How to Apply Exterior Wood Stain to Previously Painted Wood

Painting a stain on a wood exterior.
What You'll Need
Safety glasses
Protective gloves and clothing
Drop cloth
Rubbing alcohol
Paint stripper
Paint scraper
Polyethylene sealer

Putting a new face on the wooden piece can refresh an otherwise old and worn object. Unfortunately, when you want to do this, you have to be willing and ready to take on this rather tedious project as applying exterior wood stain to something that has been painted is a task that can take several days to complete. Follow these steps for the proper procedure to make this job as painless as possible.

Step 1 - Buy a Paint Stripper Solution

The first thing you have do do is remove all the old paint from the wood you want to stain. There are several kinds of paint strippers on the market that you can use with much success. The one that you will actually choose will be determined by the type of paint on the wood you're refinishing. If you don't know the type of paint you're removing, there's a trick that you can use to find out. There are two kinds of paint: latex and oil. To test which you're dealing with, first pour some rubbing alcohol into a container. Dip the rag in the rubbing alcohol, and then rub it on a patch of the wood that is to be stained. Let it set for several minutes before rubbing the patch with a cloth. If the paint comes off, you're dealing with latex paint, and you can now buy the appropriate paint stripper.

Step 2 - Strip the Paint

Paint strippers are either liquid or viscous, and which paint stripper you want to use is determined by the amount of paint layers that you have to remove. Liquid paint stripper is thin, easily applied, and can be spread pretty much anywhere you can think of. However, liquid should only be used if you have one or two layers of paint. Viscous paint stripper, on the other hand, requires a brush to apply and is best suited to remove between three and 10 layers of paint.

Spread a layer of paint stripper over the painted wood using the proper application instructions. Wait a day or two and wipe the stripper away with either a damp rag or paint scraper. You'll know when the paint is ready to be removed as it will soften.

WARNING: Paint stripper is flammable and toxic to breath in. Keep it away from heat sources and wear a face mask and protective clothing (as well as gloves) while using it.

Step 3 - Staining the Wood

When you get to this stage, you're at the easy part of the project. To create a porous surface on the wood that will more easily accept your stain, go over it lightly with sandpaper. Then, buff the wood with rubbing alcohol.

Next, pour some stain in a stainless steel cup and insert the brush. Let the wood stain drip off the brush before applying it to prevent streaks of stain or drips from showing on the finished wood. Apply the exterior wood stain using a wide brush with high-quality bristles for maximum coverage without debris. Allow the first layer to dry prior to adding a second coat (if you deem it needed), following the instructions on your stain container for the appropriate dry time. Finally, seal the wood with two layers of polyethylene.

TIP: Wood stain is toxic to inhale and touch, so apply the stain in a well-ventilated area while wearing a face mask, gloves and protective clothing.