Understanding the Compatibility Between an Old and a New Stain

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Understanding the Compatibility Between an Old and a New Stain

Can I go over my existing stain with a new one?




Well, it’s complicated. (How’s that for a clear answer?)

First, it’s generally a bad idea to stain over an existing stain that is in good shape with a new brand of stain. There can be differences in penetration, color, adhesion to wood, etc. If your stain is in good shape, it’s best and easiest to “love the one you’re with” until you’re ready to do a major re-stain, starting with bare wood.

Second, if the stain is in fair to poor shape – meaning there’s significant peeling, flaking, fading, bare and/or gray wood on the surface – it’s best to remove as much of it as possible. That said, you can’t always guarantee that you’ll remove all of an existing stain, no matter what kind of prep you do. So, is it safe to stain over top of those small areas of stubborn, leftover stain with something new? Yes, but keep these things in mind:

1. Whenever a new coat of stain is going over pre-existing stain – even if it’s just a bit of residual stain – it is always better to go with a darker color to minimize the color differences.

2. If you’ve used a deep-penetrating, non-drying oil in the past, you need to continue using an oil-based stain to minimize the possibility of incompatibilities and peeling stain down the road. You can switch to an alkyd resin, drying oil-base stain, but it will be risky to switch to a water-based stain.

3. There could be some peeling of the new stain that you use in those areas where you weren’t able to get all of the stain off. It won’t be widespread, but be prepared to do some minor stain touch ups in those areas over time.

In the end, knowing proper prep and understanding the compatibility between an old stain and a new one will help you put a good re-staining plan in place. Get samples from several companies, do your research, ask lots of question, and know what you’re getting in to.


Published on: September 9th, 2019

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