DIY Dark Brown Wood Stain

Are you looking for a way to give wood a deep, rich color? Make this DIY dark brown wood stain! I’m sharing my easy-to-make recipe that works great on pine.

Electric Fireplace Mantle Close Up of Bed Molding

Do you love dark, rich stained wood? Are you having trouble getting that deep, decadent color? Then you have come to the right place! Today I’m adding to the paint, stain, and finish collection and sharing my recipe for making DIY Dark Brown Wood Stain!

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I have a confession. I love IKEA’s Black-Brown wood stain. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to duplicate that delicious dark color. None of my attempts have been quite right, but this approach comes the closest. I thought it was unfair to call it black-brown; it’s more of a brown-black… let’s call it Decadent Dark Chocolate!

Electric Fireplace Mantle Close up of Glass

I wanted dark brown wood stain for my DIY electric fireplace mantel, and this recipe for DIY Dark Chocolate Brown wood stain was exactly what I wanted for this piece. It starts with oxidizing the wood and ends with a coat of my favorite Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain colors.. “Kona”!

Electric Fireplace Mantle Three Quarter View

DIY Dark Chocolate Brown Wood Stain


Step 1. Apply a Tea Stain

Believe it or not, you can stain wood with tea. Boil a cup of water and add 4-5 tea bags (I used black tea). Steep for 30 minutes. Remove the tea bags and allow it to sit for 12 to 24 hours. Apply the tea with a paint brush.

Related: How to Make a Tea Stain

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The tea brings out the tannins in the wood. Tannins are what makes the wood dark. This step won’t really change the color of the wood, but prepares it for the second step. You can also try strongly brewed coffee instead of tea.

Related: How to Stain Wood with Coffee

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Step 2. Oxide the Wood

Combine some steel wool and white vinegar in a mason jar and allow to sit for a few days. The vinegar and steel wool will have a chemical reaction. When applied to the tea treated wood, the vinegar will immediately start to oxidize the tannins in the wood and turn the wood dark.

Related: How to Make Steel Wool and Vinegar Stain

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If you want a redder color, you can use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar. You’ll need to lightly sand after 24 hours as these two steps raise the grain of the wood.

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Step 3. Apply the Stain

Follow the instructions on the container of Kona stain. This stain dries quickly, so only leave the stain on for the recommended 1-2 minutes.

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Like I said, this is pretty close to the black-brown. I think the IKEA finish has a touch more black in it, so you could try a little ebony stain on top. I’m sooo pleased with the way it turned out. The only thing left to do is to apply a top coat like Bob’s Miracle Finish.


    1. Thank you! Rust-Oleum stains are the BEST! I was never satisfied with any of my stained projects until I tried the Rust-Oleum stains – now I’m pleased every time! And I’m with you… Kona is my 🙂

    1. Hi Cal – The oxidization process darkens the wood. I wouldn’t use this technique if you want a light stain color for your project.


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