Does Wood Need To Be Sealed After Staining?

You might be asking if staining wood is sufficient to maintain the greatest quality possible, even though this is a great approach to make it appear more attractive.

Does Wood Need To Be Sealed After Staining?

After staining, should you seal your wooden products? Does wood require sealing after staining?

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of sealing wood, along with how you should do it. So, let’s get into it.

Why Do You Need To Seal Wood After Staining It?

If you’re reading this article, you could be debating whether or not you should seal your wood after staining it.

It is actually crucial to seal wood after coloring it to guard against stains and deterioration from consumables, liquid substances, human contact, and sharp items that may cause scratches.

Wood stain’s main function is to color natural wood; it may also seal pores, provide some moisture protection, and enhance protection against water damage, but overall, the wood will need to be sealed for ultimate protection.

While sealing might add a little additional effort to your woodwork venture, the advantages of sealing your wood far outweigh that minor drawback of spending a little extra time.

Here are a handful of reasons why you should consider sealing wood after staining it.

Providing Resilience Against Deterioration

Wood stains, as we already established previously, don’t do much to preserve wood.

The main function of wood staining is to accentuate the wood’s natural grain, and give it some color. Therefore, its prime function is to provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Additionally, the stain will penetrate the pores of the wood and seal them, providing partial defense against dampness and damage from water.

While this may work slightly against water damage, it often isn’t enough to completely protect the wood.

Since the stain does not leave a coating on the surface of the wood, the pores on stained wood continue to be slightly uncovered.

Water and other fluids can therefore still harm the wood, notably as the stain starts to fade over time.

A durable finish that is impermeable to water, dampness, and other liquid substances is provided by sealing.

Preventing Blemishes And Discoloration

On the stained wood surface, consistent exposure to frequent messes, foods, and human and pet contact can produce markings over time.

One of the few ways to prevent this is to use an effective sealer. A shield between the plank of wood and the exterior is established with a preventive sealant.

This method of protection prevents the outside forces from contaminating the timber.

Additionally, cleaning the glossy surface on the wood becomes much easier once it has been sealed.

Because of its slipperiness, most dirt, oil, and grime that interacts with the sealed wood won’t stick to the surface.

As a result, frequent wiping and dusting can keep the wood surface in pristine shape.

Preventing Fading

The likelihood is that the color of the stain will swiftly fade over time if you do not seal your wood after staining. As a result, the wood will eventually need to be refinished.

This can be avoided by using a sealant right away once the stain has dried on the wood. A sealer aids in preserving the stained surface’s color.

This means that as long as the wood is sealed, it will maintain its color even when exposed to dampness, whether it be from weather conditions or other unavoidable factors.

Enhancing The Aesthetics Of The Wood

Although we have mentioned that staining by itself can make the wood look better, sealing can also produce a better overall appearance.

An additional benefit of a clear coat is that it gives the wood a more shiny finish.

This spotless appearance can last for a long time because the wood is resistant to chipping and puncturing.

How Long Should You Wait Before Sealing The Stained Wood?

You’ll need to know how long it takes for the stain to dry completely before sealing your colored wood.

Waiting could result in damage to the wood that will not only make it appear awful, but also cause it to deteriorate more quickly over time.

The producer of the stain will typically specify how long must pass between coats and before sealing the wood.

This period of time can often last four hours, or even somewhere between 24 and 48 hours.

As a rule, the quickest, most effective way to check if the wood has dried is to touch it. If it hasn’t completely dried, the wood will feel tacky to the touch.

However, the issue with this method is that you may leave behind fingerprints and other marks if you attempt to touch the wood before it has completely dried.

Your best option is to find out how long your chosen brand takes to completely dry.

Different brands of wood stains will have different curing times, so it is important that you check which brand you are using.

Along with the brand used, there will be other factors that may affect the time it takes for the wood to completely dry.

Each of these factors need to be considered before you even think about sealing the wood, if you want to achieve the best results.

The Type Of Stain Used

This is something that you should check before you even apply the stain to the wood; this way, you can roughly estimate how long it will take for the stain to completely dry.

There will be a time given to how long it will take for the stain to dry on the packaging.

Be sure to check the packaging that the stain has come in, and work out how many hours it will take.

Even if you are following the guidelines printed on the packaging of the stain, you may want to leave it to dry for an additional hour or so.

This will ensure that it has completely dried before you attempt to touch it, or add sealant over the top.

Environmental/Weather Conditions

Additionally, you can expect your wood to take a little longer to dry if it has been placed in a cold and/or humid environment.

As we mentioned previously, any form of liquid can affect how a wood cures, whether it is being sealed or stained.

