Traditional wood stain comes in only a few shades of brown. Stain manufacturers leave little room for creativity and less room for savings. What they're not telling you is that most stains are basically just diluted paint. Homemade stain can be made from any color at about half the price of paint. Use it as a base coat, or create beautiful wood pieces with hints of cool blue or shimmering gold. Whatever you choose, you'll get a custom color that lets the beauty of the wood grain shine through.
Read the paint's label. You have either latex or oil (alkyd) paint. Make sure you know which you have. If you can't find it on the label, you thin latex paint with distilled water. You thin oil paint with low odor mineral spirits or paint thinner. If you thin with the wrong thinner, you won't end up with stain -- you'll end up with garbage.
Stir the paint with a paint stick. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the can as you stir. As paint sits waiting for you to take it home, pigment settles to the bottom. If you don't stir it well, you'll get a slightly different shade of paint with more or less pigment each time you use it.
Pour paint equal to roughly half the amount of stain you think you'll need into a container. Use measuring cups to keep track of how much you add. Don't try to dilute the entire paint supply in one go. Old diluted paint doesn't sit well. Slow down and start small.
Stir the thinner -- for the same reasons you stirred the paint.
Add an equal amount of thinner to the container. For example, for each one cup of paint, you would add one cup of thinner. Make sure that you use the right type of thinner.
Stir the stain thoroughly.
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