10 Best Interior Wood Stains- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Image of kitchen cabinets painted using the best interior wood stains

Wood, in its natural state, is beautiful. However, you can make it even more attractive with the right products and formulas.

It doesn’t matter how good your exterior looks if the interior is poor. Therefore, you should consider getting the best interior wood stains to give your indoor atmosphere the very best look you can. Wood stains make furniture attractive, especially when it can help expose the wood grains.

In our bid to help you get the best products possible for your interior projects, we have tested and listed down some of the very best interior wood stains that will protect and beautify your floors, doors, cabinets, etc.

Best Interior Wood Stains Comparison Table

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Best Interior Wood Stains Buyer’s Guide

In this section, I’ll discuss finer details regarding the best interior wood stains. Some of the things include different types of wood stains, factors to consider before shopping for stains that would make a perfect for your interior staining projects among other important features that distinguish these products.

What Is a Wood Stain?

A wood stain refers to a substance that changes or enhances the natural color of the wood. Mostly, stains penetrate deeply into the wood to highlight the grain, change the color, or intensify existing hues.

Types of Wood Stains

We have different types of stains in the market. They include:

Oil Stains: They are the most available stains. Their ease of usage makes them the preference of many individuals. Most of them are a product of a linseed oil binder.

Varnish Stain: They are almost the same as oil stain except for the fact that they only use varnish as the binder. Therefore, varnish stains dry hard, unlike oil stains.

Water-Based Stain: These types of stains use a water-based finish as the binder. They are less toxic and are easy to clean, mostly using water and soap.

Gel Stain: A good number of them are oil-based. You can thin or clean them using mineral spirits. They are thicker and can be messy to apply. These stains are best if you are looking to solve the blotching problem on pine.

Lacquer Stain: They dry very fast and are a product of fast-drying binders and solvents. Most of these stains take about 15 minutes to dry, making them the choice of many Professional finishers.

Water-Soluble Dye Stain: They are available in powder form hence you can easily identify them

Factors to Consider Before Shopping for the Best Interior Wood Stains

Here are some of the factors that you need to consider when looking to shop for interior wood stains:

  • Color

Different wood stains come in different colors; you need to settle for the right color that will work correctly with your interior surfaces. It can get awkward when you select a random color and later not be happy about your project.

  • Durability

Every time that you go shopping for wood stains, you can avoid the constant costs of refinishing by settling on a product that will serve your furniture for as long as it can take.

  • Budget

You don’t have to necessarily buy an expensive product if it is going to drain your pockets. In our reviews, we have listed some of the pocket-friendly products that will still give you a fantastic finish.

  • Mode of Application

There are different ways of applying a stain. Some methods are easy, yet some require professionals for the best result possible. Choose the best methods that serve your skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between deck staining and sealing?

Deck sealing is typically a transparent finish that penetrates the wood or forms a clear film over it while deck staining adds some pigmentation to the surfaces.

How long does it take deck stain to dry?

Conventional stains can take up to 24 hours to dry. However, there are stains such as Minwax Performance Series Tintable Interior Wood Stain that can get a second coat in 2 hours for oil-based finish and 6 hours in case of water-based.

How often should you stain your deck?

It’s a good practice to have your deck stained once every year in the case of transparent stains. Solids stains, on the contrary, would last up to 5 years without needing to re-stain

Watch the video below on how to stain interior furniture:

Best Interior Wood Stains Product Review

Here, I have discussed the very best interior stains in the market today. They come with distinct features that would help make your interior structure safe and above all beautiful.

1. General Finishes Oil Based Gel Stain- Best Interior Wood Stain

The General Finishes Oil Based Gel Stain is the number one product on our list of the best interior wood stains. It’s a dense formula with excellent penetration into the surface of your wooden structures. It is compact with reduced spillage. You can apply this product using a foam brush or a sponge.

A critical aspect of this product is its ability to works well with wood types that are challenging to stain. This formula is perfect for woods that take in a lot of stains. 

The Summary of Best Features

  • This product gives you the most “finishing feel” with a lustrous finish 
  • It is heavy-bodied, which means that it does not penetrate deeply into the wood compared to oil-based stains.
  • This formula gives an even appearance on woods that are difficult to stain such as aspen or pine
  • It is easy to apply this product as you can use a cloth or using a foam brush (no spills or splashes)


  • The product is heavy-bodied
  • It is easy to apply
  • This formula is excellent for interior wood
  • You can apply it using a cloth or foam brush


  • Requires sanding
  • You can easily find yourself over applying
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2. Minwax Penetrating Wood Finish- Great Option for Hardwood Floors

This product has high levels of penetration, which makes it a favorite of many professional woodworkers. This high penetration helps in bringing out wood grains closer to the surface of the wood. 

If, for example, you’d love to have your finish in high gloss, you have to use it together with a wood sealer. It’s available in several colors that enhance the qualities of your project.

