The most popular types of stains are oil stains, also called wiping stains (though most stains are wiped after application). Oil stains are widely available at paint stores and home centers. They are very easy to use because they provide a long working time; water-based stains are more difficult to use because they dry so fast.
The problem with oil stains is that they often don’t add a lot of color to the wood, especially dense woods such as maple and birch. When you wipe off the excess stain, which is the best practice for getting an even coloring, you may not achieve the intensity of color you’re after.
Here are seven suggestions for getting a darker coloring on any wood.
1. Sand the wood to a coarser grit. The coarser the grit, the larger the sanding scratches and the more room for colorant to lodge. You just have to sand fine enough so the scratches don’t show. You may be able to get away with #150 grit, or even #120 grit, as long as the sanding scratches are running in the direction of the grain.
If you prefer to use a random-orbit sander, you can finish up by hand sanding with the grain to line up the sanding scratches.