Best Interior Wood Stains 2021 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Imagine spending hundreds of bucks on spray-paint cans or wooden finishes and not getting the desired results on your favorite furniture.

Whether you’re a professional working in the industry or you’re just looking to give your wooden furniture a refreshing look, picking the right wood stain is essential.

That’s why we’ve brought together the best interior wood stains so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of looking around. All of these wood stains are well suited to personal and professional interior use.

So without any further ado, let’s dive straight into the top choices and discuss why we think you should pick any of these as your wooden furniture’s best friend.

General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain

Starting the list off with the best of the lot. General Finishes has built up quite a reputation for themselves by making top-of-the-line products for professionals. And this Oil Base Gen Stain for interior lives up to their reputation.

Whether you’re interested in getting a large 1 Quart container for a massive house project as a professional or just want to give a better finish to your old furniture, this one comes in all sizes.

You can choose from 4 different sizes, including the 1 Gallon, half a pint, 1 pint, and a whole quart. That’s not all when it comes to customizing your order. You can pick from a total of 15 different colored finishes. So you can pretty much guess that your choices aren’t limited.

General Finishes made sure that they make this product shine. When it comes to the finishing feel, this interior wood stain shines above the rest. If you’re a professional woodworker, you’re going to love the lustrous and shiny finish this gives off.

Some wood stains that are oil or liquid-based aren’t afraid to go deep into the wood. That bothers a lot of professionals. So General Finishes ensured that they make this heavy-bodied.

This composition allows it to penetrate too deep into the wood. Many kinds of wood like pinewoods or aspen wood make it hard to end up with an even finish. But this beast makes sure to give you the finest finish even on difficult wood types, making it a worthy competitor for the title of best stain for pine.

You can easily apply this with a small cloth or even a cheap foam brush. Don’t worry about spilling any of it. We did have one grip about it, though. It needs to be applied after perfect sanding. So you need a longer prep time.

Pros

  • Heavy-bodied so it doesn’t go in too deep
  • Very easy to apply
  • Available in 15 colored finishes
  • Excellent interior stain for professionals

Cons

  • Doesn’t work with all sealers
  • Needs excessive sanding

2. Minwax 220904444 Wood Finish Penetrating Interior Wood Stain

Minwax 220904444 Wood Finish Penetrating Interior Wood Stain

Next up on our list is this wood-penetrating stain from Minwax. You might not have heard about the company but let me tell you this that they’re on a perfect run when it comes to making excellent products. And this one shines above all.

Minwax made sure you don’t have to look for a different colored finish elsewhere. This wood stain comes with 28 beautiful colored finishes, and there’s a high chance that you will find your preferred color from the list.

Some woodworkers hate that their wood stains can work like magic on bare surfaces but simultaneously struggle on stripped ones. Well, gone are the days of those troubles as Minwax solved the issue quite well with this one.

Whether you’re looking for an interior wood stain for cabinets, doors, trims, hardwood floors, and unfinished wood furniture, this one from Minwax will have you covered.

For stripped wood surfaces, the stain goes in deep enough to completely revitalize the wood surface and bring that OG refreshing finish back to the surface. This is definitely the reason why it’s America’s favorite wood stain.

The 10oz. container that it comes with is the perfect size for smaller projects. But you do need to invest in a few of them if you’re willing to use them for a large home project.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows with this one, though. The finish does seem to be a shade darker at times than what might appear. So keep that in mind while making your purchase.

Pros

  • Can penetrate deep into the wood
  • Great for newer smaller projects
  • Works on multiple types of furniture
  • Brings up the natural finish of the wood

Cons

3. Rust-Oleum 260143 Ultimate Wood Stain

Rust-Oleum 260143 Ultimate Wood Stain

The next interior wood stain on our list is the Ultimate from Rust-Oleum. This one certainly deserved a spot on the top three because of its amassed popularity over the years.

Rust-Oleum’s worked its way into the top of the market by making excellent woodworking products, and their Ultimate Wood Stain makes sure that you will get the best of all worlds.

The most exciting part about this one is that it dries faster than most other wood stains in the same price bracket. If you’re on the hunt for an efficient wood stain that doesn’t necessarily require more than one coat of application, then this one’s for you.

Sometimes you would just want to fill in existing cracks in your furniture instead of applying a brand new coat. But not all stains work like that, and they need you to sand the furniture and start work from scratch.

This one has a trick up its sleeve. You can use this to fill the cracks without much prep. It has a rubberized medium-bodied finish. So the stain perfectly seals the furniture from water.

If you’re concerned about potential moisture damages, it’s normal. A lot of furniture suffers horrendous damage, even just from water. That’s why they need a strong wood stain that puts a seal on the furniture, and this is it!

You can easily apply this interior wood stain with a soft bristle brush for staining wood. But it does take a longer time to dry. You have to let it sit for an hour for it to completely dry. If you’re planning to use this for wooded floors, you will see astonishing results.

