Oil Based Penetrating Wood Stains

Liquid Oil Based Wood Penetrating Stains are made from the highest-quality oils, resins and pigments to ensure your finishing project will be an easy and rewarding experience. These wipe-on stains are designed to be applied over raw wood surfaces.

Need some inspiration? Visit the General Finishes Design Center or Pinterest Board for oil-based wood stain ideas.

Find A Store Compare Similar Products
General Finishes Liquid Oil Based Wood Stain, Pecan, Quart


Step 1: Preparation

All raw wood projects require preparation sanding before applying stain or wood conditioners. If you skip this critical step, your finish may be rough and uneven.

Preparation for Raw Wood Projects Prior to the Application of an Oil-based Stain
See our video: How to Prep Sand Raw Wood

  1. Prep sand with 120-grit sandpaper followed by 150-grit sandpaper.
  2. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, a tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.  
  3. Do not over-sand with fine-grit sandpapers; this will close and seal the wood grain, preventing ideal product absorption.

Preparation of An Existing Butcher Block Surface

  1. Remove any food residue using a pastry scraper or spatula to gently scrape the countertop in areas where you find dried-on food or residue. Avoid gouging the wood by keeping the blade at an angle that just skims the surface.
  2. Scrub the countertop using a scrub brush, Scotch Brite Pad or sponge and scrub the countertop with hot water and mild dish soap.
  3. Rinse with hot water: Run a clean dishcloth through hot water and rinse the countertop several times.
  4. Dry thoroughly with a clean dish towel or paper towel.

Step 2: How To Apply General Finishes Liquid Oil Based Stain

General Finishes Liquid Penetrating Oil Based Stain Application Steps
NOTE: Due to its white color, General Finishes White Mist Oil Base Wood Stain ambers over time.

Hand-Application over Raw Wood:

  1. Stir stain to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom of the can before and throughout the application process.
  2. Thinning: Do NOT thin.
  3. Caution: Always work in a space with adequate ventilation. Open windows and doors, or use other means to maintain fresh air flow during application and drying.
  4. Penetrating stains are thinner than gel stains and more prone to blotching and uneven results. If working with woods that are difficult to stain, such a pine or maple, we recommended using General Finishes Gel Stain or General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain. Optionally, an initial coat of General Finishes Pre-Stain Conditioner Natural can improve color uniformity over difficult-to-stain wood species. However, it will limit color absorption, so a darker stain may be required to get the depth of color you want.
  5. CAUTION: Contains ALIPHATIC HYDROCARBONS. VAPOR HARMFUL. Use only with adequate ventilation or wear NIOSH approved respiratory protection.
  6. Test your complete finishing process before starting. The stain color is affected by variances in wood and deepened with the application of topcoat.
  7. Divide your project into manageable sections: top, side, drawer, door, table seam.
  8. Apply 1-2 coats using a cotton rag, natural bristle brush, foam brush or pad applicator. 
  9. Stain a complete section and wipe off the excess evenly with the grain using cotton cloth, high-quality paper towel or shop towel. Check for missed spots and lap marks before moving to the next section. 
  10. Immediately correct lap marks by rewetting the entire working area with stain and wiping off the excess.
  11. Pull excess stain out of corners and details with a natural bristle brush.
  12. Let the stain dry 24+ hours in ideal conditions: 70°F/20°C, 50-70% humidity. Inadequate dry time is one of the top reasons for finish failures. You can tell if an oil-based finish is dry if it is no longer tacky, cool to the touch, and if you can press a cotton ball over the surface and nothing sticks. If in doubt, wait longer. Increase dry time if:
    • Humidity is over 80%
    • 3+ coats are applied
    • Thick coats are applied
    • Layering General Finishes water- and oil-based products:
      • Water over oil: Let oil-based product dry 72+hrs
      • Oil over water: Let water-based product dry 24+hrs
    • To accelerate drying in humid conditions, work in a space with good ventilation and air movement. 
  13. Finish with 3 coats of General Finishes topcoat.


