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TIP: Water-Based Finish Over Oil Stain

If you want to use an oil stain and apply a water-based finish over it, the best practice is to let the oil stain dry thoroughly before applying the finish—for at least several days and maybe a week in a warm room.

Oil stains vary in how fast they dry, so the only way to know how long to wait is to test on scrap wood.

Two problems can occur if the oil stain hasn’t fully cured. The first is that the water-based finish wrinkles. The second is that the water-based finish doesn't bond well, so it peels easily, especially if knocked.

Depending on how the oil stain and the water-based finish are made (the amount of oil in the stain and solvent in the finish), you can sometimes get a good bond applying the water-based finish before the oil stain has fully cured. But you’ll have to learn whether or not you can do this by trial-and-error on scrap wood.



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