Pros

  • Fills up existing cracks
  • Single coat does the trick
  • No sanding needed
  • Easy to apply with a soft brush

Cons

  • There’s a slight chance of over-application

4. Minwax 66060000 Gel Stain

Minwax 66060000 Gel Stain

Guess what? That’s right! Another one from Minwax. So, I guess you can see the pattern here, right? This company is not here to mess around. And you can assume how good they are as they already got featured on our list twice!

Just like the other choice from Minwax, this one brings incredible value for any woodworker. You can get this gel stain in several quantities. Whether you want a half-pint-sized jar or a large quart, you can customize your order pretty conveniently.

The best part about this one is probably the inclusion of 12 different color choices. So you won’t have much trouble trying to choose the perfect color for your furniture or wooden flooring.

You can get the best out of this gel stain by using this on plywood, fiberglass, and even metal surfaces. But let’s stick to wood for now.

The stain’s unique formula makes it completely non-drip, so the woodworking environment also remains neat while you’re on duty. But it doesn’t come without issues.

It takes a comparatively longer time to dry, and it does come with its fair share of streaks on the surfaces.

Pros

  • Simple to use formula
  • Only one coating required
  • Covers existing stains
  • Works on multiple surfaces

Cons

  • Might cause annoying streaks

5. General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain

General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain

Well, what do you know! Another one from the one and only General Finishes. You can probably tell how good of a company they are to feature on our list twice! And this water-based wood stain of theirs is a top-notch choice for professionals.

You can pick from three different quantities for this water-based stain. And the fun part is that you can even choose a full gallon of this crazy stuff. That should be more than enough, even for the most extensive professional projects.

If you’re concerned about the availability of colors, rest assured that General Finishes has you covered with eighteen uniquely different finishes. Their Espresso and Hickory finishes have a pretty popular fan base.

You can expect darker and richer colors from the top-quality pigments of this wood stain. Whether you want to spray this onto your furniture or apply it with your hands, you can do both!

Albeit the product is water-based, you can expect similar workability to that of high-quality oil-based stains. So it’s environmentally friendly, along with being a top-notch interior wood stain.

Pros

  • Simple to apply and thick composition
  • Water-based, so, no harmful toxins
  • Provides a rustic look
  • Rich and dark-colored finishes

Cons

  • Needs a sealer

6. Varathane 269394 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain

Varathane 269394 Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain

If you want to stray a little away from the traditional and more popular brands, then checking this premium wood stain from Varathane could be a good decision. They’ve been pretty consistent with their quality, and their popularity has only been on the rise. This premium wood stain had quite a role to play in that case.

You can either pick a half-pint-sized container or a whole quart. The 1-quart container should be enough for your professional woodworking endeavors. And the best part is that you get to choose from 10 different colored finishes.

If you’re on the hunt for an ideal interior wood stain that will provide excellent finishing without breaking the bank, you can safely pick out this one. And an exciting part is that all you need is just one coat.

You can expect the single coat of this wood stain to dry in just an hour. And since the stain is composed of nano pigment particles, you don’t have to worry about it fading away into the abyss after a couple of months of application.

Even though one coat is perfect, some people tend to overdo it. Multiple layers will only degrade the whole process, and you’ll start to blame the stain for it. Just ensure that you don’t apply more than one layer, and you should be good to go.

Pros

  • Affordable, high-quality stain
  • Dries quickly for the price
  • Easy to clean up
  • Available in 10 different colors

Cons

  • Deteriorates if multiple coats are applied

7. SamaN Interior Water Based Stain for Fine Wood

SamaN Interior Water Based Stain for Fine Wood

Imagine a scenario where you’re done with your furniture project, and now you need to stain other wooden doors; well, this one from SamaN should be the right choice for you.

If you’re a fan of choosing the perfect color and not resting until you find it, SamaN made your job a whole lot easier. The availability of 41 colors is pretty astounding if you think about it.

An exciting part about this one is that it falls into the category of semi-transparent deck stains. The water-based composition makes it one of the only environmentally friendly low toxin wood stains on the list.

Whether you want to use this on doors, furniture, or kitchen furniture, you can expect excellent results. All you need is one coat to bring out the refreshing and rustic look of your wooden furniture.

But the price can be a huge turn-off for most people. If you don’t have a problem with the pricing, you can whip out your cash for this one.

Pros

  • Perfect for indoor woodworking
  • Works on multiple surfaces
  • One layer is enough
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • Slightly overpriced

8. Rust-Oleum 241413 ½ pint Cherry Stain

Rust-Oleum 241413 ½ pint Cherry Stain

Here we have yet another interior wood stain from Rust-Oleum. So you can probably assume by now that they’re pretty good at what they do, else two of their products wouldn’t have made it into this list.

You’ll be delighted once you find out that this one comes in a total of 16 colored finishes. So you don’t have to worry about finding the perfect match for your precious furniture.

If you’re tired of the gel and water-based wood stains and want to stick to the tradition, you can opt for this soy oil-based interior stain. The formula ensures deeper penetration to try and bring out the true colors of the wooden surfaces.

The natural grain details pop out better than ever if you opt to go for this great pint-sized can of goodness. If you’re worried about inconsistency during the application, don’t fret as Rust-Oleum ensures consistent performance across multiple different surfaces.

