How To Stain Rubberwood Furniture: The Complete Guide

Rubberwood is a popular material for furniture because of its low cost and high durability. If you’re looking to change the look of your rubberwood furniture, staining it is an excellent choice. However, if you’ve never taken on a DIY project of this caliber before, you might be wondering about the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve the results you’re looking for.

To stain rubberwood furniture, you must first decide which stain to use. Then, choose an appropriate location, prepare the furniture for sanding by cleaning it, sand the rubberwood, add a pre-stain conditioner, add the stain, and then add a sealer at the end of the process.     

This article will delve deeper into how you can stain rubberwood furniture quickly and effectively. So, make sure to keep reading to learn more!

1. Decide Which Stain You Want To Use

Firstly, you must decide which stain to use. There are many brands and colors to choose from, so it may take some time to decide. Technically, you can use differently colored stains for rubberwood, but some might work better than others.

Rubberwood can be a little difficult to work with because it may not always absorb the colors evenly. Therefore, it might be best to stick with lighter colors rather than anything too dark. But of course, it’s up to you!  

However, it’s best to avoid using water-based stains because rubberwood tends to warp when drying after being wet or moist. Oil stains are much more suitable and work better on rubberwood furniture because there’s less chance of warping.

Oil stains are also better if you’re concerned about the durability and longevity of the color, especially if any of the furniture will be outside–oil-based stains are more protective, so you’ll get better long-term results.    

2. Choose an Appropriate Location and Get Your Equipment

Once you’ve decided on a stain color, you must choose an appropriate location to get the work done. Remember that the process will be messy, so choose a place where this won’t be an issue. A garage is a good choice if you have one.

However, that’s not the only factor to consider. You also need to consider the fumes and chemicals, which can be dangerous if there isn’t enough ventilation. So, make sure there’s at least one window or door for adequate airflow. 

If nowhere in your home is suitable, carry out the process outside when the weather is dry and pleasant. That way, there’ll be plenty of fresh air, and it won’t matter as much if you make a mess.

If doing the staining indoors, cover the floor and any surrounding furniture to ensure you don’t accidentally stain anything.

Additionally, now is an excellent time to gather your equipment. Below is a list of the most important items you’ll need:

  • Cloth or sponge for cleaning
  • Soap and water
  • Brushes (for the pre-stain conditioner, stain, and sealer at the end). You can also use other things like rags or rollers for more oversized items.
  • 120-grit sandpaper

3. Prepare Your Rubberwood Furniture for Sanding

Now, you’re ready to start the process! You first want to set the rubberwood down, ensuring you have enough space to work. Then, you should clean it to ensure there is no dust or dirt on the surface, as this could get in the way of the stain.

Here is how to clean your rubberwood furniture before staining:

  1. Fill a bowl/bucket with warm water and soap.
  2. Dampen a sponge or cloth in the bowl/bucket.
  3. Squeeze out the excess water and soap.
  4. Wipe across the rubberwood furniture, ensuring you clean away any marks.
  5. Repeat the process until the wood is fully clean.
  6. Give it a few minutes to dry before continuing.

It’s essential not to use a cloth or sponge that’s too wet because the rubberwood will take longer to dry. To speed up the drying process, ensure you use a lightly damp cloth. And if the weather permits it, leave the furniture outside to dry quicker (or leave it by a window).

Once the rubberwood furniture is entirely dry, move on to the next step!

4. Sand the Rubberwood Furniture

Sanding is the next step, and it’s vital because it removes any previous layers of sealer and paint. Going through this step will ensure the rubberwood can absorb the stain as best as possible, so you shouldn’t skip it.

To sand your rubberwood, you’ll need to use 120-grit sandpaper. If you’re wondering where to buy this sandpaper, you can find it on Amazon. 

For example, the 3M 120 Grit Sandpaper (available on is available to buy now. This sandpaper is easy to grip with your hands, so it won’t slip or fall while you use it. It will effectively sand down your rubberwood furniture, giving you the perfect canvas to stain.

To sand the wood, all you need to do is go over it with the sandpaper. Here are some tips to consider when sanding rubberwood:

  • Use enough upper body strength to ensure it works as best as possible.
  • Make sure you go over each part of the wood.
  • Sand each section evenly. You don’t want one section to be barely sanded and other sections to be highly sanded because this could make the stain look uneven when you apply it.
  • Keep going until the surface is no longer shiny. The whole point of sanding is to get rid of shiny/glossy finishes, so keep going until the surface loses its shine.

5. Add a Pre-Stain Conditioner to the Rubberwood Furniture

Pre-stain conditioner is essentially a primer for your rubberwood. It will help the material absorb the stain evenly, making it look perfect once you’ve finished. If you don’t use a pre-stain conditioner, the end result is more likely to look uneven and blotchy, so it’s definitely worth following this step!

Here is a guide on how to apply a pre-stain conditioner to your rubberwood furniture:

  1. Get a brush or cloth. 
  2. Apply the pre-stain conditioner to the wood.
  3. Use straight-line brush/rubbing strokes to coat the surface. Avoid using random brushing/rubbing motions (like circles or brushing/rubbing in different directions) because this can make it look uneven.
  4. Allow the conditioner to dry for approximately 15 minutes, but check the instructions on the conditioner packaging because drying times can vary.

