Can You Sand Veneer and Stain It?

Veneer furniture is a low-cost and environmentally friendly alternative to solid wood furniture. Moreover, veneer furniture tends to be lighter and easier to move around the home if you want to update the space.

But what if you also want to upcycle your veneer furniture? Can you sand veneer and stain it?

Although you can stain veneer, you should generally avoid sanding it. 


You should avoid sanding veneer. Otherwise, you run the risk of sanding right through the veneer. 

Use liquid deglosser such as Klean Strip Liquid Sandpaper or M-1 paint deglosser. These liquid deglossers remove any finishes that can prevent stains from seeping into the veneer.

What is a veneer?

A veneer or wood veneer is technically thin sheets of real wood. Typically veneer is glued to composite wood to give the impression that a wood surface is 100% made of real wood. 

There is historical evidence that wood veneer has been around since before the Middle Ages and resurfaced in the 17th century in Europe. It was initially used to create intricate patterns and designs for furniture. Veneer was primarily made from cherry, boxwood, mahogany, and satinwood.

Nowadays, it can be made from a variety of different types of hardwood and softwood attached to a panel of fiberboard or particle board. It is popular for furniture making because it is inexpensive, lighter, and less prone to warping.

Note that veneer is different from manufactured wood. Veneer is made from real wood, whereas manufactured or engineered wood is made from wood fibers. Nevertheless, you can stain veneer practically the same way that you can stain manufactured wood

Related: Stain vs Paint Furniture: Key Differences to Consider

Can you sand veneer? 

Sanding veneer isn’t the best idea if you want to stain it later on. Wood veneer is extremely thin, and there is a high chance you will sand right through the thin layer of veneer. You can see what this looks like below: 

Sanding veneer is perfectly fine before painting. After all, if you end up sanding through the veneer, the paint will cover imperfections like these up. 

To prep before staining though, you should use liquid deglosser instead of sandpaper. Liquid deglosser removes the top coat of finish so that the stain can properly adhere to the underlying veneer. Liquid sandpaper by Klean Strip or M-1 paint deglosser are great choices. 

How to prep veneer before staining

To prep your veneer furniture for staining, you’ll need:

  • Liquid deglosser (Klean Strip Liquid Sandpaper or M-1 paint deglosser are great choices)
  • Dish soap and water
  • Cloth rag
  • Wood glue (if needed for repairing veneer)
  • Rubber gloves

To prep your furniture follow these steps:

  1. Inspect your furniture for any damaged pieces of veneer or areas where the veneer detaches from the particle board. If there is any separation between the veneer and the surface it adheres to, use wood glue to reattach the veneer. 
  2. Slip on your rubber gloves and apply a dash of liquid deglosser to a clean rag. Rub the rag in a circular motion on the veneer surface. Make sure to sufficiently cover the surface in the liquid deglosser and regularly reapply the liquid deglosser to do so. 
  3. See the manufacturer’s instructions to know how long to let the solution sit. Once the stripper has sat for the minimum amount of time, wipe off the residue with a fresh rag. 
  4. Fill a small pale with warm water and mix in a dash of dish soap. Soak a clean rag in the solution and wipe down the veneer surface to remove any liquid deglosser residue. 

After you properly prep with the liquid deglosser, you can move on to staining your veneer furniture!

Staining your veneer 

For staining your veneer furniture, you’ll need to first decide what type to use. Some common stains to consider include:

  • Oil-based stain: Dries longer, often has stronger, bolder color, and is more durable than water-based stains
  • Water-based stain: Dries fast, often has a softer color, and less durable than oil-based stains
  • Gel stain: Jelly-like texture that sits on the surface (as opposed to traditional stain which sinks into the surface) 

Besides considering the type of stain, you’ll also need to think about sheens. Stains often come in matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss finishes. Choose your finish according to how “shiny” you want your furniture to be.

Lastly, you’ll have to choose the color. Generally, it’s best to choose a stain color that resembles the color of the existing veneer. 

Be sure to test the stain of your choice in an inconspicuous part of the furniture. This way you can gauge if the color comes out the way you want it to. Otherwise, opt for a clear stain to preserve the natural color of the veneer. 

To stain your veneer, you’ll only need the stain and either a brush or rag to apply the medium. You may also need a stirrer and some old newspapers or drop cloth to protect your floor.

Here’s how to apply the stain properly:

  1. Stir the stain in the can with a wood stirring stick to ensure the components of the stain are evenly mixed
  2. Then, dampen the end of a rag or the brush and apply the stain on the furniture thinly. Always move along the grain direction while applying the stain
  3. Wait 12 – 24 hours for the stain to dry to the touch. Check your stain’s label for the exact recommended dry time. 
  4. If unsatisfied with the color, you can deepen it by adding more stain after the first coat has fully dried. Follow steps 1-3 again.

Top stains for veneer furniture 

There are many types of stains provided by a slew of brands, and picking one for your furniture can be daunting. Below are a few of our favorite brands to try for your veneer furniture.

Minwax Wood Finish

Minwax Wood Finish is an oil-based stain that comes in 36 colors and three sizes: half-pint, quart, and gallon. It is recommended for indoor use only.

It is also semi-transparent, allowing the wood grain to show beautifully through the stain.

Varathane Water-Based Wood Stain

This water-based stain from Rust-Oleum comes in 8 colors and two can sizes—half-pint and quart. Recommended for indoor use only, this semi-transparent, wood stain is extremely popular and can be found at most big box hardware stores. 

As a water-based medium, it has low VOC and has low-odor. It also dries relatively quickly. After two hours, the stain will be dry to the touch and can be reapplied if needed. 

General Finishes Oil-Based Gel Stain

The oil-based gel stain from General Finishes comes in 30 colors and four can sizes, including half-pint, pint, quart, and gallon. It can also be used for both indoor and outdoor furniture.

However, since it is a gel stain, it dries very slowly (8 hours to a full day). It’s also a bit trickier to apply compared to water or oil-based stains. 


Sources: veneer/#:~:text=They%20date%20back%20to%20Ancient,bonded%20to%20the%20underlying%20material. 

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