How to Dry Wood Stain

Julie Eger

Staining wood can dramatically change the appearance of boards or furniture. Depending on the color of the stain, it can bring out the lines in the wood and highlight knots to emphasize the beauty of the piece you are staining.

Wipe away any excess wood stain for faster drying.

There are many colors of stain to choose from, and with a few tricks you can get the stain to match your current decor almost perfectly by regulating how long you leave the stain on the wood before you wipe it off and let it dry.


Choose a room that is warm, dry and well ventilated to work in while staining wood and drying stained wood. Allow for longer drying times during times of high humidity.


Always work in a well ventilated area when working with wood stain. Place rags used to wipe up wood stain in a water-filled metal container immediately after use. Properly dispose of the used rags according to local regulations.

  1. Use a soft, absorbent rag to wipe away excess stain after applying the stain to your project. Set the cloth aside. Choose a clean rag and rub harder into the wood. Rub off the stain until it is the color you desire. The more you rub, the lighter the stain will become and it will lessen the overall drying time.

  2. Place the object in the position you want it to dry. Place the object where it will not rest against or touch anything else that could cause the stain to rub off even more. Wait 15 minutes. Look for drips and runs that may have appeared from places where the stain pooled up inside knots, cuts or edges in the wood. Wipe away any drips or runs you see. Rub as necessary to match the overall color. Reapply a small amount of stain if necessary and wipe dry.

  3. Allow wood stained with oil-based wood stains to air dry for eight hours before sealing with a sealant. Allow wood stained with water-based stains to air dry for 24 hours before sealing with a sealant.