How to Stain IKEA Furniture

Are you tired of the plain and generic look of your Ikea furniture? Looking for a way to make it stand out and match your unique style? Well, look no further!

In this blog post, we will guide you through how to stain IKEA furniture, giving it a stunning makeover and adding a touch of personalization to your living space. Whether you have a bookshelf, a table, or bed frame, staining your Ikea furniture is a fantastic way to enhance its appearance and make it a focal point in any room.

How to Stain IKEA Furniture

So, if you’re ready to unleash your creativity and transform your Ikea pieces into stunning, unique furniture, keep reading! We’ve gathered all the tips, tricks, and techniques you need to know to successfully stain your Ikea furniture and achieve your desired beautiful finished look.

What Will You Need?

Before diving into the process, let’s gather all the necessary materials. Remember that the tools and supplies may vary depending on what type of Ikea furniture you will be staining. However, here are some general essentials that you will need:

  • Protective gear such as gloves, safety glasses, and a mask
  • Sandpaper or a sanding block
  • Tack cloth or a lint-free cloth
  • Wood conditioner (optional)
  • The stain of your choice
  • Paintbrush, foam brush, or a clean cloth for applying the stain
  • Polyurethane finish (optional)

Once you have all the necessary tools and supplies, it’s time to move on to the next step.

8 Easy Steps on How to Stain IKEA Furniture

Step 1: Preparing the Furniture

The first and most crucial step in staining your Ikea furniture is preparation. Begin by clearing a workspace with enough room to maneuver around the furniture. Ensure the area is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling harmful fumes from the stain or finish.

Avoid Inhaling Harmful Fumes

Step 2: Sanding the Furniture

Sanding is key to achieving a smooth and even finish when staining your Ikea furniture. Start by sanding the entire surface of the table using medium-grit sandpaper, such as 120 or 150. Ensure you sand along the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratching or damaging the surface. This step is crucial as it helps open up the wood’s pores, allowing the stain to penetrate more deeply and evenly. Repeat the process with fine-grit sandpaper once you’ve finished sanding with the medium-grit sandpaper (220 grit) to smooth the surface further. Remember to wipe away dust or debris with a tack or lint-free cloth when you’re done. This ensures that your surface is immaculate and ready for staining.

Step 3: Applying Wood Conditioner

Applying a wood conditioner is optional, but it can be beneficial, especially when staining Ikea furniture made of softwoods like pine, fir, or spruce. Softwoods absorb stains unevenly, leading to a blotchy or streaky finish. A wood conditioner helps to achieve a more uniform and smooth stain absorption. To apply the conditioner, simply use a clean brush or cloth, applying it evenly across the surface of your furniture. Allow it to penetrate the wood for about 15 minutes, then wipe away any excess with a clean cloth. Wait for another 15 minutes (as per the instructions on the conditioner’s packaging) before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Applying the Stain

Now comes the fun part! Select the stain of your choice, and remember that the color of the stain will significantly contribute to your furniture’s final look. Use a paintbrush, foam brush, or clean cloth to apply the paint. Start from one end and work your way to the other, following the grain of the wood. Ensure the stain is applied evenly across the surface to avoid blotchy areas.

Select the Stain of Your Choice

After applying the paint, wait for about 5-10 minutes (or as per the stain manufacturer’s instructions) before wiping away any excess stain with a clean cloth. This waiting period helps the stain to penetrate into the wood, giving it a deeper color. If you want a darker shade, you can repeat the staining process.

Step 5: Let the Stain Dry

After applying the stain and achieving the desired color, allow your furniture to dry fully. The drying time can vary based on the type of stain used and the environmental conditions, but typically, it takes around 24 hours. Ensuring the furniture is completely dry before moving on to the next step is essential. Be patient during this phase; rushing can ruin the staining job you’ve worked hard on. You can use this time to clean your brushes and other tools, getting them ready for the finishing touch.