We do recommend this product for new projects. The application of this formula is versatile as you can use a foam brush, regular brush, or a cotton rag. You can use it on kitchen cabinets, trims, furniture, and on the surfaces of unfinished woods. Thinning is easy using mineral spirits if you are looking for a lighter tone.

Note: It requires minimal sanding

The Summary of Top Features

  • This product is available in 28 beautiful colors for versatility.
  • It adds beauty to bare woods as well as stripped wood surfaces.
  • It’s the perfect product for staining unfinished wooden furniture, wood door, cabinets, trim, and hardwood floors.
  • This product has high penetration into the wood fibers.


  • Comes with a deep level of penetration
  • It’s the perfect product for new projects
  • This formula is suitable for cabinets, trim, and furniture
  • Best when used together with sealer
  • Enhances the natural beauty of the wood grain


  • It spills easily
  • Not the right choice if you are looking to cover existing coatings
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3. General Finishes Oil Based Gel Topcoat, 1 Quart, Satin- Perfect for Shiny Finish

When it comes to staining wood, this formula is among the best interior wood stains you will even find on the market. It comes with a wipe-on urethane that gives your structures extra shine, if you have dull and poorly finished furniture, use this product, and you will owe at the shimmering finish.

This formula, General Finishes SQ Gel Topcoat, enhances the sheen and darkens the wood allowing it to adopt an amber hue with time. It has one of the best coverage on the wood surfaces because it leaves behind no streaks or build-up, it’s a fantastic product for its price.

Its application is the easiest. Consider using a cotton rag for the best results possible. It will also save you the cost of buying a new paintbrush.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s an Oil-based product with high penetration abilities
  • It dries to touch in 12-24 hours with a curing time of up to 30 days
  • Easy application using a cotton cloth, foam brush, bristle brush and, paint pad applicator
  • Uses mineral spirits for clean up


  • You can sand this product following application
  • Dries within 24 hours 
  • Easy application


  • Not best for the first time painters
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4. Rust-Oleum Ultimate Stain – Perfect Product for Wood Floors and Indoor Wood Furniture

This Rust-Oleum formula has a reputation as one of the best interior wood stains you will find in the market today. If you are looking for a product that will dry faster, then this is the one. One coat application does the work, and you don’t necessarily need to add another layer. 

One outstanding quality about this product is its rubberized utility coating that has a medium-bodied thickness that seals against water. Besides, it can fill existing cracks.

Using this product allows you to offer your wood protection against damages by moisture. It comes with a more straightforward application method as you only need any standard brush to get the work done. It takes about one hour for the formula to dry after application. This formula is perfect for wood floors, indoor furniture, cabinets, etc.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s one of the best performing stains that enhances wood rain of your indoor wooden structures like kitchen cabinets, doors, and floors
  • This formula dries faster with excellent durability.
  • It takes one hour to dry to touch with a coverage of up to 275 sq. Ft. per quart
  • The formula gives the desired color in a single coat


  • It can fill cracks on the wooden surfaces
  • It dries faster with a single coat doing the trick
  • Does not require sanding
  • You can apply it over existing stain


  • It’s poor on external environments
  • You can over apply it unknowingly
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5. Minwax Gel Stain – Good Option for Vertical Surfaces

What makes this product one of the best interior wood stains is the ability to use it on various materials. It works well on wooden surfaces, metals, fiberglass, etc. Using this formula is easy because it does not drip easily, and this helps in protecting other nearby surfaces. 

Minwax Gel Stain is a thick one, and you can apply it using a roller, standard brush, or a piece of cloth. Minwax is excellent for indoor projects, especially vertical surfaces due to its ability to resist dripping.

If you are looking to add a sealer over this stain, you will have to sand it. Avoid adding mineral spirits to this formula. Always wipe off excess stain so that you can avoid streaks and runs appearing on your project.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It is applicable to many surfaces like wood, plywood, metal, fiberglass, etc.
  • It’s a formula that does not drip
  • This formula is available in 1 quart
  • It’s easy to apply


  • It’s the right product for interior doors, trims as well as banisters
  • An easy to use formula 
  • It does so well in just a single coating
  • Applicable on a variety of surfaces
  • This formula can cover existing stains
  • You can use it with a brush or a roller


  • It needs sanding
  • You can experience streak and runs 
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6. General Finishes Water Base – Perfect for Tough to Stain Surfaces like Pine

It’s the most friendly product from the general finishes because it contains no harsh chemicals, which makes it among the best interior wood stains in the market. In case of any spillage, this product is quite easy to clean due to its water-based nature. 

Unlike the watery water-based stains, this formula is much thicker and comes with ease of application using cotton cloth rag.

If you decide to use a roller, ensure that you apply this product slowly so that you can achieve the perfect results.

If you need a thinner formula, you can use mineral spirits. A little sanding may be necessary for between the coats. This formula gives you an excellent finish on soft and hardwoods.

