces depends on your efforts. Using water sometimes flattened the surfaces and made your task easy to eradicate the imperfections from it. Another benefit of using water during sanding has raised the moisture inside the wood. The fibers underneath the wood let you achieve the finish that you dreamed of.

Steps Three- Start To Sand The Wood

Steps Three Start To Sand The Wood

After choosing the right sandpaper for your wood, start to sand it. At first, try to do the task from the end of the edges, then gradually make way for the front. You can sand the wood using bare hands or gloves; it’s totally up to you. Do not sand the wood too roughly or too slowly. Make sure that you give your best while rub the sandpaper over the wood.

Steps Four- Embed The Second Layer Of Stain

Steps Four Embed The Second Layer Of Stain

This is the last step, but not least. Here you need to keep sanding until you get the final result. After finishing it, you’ll get a whitish powder around the wood. Wipe these using an old cloth or a thinner brush. Some wooden furniture has complexed drafts inside them. In that case, you can use a thinner toothbrush to remove the powder from it. After that, apply the second coat of stain once you’ve confirmed all the whitish powder is shifted. Let the stain dry off. It will be all set then.

Purposes Behind Sand Between Coats

Purposes Behind Sand Between Coats

It is vital to sand between coats to create a perfect bond. In short, if you want to create an antique look on a natural or semi finished hardwood surface, then you should research more. Specifically, hardwood being used would give you the best results, like every wood has different sizes and arrangements of pores. Again, they absorb stains differently.

Comparatively, you won’t get the same results when it comes to oil-based stains. You may know, oil-based stains take more time to dry. For this, you will get enough time to clear out all the excess stains hurriedly. With polyurethane stains, you can’t use any heavy-duty stains. It doesn’t allow you to sand without using 320/400 grit sandpaper. It’s just because other harsh sandpaper may destroy the entire look of the can.

The same things happen while you’re using any water-based stains. Although water-based stains don’t demand high sandpapers, you need to sand between the coats of stain all the time. But these stains sometimes make the wood grains visible. To avoid this, it’s better to sand between the coats. Experts have suggested that sanding with 80-grit sandpapers gives you more delicate surfaces than before. The looks become shinier while you’re applying the stain again.

Types Of Stains

Types Of Stains

There are 5 different kinds of stains, each of them have some unique benefits. Additionally, most of the stains have varied requirements. That’s why we feel it’s necessary to introduce them to you. Have a look at a glance.

Oil Stains

Oil Stains

Oil stains are popular. Before applying the stain, It’s essential to sand the wood. Oil finishes will meld together with the help of stains.

This type of stain gives you shiny surfaces. It removes all sorts of dirt, debris and gives you a smooth surface to work on. On the other hand, oil-based stains don’t let you sand the wood again. It’s just because oil stains easily penetrate underneath the wood.

Benefits –

  • Oil stains didn’t penetrate frequently.
  • Easy to apply.
  • You can re-apply the stain every year.
  • Provides a smooth finish over the wooden surfaces.
  • Oil-based stains will peel better than other stains.
  • It’s easy to maintain.


  • Oil-based stains contain harmful Volatile organic compounds, which are bad for climates.
  • It has less durability.
  • It takes more time to dry.
  • The resin used in this stain is the main culprit in turning the wood into black because the resin is a good source of food for mold, mildew, and algae.
  • The lifespan of oil-based stain is dauntless.

Water Stains

Water Stains

Water stains mean something watery and have less density than oil-based stains. They’re not gummy like the oil-based ones. Some woodworkers found this stain easy for their fast drying. But they tend to make the grains visible, for which you need to sand the wood.

Benefits –

  • Water stains take less time to dry.
  • It has a super UV resistance.
  • Got a better ability to intercept the color.
  • Can reduce the growth and potentiality of mold, algae, etc.
  • It contains robust zinc nanoparticles for preventing the effects of mildew growth.
  • The cleaning process is pretty straightforward.
  • They’re breathable so that you won’t get any trapped moisture into the wood.
  • Easy to operate and maintain.
  • You can clean the faded finishes with regular soap and water.
  • It has more variability than oil stains.


  • It takes more time to apply; otherwise, you fail to get the expected results.
  • Water stains have more trouble penetrating the wood if you’re over-applied by the stain.
  • You need to take good care of their absorption to avoid any chances.

Gel Stains

Gel Stains

Gel stains are usually applied to the surface areas. On the contrary, they can mask alveolar and non-alveolar areas perfectly. Gel stains let you finish the project smoothly and be friendly. You won’t need to use any roller or brush.

They make the competitive task easy while working with natural species like pine, Maple Cherry, and birch. You can examine their absorbing power by applying a thin layer on a particular wood.
Then check out the timing. The test will let you determine whether you should apply it to the surfaces or not.

Benefits –

  • They are thick enough to apply to any wood surface.
  • Gel stains seem to be very clear and treat the floor as painted.
  • You can use them to hide the old stains on the wood.
  • With clear and thicker strength, they will make the old and shabby surfaces into a new one.
  • Handy and simple to use for beginners or novices.
  • You can finish or smooth the wood by using only 80-grit sandpapers.
  • Only gel stains will let you sand without applying any second coat of stains.


  • You need to wait for a while after applying the topcoat or second layer of stains. There are no options to use gel stains like a sprayer. In that case, you won’t be able to apply this stain where a brush or roller won’t let you go.
  • Gel stains are often complicated for some natural grain of wood like oak, ash, mahogany, walnut, etc. Gives you uneven finishes in some areas.

Lacquer Stains

Lacquer Stains

Lacquer stains in woodworking work too fast. At room temperature, it takes 15 minutes to dry. This means you can apply the first coating on the wood, dry, sand, and again apply the second coat within 1-1.30 hours.

