Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaking A Can Of Wood Stain

Shaking something before you use it is muscle memory for a lot of people. For example, shaking a spray paint can before spraying furniture with it or shaking (that is, mixing) tubes of paint before squeezing out the contents. So, one may automatically think to shake a can of wood stain before popping the lid open. However, that's not the case. It's, in fact, best to avoid shaking a can of wood stain, or else it could mess with the application of the formula.

Wood stain might apply color to wood, but it's a whole different beast from paints and pressurized sprays. It uses different chemicals in its formula, and it's not entirely opaque on the surface. Because of that, you shouldn't treat it like you would any other painting supply. 

Why you shouldn't shake wood stain

Most wood stain cans warn users against shaking the product before use. And the reason for that is that the agitation can create bubbles. This might not seem like that big of a deal at first, but if you shake the can and start applying your polyurethane, you'll see why that's such a pain. Air will get trapped in the formula, and as you dip your brush and spread the stain across the surface, those air bubbles will transfer directly onto the piece and harden into place as it dries.

Granted, if you aren't new to staining, you'll know that dipping your brush into the stain can also cause air bubbles because of the disturbance. So you will likely still experience them either way and will be required to go back and forth with the bristles to pop them. However, shaking a can of wood stain will just exacerbate the issue further, causing you to eventually fix a botched paint job.

Instead, you want to slowly and gently stir the stain with a wooden stick, moving the ingredients that separated from the bottom to the top. However, if you accidentally shook the can before use, all is not lost. Simply let it settle for an hour before you use it, allowing all the air bubbles to escape.