Step 3: Topcoat Over Oil Based Stain

Always seal General Finishes oil-based stains with 3 coats topcoat to lock in the color. You can use either oil-based or water-based topcoat. When layering water-based and oil-based products, increase the dry time:

  • Water over oil: Let oil-based products dry 72+hrs
  • Oil over water: Let water-based products dry 24+hrs

DO NOT use General Finishes Enduro-Var Topcoat with oil-based products.

General Finishes Arm-R-Seal

  • Thinner consistency.
  • Oil-based.
  • Ambers.
  • Available in Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss sheens.
  • Because of its thinner consistency, Arm-R-Seal is easier to apply over large and detailed surfaces, such as kitchen cabinets.
  • General Finishes most durable retail topcoat and suitable for high-use areas.

General Finishes Gel Topcoat

  • Thick consistency.
  • Oil-based.
  • Ambers.
  • Available in Satin sheen. This satin is shinier than Arm-R-Seal satin.
  • Durable and suitable for high-use areas.

General Finishes High Performance or General Finishes Flat Out Flat Water Based Topcoat

  • Looks "white" in the can.
  • Drys clear.
  • Water cleanup.
  • Brush or spray.
  • High Performance is very durable and suitable for high-use areas.
  • Flat Out Flat is designed to look and feel like a wax finish; it is recommended for low-use projects.

Cleanup of Oil Based Products

Clean up application materials and hands with mineral spirits or waterless hand cleaner, like Goop or Gojo. 

Take great care when disposing of product-soaked applicators. Application materials, such as brushes and towels, containing oil-based products may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately place all application materials soaked with this product in a sealed, water-filled metal container. Dispose of in accordance with local fire regulations. 

Clean up spills with mineral spirits immediately while wet. If oil-based finishes dry, they are difficult to clean off any surface, clothes or carpet. Carpet may discolor if cleaned with mineral spirits.

Protect your workspace with a tarp, your hands with gloves, and your clothes with an apron.

Storage of Oil Based Products

Life of Product
General Finishes products do not last forever, even when unopened. They are best used within 1 year of the manufacture date listed on the bottom of the can. The life of the product may be extended with proper care and storage.

Storage Tips
See our video: Tips for Storing Leftover Finishes
Oil-based products start to harden and cure when exposed to oxygen. The following best practices will increase the life of your product:

  1. Keep container tightly closed and sealed until ready for use, in the original container. Do not store in unlabeled containers.
  2. Pry open sealed lids with a paint can opener by hooking under the lid's rolled edge. The use of a screwdriver can disfigure the rim and lid, impairing a complete seal. 
  3. Keep lid closed while working. Decant what you will use into a bowl, paper cup, or plate, and close can lid as you work. Every minute the can is open, the product is curing.
  4. Containers that have been opened must be carefully resealed and kept upright to prevent leakage. Clean the chime of the can thoroughly with a paper towel before closing to create a complete seal. Product in the chime can be minimized by using a pouring lid, such as Fitsall. Avoid wiping used brushes on the lid.
  5. Pound the lid in place using a rubber mallet to avoid distorting the chime or lid. Dents in the lid from direct contact with a hammer can impair a complete seal. Alternatively, place a flat piece of wood over can lid and firmly pound shut.
  6. Avoid temperatures below 50°F/10°C or above 80°F/26°C. Frozen and heat-damaged product cannot be revitalized. Store in original container protected from direct sunlight in a dry, cool and well-ventilated areas.
  7. Do not store product in an attic, garage, in direct sunlight, or next to ignition source with heat and flames such as a furnace. 
  8. Store the can upside down to create a liquid seal, minimizing oxygen exposure from within the can. Decant remaining product from the can before stirring.
  9. Add Bloxygen can. Bloxygen is an argon gas system that prevents oxygen and moisture from hardening leftover product. Because Bloxygen gas is heavier than air, it sinks to the surface of the leftover finish, creating a barrier between product and air trapped in the container.
  10. Decant leftovers to a smaller, properly labeled container when the finish is almost used up to reduce the volume of oxygen in the container.
  11. Use appropriate containment to avoid environmental contamination.