If it’s particularly cool or damp outside, or if the wood has a high moisture content, you should predict your stained wood will take longer to dry.

Accordingly, you should always examine the weather prediction in advance if you plan to stain the wood outside.

Equally crucial is making sure your space is somewhat dry if you are staining the wood inside.

If the air is damp, moisture may become trapped in the wood, lengthening the drying process.

How To Speed Up The Drying Process

How To Speed Up The Drying Process

The best way to let your piece of wood completely dry is to be patient, and allow it to dry on its own over time.

However, if you are feeling somewhat impatient, there are ways that you can encourage the drying process. Here are some ways that you can speed up the drying process.

Diluting The Wood Stains With A Drying Agent

To hasten the drying process of a wood stain, a drying agent might be used. The substance works by draining the organic solution of stored water.

Finding a drying agent that works with the concerned solvent is all that is required.

You could spritz a high-quality lacquer thinner, or mineral solvents, over your oil-based stains to hasten the stain’s drying time.

For a water-based stain, you could use denatured alcohol to accelerate the drying rate. To be certain which drying agent you can use, examine the stain label.

Using A Heater To Keep The Space Warm

The drying process can be slowed down by cooler temperatures, but it can also be sped up by heat.

You should, therefore, turn up your home’s heating system to gradually raise the temperature inside in order to reduce the overall drying time.

Using a heater is one technique to warm a space and hasten the drying of your stain.

You have the option of using a portable heater, or a fixed one, depending on what you already have on hand.

The newly stained wood will dry much more quickly if the temperature around it is raised, so if you don’t already own a heater, you may want to invest in one to speed up the process.

Using A Dehumidifier

It might be imperative, if you reside in a region with high humidity levels, to use a dehumidifier to lower the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere in your home.

The strain can take a long time to cure if there is too much moisture in the air. Using a portable dehumidifier is a simple alternative to this type of humidity problem.

You may tweak these to your preferred setting, and they perform wonderfully to provide you low moisture content.

Again, if you don’t already own your own dehumidifier, you may want to consider getting one for this reason!

Using A Fan To Increase Air Flow

An expansion in the air flow in a space will directly hasten the drying of wood stains.

This can be accomplished by keeping a fan nearby the wood being dried, whether it be a portable fan, or an overhead fan that is already installed.

To improve airflow in the area where you are working on your woodworking project, install or place a fan there and turn it on.

Your freshly dyed piece of wood will have moisture blown away by the fan, which will simulate a breeze.

Using A Hairdryer To Increase Heated Air Flow

The majority of people have their own hair dryers at home, usually used to dry their own hair after a shower or bath.

It is a useful item to have on hand, especially when you need something to quickly dry a dyed piece of wood.

You may direct hot air at particular sections of your wood with a hairdryer to speed up the drying process.

Use one of these heaters to warm the stained wood surface and hasten drying if the environment is chilly, or the room is.

This is a quick and clever way to use household items to speed up the drying process of a piece of stained wood. This way, you can seal the wood in no time at all!

What Happens If You Seal Stained Wood That Hasn’t Dried?

If you are in a position where the wood seems to have completely dried, and you are too impatient to wait out the full drying duration, you may find yourself in trouble later on in the process.

If you use a foam brush or a tack cloth before the wood has dried, you run the danger of blotting or smearing the stain while applying your clear coat.

Even if you prevent streaking or washing away the stain by spraying the clear coat, it could take a lot longer for the sealed wood to cure.

In order to avoid these issues, you should simply allow the wood to dry before even thinking about sealing the stained wood.

Trust us – it is just not worth skipping over this step! Leave the wood alone, and distract yourself with something else.

Forget about it for however long it takes for it to dry completely, and return later on once it has dried.

How Many Coats Are Needed To Seal Stained Wood?

Two applications of sealant are typically enough to close the wood’s pores, and provide robust security and protection for a piece of sealed wood.

If you’d rather give your wood extra protection and a thicker coating, you can add additional coats.

Even while it might not be entirely necessary, if doing so provides you piece of mind, there won’t be any problems.

Simply put, it will make the wood stronger, and safeguard it from damaging elements like scratches.

In any event, you should always make sure to wait until each coat of sealer is fully dry before applying any additional coats.

The sealer’s drying time should be specified on the product label, so make sure you pay attention to those details before applying extra coats onto wet wood!

The Advantages Of Sealing Stained Wood

While applying a seal coating to dyed wood is not required, it is essential for the wood’s quality.

While staining wood gives it depth and dimension of color, it offers no long-term preservation.