The Summary of Top Features

  • You can spray or hand-apply this formula
  • It’s suitable for use indoors alone
  • This formula contains low odor and low Volatile Organic Compounds
  • It is easy to clean using water


  • The product is thick and easy to apply
  • Contains no lethal chemicals
  • Has a rustic look
  • You can thin this formula
  • It requires slight sanding


  • Requires a sealer for the best results
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7. SamaN Interior Water Based Stain – One Coat Formula and Great for Fine Wood

This product, the SamaN Interior wood stain, works perfectly on all interior wood surfaces. It is a semi-transparent water-based wood stain that you can use on doors, kitchen cabinets, and other wood furniture. 

What’s impressive is that you will find this formula available in up to 42 different colors, among them natural wood grain hues like different shades of walnut, cherry, and maple

When using this formula, you won’t need a wood conditioner, and this will save you extra coins and time for supplementary procedures. The application of a single coat of this product does the work well, and no other layer is necessary. The finished product is outstanding.

The Summary of Top Features

  • This product is perfect all types of indoor woodwork
  • It does not require a conditioner
  • A single coat works just fine
  • This formula has exceptional coverage
  • It’s Eco friendly


  • It produces no overlapping marks
  • This formula won’t raise the wood grain
  • It’s odorless
  • It’s friendly to the environment, human and pets


  • It’s only great for fine wood
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8. Varathane Premium Fast Dry Stain – The Pocket-friendly Choice

If you are working on a short timeline and looking for something that will dry faster, then this is what you should buy. This formula has microscopic pigmentation particles that are responsible for the deep tone it gives to any wood.

Use this product on wood cabinets, doors, paneling, and trim with a drying time of one hour. In case you want a lighter solution, you can always thin this product and apply it with a brush or a paint roller.

Note: This formula does not have very strong colors, which makes the final product a little dull unless you apply multiple coats. Also, prolonged exposure to sunlight causes discoloration.

Sanding the wood before the application is necessary. Use finer grit sandpaper before your first coat. The perfect temperature for this product is 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Best for indoor projects
  • It’s a fast-drying oil-based stain
  • This formula takes just 1 hour to dry to touch, making it suitable for projects with a short timeline.
  • It has a coverage of up to 275 square feet
  • Contains nano pigments for strong performance
  • Enhances the natural beauty of the wood grain


  • Less expensive
  • Dries faster
  • Simple clean up


  • Only for indoor application
  • Does fade
  • Needs multiple layers for intense colors
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9. Varathane Premium Wood Stain – Rich Color and Penetration

It’s one of the best interior wood stains in the market today. Varathane Premium Wood Stain is a translucent stain that works well on all interior wood products. This product is a soy-based formula that comes with a deep level of penetration into the wood grains to give outstanding colors.

You will find this product in up to 25 different colors, which gives you excellent flexibility with your choices. All these colors reflect different shades of natural wood types and do not deviate from the natural and typical wood grain tone.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Provides your wooden structures more authentic colors with deep penetration
  • Its color-rich translucent pigments help in the enhancement of the natural beauty of the wood
  • It comes in modern and fresh colors
  • It does not blotch


  • It dries to touch in 1-2 hours
  • This formula has an anti-settling formula which allows for less stirring
  • It uses premium pigment which is responsible for deeper colors
  • Has a double penetration rate compared to its peers
  • This product gives a durable translucent stain
  • Colors preference is 2 to 1 over competitors color options


  • Color choices can only be of the natural wood
  • For best results, recoating is necessary
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10. Old Masters Wiping Stain- Slow Drying Option

Old Masters Wiping Stain is for interior usage. However, you can use it outdoors alongside a clear protective coat. This product takes a little longer to dry compared to other similar products from different brands. This slow rate of drying provides different dynamics of staining.

Unlike the translucent product that we have reviewed so far, this product is heavy-bodied with a controllable interior wood staining. You can use it on old as well as newly finished wooden surfaces.

It comes with a lot of flexibility as you can apply it to steel doors too.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It is of great value compared to its price
  • This formula is easy to apply with a superior color control
  • You can use it outdoor but with a top coated with a protective finish


  • Easy to apply with superior control of color
  • Both interior and exterior usage


  • Requires additional protective coating on the exterior environment
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Deck staining is vital in a bid to preserve and make attractive interior wood structures. In this guide, I have listed in order some of the very best interior wood stains you can find in the market. 

I believe that any of the products on my list will be a perfect fit for your projects. I’ve interacted with a lot of woodworking stains for interior use and knows exactly what stain type that you need for the very best out of your interior wooden structures. If you asking me to suggest the right stain for your quest then it will be the General Finishes Oil Based Gel Stain. This station answers all questions regarding protecting and decorating your interior structures.

In case you have a question that you would like to share kindly do so in the comments section below. Rember that I value your feedback because sharing is caring!

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.