Isn’t it great? Of course, it is. Lacquer stain is good enough than oil stains, while it takes 1 hour or more to dry. Along with these, lacquer stains are so tough and durable. It remains clear for years without the yellowish effects. Lacquer is thinner than other products, which helps to penetrate it deeply. As though,

Benefits –

  • Lacquer is so reliable to use.
  • It comes ready to use conditions out of the container
  • Light-weight to spray
  • Easy to apply with brush or roller
  • You can remove the visible stroke marks and clean them up with ease.
  • High-end durability
  • It lasts longer than other stains
  • Less expensive than varnish, polyurethane, etc.
  • Comes with 3-gloss including dull, medium, and high


  • Not suitable to use in cold or down temperature. Sometimes you may notice the orange peel while it’s getting scorched. The bubble may occur if your room temperature is too much hot during staining.
  • Lacquer may cause serious injuries or poses a health risk if inhaled
    You need to take an extra profile before working with this stain.

Polyurethane Stains

Polyurethane Stains

Polyurethane stains come with a combination of two. Both water-based and oil-based are involved there. Most importantly, here, you don’t need to sand between the coats. It’s just because polyurethane stains get easily dry and allow you to wipe the extra stains spontaneously.

With these stains, you can sand the wood using medium to high sandpapers up to 320-400. It tries to give your wood a protective shelter. Likewise,

Benefits –

  • The plastic polymer in this stain helps to make a strong protective shell over the wood.
  • It gives you a liquor finish
  • Strong and durable to use
  • Cover any scratches very lightly.
  • Make a strong bond between two coats.
  • You only need a brush for proper application.
  • Gives the wood surfaces a stunning and shiny finish.
  • Usually used for family heirlooms and luxurious home furniture.


  • Take longer to dry.
  • Should have to use in a well-ventilated area.
  • It can occur toxic if touched on the skin.
  • We need to take more protection before working with these stains.
  • Some Benefits Of Applying Multiple Coats Of Finish
  • Use 220/320 no-load sandpaper to cover up the scratching.
  • Remember, scratching means sanding lightly. This means you need to use low fine load sandpaper.
  • Scratching helps to remove raised grain, which often occurs in wood. Raised grain is quite disturbing, and it results in a transit area from flat to end grain.
  • Apply 3-coats in between scratching. It helps to give you the perfect finish.
  • Test the stains thoroughly.
  • Apply a thin layer of coat stains at first, let it dry. Then check out its consistency before applying the second layer.
  • Test the tone of the coats after finishing the sanding and costing. As an example – oil-based stains give you an amber tone which is similar to the polyurethane slightly.


What Should I Use To Sand Between Coats?

You should use finer grit sandpaper to remove the scratches from the wood.180-220 sandpaper is required to leave the coarser grit on unfinished wood. It helps to sand lightly between coats of paints.
Again, 320-400 grit sandpaper is good enough to sand metal, bronze, or other hard surfaces. So you should choose the one according to your needs.

How Long Do I Wait To Sand After Staining?

One common question people often ask is this. Actually, the duration of the stains varied on their features. As an example, you need to wait longer for an oil-based wood stain, while a watery stain takes less time it. In general, you should wait 15-30 minutes after application. For getting a better finish and smoothness, you should wait until the stains get properly dry.

Will A Second Coat Of Stains Makes Wood Darker?

The second coat of stains didn’t give you a darker finish all the time. It depends on the stains’ characteristics. Some stains will really give you a darker finish, while some will not. Hence, use a hardwood sealer found at any paint store if you really want to get a darker finish. This will give your wood a darker finish more evenly. Furthermore, you can use gel-stains with a clean rag.

What Should You Do If The Wood Stain Won’t Absorb?

Well, it depends on the wood species. Some wood simply doesn’t absorb stains as well as others. As an example, maple is very finicky in the matter of absorbing stains. Along with these, oak trees absorb it very well. At the same time, very figured grain, oily wood-like teak, the residue of an earlier finish like urethane oil.

For this, you can scrub it down with harsh scotch bite, denatured alcohol, and try to stain it with water. You can try to mix stains with alcohol, which may reduce the issues particularly.

Final wrap

If you ask me, is it necessary to sand between coats, I think you may be clear about why it is needed. We will let you more clear by attaching an example. Suppose if you want to create an antique look on natural or semi finished hardwood surfaces, it is crucial to sand between coats. By narrowing down, sanding between the coats is more important as these specifics of the project are at your hand. Hope, it may now clear to you how to sand between coats of stain.

After reading through this blog, you will know how to sand wood between coats of stain to achieve a smooth finish. You will also understand the different types of stains and know which stain types require sanding between coats. Make sure to keep this blog handy as you continue to care for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.Does Sanding Between Coats Of Paint Actually Work?

Ans. The short answer is yes. Sanding between coats of paint can help to smooth the surface and reduce the amount of sanding that is needed in the future. The source of information for this answer is the article “Can Sanding Between Coats of Paint Help Paint Look Its Best?” which is located on the website of The Home Depot.

2.How Can I Sand Between Coats Of Stain To Remove Them Completely?

Ans. One way to sand between coats of stain is to use a sandpaper block. Start by sanding the stain with 320-grit sandpaper, then switch to 600-grit sandpaper and sand the stain until it is completely smooth.

3.How Often Should I Sand Between Coats Of Stain?

Ans. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as it depends on the type of stain and the grit of sandpaper you are using. Some stains may be sanded twice, while others may only need to be sanded once.

4.How Do I Remove Dried-On Sap From Hardwood Floors?

Ans. Use a sap scraper.

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