How to Fix Blotchy Wood Stain? (2 Methods)

No one likes a blotchy wood stain. Asides from not protecting the wood, the finish will be riddled with spots and patches making the wood ugly. So how do you fix a blotchy wood stain?

To fix a blotchy wood stain, you can apply wood glaze to the blotched finish to even the wood stain and reduce the blotchy appearance. This method only works when the blotching is mild.

When the blotching is severe, you’ll need to strip the entire wood stain from the wood using a paint stripper. Then sand down the wood with fine sandpaper before reapplying the wood stain. It’s advised to partially seal the wood with a shellac-based washcoat before applying the wood stain. This prevents blotching later.

This post reveals a lot more about fixing blotchy wood stains including different remedies that work and how to avoid wood stain blotching. Let’s dive in.

Why Is Your Wood Stain Blotchy?

Here are some common reasons on why does wood stain turn blotchy?

1. Wood Doesn’t Absorb Wood Stain Evenly

Wood stain turns blotchy when the wood doesn’t absorb the wood stain evenly. This will cause some parts of the wood to be lighter than others making the finish blotchy.

Blotchy wood stain is more common on softwood like Pine and Cedar since. Wood stain can also appear blotchy if the wood wasn’t prepped before the wood stain was applied or if you applied the wood stain over existing paint.

When wood stain is applied to wood, the coats are absorbed by the wood where the wood stain sets and alters the wood color. If the wood stain is not evenly absorbed by the wood, the finish will turn splotchy or blotchy.

This is when some parts of the wood stain are lighter than others. Blotchy wood stain is common on softwood because the wood isn’t porous. Softwood doesn’t have pores that the wood stain can be absorbed through. So, when you apply wood stain on such wood, the wood stain will not be absorbed evenly leading to a splotchy appearance.

2. Bad Prep Work

You can also have splotchy wood stain when you apply wood stain on a poorly prepped wood surface. Before wood stain is applied to wood, the wood needs to be clean and sanded with a fine-grit sandpaper.

This is done to remove stains, oils, and dirt on the wood. If you apply a wood stain on wood without sanding or cleaning the wood first, the filth and oils on the wood will prevent the wood stain from being absorbed properly. After a while, it will turn splotchy.

You should also know that applying wood stain over existing paint or sealant will also make it blotchy because the existing paint will prevent the wood stain from being absorbed in the wood evenly.

How To Fix Blotchy Wood Stain? (2 Methods That Work)

Here are two methods to fix blotchy wood stains:

  1. You can cover the blotches with wood glaze or light coats of varnish
  2. You can strip the blotchy wood stain and reapply it

This guide will show you how both methods work and when to use them.

1. Cover The Blotching Wood Stain With Wood Glaze Or Varnish

Cover The Blotching Wood Stain With Wood Glaze Or Varnish

The first method is to cover and seal the blotches with a top coat. Most painters use wood glaze but you can apply light coats of varnish if you don’t have a wood glaze.

The idea here is to touch up the light areas of the wood stain with the top coat so they appear darker and match the overall finish. You should only use this method to fix light blotches. If the blotching is severe, this method will be a temporary fix.

For this method, you’ll need these:

  • A paintbrush
  • Wood glaze or varnish
  • Clean rags
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Paint thinner or mineral spirits

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Sand the blotched spots on the wood stain with fine sandpaper
  2. Remove sanded dust using a duster or vacuum
  3. You can thin the varnish with mineral spirits if you’ll be using varnish – this makes the varnish easier to control. You don’t need to thin wood glaze
  4. Apply the wood glaze or varnish on the blotched wood stain
  5. Wipe off excess top coat and leave to dry.

2. Strip and Reapply The Wood Stain

Strip and Reapply The Wood Stain

Another method to fix blotchy wood stain is to remove and reapply the wood stain. You should use this method when the blotches have become severe.

The idea here is to remove the blotchy paint, prep the wood, and reapply the wood stain. Since the blotching is severe, you can’t cover the spots with varnish. The paint stripper will dissolve and absorb the wood stain from the wood so it’s easier to remove it.

For this method, you’ll need these:

  • A paint scraper
  • Paint stripper
  • Sandpaper (220-grit)
  • Wood stain
  • Rags
  • Paintbrushes

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Wipe and clean the wood stain with clean rags
  2. Apply paint stripper on the blotched wood stain – ensure the stripping paste is thick
  3. Leave the paint stripper to absorb the wood stain – check the paint stripper manufacturer’s instructions for how long to wait. It’s usually about 30 minutes
  4. When the paint stripper has dried, scrape it off of the wood with a paint scraper and the wood stain will come off with it
  5. Sand down the wood with 220-grit sandpaper
  6. Apply shellac-based wash coat on the wood
  7. Reapply the wood stain and leave the finish to dry.

How To Avoid Blotching?

Here are expert tips to help avoid blotching wood stains:

  1. Sand the wood before staining with 180-grit sandpaper and finish with 220-grit
  2. Don’t apply wood stains on filthy wood surfaces – rub the wood with mineral spirits to remove stains
  3. Apply shellac-based washcoat before staining wood to prevent blotching
  4. Strip existing paint or sealant on the wood as it prevents the wood stain from being absorbed evenly
  5. Allow each coat of wood stain enough time to be absorbed in the wood before laying the next coat. One hour of dry time is usually enough.

Final Words

In summary, you can fix blotching wood stain by covering the blotches with wood glaze but this would only work if the blotching isn’t severe.

In severe cases, you’ll need to strip the blotchy wood stain, sand the surface and apply a shellac-based wash coat. When the washcoat is dry, you can apply the wood stain. Always ensure to prep the wood properly before staining to prevent blotching.

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