Step 6: Applying the Finish

After your furniture is fully dry, it’s time to seal and protect your work with a finish. Polyurethane finish is commonly used as it provides a durable and protective layer against wear and tear, as well as water and heat. Using a clean brush, apply the finish in even strokes, following the grain of the wood. Ensure the entire stained surface is covered. Once done, allow the finish to dry completely.

This typically takes around 24 hours, but it’s always best to refer to the instructions on your finish’s packaging for precise drying times. If desired, you can apply a second finish coat for extra protection. Just lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper (like 220 grit) and wipe away any dust before applying the second coat. This helps the second coat adhere better and provides a smoother finish.

Step 7: Final Touches and Clean Up

After the finish has thoroughly dried, your stained Ikea furniture is nearly ready. If you’ve opted for a second coat of finish, the furniture’s surface should be smooth. If you notice any rough patches, lightly sand the area with ultra-fine grit sandpaper (320 or higher), always moving along the grain of the wood—dust off any debris with a clean cloth. Lastly, clean up your workspace and properly dispose of your used materials. Carefully remove any protective coverings from your furniture, and voila! You’ve successfully stained your Ikea furniture, transforming it into a unique piece that adds personality and warmth to your space.

Step 8: Reassembling the Furniture

Once everything has dried and you’re satisfied with the finish, it’s time to reassemble your Ikea furniture if it has been disassembled.

Reassemble Your Ikea Furniture

Carefully put everything back together following the original assembly instructions. Now, you can admire your handiwork and enjoy the newly stained piece. Remember, maintaining the finish is critical to prolonging the life and looks of your stained Ikea furniture. Regular cleaning with a soft, damp cloth and prompt cleaning of spills will help your furniture look great for years to come.

By following these simple steps, you can transform your plain Ikea furniture into a personalized and beautiful piece that adds character to your space. Experiment with different stains and finishes to achieve the perfect look for your home.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Test First: Before applying the stain to your entire piece of IKEA furniture, test a small, hidden area first to ensure that the color and finish are to your liking.
  2. Sand Smoothly: IKEA furniture often has a laminated surface. Therefore, ensure to sand it thoroughly before staining to enable better stain adhesion.
  3. Apply Even Coats: Use a quality brush or cloth to apply the stain in even coats. This helps to avoid blotches and streaks.
  4. Control the Shade: Remember, the longer the stain is left before wiping, the darker the final outcome. Experiment with timing to get your desired shade.
  5. Seal It: Post staining, don’t forget to apply a clear sealant. This step protects the stain and extends the lifespan of your newly stained IKEA furniture.
 Apply a Clear Sealant

With these additional tips, your project of staining IKEA furniture will be a success. Remember to take your time and follow each step carefully for the best results.

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Skipping Sanding: Never skip the sanding process when staining IKEA furniture. The stain will have trouble adhering without sanding and may peel or chip off.
  2. Rushing the Process: Staining is a challenging task; rushing can lead to uneven color and finish. Always take your time to ensure each layer of stain is fully dried before adding another.
  3. Using Low-Quality Brushes: Lower-quality brushes can leave streaks and bristles in your stain, compromising the finish. Invest in a high-quality brush for the best results.
  4. Neglecting Safety Precautions: Always work in a well-ventilated area and use gloves and eye protection. Stain can be harmful if it comes into contact with skin or eyes, and fumes can be hazardous when inhaled.
  5. Ignoring the Instructions: Each stain brand has instructions that should be followed for optimal finish and durability. These instructions can lead to a better outcome.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a successful and professional-looking result when staining your IKEA furniture.


In conclusion, how to stain IKEA furniture may seem daunting, but with the right techniques and tools, it can be a fun and rewarding project. By following these tips on preparation, application, and aftercare, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that will elevate the look of your furniture. Remember to always work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gear to ensure your safety. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different stains and techniques to make your furniture truly unique.

And don’t forget to share your finished masterpieces with us on social media – we would love to see how you’ve transformed your IKEA pieces into stunning statement pieces for your home. We hope this blog post has inspired and empowered you to take on the challenge of staining your furniture.

So grab that brush or cloth and get ready to create something beautiful! Happy staining!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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