I recently purchased an old wine barrel which was extremely faded in color. I bought Oak stain and started to stain it but instead of coming out the oak color it almost looks black and I don't know why.

First question is why would this happen, second question is how could I have prevented this from happening?

  • 1
    Photos would help to judge what's gone on here. We also need to know what "oak" stain you bought, preferably take a photo of the label so we know exactly what you used. It's likely that the weathered oak is the main culprit here, when wood is degraded it takes up stain like a sponge. – Graphus May 27 '17 at 6:15

What you more than likely are having issue because of the fact the wood is old. The outer-side might have been coated with something back when it was made to preserve the wine. Not sure for certain but it makes some sense to me. But these are the steps to making this barrel look great again.

1) Since the wood is dark and will not stain you need to sand* the outer surface until the wood looks darn near new. Start with a low grit, like 80 (I might do 40 depending on how bad it is). And work up to 120/150. And if you want 180/220.

2) Go ahead and stain. Now that the old stuff is removed go ahead and start staining. I take a old shirt and cut it into pieces and apply 1-2 coats. There are other methods but that is my favorite.

3) A great way of protecting the wood (and stain) from water and other damage would be a protective coat like polyurethane (I use it all the time). I would use Oil-based because it is water resistant (oil does not mix with water) but will give a amber tint to the wood/stain. There is also water-based. I think I am going to make a quick pro con of the too off the top of my head.

Oil-based - Good

Strong, 3 coats, lasts long

Oil-based - Bad

Amber tint, fumes are smelly

Water-based - Good

Quick drying, easy clean up, little tinting

Water-based - bad

5 coats, Don't think it is water-resistant, not as strong

There are more to the polyurethane world but that should give a idea as to what to expect.

I really do not think it could be any simpler. But of course if I am off say something in the comments and I will gladly correct myself. I hope this helps you. Good luck on your project!

*If you do not have a sander I would get one. A orbital sander is the a good sander to start with. Removes more than a 1/4 sheet sander but less than a belt sander. So Unless you like hand sanding, any cheap sander I would get to save time.

  • FYI oak barrels are commonly left unfinished, except on the inside where they may be charred. No telling what's been done to it since it was first made but this problem is likely not caused by that. – Graphus May 27 '17 at 6:20
  • That is greatly appreciated everything you told me! Thank you so much for your time on answering my question! – Johnny May 27 '17 at 12:47
  • @Graphus okay, wasn't to sure if they were finished or not. Good to know! – Ljk2000 May 27 '17 at 14:34
  • @Johnny No problem, glad to help! – Ljk2000 May 27 '17 at 14:34

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