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Gray Wood Stains – Five Good Options

Gray wood stain is a popular stain option for many different types of wood. It is a cool, neutral color that can fit into nearly any home design from farmhouse to coastal to modern design. Gray wood stain can be used on DIY furniture projects, flooring, interior and exterior trim, and home decor pieces. Are you considering using a gray wood stain on an upcoming project and finding yourself overwhelmed with all the different gray stains on the market? In this blog post, we will take a look at 5 different gray wood stain options and see how they compare!

Gray Wood Stains 

I’ve already shared about my favorite wood stains which have several different stain colors from dark to light and gray. Today is all about gray wood stains!

See the other stain guides:
Guide to White Stains
Guide to Blue Stains
Guide to Natural Wood Stains

Weathered Gray Wood Stain

The Weathered Gray Wood Stain by Varathane is a great choice for those looking to achieve a rustic look with wood stain as far as appearance Weathered Oak is a light to medium gray with hints of brown. Weathered Oak allows you to get that vintage wood grain effect without any additional wood treatments or additives.

weathered gray stain on a farmhouse dining table
via Sweet Parrish Place

Sunbleached Gray Wood Stain

The Sunbleached Gray Wood Stain by Rustoleum is another great choice for those looking to achieve a lighter beachy look with wood stain. In terms of appearance, Sunbleached Gray is an even more subtle gray than Weathered Oak. This stain has more than just a hint of white which truly enhances the wood grain. I would recommend using this stain on projects that have unique grain patterns that you’ll want to show off. Like Weathered Oak, Sunbleached Gray gives you that rustic look without additional chemicals or wood additives. I use this stain regularly because of its superior coverage and gorgeous color.

Let’s see Sunbleached Gray in action.

Sunbleached gray wood stain on a beachy inspired nightstand
Live Love DIY

As you can see Sunbleached is a nice light gray that has a real beachy feel.

Graystone Gray Wood Stain

Graystone Gray Wood Stain by Varathane is a beautiful dark gray stain that maintains brown undertones. In certain lighting, Graystone is so rich that it can almost be mistaken for a black wood stain. This wood stain is perfect for those who want to achieve a more industrial modern look with their projects. It’s a beautiful interior wood stain that looks beautiful on furniture or as a dark flooring option.

Carbon Gray Wood Stain

If you are looking for a dark, dark wood stain – then you might want to check out Carbon Gray. This wood stain is just barely still in the gray wood stain color category as it’s so dark and rich that it nears black. It has a slight softness that lightens the color just enough that it’s a beautifully rich dark gray. Carbon Gray makes the wood grain truly pop. This stain will certainly make your next project stand out. Of the grey wood stain options, this is one to consider if you need a stain color that makes a statement.

Classic Gray Wood Stain

The Minwax Classic Gray Stain is the ole reliable standby. It’s really the ideal stain for someone who is looking for a true gray. This gray wood stain is perfect for those who are looking for a stain that can help achieve a more traditional look. Classic Gray is also a good choice if you are trying to match other colors in your home as it leans neither too cool nor too warm.  If you want a popular gray stain that will withstand the test of time and trends then this stain is a great choice.

We made these DIY nightstands that I love! I was inspired by a pair of Pottery Barn nightstands that had a beachy vibe. We used Classic Gray on this custom piece of furniture and it is a really nice medium gray.

Custom Gray Wood Stain

The great part of gray wood stain is the ability to customize the stain to suit your specific need. Looking for an even more subtle gray stain than the ones mentioned above add some white stain to lighten the hue a bit.  Are you looking for something a bit darker but don’t want to lose the naturalness of the wood undertones?  Add some Special Walnut or Early American Stain to achieve the look.

Custom gray stains are my favorite. There are so many options you can use to get the exact look you desire. If none of these stains work perfectly, try a combination of a few. I love using the combination of Sunbleached and Minwax Special Walnut.

Tips for Using Custom Wood Stain

  • I would always recommend testing your custom wood stain on either a scrap piece of material or on an inconspicuous location just in case it’s not exactly the look you were hoping for.
  • Unless you are using precise measurements for your custom wood stain be sure to make a large enough batch to stain the entire piece as it can be very difficult to replicate a custom wood stain recipe.
  • Choose stains with similar undertones to avoid the clashing of undertones in your final product. 

Now that you have hopefully selected your color it’s time to decide what type of stain is right for your project.

Types of Wood Stain

It’s important to be aware of the different types of wood stains before you even apply your first coat of stain. Knowing the difference between water-based, oil-based, and gel stains will help you prepare for your project.

Water-Based Stain

Water-based stain is not as durable as an oil-based stain but this can be overcome by using a  few coats of polyurethane once the stain has dried.  Water-based stain is much easier to use than oil-based stains and comes in a far greater variety of colors than oil-based stains. 

Oil-Based Stain

This is the most durable type of stain. Thus, it can be used in areas subject to tear and wear. It can also be applied to exterior wood, such as patio furniture, decks, fences, and house trim.  While many manufacturers make oil-based stains water-based stains come in a far greater variety of colors.  If you do choose an oil-based stain be sure to only use the stain in a well-ventilated area so the odors can be very strong.

Gel Wood Stains

Gel stains are oil-based or water-based stains that have been made to prevent the stain from dripping or running down the vertical surface. Because a gel stain finish is less affected by surface flaws, many DIY’ers prefer to use gel stains on wood that tends to blot or is known to contain many flaws, such as pine wood.

Tips for Staining Wood

Wood Staining Supplies You’ll Need

Lint Free Cloth
Wood Conditioner
Stain(s) of your choice
Wood finishing coat (like polyurethane)

Before you start your woodworking project, make sure the wood is clean and dry. A lot of people like to use a wood conditioner to avoid having any unevenness in the final product, but if you do choose to go this route just make sure that it’s completely dry before continuing on. Once you’ve finished staining your project, put some sort of sealant over it; I prefer using polyurethane.

So there you have it, five gray wood stains reviewed ranging from rustic gray wood stains to dark modern, and industrial grays!

Hopefully, this guide has given you better insight so that your future projects will turn out exactly how want them to!

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