Warnings and Warranties

Do not use water-based products with Linseed Oils or Danish Oils.

Limited Warranty
General Finishes products must be tested to your complete satisfaction before using. General Finishes will not be responsible for color satisfaction, misapplication, nor compatibility with other manufacturers' products. General Finishes will be responsible only for the cost of our products, and not for costs such as labor, damage or project replacement. 

Contamination and Compatibility
Our finishes are engineered as a system and are compatible with each other. General Finishes cannot guarantee an ideal refinish when applying our products on top of or combined with another company's products or over surfaces that have been in contact with waxes, polishes or sprays containing contaminants such as silicone. Test for adherence and aesthetics before beginning. 

If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log onto www.epa.gov/lead.

Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms occur due to the following. EYE CONTACT: Remove any contact lenses. Flush eyes with water for 20+ minutes while lifting upper and lower eyelids. SKIN CONTACT: Wash thoroughly after handling. INHALATION: Move to fresh air and loosen clothing. If not breathing, if breathing is irregular or if respiratory arrest occurs, provide artificial respiration or oxygen by trained personnel. INGESTION: Call physician immediately. Wash out mouth with water. Do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. 

This product contains a chemical known to the State Of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye or skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water.

Keep out of reach of children. Avoid contact with eyes. Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Wash thoroughly after handling.


Basic Features
Product Colors American Walnut, Antique Cherry, Candlelight, Danish Teak, Honey, Honey Maple, Mahogany, Pecan, Salem, Spiced Walnut, Warm Cherry
Base Type Oil
Interior or Exterior Interior only
Type Oil Based Stain
Coats 1+ coats
Application Method Brush, Wipe On with Clean Rag, Wipe Off
Brushable Yes
Usable over existing finishes No
Sprayable No
Dry Time
Dry Time - Touch 8+ hr
Dry Time - Recoat 24+ hr
Can Sizes Half-Pints, Pints, Quarts
Coverage 45-50 sq.ft./half pint, 180-200 sq.ft./quart
Technical Data
Viscosity Thin
Weight Solids 36%
VOC American Walnut: 539.093 g/L
Antique Cherry: 548.961 g/L
Candlelight: 549.945 g/L
Danish Teak: 549.942 g/L
Honey Maple: 553.543 g/L
Honey: 548.149 g/L
Mahogany: 542.447 g/L
Pecan: 552.269 g/L
Salem: 545.970 g/L
Spiced Walnut: 548.018 g/L
Warm Cherry: 547.902 g/L

Design Center


Oil Based Liquid Wipe-On Wood Stain FAQs

Can Gel Satin Topcoat be tinted with GF's liquid oil based stains?

Yes, you could mix up to 20% General Finishes liquid oil stains with General Finishes Gel Satin Topcoat.

Relevant Videos

*Can I Use Interior Wood Stains Outdoors If I Coat With an Exterior Topcoat?

Interior wood stains are formulated for interior use and do not contain UV absorbers, mold retardants or HALS (Hindered amine light stabilizers used to protect the polymers from the effects of photo-oxidation.) Waterbased interior stains are much more likely to fail.

You could try this look on an exterior door that will not receive a lot of sun, but be prepared for more maintenance than usual. It is not recommended.

Everyone should note that all exterior finishes need to be maintained at some point - MOTHER NATURE wins the longevity war

Related Products

Relevant Videos

Can Gel Satin Topcoat be tinted with GF's liquid oil based stains?

Yes, you could mix up to 20% General Finishes liquid oil stains with General Finishes Gel Satin Topcoat.

Relevant Videos