how to use paint as wood stains

How to Use Paint as Wood Stains (4 Easy Tips)

How To Use Paint As Wood StainsAre you out of wood stain and planning to give your furniture a new look? You might be thinking to use some color paints as substitute. Now, the question that comes to mind is how to use paint as wood stains? 

If you are confused about whether to use paint as wood stain or not, or if you are worried that it might ruin your furniture or anything you are trying to paint, then fear not! You’re in the right place. Just keep on reading till the end to find out various hacks about using paint as a substitute for wood stain or to create a stain of your own if you’re out of wood stain or are a beginner at wood staining.

Sorry but starting off with the basics; what is the first question that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Paint”? A liquid that is used to spread color. No! First of all, it’s a noun. Coming towards its meaning we find out what paint actually is? 

Paint is known to be a colored liquid which is more likely to be spread on a surface to give it a wonderful and protective coating of color. Whereas, if you are working or thinking to work with wood stain, it basically is a type of paint that is used to deal with staining or coloring wood. Now that we are clear on that, let’s move on to the business part of the article.

How To Use Paint As Wood StainsHow To Use Paint As Wood Stains How To Use Paint As Wood Stains How To Use Paint As Wood Stains How To Use Paint As Wood Stains

Paint as a substitute to wood stain is very easy to use. The key factor in this is consistency. Make sure to dilute the paint for a thin consistency just like that of the wood stains (to enhance wood grains). Remember to mix it well for a smooth finish. For a darker shade, you can always apply more than one layer.

If you have never painted on wood before, then it is better to practice it a few times before starting off with your final project. There are a couple of things you need to find out about how the paint would respond when it is applied to the wood directly. Would it be visible enough or not? Now let us discuss how paint can be used as a substitute for wood stain. 

Let us say you got the perfect paint color you had been looking for, then make sure you tick the following points.

Thin consistency is the key

how to use paint as wood stainsStart off by mixing the paint with water to give it a thin consistency so that it dries up quickly on the wood and enhances the wood grains. It is better to add more water than the paint, for example half a quarter of paint would require more than half a quarter of water to give it a good consistency.

Mix it up well

how to use paint as wood stainsAfter adding water into the paint, give it a good mix so that the paint and water blend in together leaving a good smooth paint behind to be applied on the wood. You may use a blender or mixing mate to mix the proportion smoothly.

Adjusting the color

If the final product or the color doesn’t turn out to be dark enough, don’t worry because you can always go for a second coat to give it a darker effect. Moreover, if the product turns out to be too dark and not the color you desired, then definitely go for blotting. If you are not familiar with blotting, let me give you a brief overlook on how it is done.

Blotting cloth is known to be a very good absorbent that is used to absorb the excess liquid or paint. It is pretty easy to use. Just dab it wherever you want to remove the excess paint from or wherever you want to lighten up the paint. That is because dabbing it on wet paint would help remove the majority of the stain. The idea of staining wood is to color the wood but allow the grains to be prominent even after the staining.

Stain the wood steadily

how to use paint as wood stainsNow, after mixing the stain, the next step is to apply it to the wood. Take a good brush with soft bristles and dip it into the mixture you just created by mixing paint and water. After that, finely single coat the wood with paint and allow the grains of the wood to show through the stain. Let it dry and you are good to go!

Just in case you are not satisfied with the color,  or are trying to give it a second coat, or in case of excess paint or darker shade; go for blotting. 

What to do if you make a mistake while wood staining?

It is okay to make mistakes and it is absolutely okay not to be good at everything because no one is perfect (believe me! I know by personal experience :P). Perhaps, working on your past mistakes helps one to improve their ability to complete the task. 

So, just in case, while using paint for wood stain, if your paint gathers up in a place where you would not prefer to have it, it can be fixed by a somewhat quick response on your side.

  1. The darker color or excess paint can be removed by dabbing a blotting cloth over it.
  2. Also, to remove the excess paint try and dab it when it is wet.
  3. Just in case you do not have a blotting cloth, try using a dry paintbrush and it would work perfectly to remove the excess paint.
  4. Apart from all this, if the paint dries out and you tend to bring some changes, then try dabbing a wet cloth or paint brush over the area again and again to remove the excess paint or to lighten up the color. Try doing it again and again until you achieve the desired results.

How to make your own stain paint?

Are you planning to paint wood with wood stain but you don’t have the paint? Do not worry, here is a DIY stain tip for you that is pretty inexpensive. All you need to get your hands on is “shabby paint”. Mix a ¼ proportion of paint with 2/4 proportion of water to thin it to about fifty percent of the current consistency and you are good to go with your DIY homemade stain for wood. Tada! It is that easy!

How does using paint for wood stain protect the wood?

The paint does not protect the wood until it is sealed properly with a sealant. The staining creates a rich texture on the wood enhancing its grains, but still it does not provide long-term protection to the wood. Little sharp objects or water can destroy the stain easily. Wood stains penetrate into the wood, whereas painting only coats the top surface of the wood which is not as protective as a wood stain.


Using paints as wood stains can be tricky. You really need to practice your technique to achieve the desired results. Various woods have various grains. However, some of them can give you a tough time to stain but that does not mean that they are impossible to stain. This is where constant practice becomes useful! With some practice, you will be able to mix up colors and would be able to apply the paint evenly on the wood letting the wood grain stand out.

Just to be on the safe side, to answer on how to use paint as wood stains properly, I would say that make sure that there are no puddles on the wooden surface that you’re about to blow dry to avoid any disaster. That is because usually while blow drying, the air from the blow dryer tends to move the stains if they’re not properly absorbed into the wood or are not evenly spread out.

Hope this article would have helped. Any feedback would be appreciated! 🙂


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