Does Maple Stain Well? All you Wanted To Know!

does maple stain well

Staining wood is a useful method to color the wood while giving certain protection from UV rays. Even though staining is not necessary for most woods, it can solve so many problems and protect your wood from lots of damages, and helps to keep the wood safe.

When I was first started to work with maple wood for furniture making, I was always wondered Does Maple Stain Well?

I have researched and here’s what I’ve found:

Yes, Maple stain well. But staining maple is difficult without blotches because of its dense and tight grain structure. Stains don’t soak into the maple mostly and absorb stain unevenly. Therefore, achieving a uniform stain on maple is a problem for even experienced finishes since it’s a tightly pored wood. Stain maple well is difficult but not impossible.

But that’s not all there is to know about does maple stain well and how to stain maple properly.

So, in this post, we’ll look at all the factors related to staining maple.

Such as best stain for maple wood, how to stain maple, how to prepare maple for staining, maple stain colors, and many other frequently asked questions as well.

So, let’s get going!

How To Prepare Maple Wood to Stain Well?

Preparing maple wood for staining is an essential and important task than you think. Because unprepared maple flaws quickly and keeping a uniform stain is also difficult.

In order to prepare maple wood for staining, you need to follow the steps below.

  1. Fill nail holes with a wood filler.
  2. Sand the wood properly.
  3. Clean the surface and remove sawdust.
  4. Stir the stain well.

Sanding is the most important step when maple wood preparing before the stain. Once the stain is done, it will highlight dings, marks, and scratches in the wood.

So, firstly you need to eliminate those dings and scratches in the maple wood with proper sanding to clear wood.

While you’re sanding the wood, frequently check for swirls in orbital sanders.

Because they’re had to see in the beginning, but once the stain is applied, they’ll be visible more, and it’s frustrating.

Sanding with 220 grit sandpaper is recommended for the preparation of maple wood for staining.

How To Stain Maple Wood?


  • Wood sealer
  • Stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Clear finish
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Rags

Step 1: Seal the Maple Wood

We cannot stain maple wood without applying a sealer before staining. So, always make sure to have a sealer with you when it comes to maple staining.

First, you need to sand the wood with 220 grit sandpaper until it is super smooth. Then remove sawdust using a tac cloth several times. After that apply the sealer evenly all over the surface.

By sealing you’ll be able to cover and fill up the porous structure of the wood and this will give good waterproofing and resistance from other elements as well.

Also sealing will keep the wood fresh for a long time and oil-based sealers will give nice rich look color and grain to the maple wood over time.

But, if you love to keep the natural wood color for long enough, I highly recommend going with a water-based sealer rather than the oil-based one.

Most importantly, the sealer will help you to gain uniform stain on maple wood by limiting the penetration of the stain which is useful in woodcarving.

Once the sealing is done, leave the maple wood for few hours until it is completely dried.

Step 2: Apply the Stain

This is the most important step that we need to focus on more. Because of the tight grain structure of maple wood, the stain will absorb unevenly and cause to appear blotches.

We can reduce the uneven absorbance of maple wood by applying sealer before staining because sealer can limit stain penetration.

You can apply stain coats as much as you want until meets your proffered color. But I advise you to go for a maximum of 3 coats for the best.

Sometimes even though you have applied the stain correctly and evenly, after several days’ blotches can be visible.

The main reason for this issue is the incompatibility of the sealer and the stain. So, I highly recommend you use sealer and stain from the same manufacturer to avoid any issues.

Oil-based stains and gel stains work well with maple wood. Because they make the wood color.

Apply through the grain of the maple wood using a paintbrush while removing excesses.

Step 3: Dry and Seal

After applying the stain properly, leave the wood to dry overnight. If you noticed any blotches, reapply the stain to those areas and let it dry.

Once you’re satisfied with the outcome after drying seal the maple wood with a polyacrylic finish for better waterproofing.

Even though this is an optional step, I always prefer extra protection.

After each step, you need to clearly observe blotches and uneven stain areas though out the wood and should take action to prevent them by reapplying.

Once you’re done with drying and sealing, clean the maple wood using mineral spirit.

How to Make Maple Stain Darker?

Staining maple wood dark is not an easy task. There are several ways you can follow to maple stain darker. They are,

  • Toning topcoats with dye.
  • Using dark walnut gel stain

So, let’s discuss each of the above methods to make maple stain darker.

Toning Topcoats with Trans Tint Dye to Make Maple Stain Darker

Toning lacquer topcoats with dry is a good way to make stain darker. By mixing trans tint dye with lacquer can get the dark stain color you want.

The only issue with this method is you may be losing grain clarity. To minimize that always use a small amount of dye.

But ultimately, you’ll be able to give the dark stain color to the maple wood furniture and other woodworks.

Using Walnut Dark Gel Stain to Make Maple Stain Darker

This is known as one of the easiest methods to get dark maple stain.

First, you need to sand the maple wood with 36, 80, 100, and 220 grit sandpaper to get the ultra-smooth surface.

Then take the walnut gel stain and apply it evenly throughout the wood.

The specialty of gel stain is it does not penetrate much to the wood and therefore there will be no or very a smaller number of blotches can be visible.

By following the above two methods, you’ll be able to get the dark stain color on maple wood without any issue.

Trans tint method is the most popular one among them and the Walnut dark gel stain method is great for beginners.

Maple Stain Colors

There is a wide variety of color ranges available for maple wood. Using them you can get the natural, dark, and light maple color you want. The most popular maple stain colors are,

  • Natural maple wood color
  • Mahogany
  • Country pine
  • Cinnamon
  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Golden oak
  • Candlelight
  • Danish teak
  • Pecan
  • Salem

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about maple wood staining.

Can Maple be Stained to Look Like Walnut?

You can give maple stain any color you want. So, yes, maple can be stained to look like walnut.

But it can be. It is a quite difficult task because maple does not stain so easily.

In my experience even though it is possible, staining maple wood to look like walnut is not a good idea.

Because the result looks like walnut is painted to brown color and there will be no natural look.

So, I recommend you glue up walnut to the maple by contrasting wood.

Does Maple Need To be Conditioned Before Staining?

By conditioning maple before staining, you’ll be able to prevent blotches, streaks and stains will be applied even though out the maple wood surface so easily.

Does Maple Dye Well?

Yes, Maple dye well. But it is difficult without blotches because of its dense and tight grain structure. The sanding scratches are also visible once you apply dye on top of the maple wood.

So, I recommend using trans tint concentrated dye after mixing it with water.

When compared to dye with stain, I always go with stain with maple, because blotching is the most common problem that comes with dye rather than staining.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Does Maple Stain Well?

So, in this article we have widely discussed does maple stain well and how to prepare maple wood for staining, how to stain well with tips and techniques.

Furthermore, we have talked about maple stain colors and how to stain maple wood darker with real-life examples.

If you’re thinking about dying or staining maple, I recommend going with staining to avoid blotches. Also, whatever the process you use, always seal the wood before staining and dying to avoid issues.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about does maple stain well and how to stain your beautiful maple furniture or woodwork with ease.

So, don’t wait, go and test it out!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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