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The best Ebony Wood Stain Colors

If you are looking for the perfect ebony wood stain color for your DIY furniture project, here are the 2 biggest options on the market tested on 4 types of wood each!

Wood stain has the ability to completely change the look of your wood project.

Seriously – look at a piece of wood furniture in a dark brown finish. Then, see if it comes in a light or whitewashed finished. Totally different aesthetic!

That’s why it is so important to put thought into the wood stain color that you choose for your project.

Today I am rounding up the 2 different ebony stains in our arsenal so you can see how they each look on 4 species of wood!

What is ebony?

Ebony is a very dark brown wood – almost black in color. Ebony is a tropical, exotic wood that isn’t exactly cheap or easy for the average woodworker to get their hands on.

Ebony wood stains are available to give any wood species the signature color of ebony wood.

How to Apply Ebony Wood Stain Colors

Applying ebony wood stain is similar to applying any other highly-pigmented stain color.


To prep your wood for staining, make sure to sand it with a high grit sandpaper – I like 220 grit.

This opens up the “pores” of the wood and makes it more absorbent. Some woods straight from the store have a bit of a coating on them, so sanding helps them absorb stain more evenly.

Then, wipe the wood clean.

If you are using a light wood and a dark stain, I always suggest using a wood conditioner. I used wood conditioner on all of my wood samples to ensure a more even stain.

Then, you are ready to stain!

Application Techniques

You can apply your ebony wood stain with a foam brush or a lint-free cloth.

Always apply wood stain in the direction of the wood grain. Let dry according to the directions on the can (15-30 minutes) before wiping off any excess or pooling stain.


Once your wood is stained and sealed, it should not need much maintenance.

My biggest tip is to try to wipe up spills – even just plain water – as quickly as possible to avoid staining.

See our favorite natural sealants here!

Factors to Consider when Choosing Ebony Wood Stain Colors

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when selecting a wood stain color.

Type of Wood

As you will see in the below images, different wood species absorb stain at different amounts. Typically, lighter, softer woods are more absorbent than darker or hardwoods.

This means that it will take a much darker stain to show up on hardwoods, while lighter stains might be enough for light woods.

Desired Shade of Ebony

Of course, decide what shade of ebony you are going for – more chocolate brown or closer to black.

See our favorite black wood stains here!

Natural Light Exposure

The more light that a piece gets, the lighter the color will look. A color that looks black on the can might read as more gray on your wood in a very bright room.

Interior or Exterior Use

Some stains are interior and others are formulated for exterior use. This is important for the maintenance of the wood.

All of the samples that I used are interior wood stain, though the brands might also use those colors in exterior formulas.


Different wood stains might have higher or lower costs compared to others. I always suggest shopping in-store for wood stain as they definitely jack the prices up online!

the best ebony wood stains

The best Ebony wood stains

The 2 ebony wood stains that we are sharing are:

  • Varathane Ebony
  • Minwax Ebony

We are sharing these because they are all slightly different and all great in their own ways.

Plus, they are easy to find. Varathane is carried at Home Depot and Minwax is at Lowes. So, if you have those two stores, these are basically all of your wood stain options.

We tested each of these wood stains on 4 different types of woods so you can see how it might look on your project:

Click here to read about how we tested ten different wood stains on 5 species of wood each!

Minwax Ebony

minwax ebony wood stain

Minwax Ebony reads as a deep charcoal, almost black wood stain color.

It gives great coverage and is easy to work with. This is my pick if you want a “soft black” ebony stain color.

Click here for our complete Minwax Ebony color review.

Minwax Ebony on 4 types of wood

Varathane Ebony

varathane ebony wood stain

Varathane Ebony has a bit more brown to it and reads as a deep chocolate color.

It’s also got great coverage and my pick if you want something warmer and more like a dark dark brown.

Click to read our complete color review of Varathane Ebony.

varathane ebony on 4 types of wood

Ebony Stains on each type of wood

Here’s a snap of these ebony wood stains on each type of wood.

These are unedited photos taken in indirect natural light.


Ebony wood stain on poplar

Poplar has naturally green undertones.

Poplar isn’t known for being naturally super beautiful, so I like a full coverage stain on it. You can’t go wrong with either option!


Ebony wood stain on oak

Red oak is a slightly darker wood with natural red undertones.

Be sure to check out all of the best wood stains on oak!

Pine (plywood)

Ebony wood stain on pine

Pine is another light yellow wood but with golden grain lines.

Standard 2×4

Ebony wood stain on 2x4

A 2×4 is usually light wood with dark knots.

How do you stain wood ebony?

how to close a can of woodstain with a hammer

Ebony wood stain is really easy to apply!

It’s important to start with clean, sanded wood. Wood straight from the store can have a slight coating on it, so be sure to lightly sand to expose the fresh wood underneath.

You may then apply a wood conditioner if you want to help the stain absorb more evenly.

Wood conditioner is less important with white wood stains compared to dark wood stains, which look splotchy more easily.

Then, apply the stain. I like to use a lint-free cloth and apply in the direction of the woodgrain.

Let sit for five minutes or more and then use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess. Don’t forget to check the sides for drips!

Any questions about ebony wood stains?

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