Stain Calculator: How Much Stain Do You Need?


Calculate How Much Stain You Will Need for Your Project!

Stain is a color or colorless finish for woodwork, furniture, cabinets, moldings, hardwood floors and other wooden objects inside and outside the house. It can also be applied to metal and fiberglass surfaces (some stains, at least). While 1 coat of stain is usually sufficient, an additional protective top coat is usually a worthwhile consideration.

If you intend to finish wood, you might want to know how much stain you will need. Use this calculator to get an estimate for the amount of stain required.

The Stain Calculator (for Interior & Exterior, Oil-Based, Water-Based & Gel Stains)

This calculator helps you determine how much stain you need to get for your project. Fill in the required parameters and read the instructions below for further guidance.

How to Calculate the Amount of Stain Needed

Follow these steps and use our calculator to determine how much stain you will need for your project.

1) Determine the Area

Calculate the area that you intend to stain. If it is a rectangular or square surface, you can determine the square footage or square meters by multiplying the long and the short side with each other.

Calculate Area

2) Choose the Right Stain

Select type of stain

Select which type of stain you will use for your project. This calculator supports and you can choose from

  • oil-based interior stain,
  • water-based interior stain,
  • oil-based exterior stain,
  • water-based exterior stain, and
  • gel stain.

If you are not yet sure whether to use oil- or water-based stain, read this article with details on the different types of stain. Apart from the qualitative aspects, you may also consider the square footage per quart or gallon and the drying time both types require.

3) Number of Coats

Field for number of coats

Fill in the number of coats. For most interior uses, 1 coat of stain is enough. However, a second coat can intensify the shade or darken the surface if desired. For exterior stain, a second coat is often recommended. You might also consider a durable topcoat (e. g. Polyurethane), in particular for exterior wood, such as decks, fences and furniture.

Note that this calculator only asks for the coats of stain – use our polyurethane calculator to determine the required amount of topcoat.

4) Select the Units

Units for amount of stain

Choose the right units – this calculator allows you to calculate the amount of stain in gallons, quarts, ounces and liters. Make sure that the unit you select matches the unit of the can of stain you are getting.

5) Calculate the Amount of Stain Needed

Result: How much stain you will need for your project

The calculator computes the result automatically and (almost) immediately once all parameters have been populated. There is no need to press a button. Note that the calculation is based on a number of data points from different manufacturers. The overall accuracy is +/- 25% as the characteristics of individual products and the condition of workpieces may vary. Check the details on the can and calculate a reserve if you are staining old or worn-down wood.

What Are the Alternatives to Stain as a Wood Finish?

A natural alternative to using off-the-shelf stain is coffee – read this article for more details.

If you want to finish wood with a color coating, you might want to consider paint and lacquer (also available as colorless type). For a colorless finish or a coating with a hue, varnish, polyurethane or wood finishing oils are good alternatives.


We hope that you have found this calculator useful. If you are in the process of choosing a stain for your project, you may also want to read our introduction to the different types of stain as well as this article on drying times of stain where we have compared 11 popular stains.

Sources: This calculator uses the average square footage per quart provided by the manufacturers on their website or at Amazon. The results are estimates only, as the actual amount of stain needed may be subject to variation depending on the type and condition of the surface, environmental conditions etc. The estimate is not valid for spray nor thinned stain. In any case, refer to the instructions on the can to determine how much of a particular stain is needed.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?