Once they’re on, you have the option to paint or stain them.
Staining wooden furniture feet is easy when you use General Finishes Water Based Wood Stains! Let’s dive into the process, shall we?
Should You Use an Oil or Water-Based Stain?
General Finishes makes oil-based gel stains and water-based wood stains. The oil-based gel stains are full body and pigment rich. They don’t penetrate as deep into wood as water based wood stains do, giving you super rich and deep color. I often opt for them on the tops of my refinished pieces.
One of the drawbacks of oil-based stains are their longer dry times of 12-24 hours. They need to dry for 72 hours before topping with a water-based topcoat. Since they’re oil-based, they also do not have soap and water cleanup. They require a bit more work to properly dispose.
So when it came to choose a stain for my wooden furniture feet, I didn’t want to deal with those long dry times and disposal requirements. I needed my project finished quickly and beautifully.
As a result, a water-based wood stain was better-suited to my needs.
Here’s a FABULOUS video where Tom and Bill from General Finishes break down factors to take into consideration when choosing a stain color. They touch on the differences between oil and water-based stains.
Choosing Your Color
If you watched the video above, you got a feel for General Finishes color options in their water-based wood stain line. You can see the full array of colors on their website.
As a retailer, I have a full box of color sample chips on oak and maple. All I have to do is lay them out like playing cards and slowly narrow them down to see which one works best. These color chips are available to be purchased if you’re interested! Just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I can get you pricing.
You can always visit your local General Finishes Retailer to look at samples in person, or work with your local online General Finishes Retailer for stain samples. I’m happy to help!
I narrowed my stain color choice down to Brown Mahogany or Antique Brown.
The Brown Mahogany has more red tones to it while the Antique Brown had more orange tones. In the end, the only real way was to test the colors on an inconspicuous spot on the feet.
Test Your Stain Color First!
There’s nothing worse than applying stain all over your piece only to realize it’s the wrong color. That’s why it’s SO important to test your stain color first – especially if you’re trying to color match.
I chose the top of my furniture feet for my testing spot.
After this stain spot dried, I held it up to my blanket chest. It had the brown/orange tones that I needed to match the existing finish, so it was off to the races!
Staining Raw Wood with Water-Based Wood Stains by General Finishes
When you’re ready to stain, don’t just jump right in! You need to prepare your raw wood furniture feet first.
Prep Sand the Raw Wood First
Prep sand open-grain wood (e.g., oak, ash, mahogany) with 120-grit sandpaper, followed by 150-grit, then 180-grit.
Sand closed-grain wood (e.g., cherry, pine, maple, birch, alder) with 150-grit sandpaper followed by 220-grit.
This progression of sanding grits is called a “sanding schedule”.
If you’re not sure what type of grain your wood has, a simple Google search will tell you. My wooden furniture feet are maple, so I followed the sanding schedule listed above, ending with 220 grit.
It’s important that you don’t over-sand with fine grit sandpapers. This will close and seal the wood grain, preventing the stain from absorbing.
Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.
Do NOT use steel wool with water-based finishes; the particles will get trapped in the finish and rust.
Apply Water-Based Wood Stain by Hand
This informational video from General Finishes will teach you how to apply their water-based wood stains:
After applying one coat of Antique Brown Water-Based Wood Stain, and allowing it to dry, I decided my furniture feet needed a second application of stain.
Seal with High Performance Topcoat
Once my furniture feet were dry, I applied 2 coats of High Performance Topcoat in Semi Gloss. This is General Finishes award-winning water-based polyurethane topcoat.
Normally I would have chosen Flat or Satin, but I didn’t have any on hand.
The good news is that once I do get my hands on the Flat version, I can apply that over the Semi Gloss and dull the sheen down a bit.
To learn how to apply High Performance Topcoat, watch my Facebook live tutorial.
Install Furniture Feet
After your stain and topcoat have dried, screw your furniture feet back on to your project.
I’ll admit that the Antique Brown stain read a bit more brown than I had anticipated, but it still works with the rest of the blanket chest. The original finish on it is a bit odd. It has a waxy feel and wavy texture. I have NO IDEA what kind of wood it is, so it was a tricky color to match.
You can see steaks of that orange tone I was aiming for here and there on the maple bun feet.
Overall, I’m quite happy with the results and these feet gave our blanket chest the height and character it needed.
Forgive the wrinkled bed skirt – it just came out of the dryer 😀
Here’s a video tutorial of the entire process I described above. I hope you’re encouraged to consider staining your next pair of furniture feet!
Also, if you need help adding a bolt/screw to your wooden furniture feet, you can read my blog post on how to do that here.
You can shop for General Finishes products in my online shop here: