How to Fix a Water-Stained Bench


We had a heavy downpour last week, which caused the skylight in our bedroom to leak. The water sat overnight on an oak bench I had built more than twenty years ago and finished with shellac. As you can see, the shellac had little resistance to the water.

In cases like this, the only solution is to sand off the old finish. For this I used my palm sander and #180-grit sandpaper. Since I was only refinishing the top of the bench, I protected the end boards from the sander with blue masking tape.

After vacuuming off the dust, I reached for a can of Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Gunstock”. It can be applied with either a brush or a cloth, but all excess stain has to be wiped off before it dries, as the stain belongs in the wood, not on top if the wood.

Instead of shellac, this time I used the satin sheen of Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane. The satin sheen gives it an antique look, but it still has the polyurethane protection my bench needs.

Just a faint reminder of the water stain remains, as I purposely only did a light sanding to preserve the aged look of the oak bench. I could have removed all of the stain with a belt sander and bleach, but that would have also erased the “character” of my bench.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!