But we know what you’re thinking, this is priced higher than usual. So if the price isn’t an issue, you can get this fabulous wood stain that will successfully give your furniture a genuinely refreshing look.

Pros

  • Dries quickly
  • Consistent application
  • Available in 16 colors
  • Ensures deep penetration into the wood

Cons

  • Slightly on the more expensive side

9. OLD MASTERS 11916 WIP Stain

OLD MASTERS 11916 WIP Stain

Let’s put an end to this list with a banger. This WIP stain from Old Masters is one to look out for. You might not have heard about the brand, but they’re quickly rising through the ranks and bringing some serious competition to the famous brands.

If you’re looking for variation, then this one should have you covered with a total of 17 color choices for you to choose from. You can expect impressive value for money from this product.

The best part about this should be the ease of application. You won’t have to deal with annoying color control and mixing. Just one layer is enough to give your furniture that slight edge over other stains.

When you’re done using this as an interior wood stain, you can switch to exterior woodworking in no time. This amount of versatility is unique when you consider the lower price point.

But offering a larger container wouldn’t have done anyone any harm. So, you have to consider the size before buying.

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Available in 17 finishes
  • Both exterior and interior usage
  • Versatile wood stain

Cons

  • Only comes in one sized container

Things to Consider Before Buying

With those reviews out of the way, let’s move onto some of the different factors you need to consider before purchasing a new interior wood stain. Actually, most of these factors will also come in handy when you are shopping for the best exterior stain for cedar siding or any exterior wood stain in general.

Durability

Let’s start the discussion off with durability. This causes a lot of controversies when it comes to professional woodworking. But everyone will agree that it takes a lot for some stains to stay on for a considerable period.

Settle for an interior wood stain that wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket and would simultaneously hold up for years to come. Check out stains from the more popular brands to ensure maximum durability.

Color

The next thing to keep in mind while buying an interior wood stain is the stain color. Some of the stains come in a single wooded color, while some others offer multiple colored finishes to choose from.

Wood Stain Color

Albeit it’s easier to choose a semi-transparent wood stain that’s only available in a single color, picking a color that matches your furniture brings out the wood’s best natural qualities.

Just make sure that the color you’re choosing goes well with the theme of your house and the furniture. You can quickly go for a darker stain and find out later that it doesn’t go with your light-colored furniture.

Type of Stain

Another thing that you should research is the type of stain that you should use. There are quite a lot of choices, even in this case. You can choose from a wide range of stains that include varnish, gel-based, water-based, oil stains, or lacquer stains. Also, keep in mind that some wood stains require the best wood sealer for outdoors.

Oil stains are the most popular, and they’ve been around for the longest time. If you don’t have too much time to work, you can pick these stains.

Gel stains are similar to oil stains in a way. They have been derived from oil stains, and you can pick them if you just want to apply the stain on the top surface.

Lacquer stains are the fastest drying stains, and you can get the finest polish in 15 minutes of drying time. Many professionals prefer lacquers due to their efficiency. But they are a bit on the expensive side.

If you want to keep things a bit on the healthier side, check out water-based stains. They are cleaner and don’t contain similar toxins. So you can pick a quart of this type of stain if you’re genuinely conscious about health.

Prep Time

Preparation time is something that annoys the heck out of most professional woodworkers. If you’re impatient about your woodworking projects, you need to choose a wood stain that won’t need a long preparation time.

But most wood stains do require a lot of prep. You need to sand the surface down to the bare wood properly. Otherwise, the stain wouldn’t stick and penetrate the wood.

Some stains can be applied on top of previous coatings too. In the case of products like those, you don’t need to go through a sanding hassle. But the extra step of sanding the wood down is sometimes worth the effort.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Is it safe to stain wood indoors?

If you can ensure proper ventilation, then you can safely stain wood indoors without worrying.

2. Are wood stain fumes harmful?

Working with any sort of stain isn’t friendly for your health. Always take the necessary precautions while working with them.

3. How long does the wood stain smell last?

It depends on the type of wood stain you’re using. But it usually takes around 6-8 hours for the wood stain air to move away from your home. Continuous ventilation is necessary.

4. Should I choose gel stain?

Gel stains are relatively new in the industry, and they’ve made quite a revolution. They usually stick to the top surface while the traditional ones go deep into the wood. Go for gel stains if you want consistency.

5. Do I need to wipe off gel stains?

Contrary to popular traditional stains, gel stains don’t need excessive wiping to achieve the perfect finish. But just make sure not to leave a heavy layer.

6. Why is my stain not drying?

Some interior wood stains prefer to stay tacky for a while if you didn’t prepare the surface well. Sometimes a higher humidity also plays a crucial role in sticky stains.

Final Words

You’ve seen it all. These were the best interior wood stains that you can get in the market right now. They all are feature-packed and bring a different twist into a woodworking project.

Some of them come in just one choice, while others offer a ton of customizable options. But all of them have unique quirks and features that are sure to add value to your woodworking project.

So, don’t just wait around anymore. Pick out any one of these wood stains for your home or professional project. You won’t be disappointed with any one of them.

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