DIY Section

Cabot gives you all the information you need for a professional quality job.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Interior Staining Projects

Staining interior surfaces is easier than you think. Just be sure to prep your surfaces methodically, allow ample time for your finishes to dry, and wear appropriate protective gear to guard your ears against power tool noise and your lungs against dust and chemicals.

Here's what you'll need for pro-like results

  • Sandpaper
  • Belt sander or orbital sander
  • Sanding block
  • Mineral spirits
  • Goggles
  • Respirator
  • Ear protection (if using a power sander)
  • Heat gun or chemical paint remover (if necessary)
  • Tack cloth or lint-free cloth
  • Cabot interior stain and polyurethane


Make sure your surface is thoroughly cleaned and prepped Make sure your surface is thoroughly cleaned and prepped It is very important that the surface to be finished is clean and free of any paint, varnish, dirt, wax or sealer. If necessary, strip those old layers with sandpaper, a heat gun, or a chemical remover. (Always follow manufacturers directions when using heat guns and chemicals.) Then thoroughly clean the surface with mineral spirits.

Sand in the direction of the grain Sand in the direction of the grain Be sure to sand bare wood with the grain direction to remove any blemishes or fibers that may contaminate the finish. In most cases it’s safe to start with 100-grit sandpaper. Next use 150; then finish with 220—but be careful, as higher grits can create a burnished surface that will not accept stain properly. Remove all sanding dust with a tack cloth or lint-free rag before staining.

Apply Cabot interior stain Apply Cabot interior stain The right type of brush will help you achieve better results. We recommend applying Cabot oil-based products with a high-quality, natural-bristle brush. However, for our water-borne products, we recommend using a brush with high-synthetic fibers. In general, you shouldn’t use a natural-bristle brush for water-borne products because those brushes tend to absorb the water. Before buying your supplies, we suggest that you read the detailed product information in our Find Products section—and always follow product instructions carefully.

Test your stain color Test your stain color Before applying the stain, stir well to make sure the stain pigment is completely dispersed. Then brush out a little stain on a piece of wood that matches the type you’re finishing. This is a safe way to make sure the color lives up to your expectations.

Apply Cabot Polyurethane Apply Cabot Polyurethane A topcoat of polyurethane helps protect the wood from nicks, scratches and spills. When applying, allow the first coat of polyurethane to completely dry before preparing for additional coats. Rough the surface between coats. Make sure to wipe the surface completely with a tack cloth between coats.

WARNING! If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log onto

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