Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by Ernest Godia
Black wood stains are excellent finishes, particularly if you want to cover up defects or emphasize a classic appearance on your wood. However, knowing the best black wood stain suitable for your woodworking project is essential for the best results.
Unfortunately, black stains are relatively rare, so even skilled woodworkers may be excused for not knowing the best black wood stains on the market.
This guide will discuss the eight best black wood stain products that might suit your project. But before diving into that, let’s look at the different types of black wood stains available.
Types of Black Wood Stains on the Market
Oil-Based Black Wood Stain
Oil-based wood stains consist mainly of linseed oil as the vehicle, hence the name. They penetrate the wood deeply and effectively, nourishing it and shielding it from moisture.
The other primary ingredients include pigments that give the stain its color and a binder added to help the colorant attach itself to wood surfaces.
The stain also contains solvents that serve as a quick-evaporating carrier for the other constituent ingredients.
The major downside of oil-based stains is that they take longer to dry and are often loaded with high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Water-Based Black Wood Stain
Modern water-based stains have largely replaced oil-based stains in many applications due to their improved durability and quicker drying times. These finishes employ water as the primary carrier rather than oil.
The main advantage of water-based stains is that they dry faster than oil-based stains. Also, these stains are low in VOCs and odor and are more environmentally friendly.
However, some inexpensive options will not protect your wood as effectively as oil-based stains. Therefore, you should always research thoroughly and select only quality products.
Black Gel Stain
Gel stain is a relatively recent invention that is made to make application considerably simpler.
Their formula consists of a thick, jelly-like substance that doesn’t drop or run on vertical surfaces. This ingredient serves as the carrier and binding agent for gel stains.
The main advantage of this type of stain is that it can mask surface imperfections more effectively than standard oil- or water-based alternatives. This also means you can get away with less surface prep when working with gel stains.
The downside is the gel needs to be reapplied more frequently since, due to its thickness, it doesn’t penetrate wood as well as water- and oil-based stains do.
Two-in-One Stain and Polyurethane
Applying polyurethane over the wood stain is standard practice to seal and protect the stained surface.
The two-in-one polyurethane is a product that doubles as a stain and a sealant. Utilizing this product is an excellent way to save time because you apply the stain as usual and receive the built-in polyurethane protection without additional coats.
However, unlike oil- or water-based stains, this stain doesn’t penetrate the wood.
Best Black Wood Stain Reviews
Choosing the appropriate wood stain for your project is essential to save time, create an excellent look, and delight you. Below are the eight best black wood stains to consider:
1. General Finishes Water-Based Wood Stain – Best OverallSee on Amazon
The General Finishes Water-Based Wood Stain is the best overall wood stain on our list after considering its advantages and disadvantages against the other black wood stains.
This product’s water-based formula means it is low in volatile organic compounds. So you can apply the stain without needing masks for respiratory protection. The black stain is made of premium pigments that are simple to apply by brushing or spraying.
You can also combine this stain with other water-based stains from General Finishes to produce unique tones.
The product is suitable for indoor use and is easy to clean using water.
- Simple to apply by spray or hand due to its premium pigments
- Low in VOCs; hence no need for respiratory masks when applying it
- You can use it without worrying about combustion thanks to its non-combustible formula
- Simple to clean using water
- Versatile, so you may create your custom shades
- Not suitable for outdoor use
- It is costly compared to some other black wood stains available
2. Saman Interior Water-Based Wood Stain – Easy to useSee on Amazon
The Saman stain is the finest solution if you’re seeking a black wood stain that’s easy to use. Despite being water-based, the stain has excellent consistency, enabling smooth application.
This product comes in a distinctive bottle that is convenient to carry and doesn’t take up much room in your storage.
Additionally, because it is water-based, it dries quickly and is simple to clean up with soap and water. This also means that the stain is low VOC and produces minimal odor.
The best part is that it does not raise the wood grain despite having water in its formula. Instead, the product enhances the overall beauty of the stained wood by making its grain pop.
Also, the stain offers excellent coverage as you only require 12 ounces to cover 75 square feet, depending on the wood you use.
The Saman black stain suits all indoor applications, including horizontal and vertical surfaces.
- Easy to use.
- Less volatile.
- Minimal odor.
- It enhances the overall appearance of wood.
- Excellent coverage.
- It suits all indoor applications.
- It comes in a compact bottle that is convenient to carry and store.
- The stain requires a top coat to protect it and ensure its longevity.
