Wood Staining

How to Choose Wood Stain Colors

Leftover Paint

How to Choose Wood Stain Colors


With so many wood stain colors to choose from, you may be wondering where to begin. These tips can help you choose the wood stain color that’s right for your project. 

Explore Wood Stain Color Options

With so many wood stain colors to choose from, it can be hard to select just one. Each type of Varathane wood stain offers online color samples to help you decide. Color brochures are another helpful tool.

Conduct a Color Test

The same color stain may look different when applied to different types of wood. If you’re not ready to commit to a stain color, it’s a good idea to test it in an inconspicuous area before fully applying it to ensure you’re happy with the color. Many Varathane wood stains are available in half-pint cans, perfect for testing out a few colors before settling on one.

Consider the Coats

Some wood stains, such as Varathane Premium Fast Dry, only requires one coat. Additional layers of stain are not necessary and will not affect the color. Other types of wood stain, such as Varathane Premium Wood Stain, are buildable colors. That means the stain color will darken a bit with each additional coat applied.

How Is Colored Wood Stain Different Than Paint? 

When you choose a wood stain color, you may notice that options include shades of white and black wood stain. This may make you wonder how these wood stain colors are different than white or black paint.


Wood stain, even in black or white, is semi-transparent. This means that a colored wood stain allows some of the wood’s color to come through. When you choose a colored wood stain, it will highlight the wood grain to bring out the wood’s natural beauty.

Paint, on the other hand, is opaque. That means it will hide the color of the wood and cover its grain.


Whether white or black wood stain or paint is the right choice depends on how you want your final project to look.


Once you choose the right wood stain color, you're ready to apply it. If you’re still not satisfied with the color, or decide you want to change it in the future, rest assured that it’s also possible to remove old stain and start over again.