Can You Mix Stain And Polyurethane Together?

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Wood staining offers a natural shiny look as it’s transparent & exposes the wood grains. However, the major drawback of stain is the insufficient color option. You won’t find it easy to satisfy yourself with the available colors if you’re very color picky. Don’t worry; mixing poly & stains could be a solution. 

This article is all about mixing stain & polyurethane – proper mixing procedure, advantages & disadvantages. Later on, you’ll understand whether or not you should mix them. Without further ado, let’s get started with my findings, tips & tricks regarding mixing stain & polyurethane. 

Can You Mix Stain And Polyurethane Together
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Can You Mix Stain And Polyurethane Together?

Yes, you can mix stain and polyurethane & it’s one of the most common practices in woodwork. It’s worth mentioning that you’ve to mix poly & stain before you apply them on wooden surfaces. To clean a stained surface you will need a solvent such as mineral spirits. Otherwise, you may not get the result you wanted. To know the proper mixing volume of stain & polyurethane, follow the next segment. 

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How Much Stain Does Mix With Polyurethane?

Theoretically, there is no problem mixing stain & poly until you’re conscious of the mixing volumes. The most advised mixing ratio of stain & polyurethane is 50:50. You can also go for 25:75 if you want. Lesser or higher than these two ratios will be a complete waste of resources. 

Now you know the mixing ratios of stain color & polyurethane, what about the mixing procedure? The next segment will educate you on how to mix them properly in a step-by-step manner. 

How Do You Mix Stain And Polyurethane Together
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How Do You Mix Stain With Polyurethane Together?

Mixing stain & polyurethane is one of the easiest tasks to encounter when it comes to painting jobs. Stay tuned as I’ll be describing how to mix stain & polyurethane within four steps only. It’s anything but a typical practice, yet you can apply stain – in case it’s gel stain – over polyurethane. 

Before that, let’s have a look at the materials you’ll need to mix them together:

  • Stains (Oil-Based or, Water-Based Stain)
  • Polyurethane (Oil-Based or Water-Based)
  • Three Buckets 
  • Stirring Sticks

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If you’ve already got the materials, let’s get started with my step by step guide on polyurethane & stain mixing: 

Step 1: Prepare Stain

Take a bucket & pour some stains into it. Now take a stirring stick & stir the stain thoroughly until you’ve got a consistent color. It may take some time, so have patience while doing so.

Step 2: Prepare Polyurethane

Like stains, you’ve to prepare polyurethane finishes for wood as well. Pick your second bucket & pour some polyurethane into it. Take your time while stirring the solution with a stirring stick. While doing this task, make sure there is enough supply of air in the room to avoid any accident. 

Step 3: Pour Stain & Polyurethane Into A Bucket

Take your first & second buckets, full of stains & polyurethane solution – pour them into an individual bucket. Keep in mind to have a relatively bigger bucket for this step. 

Step 4: Prepare The Mixture

Finally, the mixing part. There’s no rocket science of mixing polyurethane & stain together & anybody can perform this task. All you’ve to do is keep an eye on the mixture while stirring them with a string stick. Keep mixing/stirring until the mixture’s color is entirely even.

Watch the video for a better understanding:

Cautions – Things You Should Be Aware Of

  1. Don’t mix several types of stains together 
  2. Don’t mix oil-based stain with water-based polyurethane 
  3. Don’t mix water-based polyurethane with oil-based stain
  4. Follow the 50:50 or 25:75 mixing ratio

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Mixing Stain & Polyurethane Together

Mixing stain & polyurethane is good practice for certain reasons. With that said, let’s talk about the advantages of mixing them: 

  • You’ll have more color options than ‘only stains’
  • Mixing poly & stain will offer a lesser drying period
  • The mixture of poly & stain is stronger than individual stain or poly
  • This mixture will enhance the natural beauty of wood by exposing the raw wood grain pattern

Now let’s look at the sad part, the disadvantages part. Though it’s very minimal, you have the right to know this as well:

  • A poor mixing ratio of stain & polyurethane can cause peeling
  • Mixing stains on dried poly isn’t a good practice; it’ll eventually peel away

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should You Mix Stain And Poly Together?

Stain comes with color limitations. If you’re looking for a custom color, it might be a good idea to mix poly & stain. Mixing stain & poly will give a wide range of colors to choose from according to your personal preferences. 

Does Polyurethane Stick To Stain?

Yes, polyurethane sticks to stains. The stain itself is not scratch-resistant. To make stained wood scratch resistant, you’ve to apply polyurethane & it will stick for sure. With that said, don’t hesitate to apply polyurethane on your stained wood fearing it will be a hazardous act. 

How Long After Staining Can I Polyurethane?

You can apply polyurethane after 24 to 48 hours from the staining period. If possible, I would suggest waiting around 72 hours. Giving your stained wood proper time to dry is necessary & will be beneficial to the wood in the future. That’s why don’t rush when it comes to applying polyurethane after staining.

Should I Sand Between Stain And Polyurethane?

It’s not necessary to sand between stains & polyurethane. You will be just fine if you skip the sanding part before applying polyurethane to a newly stained wood. However, you can mildly sand the stained wood with liquid sandpaper for doing your polyurethane job with perfection. 

Will Stain Dry Over Polyurethane?

Yes, stains will surely dry over polyurethane, but it won’t be a fruitful act. You’ll have to put another coat of polyurethane to hold the staining coat. Otherwise, the stains will peel away after some days or weeks. With that said, don’t put stains over polyurethane – do the opposite & it will be much more convenient. An additional coat is only required when the color isn’t dark enough.


I hope this article was helpful enough to know the exact procedure of mixing polyurethane & stain. Now it’s up to you whether you’ll mix them together or not. Still, let me summarize this entire article.

If you want more color options, lesser drying time & more durability, mix stain & polyurethane without having any second thought. Otherwise, it won’t be beneficial to bear the extra expenses of doing the mixing job.

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2 thoughts on “Can You Mix Stain And Polyurethane Together?”

  1. I understand the 50 to 50 mixing ratio but the 7525 I don’t know which ones the 25 and which ones the 75 other than that the article is great and a lot of help


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