If you’re trying to fill in some holes in a wood surface and are wondering whether you can stain the filler to match the wood, then the good news is that you can. In fact, it’s quite an easy process but it’s not likely to work well if you elect to use an epoxy wood filler. We’ll show you what you should use instead and how to get the finish you want on your wood.
Can You Stain Epoxy Wood Filler? You can, in theory, but in practice, this isn’t a good idea. It’s better to buy a stainable wood filler, instead and use that to fill in the wood when it’s important to get a good match between the filler and the rest of the wood.
In this handy guide, we’ll explain why epoxy wood filler is not your best choice and how to choose the right filler to accept a stain and the whole process of how to stain wood filler so that your DIY project goes without a hitch.
Can You Stain Epoxy Wood Filler?
In theory, yes, you can stain epoxy wood filler. You use a gel stain to apply over the epoxy wood filler once it has hardened. The trouble is that this isn’t a real stain at all, in fact, epoxy is plastic and just like every other plastic you’ve ever worked with – it can’t absorb the color from the stain solution.
So, in essence, a gel stain for an epoxy wood filler finish is just a paint job for the surface. It won’t last long and it’s not likely to look like a perfect match for your wood either.
If you want to use a filler that you can stain to match your wood – it’s best to avoid epoxy wood filler. However, we would not choose that in a lot of cases, if you’re working with small flaws in the wood, it can look better to leave the flaws obvious than to try and cover them up – the wood looks more natural that way.
If you’re only looking to fill a small spot with epoxy glue then you could mix it with wood dust and then after you’ve filled the hole, you can give it a gentle sanding. The wood dust will accept a stain and while it won’t be entirely natural, it’s probably “good enough” for a lot of jobs.
How To Stain Wood Filler To Match The Wood
The best way to stain wood filler is to purchase a stainable wood filler (which shouldn’t really come as any surprise now that we know epoxy wood filler isn’t the right tool for the job). It should be very easy to work out whether the wood filler is stainable – it will say so on the packet.
A stainable wood filler will be either water-based or solvent-based. Any other kinds are going to struggle to hold the stain.
Prepare The Wood
You should always sand the section that you’re going to fill. Why? Well, it allows the surface to better bond with the filler.
For very small areas, it’s best to hand sand (220-grit sandpaper) as you can get the greatest degree of control over the area you are sanding. If you’ve got a larger area to deal with – feel free to grab a palm sander to make the job easier.
In both cases, you sand with the grain of the wood.
Clean The Wood
The next job is to ensure the wood itself is clean and ready to be filled. Just grab a wet rag and get rid of all the sawdust you just made while sanding (if there’s a lot of sawdust – you can always use a vacuum cleaner at this stage).
Then run a dry rag over the top to remove the moisture from the wet rag. We’d recommend you allow the wood to dry fully before you fill it.
Choose A Staining Agent
If you’ve stained this wood before, then picking a staining agent should be easy – use the same stain as you did last time around.
If not, and you intend to stain the wood for the first time – try to choose a stain that is close to the original color of your wood.
Test Your Staining Agent
Don’t just add the staining agent to the wood filler and start using it. You want to test the wood filler with the staining agent, first.
Find a spare piece of the wood and then add the wood filler and then stain over it and see whether it’s a good match.
Note: You want to shake the staining agent, thoroughly, before you use it.
Make sure you wait until the stain is dry before you make your decision about the color. There is no set time for drying as it will depend on the stain, the filler, the wood, and the local temperature and the air humidity. If you want to hurry things along a little, you can use a hairdryer but don’t get it too close.
What To Do If The Stain Is Too Light?
If the stain dries and it’s too light, there’s no problem. You can make a stain darker by simply adding extra layers of the stain after it dries. So, you don’t need to do anything to the staining agent.
What To Do If The Stain Is Too Dark?
If your stain dries and it seems to be too dark – then you need to dilute the staining agent, which means adding either water to the staining agent. Add just a couple of drops at a time. Test and repeat until you’ve got the right color (or as close as it seems that you can get).
Don’t forget that it doesn’t matter if you overdo the dilution process – you’re just going to end up with a stain that’s too light and you can address that with adding more coats of stain.
Fill The Hole(s)
Once you’re sure that your stain is a good match then it’s time to fill the holes and let the wood filler dry before you proceed with staining the filler.
How To Apply The Stain
The best way to apply a stain to wood filler is with a brush. The brush you use should depend on the size of the filler area to be stained. If you’re dealing with a nail hole, for example, a small paintbrush from a hobby store should be fine.
You should even, measured strokes to apply a thin layer of the stain to the target area.
Once the stain is in place, let it dry for a few minutes before you try to wipe off the excess.
Stains take a long time to dry (up to 2 days) so make sure that you know roughly how long the drying period is before you come back to check on the results. The stain must be completely dry before you can be positive that it’s a match.
Add Another Coat Of Stain If The Results Are Too Light
As we said earlier, if the stain is too light, this isn’t a problem. Once the stain is dry, if it’s too light – you can simply add another coat of stain. However, you have to go through the whole drying process again before you can decide whether it’s right or whether you need to add a further coat or coats.
Remove The Stain If It’s Too Dark
If the stain is too dark – don’t worry, you can strip it off and then go back and dilute the staining agent before you try again.
We’d start by trying to sand away the top layer of the stain but if that isn’t feasible, you should be able to get a stain stripping agent from your local hardware store. It will be a liquid in a bottle.
Add the liquid, wait for the time specified on the bottle, and then wipe the area clean using a cloth.
Once the stain is gone, you can dilute your original staining agent a little more and try again.
How To Hide Wood Filler After Staining
It’s always best to have a plan to hide filler before you stain, this is going to deliver the best results. Once you’ve stained – there’s not much you can do about the visibility of the wood filler stain except, possibly, remove the stain and try again using our technique above.
Can You Stain Epoxy Wood Filler? As a plastic, epoxy wood filler just won’t hold a stain well and even the gel stains that claim to be suited for epoxy wood filler won’t deliver good results. In this instance where the color of the stain is important, it’s best to invest in a stainable wood filler and follow our process to get the right result.