How Many Square Feet Does A Gallon Of Stain Cover? (Find Out Now!)

Tiffany Nichols
by Tiffany Nichols

A beautifully stained surface catches the eye. It feels good to the touch, and it makes your home look amazing. So, you probably want this project to turn out great. But how many square feet does a gallon of stain cover?

A gallon of stain will cover different surfaces in different ways. The look you’re after and the type of stain you’re using play a role as well. Be sure to take precise measurements and check the label for a clearer picture.

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How Many Square Feet Does a Gallon of Stain Cover?

A gallon of stain can go a long way on one surface and not so far on another. Most of that depends on the porousness of the material you’re staining. For example, smooth surfaces generally take a gallon to cover 400-600 square feet. But that same gallon may only go about 150-250 square feet on rough surfaces.

Try to sand your materials before applying the stain. That will help make the liquid go further, and you’ll save some money. Be sure to check the label for specific instructions from the maker. And keep in mind that certain brands offer easily spreadable stains for large projects.

TIP: Some retailers might give you a discount if you buy your wood stain in bulk instead of by the gallon. See the store for details.

How Much Stain Do I Need for a 400 Square Foot Area?

If you’re staining a 400 square foot area made out of smooth wood, you may not need as much as you think. But if you’re covering the same spot before you sand it, you may need a little more. Remember, the work surface and stain type matter.

To calculate how much you’ll need, use this simple step-by-step guide:

  • Take measurements of your space to confirm its exact dimensions. Let’s say it’s 400 square feet exactly.
  • Divide that number (400) by the square footage listed on the container of stain. It should be right on the front.
  • Now, round up your answer to the nearest whole number. So, if you only need half of a can, add one more.

Let’s assume the can says it covers 220 square feet, and you’re working with sanded oak. The formula would look like this:

400 ÷ 220 = about 1.8 cans

If you round up, that makes two whole cans to cover a 400 square foot space. Easy. You can use that same formula no matter what the dimensions are.

Do I Need One or Two Coats of Stain?

The number of stain coats you need to finish a project varies. It depends on several factors, including the size of the container and the area you wish to stain. Most of the time, you’ll need at least two coats to cover the surface and seal it thoroughly.

Also, the amount you’ll need depends on the type of stain you’re using. For example, solid stains may require a second or third coat because they cover like paint. Meanwhile, semi-transparent stain dries differently. So, multiple coats may not make a big difference.

Always check the stain container to determine the recommended number of coats. Keep in mind that different materials may require separate application processes. For example, wood is very porous. It may soak up the stain and need additional coats to seal.

Can You Put Too Many Coats of Stain on Wood?

If you’re not careful, you could end up putting too many coats on your wood. Whether you’re finishing a deck or a kitchen floor doesn’t matter. You need to follow the instructions closely to prevent caking, wrinkling, and dripping.

Having too many coats of stain on your wood is a bad thing. You have to wipe off the excess so it doesn’t soak into the surface. If too much penetrates the wood, you’ll see a strange pigment on the surface in that area. If not enough, it won’t seal all the way.

How Long Should You Wait Before Applying More Stain?

Your wait time depends on three things:

In most cases, you’ll have to wait for about an hour. Just make sure it’s not tacky or sticky. The surface should be dry to the touch, which means you may have to wait longer. Either way, don’t be afraid to add a nice layer of polyurethane to protect and shine.

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Related Questions

How do I calculate square footage?

Calculate square footage (or feet squared) by first measuring the area’s length and width. Next, multiply the length times the width to find your dimensions. Here’s a basic equation to help: Length x Width = Area (in square feet).

What happens if you apply a second coat of stain too soon?

There could be some problems if you apply a second coat of stain too early. The first coat is to help cover the surface and seal it. So, the second coat won’t be able to penetrate if the surface isn’t completely dry. Plus, the first coat often leaves a residue that must be removed by sanding before applying the second coat.

Related Guides

Is Wood Stain Toxic After It Dries? (Find Out Now!)

Deck Stain Not Drying? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Tiffany Nichols
Tiffany Nichols

Tiffany Nichols specializes in aesthetics, design, marketing, and manufacturing. She's a copywriter and editor for several home renovation companies in the U.S. and works alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. Her hobbies include architecture, art, mental health, and fashion.

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