If stained wood does not have a varnished coat, constant interaction with moisture, toxins, food, or harsh tools and/or objects could erode the stain over time.

So, while it is not required, it is unquestionably the safest course of action if you want to preserve the wood for a longer period of time.

What To Consider Before Sealing Stained Wood

What To Consider Before Sealing Stained Wood

Understanding what to look for in a product and whether it is compatible with your stain can help you choose the best clear wood finish.

The sealer’s drying time, ease of application, toxicity, and yellowing should all be taken into consideration, along with other factors that may affect the end quality of your wooden project.

Explore each aspect you should think about before selecting a sealer for your project by reading on.

The Size Of Your Project

The size of the project is the first factor in deciding on the clear coat to use, and how to apply it.

Using brush-on lacquer or polycyclic would be a terrible choice if you are working on a big project.

This is due to the fact that each of the aforementioned sealers dry extremely fast, making it challenging to maintain the appropriate wetness when applying the substance onto the wood.

So, before picking a sealant, think about how big or small your project is, and consider which sealant would be most suitable.

The Location Of Your Project

The location of where your project will be finished is the next thing you need to consider. This information should be taken into account while selecting the sealant.

Utilizing oil-based polyurethane is your greatest option if you’re sealing a piece of wood that will be kept outside.

This substance provides superior wood protection against sun damage, and is robust enough to hold up well against other potentially harmful weather conditions.

Since exposure to direct sunlight can cause damage to these layers considerably sooner than anticipated, lacquer and polycyclic finishes are definitely not suitable for outdoor use.

The Purpose Of Your Project

How you plan to utilize the stained piece is equally important as the object’s size and placement.

For example, you shouldn’t use polycyclic to seal the top of a kitchen dining table; although the substance creates a tough coating, it does not withstand effectively under intensive handling.

Furniture that receives a lot of wear, such as the dining room table, is better managed while using polyurethane as a sealant, as this substance is much better at handling constant pressure.

The Color Of The Stain

Light-colored stains call for transparent, thin, non-yellow coatings. In this situation, substances that are water-based—like polyurethane and polycyclic—are best to apply to the wood.

Over time, lacquers and oil-based polys may turn yellow. This will completely change the color of your completed surface.

You could try employing a water-based poly or polycyclic finish for your project if you don’t mind the yellowish tinge that it will leave behind.

However, if you want the wood to remain the same color, you should definitely avoid this.

The Best Types Of Clear Coatings For Stained Wood

When it comes to clear coatings to apply to a piece of stained wood, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Here are our top picks for clear coatings for stained wood, for the best quality, both appearance and durability-wise.


One of the most widely used wood finishing materials is lacquer. It is made of shellac diluted in alcohol or synthetic chemicals.

When the product dries, it leaves surfaces, like wood or metal, with a tough, long-lasting protective coating.

The substance is exceedingly simple to use, and is offered in a variety of formats for use with various techniques.

Just like the other clear finishing products further down this list, lacquer can be sprayed on your object, or applied with a paintbrush.

On major projects, spraying is the most economically feasible method of applying the finish, since it cures almost instantly.

So, no matter how small your project may be, you would be much better off using lacquer as a spray rather than applying it with a brush.

Minwax Polycrylic

The incredibly clear water-based Polycrylic protective gloss is a great substance to be used as a topcoat.

It’s a great product to use on top of water-based wood stains. You could also use it on painted wood, or bare wood, if you preferred.

It has no aroma, making it ideal for usage indoors or in small, confined spaces.

It is also non-toxic, since it is eco-friendly, and doesn’t release any poisonous emissions when applied. In addition, it keeps its clear hue over time, refusing to turn yellow.


When polyurethane gets applied to wood or other substrates, such as concrete or metal, it dries to form a very resistant protective coating.

Polyurethane is an oil or water-based polymeric compound.

This substance is made up of carefully crafted molecules that solidify into bonds when the product cures, leaving the substrate’s surface with an impenetrable covering.

This compound significantly increases the resistance of a wood finishing to moisture, chemicals, scratches, and other types of potential damage.

If you are planning on sealing wood outdoors, polyurethane is the best option in this list.

Final Thoughts

So, there we have it: you don’t have to seal your wooden projects if you don’t want to, but the truth is, you would be much better off doing it.

Staining wooden projects will only make the object look better for a little while, but as time passes, the wood will show signs of wear and tear if it has not been sealed.

In these cases, you will need to re-stain the wood. There are several factors that you will need to think about before choosing a suitable sealant for your product.

Remember to consider the size, location, purpose, and color of the wood that you will be using before making any purchases.

We hope you found this article helpful and informative. Good luck.

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