How To Stain Over Paint

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Some people want to change the color of their walls, but they do not want to spend money painting. 

By staining over paint, they can change the color of walls and save money.

This article will give people tips on how to make stains that they can apply over paint with good results.

Let's get right into it.

How do you stain over painted walls?

To stain over paint, homeowners need to understand what types of colors they want their walls to be. Knowing what they want before buying supplies helps a person find the right stain.

A person can experiment with different colors by using paints that they already have around the house. Using paint from old projects helps people figure out the colors that they want without spending money on new paint or stains.

If a homeowner understands the color that he wants to achieve, then it will be easy for him to buy stains and get good results every time. It will also be easier to make a good match, which is very important.

Flat paint tends to absorb stains better than satin or glossy paints do. Glossy paints have a sheen, and the sheen makes it harder for staining materials to penetrate the surface of the wall. Flat paints are more porous than other types of paint, so they take stains easily.

The type of wood that a homeowner uses in his walls can affect how he stains them too.

For example, some woods like pine need two coats of stain because they absorb stain differently than other woods do. 

A person may have to use three or four coats of stain on certain types of wood if he wants his project to turn out with good results.

Things to consider when you are staining over painted walls

The number one thing to ensure when staining over painted walls is to ensure that the stain can penetrate through the paint. If a person is using a brand new surface, then it will be easier for him to achieve good results. But if the wall has been painted for years and there are layers of paint on the walls, then the first coat of stain might not soak into every part of the surface.

The more coats a homeowner puts on his project, the better chance he has of getting a uniform look to his wall. One coat may leave streaks or thicker areas in certain places when used over wallpaper or older paints.

When putting two or three coats on a project like this, those imperfections will become less visible as each additional coat blends with the ones before it until everything looks completely even all over.

Many people will put a piece of paper between the old paint and the new layer of stain to help the layers blend better. That way, streaks or lumps do not come through to the surface of the wall as easily.

Paint is harder to remove than just wallpaper or even plasterboard, so it may take some time to get all traces removed from a wall before applying stains on top of them. To speed up that process, homeowners can mix ammonia and bleach into their stain removers to cut through stains faster.

It takes less time for these chemicals to work than if they were used on their own, but be sure to read instructions carefully or ask someone at a local hardware store what strength dilution is best after you have removed as much paint as you can by rubbing the surface with a rag.

Then, after the homeowner has removed every last bit of old paint and has plenty of time to let the wood dry, he can start staining his project over new paint or wallpaper.

stain over painted wall
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

How do I make stains for use on painted walls?

Not all stains are good for use on walls that someone already painted. Some stains have chemicals in them that will eat up existing coats of paints before they can soak into the wall.

That is why a person must choose stain wisely when painting over an older coat. 

Homeowners know best what types of stain they want to buy; but if they are having trouble finding them at their local hardware store, then it might be better for them to go online and search for the one that they want at an online paint or hardware store.

Stain gets applied more easily than paint because it does not have any oils in it, so it will not put a film over the top of the old coats after it has soaked into them. Stains are also easier to touch up when needed, unlike most paints.

When buying stains, look for colors that match as closely as possible what someone wants his final project to look like when he finishes staining everything and starts painting on top of those stains.

That way, painters do not have to worry about getting a paint color close enough; but instead can focus on applying two coats of stain instead of five or six coats of paint.

​Much like any type of project, painters need to know how much work needs to be done before they start putting coats of stain or paint on a project.

They must first remove any existing layers of paint and clean the surface until it is ready for them to stain because some stains do not work well over darker paints that have been on a surface for years.


Can you stain over paint without sanding?

For a person to get a good finish on the wall when staining over previous paints, he will need to sand every old coat off first.

Sanding can be time-consuming and very hard work for anyone who is already tired after days of removing wallpaper or plasterboard, so it is much easier if the homeowner only has to remove one layer from his project.

If a person removes several layers of old paint and wallpaper, he risks wasting all of the stains because they will not absorb into the wall if there are too many coats on top of each other.

Some people may prefer to let their stains soak into more layers so that they do not have as much work sanding off every one of them; but it is important to know that even after going through this hard work, some older paints do not soak in very well.

To save time and money on most projects, many painters choose to get rid of everything except for the last coat or two before starting any staining job over old paints.

Can I use gel stain over paint?

Many homeowners do not know that they can use gel stains on their walls. 

This type of stain has an oil base so it will soak into the top layers of paint to give them a more natural look. It is also less likely to peel off and chip like other types of stain, which happens especially with flat paints.

However, this type of stain cannot be buffed out if a mistake is made when applying it, so painters must take extra time before using this product to ensure that they do not make any errors.

Can I use an oil-based stain over old paint?

In most cases, a person cannot mix an oil-based stain with older coats of paint because oils in these stains will eat away at past products and make them run down the wall.

This means that if someone wants to get a more natural look when staining, then he should use an oil-based stain because it will soak into the top layers of old paints instead of sitting on top of them as water-based stains do.

How long does it take to let a stain dry?

Most stains only need about fifteen minutes to dry enough for people to move furniture back inside their living spaces after they are done with all the sanding and finishing work.

The exception is if a person uses a semi-gloss or high gloss finish; in which case he will have to wait at least three hours before taking anything off his walls so that the last coat can fully harden up.

Other than this, people need to test out staining projects on spare pieces of wood before they work on anything that matters because some types of stains dry faster than others.

stain over painted wall
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

How do I put more than one coat of stain on a surface?

Many homeowners have walls that look faded or spotty after they try covering up the old colors with just one coat of paint, so it is always important to use two coats or even three if the project requires this much coverage.

Remember that in most cases, one coat does not cover as well as multiple applications; especially when staining over other paints.

People should also make sure that they wipe off the excess stain from their brushes every time they dip them back into the container and then wait at least half an hour before using the same brush again to keep from putting too much on a spot.

Final thoughts on how to stain over paint

The most important thing for people to remember about staining projects is that they do not have to be as hard or messy as many think.

It is easy for DIYers to mix up and apply a stain of their own if they want, but for those who cannot create good-looking products on their own, it is best to buy already prepared sealants from home improvement stores instead.

Just remember that all staining jobs are unique in terms of the product used and how long they need to dry; so always take your time when planning and carrying out painting projects.

Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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