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Tips for Applying a Wood Stain Evenly and Avoiding Drips

A wooden kitchen island and matching bar stools in a white kitchen.
If you have a wood surface that needs to be revamped, count on ZAR® stains for beautiful results.

When it comes to woodworking projects, few things are more satisfying than a perfectly stained finish. The appropriate stain not only enhances the natural grain pattern of your project, but it also provides an additional layer of defense against wear and tear. 

However, improper application of the stain can result in uneven coverage or dripping, which can spoil the appearance of your work. 

Luckily, there are several simple measures you can adopt to guarantee a flawless finish each time. Here are some suggestions for evenly applying wood stain while avoiding drips.

Choosing the Right Stain

Consider factors such as the wood type, desired color, finish and the stain’s protective capabilities. The best stains will provide superior protection while also helping to maintain the wood’s beauty. 

Exterior Stain Options

A flat, wooden surface outside on a sunny day.
When staining an exterior piece of wood, you can rely on ZAR exterior staining products that protect your wood.

When choosing an exterior wood stain, keep in mind its main purpose — to protect against weather damage such as sun, rain and temperature changes. Look for a long-lasting stain to prevent early wear and tear. It’s also important to pick a durable stain that can handle heavy foot traffic, outdoor conditions and routine upkeep.

Find a stain that is water‑, scratch- and chip-resistant. The color of your stain can also impact the look of your outdoor space, so choose a natural wood finish or a specific hue to complement your home’s exterior from the variety of pre-tinted and tintable options that are available.

Waterproof Wood Sealer

A gallon-sized tin can full of ZAR deck & siding product. The tin is a light tan color with a picture of a deck on the side of the can.
For protection without a colored stain, ZAR Deck & Siding Clear Waterproof Wood Sealer is perfect. The product protects while preserving the elegance of the natural wood.


You can use ZAR® Deck & Siding Clear Waterproof Wood Sealer to protect and elevate the look of wood. For the best results, apply it to new, untreated or well-maintained high-quality wood. The sealer won’t change the wood’s natural color, which allows its beauty to shine through.

Semi-Transparent Stain

A gallon-sized tin can full of ZAR deck & siding product. The can is a dark gray color with a picture of a house on the side of it.
For a subtle color stain, look for ZAR Semi-Transparent Deck Stain & Siding. This product allows the wood’s texture and grain to come through while adding a bit of color.


Semi-transparent stains provide many benefits:

  • Helps you enhance the look of your outdoor wooden surfaces like decks and sidings while also increasing their lifespan 

  • Works by providing a rich color with a subtle shine to make your wood surfaces look beautiful

  • Has a unique blend of oils and translucent pigments that go deep into the wood pores to protect it from weathering, fading and water damage

ZAR Deck & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain is an ideal solution for achieving a beautiful and durable finish on your outdoor living space. This stain accentuates the natural grain and texture of the wood to create a refined and stylish appearance. If you’re looking to improve the aesthetics of your wooden surfaces while also extending their lifespan, ZAR Deck & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain is an excellent option.

Solid Color Coating

A tin can full of ZAR deck & siding products. The can is a light gray color with a picture of a house on the side.
For a full coverage application, use ZAR Solid Color Deck & Siding Coating for beautiful color and weather protection.


Using a solid color stain offers several advantages over other finishes:

  • Full Coverage: Solid color stains provide complete coverage which hides the natural grain and texture of lumber. This makes it ideal for surfaces with imperfections that need to be covered up.

  • Better Defense: Solid color stains have more color particles, which means they provide stronger protection against damage from sunlight, water and other outdoor factors. They are also less likely to fade or peel, which makes them perfect for areas with lots of foot traffic.

  • Uniform Appearance: Solid color stains provide a uniform and consistent appearance across the entire surface. This makes them an excellent choice for use on larger surfaces, like decks or siding, where you want a cohesive look.

  • Reduced Maintenance: Because solid color stains offer greater protection against the elements, they require less maintenance over time. You won’t need to strip and refinish your surfaces as frequently as you would with other finishes.

ZAR Solid Color Deck & Siding Coating is a great option for anyone looking to take advantage of these benefits. It provides long-lasting protection against sun, wind and water damage while also providing a uniform and consistent appearance. Plus, it’s available in a range of colors, so you can choose the one that best suits your style and project needs.

Interior Stain Options

n image of a chair, side table, and a plant. The furniture and room are all tan and gray tones.
Revamp a living space by staining interior wood or wood furniture. For interior staining, count on ZAR interior staining products for beautiful color.