Don’t apply the stain before the conditioner has had time to dry because it might affect the absorption, so give it at least a few minutes before moving to the next step. This is unless the conditioner instructions say otherwise.

If you don’t know which pre-stain conditioner to purchase, here are some product recommendations:

  • Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (available on This pre-stain wood conditioner comes in different sizes, so you can choose one for small and big projects. It works best with oil-based wood stains by making them go on evenly, and there is no drying time–you can apply the wood stain right after using this conditioner.
  • RUST-OLEUM Premium Wood Conditioner (available on This premium wood conditioner is another oil-based product, perfect for rubberwood. It gets deep into the wood, ensuring you get the best result. The Rust-Oleum conditioner will take 1-2 hours to dry, so you’ll need to give it some time before applying the stain.
  • Minwax Water-Based Wood Conditioner (available on Even though it’s best to use oil-based stains and conditioners on rubberwood, you might decide to use water-based products. If that’s the case, consider this water-based conditioner compatible with all hard and softwoods (including rubberwood). It will help prepare your rubberwood for a water-based stain.

6. Add the Stain After the Appropriate Amount of Time

Once your rubberwood is ready, add the stain. Remember that you must use an oil-based stain if you use an oil-based conditioner and a water-based stain if you use a water-based conditioner.

Here is a guide on how to apply stain to rubberwood furniture:

  1. Get a brush or cloth to apply the stain
  2. Dip the brush/cloth into the stain container and apply it to the surface of the wood
  3. Apply the color evenly across the rubberwood, going in straight motions
  4. Allow the stain to dry for a few minutes. Check the packaging for specific drying times.
  5. Remove any excess wood stain with a cloth or rag once you’ve allowed it to dry.

At this point, the rubberwood furniture should look smooth and even. You can leave it like this and use the furniture once it dries, but that’s not recommended. Instead, use a sealer to lock in the stain and ensure it lasts as long as possible.

To learn more about sealing your rubberwood, go on to the next and final step.

7. Add a Sealer To Protect the Stain

It generally takes between 24 and 72 hours for the wood stain to dry and cure, so make sure you give it some time before adding a sealer. Since different wood stains have various drying and curing times, check the packaging to get a better idea of how long you’ll need to wait. 

While the furniture is drying, avoid using or touching it, and keep it in a place where it won’t get damaged. You certainly want to keep it away from children and animals before it dries, as they could touch it and ruin the finish.

Here are some of the benefits of sealing your rubber wood after staining:

  • It protects the wood from mold and damage.
  • It helps the stain color remain vibrant and fresh for longer.
  • It prevents the wood from getting stains (for example, water or oil stains).
  • It can give the wood a glossy finish.

There are many wood finish options available:

  • Natural oils (like tung oil, linseed oil, and cedar oil)
  • Lacquer
  • Wax
  • Polyurethane

Each sealer can work well with rubberwood, so it’s up to you to decide which type to go for.

Is it Safe To Stain Rubberwood?

It is safe to stain rubberwood if you take the proper precautions. For example, staining is safe if there is adequate ventilation (i.e., windows and air vents). There will be fumes during the staining process, so you don’t want to be in an enclosed space.

Inhaling too many fumes in a short period can cause health issues, including skin and eye irritation. Once enough fresh air enters your workspace, you shouldn’t experience these side effects.

You might also wonder if staining can damage rubberwood, but thankfully, it can’t. Staining rubberwood will make it look better, and if you follow the steps in this article, the furniture’s finish will be more durable than before.

It’s best to avoid staining rubberwood and other furniture if you’re pregnant because the fumes may harm the baby. However, if you have no other choice, it’s best to carry out the process outdoors where there is plenty of fresh air.

Rubberwood Stain Can Cause Burns and Poisoning

Wood stains are toxic because they contain ingredients like hydrocarbon and sodium hydroxide. So, although they’re generally safe to use in well-ventilated areas, they’re not safe to ingest. Additionally, it’s not safe to get a lot of the substance on your skin, as it may cause severe burning.

Rinse well if you get a rubberwood stain on your eyes or skin. Avoid touching your face while using rubberwood stain to reduce the chance of irritation and ingestion.

Should You Wear Gloves When Staining Rubberwood?

You should wear gloves when staining rubberwood to avoid skin irritation on the hands. The best gloves to wear are thin, disposable gloves because they won’t get in the way of the staining process. If you wear gloves that are too thick or bulky, it will be harder to work with precision.

It’s also a good idea to wear safety glasses and clothes that cover all your limbs fully. So, avoid shorts and t-shirts as much as possible. Wearing long clothes ensures your skin is protected from irritation and burns.

Final Thoughts

Staining rubberwood furniture is easy as long as you follow the instructions detailed in the above guide. Before staining, prepare your furniture by cleaning it and applying a pre-stain conditioner–this ensures the stain will go on as evenly as possible.

Once the conditioner has dried, you can apply the stain using a brush or cloth. Avoid circular motions, as they lead to an uneven finish. Adding a sealer after a stain will help lock everything in and protect the wood from damage and general wear and tear.


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