3. Minwax Wood Finish – Budget-friendly black wood stainSee on Amazon
Most black wood stains are expensive since they require numerous coats to achieve a rich black hue. That issue won’t arise if you use Minwax Wood Finish.
The oil-based stain gives you a great dark black color in just one application and protects the wood by penetrating it deeply. However, the wood’s grain is still visible, giving the surface a more beautiful, natural appearance than ordinary black paint.
This stain dries considerably faster than most oil-based stains on the market. You can control how dark you want your wood to be. If you want a lighter hue, wipe off any extra stain after five minutes of application.
For a darker shade, leave the excess stain for more than five minutes before wiping it off.
Minwax Wood Finish is currently one of the top-quality black wood stains available, and if you topcoat it to protect it, it will last a very long time before requiring a touchup.
- Dries fast
- Requires only one coat
- Boasts premium quality
- Highly durable
- Some customers complain of poor packaging
4. Minwax Polyshades Wood Stain + Polyurethane Finish – Best 2-in-1 black wood stain
The Minwax PolyShades Wood Stain and Polyurethane Finish is the best option if you are looking for a 2-in-1 black wood stain. It’s a polyurethane-infused, premium oil stain.
Unlike other products, this one will work great if you apply it on bare wood. However, you can also use it over existing finishes like polyurethane.
With this stain, you can finish the application much faster because you only need to lightly sand the area before applying the fresh coat.
Additionally, the stain is excellent since it’s forgiving. Without paying too much attention, you can brush or wipe it on; it will spread evenly and soak in well. However, a sponge brush doesn’t work well because the stain is relatively thick.
- 2-in-1 product
- Reduced finishing time
- Trustworthy brand
- Easy to use
- Excellent results
- Highly durable
- Requires to be thoroughly mixed to offer excellent results
- Requires more than one coat for adequate protection
- Some reviewers complain that it is not always readily available
5. General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain – Best for difficult-to-stain wood
It will help to think about the General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain if you are working with woods like pine that are challenging to stain. This stain is also an excellent choice if you want a solid color that does not reveal too much of the grain.
Even though most gel stains are challenging to deal with, this gel stain works great as long as you use it correctly.
Applying it in thick layers with a brush won’t work, so use a cloth to spread it out evenly and wipe off any extra. If you apply it carefully, you shouldn’t need more than two coats to get a good coating and a rich color.
Just like the other stains from the General Finishes, this stain is heavily pigmented. It is, therefore, advisable to stir it well before using it. A spotty, uneven finish will result from improper stirring.
- Best for woods that are challenging to stain, such as pine
- It conceals wood surface blemishes thanks to an almost solid color that does not reveal too much of the grain
- It only requires one or two coats
- It is highly durable
- You must keep the coats thin for the best results and proper drying
6. Furniture Clinic Wood Stain – All-purpose black stain
If you desire an all-purpose wood stain, then it is advisable to try the Furniture Clinic Wood Stain.
This fast-drying stain is suitable for all wood types, exterior and interior. Its premium pigments allow for easy application, hence saving you time on your project.
It is also important to note that the stain’s low odor quality allows you to use it without wearing a mask.
This stain’s major downside is that you must apply many coats to achieve the desired color depth and protection. This is mainly because this is a water-based stain.
Also, after applying the stain, you will need a sealant to protect the wood further while ensuring the stain’s longevity. Further, the product is unsuitable for large areas such as the floors and will only work best on smaller projects like furniture and window frames.
- Suitable for both exterior and interior surfaces
- It can be used on all types of woods
- Easy to apply
- Low odor
- Environmentally friendly option
- Requires more than one coat
- Not suitable for large surfaces
7. Minwax Gel Stain – Most durable black gel stainSee on Amazon
If you are interested in getting a highly durable stain, then go for the Minwax Gel Stain.
This product is formulated to offer users complete control over the staining process and makes it easier to get stunning results. It should only be used indoors on things like furniture, doors, cabinets, trim, and accessories, though.
This stain’s non-drip quality simplifies application, especially on vertical surfaces. Because of its thickness, it adheres to the wood’s surface more, providing better color control when applied.
The stain’s brand reputation is another justification for purchasing it. Minwax is a leading manufacturer of wood finishes popular for its high-quality products. The company has been in existence since 1904.
- Long-lasting protection and color
- Offers users complete control of the staining process
- Delivers even color
- Reputable brand
- The packaging is not appealing to some users.
8. Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain – Fast drying oil-based stainSee on Amazon
Oil-based stains are known not to be fast drying. However, the Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain is an exception, as it dries quickly. This stain takes only as little as one hour to dry and seals wood pores.
It is also enriched with nano pigments that offer supreme color quality and distinctively highlight the wood grain. The nano pigments also allow for optimal color in one coat.
Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain suits all interior wood projects, including furniture, cabinets, doors and trim, floors, and paneling. However, using it on exterior projects like decks and siding is not advisable.
- Fast-drying oil-based stain
- It offers supreme color quality and distinctively highlights the wood grain in one coat
- Ideal for wood cabinets, furniture, doors, trim, and more
- As it stains, it deeply penetrates and seals wood pores
- No need for wood conditioner
- Not suitable for exterior use
Black Wood Stain vs Painting Furniture Black
When it comes to staining wood with a dark color like black, many people wonder, “Why not just paint it black?” The straightforward answer to this question is that staining wood black differs from painting it black.
- Painting wood black, especially fine furniture, makes it appear unnatural. This is because painting covers the wood grain entirely by forming opaque layers on the wood.
- On the other hand, staining wood black gives it a natural appearance and feel. This is because staining does not lead to the formation of opaque layers on top of the wood. Instead, it leads to the formation of translucent layers that leave the wood grain exposed.
- Also, with painting wood black, you will need at least two primer layers and two paint layers. This is a total of four layers. On the other hand, with some stains, you only require one coat to do the job.
- You can remove black paint by scraping the coat because it sits on the wood’s surface. On the other hand, black stain penetrates the wood and cannot be removed by scratching the surface.
What is Ebony Wood Stain, and How is it Different from Black Wood Stain
Given their almost similar hues, ebony wood and black wood stain are frequently mistaken for one another. Ebony, however, is not an entirely black hue. It’s more of a dark brown, easily mistaken for black.
Due to its lighter appearance, ebony makes more of the natural wood pattern visible.
True black wood stains, on the other hand, are more opaque and almost conceal the wood’s grain. This results in a smoother, more modern appearance.
The style you want to achieve and the expense of each stain will determine which you prefer. Ebony will be a better choice if you prefer the wood grain and the design behind it.
But if you want a solid, smooth, pure black appearance with little grain or pattern to show, the black wood stain will deliver what you need.
Another thing to keep in mind is that ebony stains tend to be more expensive and rare to find. Although it is a highly sought-after product in America, most individuals choose alternative products when the price of the original option is high.
Ebony wood stain also has the drawback of not being sandable, which would make it lighter. Therefore, you will be out of luck if you invest all of your cash in ebony stain and then decide that you prefer a lighter shade. But with the black wood stain, you can sand it to get a lighter shade.
Best Black Wood Stain FAQs
Can you stain wood black?
Yes, staining wood black is one way to deepen your wood’s color without masking the grain. Consider using one of the best black wood stain brands on the market to stain your wood black.
What wood looks best when stained black
The woods that look best when stained black include cherry, hard maple, and red oak. These can be on indoor and outdoor projects. Ensure you use exterior-grade black stain on outdoor projects and interior black wood stain on indoor projects.
Does black wood stain fade?
Unlike painted wood, stained wood will fade over time rather than peeling. However, if the wood starts to fade, you can sand it down and stain it again with black wood stain. Alternatively, apply a sealant after staining your wood to prevent premature fading.
Can you stain oak black?
Yes. The black oak stain can be used to stain oak to achieve the darkest color possible on this wood. Because of the porous grain patterns of oak wood, it absorbs the black stain quickly and uniformly.
Here is how to stain oak wood for the best results.
Which wood absorbs black stain the best?
Black walnut is the ideal wood for black stains. The wood absorbs the black wood stain quickly and evenly, deepening its color. The stain also helps accentuate the grains of black walnut, making it stand out.
Can Pine be Stained with Black Wood Stain?
You can stain pine wood with black wood stain. However, you must apply a generous amount of pre-stain wood conditioner on the pine wood first to get the best results.
Can black stain be applied over brown stain?
Black stain can be applied over brown stain, but for the surface to accept the stain, you must first sand it.
Final Take on the Best Black Wood Stain
If you want to cover defects or enhance the classic appearance of your wood, a black wood stain can be an excellent option.
This guide reviews eight of the best products on the market. With this many options, finding something that best suits your needs should be easy.
We hope this material helps you find your preferred best black wood stain, making your project successful.