Oil-Based Stains

A black tin can full of ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain. The can has the ZAR logo in gold across the top, with “Stain” written in cursive gold across the middle.
When changing up your interior space, look to ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain that can be applied to a variety of surfaces.


Interior oil-based stains, like ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain, have several benefits:

  • Penetrates deeply into the wood to enhance its natural beauty by highlighting the grain and texture

  • Provides excellent durability and protection to resist wear and tear and prevent fading

  • Easy to work with and allows for easy blending of colors, which can create unique hues and tints to match your décor

This product has many uses, including decorative faux finishing and color toning on non-wood surfaces.

Wood Sealer to Seal the Natural Look of Wood

A white tin can full of ZAR oil-based wood finish.
ZAR Oil Base Polyurethane Wood finish is a fast-drying product that comes in a variety of different finishes. A great product for wood floors, cabinets, furniture, and more.


Oil-based polyurethane finishes are excellent for keeping wood’s natural appearance while also offering protection and durability. They’re especially good for wood floors, cabinets, railings or countertops that need to handle wear and tear. Additionally, just a couple of coats can give wood a gorgeous, golden glow that brings out its natural charm.

ZAR Interior Oil Base Poly is an effective way to preserve the natural look of wood while also ensuring long-lasting protection and an appealing finish.

The Stain Application Process

Choosing the Right Tools for the Job

  1. Sandpaper
  2. Wood cleaner
  3. Brushes, roller, foam pad applicator or sprayer specifically designed for staining
  4. Lint-free rags or cloths
  5. Gloves
  6. Stir sticks
  7. Drop cloths or plastic sheeting
  8. Respirator or mask

Remember that these are general guidelines, so it is essential to consult the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for the specific staining product you plan to use.

Preparing the Wood Surface

Make sure that the surface is clean, dry and in good condition. Get rid of any mildew, dirt, loose paint flakes, oil and grease. Fix or substitute any boards that are loose, cracked or warped. You can use sandpaper to smooth out rough spots.

Applying the Stain Evenly and Avoiding Drips

Person wearing a white shirt and camo pants is staining a wooden panel with a brown rag.
Staining wood can add a new dimension and design to your living space. Whether interior or exterior wood, use ZAR products to add new life to your home.


  1. Transfer the stain into a glass container (like a mason jar) for improved control over how much stain is on your brush. Dip your brush into the stain and use the jar’s rim to remove any extra stain before applying it to the wood.
  2. Apply the stain with smooth, even strokes along the grain of the wood to prevent drips and ensure even distribution.
  3. Work on smaller sections at a time to maintain better control and avoid drips.
  4. Keep a clean, lint-free cloth nearby to immediately wipe off any accidental drips.

Drying and Finishing

Different products will require different drying times between coats as well as final drying times. The times listed are general estimates and your actual drying time will be affected by temperature and humidity:

ZAR Clear Deck Waterproof Wood Sealer

ZAR Clear Deck Waterproof Wood Sealer will be touch dry in 4 hours and fully cured in 24 hours. You can apply it using nylon or polyester brushes, stain pads or professional spray equipment. Remember to always back-brush immediately when using spray equipment.

ZAR Deck & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain

To get the best results with ZAR Deck & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain, stir the product well before and during use. If you want to add another coat, wait for 3 hours before applying it. The product will be completely cured after 24 hours. Use a synthetic brush or roller with a small nap cover for application. Avoid applying the product if there is a chance of rain within the next 24 hours.

ZAR Solid Color Deck & Siding Coating

Apply two coats of ZAR® Solid Color Deck & Siding Coating to get the best results. It is preferable to use a synthetic brush instead of spraying it. Wait 30 minutes between coats and allow 24 hours for the coat to fully cure. Avoid applying in direct sunlight. When applying, make sure to maintain a wet edge.

ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain

ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain can be easily applied with a lint-free cloth, foam applicator or natural bristle brush and dries in just 3 hours. It helps to stain and seal in one simple application, similar to furniture polish.

ZAR Interior Oil Base Poly

For a polished look on untreated wood, ZAR Interior Oil Base Poly can deliver results in only two hours. For optimal results, we recommend using either a clean bristle brush or a lambswool applicator.

Use the Best for Your Staining Projects with ZAR

ZAR offers a range of superior staining and wood finishing products that are perfect for your next staining project. Our oil base poly and stains are fast-drying and provide a smooth finish with no brush marks, while the deck and siding sealers and stains can help ensure long-lasting protection for your outdoor projects. 

We are committed to excellence and provide detailed instructions with our products to help you achieve the best results possible.

Contact us today to find a supplier near you!