How To Stain Wood Floating Shelves

I just finished applying stain to my wood floating shelves. It is a fairly simple process, but there are some key steps when you stain wood floating shelves that you need to take to make the process easier. In this post, I will detail how I stained my shelves and the steps you should take to make it easier if you are doing the same.

How To Stain Wood Floating Shelves
Stained wooden floating shelves

I had previously built and mounted the floating shelves that I talked about here. To stain wood floating shelves, or any wood, you should start by gathering materials. At a minimum you will need wood stain, a rag for staining that can be thrown away afterwards, and some rubber gloves like these here. If you are staining something that is mounted to the wall like my floating shelves, you will also want painter’s tape to keep the stain off of the wall. I used this painter’s tape. If you wood is in a high place, you may also want a step ladder.

Stain Wood floating shelves - painters' tape applied around shelves
Applying painter’s tape between the shelf and the wall.

To stain wood floating shelves, I started with applying this painter’s tape all the way around the shelves. This keeps the stain from getting on the wall. If your wood that you want to stain is close to or touching something you do not want stained, this is how you keep the stain off of it. Make sure that the painter’s tape is as close to the edges of your shelves as possible. Also be sure that you press the tape down firmly to avoid the stain bleeding under it.

Stain Wood floating shelves - apply gloves before using wood stain
Apply gloves before using wood stain

After applying the painter’s tape, it is time to stain the wood floating shelves. Before opening the stain up, apply your rubber gloves. I used to stain without gloves. Simple food prep gloves like these work wonderfully to keep the stain off of your hands, and to keep your hands from stinking like wood stain for the rest of the day. Do yourself a favor and use gloves if you are going to be staining wood.

Stain Wood floating shelves - a little bit of stain got outside of the tape
Wood stained, but a little bit of stain got outside of the tape.

After you have your gloves on, you are ready to start staining your wood. To stain wood floating shelves, dip a corner of your rag into the stain. You want the rag wet, but not at all sopping. Drips are bad. Rub the rag gently across your wood to be stained. You are trying to apply a thin, even layer across your wood. As you apply the stain, your wood should not look wet where you have stained. You want a really thin layer. If the wood looks wet after you have applied stain, spread the stain out more so that it does not.

Stain Wood floating shelves - wood stain on wall cleaned up by Magic Eraser
Wood stain on wall cleaned up by Magic Eraser

If you accidentally stain outside of the tape, use a clean corner of your rag to wipe the stain away. After you are finished applying stain, you can remove the painter’s tape. Make sure that you are careful when you remove it so that none of the stain on it goes where you do not want it. If there are any spots from where the stain got out of control, a damp Magic Eraser will work well to wipe it up.

That is all it takes to stain wood floating shelves. This is a quick and easy project that has little prep work. It took me about an hour to stain my two wood floating shelves.