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How to Make Old Stained Wood Trim Look New

Cadence Johansen

Many homes have stained wood trim that may have seen better days. While a coat of paint will instantly refresh stained wood trim, completely restaining the trim will preserve the beauty of the wood and maintain a historical feel in the home.

Stained wood trim retains a home's architectural qualities.

Homeowners can easily restain their old wood trim with a little bit of work and the right tools.

  1. Remove the wood trim from the doorway if possible. This will make it easier to sand and stain.

  2. Use a damp rag to clean away dirt and debris from the wood trim. Use a mild soap such as dish detergent and water to clean the old, stained wood trim. Dry the wood trim with a dry cloth.

  3. Sand the wood trim. Start by sanding the old, stained wood trim with low-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper should remove the varnish and wood stain from the trim. Use finer grit sandpaper to smooth the wood trim.

  4. Apply a wood stain to the wood trim with a paintbrush. Once brushed on, use a clean rag to remove any excess stain and smooth the color. Allow the stain to dry as the manufacturer recommends.

  5. Apply a coat of polyurethane with a paintbrush. Allow the polyurethane to dry and then lightly sand with fine-grit sandpaper. Wipe the trim with a damp cloth and apply an additional two coats of polyurethane, sanding between coats. Do not sand after the last coat of polyurethane has dried.

  6. Tip

    Because much of the older wood trim can contain lead or other contaminants, always wear a dust mask to protect yourself when sanding.


    Always properly dispose of stain-soaked rags. Do not leave them in a pile as they can spontaneously burst into flame.