Can You Stain Wood Glue? Read This First!

Oil stains are a good way to boost the aesthetic of a workpiece. If applied well, it will also add a water-resistant benefit to wood. However, we’re also wondering: can you stain wood glue? Most standard wood glue won’t take stain well or not at all. Still, wood glue products aren’t a lost cause for those who want to use a specific stain product.

In this post, I discussed how wood glue interacts with stain, how you can stain wood glue, and other tips to help your project.

can you stain wood glue

Is it possible to stain wood glue?

When it comes to staining wood glue, there are two methods that some woodworkers would have in mind. Those are the following:

Mixing the stain to the glue before application

If your aim is to add pigment to the wood glue before application, stains aren’t the best choice.  Wood glue has water, so if you add oil stains, it will not mix well. You’ll end up with blotchy or uneven color.

Also, oils aren’t known to blend well with other substances. Even if you use paintable wood glue, there’s no guarantee that the stain will mix well.

Aside from that, wood glue shrinks, so you’ll have to add more if you’re filling a spot. This also means that the stain will be displaced, which could possibly create an uneven color.

Staining after the wood glue dries

The best way to use stains is right after the wood glue dries. However, you have to use stainable wood glue, and not the typical ones you’ll use when bonding wood pieces.

If you use typical wood glue, the stain will bead up and not spread to the surface. You should also keep in mind that stainable is different from paintable.

Stainable wood glue has real wood fibers that make it receptive to staining and sanding. Elmer’s and GoodFilla have a selection of stainable wood glue you can use on your project.

Before staining, make sure that the wood glue has dried well. This way, you’ll know if you still need to add more before sanding and staining the surface. 

What if I accidentally used non-stainable wood glue?

If you already applied non-stainable wood glue, you can try using gel stains instead. However, this product isn’t really a stain since it just sits on top of the surface. But if you don’t mind the subpar finish on wood glue, gel stains are your best option.

However, if you’re working on a big project that needs seamless results, stripping the non-stainable wood glue is the best option.

You can scrape off the glue then use acetone to get rid of the leftovers. Soapy water also works, but not all workpieces can be soaked up this way.

Once you’re done removing the non-stainable wood glue, you can now apply a stainable type. It entails additional processes, but the results are long-term.

Alternative to wood glue: stainable wood fillers

If you’re filling gaps with glue and planning to stain them, you’re better off using stainable wood fillers instead. Unlike wood glue, stainable wood fillers are made to be as tough as wood while having stain-absorbing characteristics.

Take note that stainable wood fillers come in different types:

  • Epoxy-based. This is the most durable of all stainable wood fillers. However, it also entails additional preparation since you need to achieve the right consistency.

Nevertheless, it’s a good choice for outdoor use since it resists moisture.

  • Gypsum-based. If you need to fill gaps on indoor wood pieces, a gypsum-based wood filler is the best choice. It comes in dust form that can be mixed with water. Once it has dried, it will become as hard as wood or rock. After that, you can stain it easily.
  • Cellulose-based. Wood fillers with real wood fibers are also called cellulose-based wood fillers. It’s one of the most affordable options and can be mixed with a stain prior to application.
  • Latex-based. This type of stainable wood filler is often used for outdoor applications. Just note that it sets quickly, but it remains easy to work with. Once it hardens, you can sand the wood filler and stain it thereafter.

Will wood glue stick to stained wood?

Based on my experience, wood glue will not stick well on stained surfaces. If you have to bond two pieces of stained wood, you have to sand the surface first. This is to remove the layer of stain to allow the glue to reach the wood grains.

Take note that even if stained wood seems to have bonded well with glue, it will not create a firm hold. It’s crucial, especially if you’re making a joint out of the wood pieces.

How long before I can stain wood glue?

You should wait for at least 24 hours before staining a stainable wood glue. This is to allow the glue to settle and harden. And since wood glue shrinks, it’s best to let it cure to the fullest, so you’ll know if you need to add more prior to staining.

Some wood glue products are fast-drying and can be stained after 8 hours. It’s always best to check the label of the glue you’re using to be sure.

Can I sand off wood glue?

If you want to smoothen wood glue or remove smears, the best way to do so is through sanding. You can also soften smears with acetone before sanding for the best results.

Also, if you’re using stainable wood glue, sanding it before applying the stain is a good move. It will help even out the surface and create more abrasions for the stain to adhere well.

If your aim is to remove remnants of wood glue, you can sand it using 1200-grit sandpaper.

Can you glue over wood dye?

There’s no problem using wood glue over wood dye as long as you use a regular PVA type. However, make sure that the wood isn’t sealed yet. Also, you should watch over glue squeeze as the water on it can re-dissolve the dye and create smears on the edge of the wood.

Should you sand the wood before gluing?

It’s advisable to sand your wood pieces before gluing. This will remove any old finish or contaminants that will affect the tackiness of the glue product. Also, sanding evens out the surface, which allows glue to adhere better. However, you should avoid overdoing it as sanding can also make the wood material too thin.


Can you stain wood glue? Yes, but only if you use a stainable wood glue product. If not, the stain would just sit on top or bead without fully drying. You can try using gel stains, but there’s no guarantee of the results. Whatever method you use, make sure that you test it on a spare piece to avoid ruining your project.

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