Almost all of the trim in my house is pine, and after 22 years, it's showing
wear. Furthermore, we have some wooden items (pine) that we want to stain to
match the woodwork.
Pine can be difficult to stain. YouTube and Minwax's web site have helped me
learn a lot, but I still have questions. But first, here is the correct
procedure as I understand it for getting a decent stain on pine:
1. Sand the piece smooth with 120 grit and then 220 grit sandpaper.
2. Apply pre-stain sealer for 10 minutes, wipe off the excess.
3. Apply stain for 10 minutes, wipe off excess. Let dry for 4 hours.
4. Apply second coat of stain, if necessary. Wipe off excess. Wait 8 hours.
5. Apply poly, if desired.
Questions and confusion:
1. Pre-stain sealer causes the stain to be a LOT lighter. Is there a way to
weaken the sealer before applying it?
2. Is it desirable to sand between the sealer and the stain?
3. Am I correct that I do NOT sand between stainings?
4. Are there any other suggestions?
At work during a remodeling, I watched guys using a "sanding sealer" on
pine moldings. It was all that they put on it and it was gorgeous. No
idea of brand. I don't sand unfinished furniture - just stain and then
clear finish. Unsealed, pine soaks up a ton of stain, especially end
grain. After one disaster, I took to mixing up my own stain to get rid
of the yellow tint and avoid deep color. Just some artist oils,
mineral spirits, maybe a bit of linseed oil. Pine isn't fussy - getting
a decent color without yellow and getting the right depth of color is
Sanding between sealer and stain may give uneven tone if you remove too
much sealer in some places. Never touch the stuff myself :o)
Sanding sealer will bring out the color of pine but years down the
road it will let the pine yellow. This can be a real problem if you
use wood filler to hide nails.The filler will not change color and you
will be able to see every one of them.
OK, get your pre-stain wood conditioner (oil based) and whatever it
recommends for cleanup, or maybe a faster drying solvent. Apply the
solvent to the wood and where ever it gets too dark, rub in some
pre-stain conditioner, blending it with the surrounding wood. Let it
dry and the color should even out again. Now try a test stain.
First, work on a sample of the material until you get results you want
before you start on the final piece...
"Sanding sealer" is simply a thin cut of shellac and is quite suitable
for the purpose.
See the Fine Woodworking site (under Taunton as they're the publishers
for several articles that discuss finishing). If you're still not
satisfied, I'd suggest taking the topic to rec.woodworking instead of
a.h.r -- it's more appropriate and there's a better group suited to the
One way to stop some of pine's dark/light staining is to wet the
surface with paint thinner before you stain. A heavy dose of
thinner stops the grain from absorbing so much stain. There are
commercial pre stain conditioners.
I assume you used one of the pre stain conditioners, not sanding
sealer. Sanding sealer is applied after staining to provide an
easy to sand coat that fills the pores and allows the finish to
give an even gloss. Make sure that the sanding sealer is
compatible with the finish, some of the old ones are NOT
compatible with polyurethane.
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
Prestain makes pine take stain evenly you can get it one coat maybe if
you get the right color, try a Gel stain, maybe minwax now has gel I
havnt used minwax in years and dont really like it. Bix makes a good
prestain I just let it dry and dont wipe or sand inbetween, experiment
on scrap first.
No, but waiting longer will help as the sealer dries up a bit
No. Probably cause more problems than it could ever help. Oil will
not raise the grain anyway.
Use mineral spirits instead of the sealer. Same result, cost is much
As for the wood showing wear, none of the above apply since it has a
coating over top and it will not stain the same. I've had good
results though, just wiping over the wood with some stain and then a
coat of poly. It freshens it up a bit.
Mineral spirits as a sealer? I used to do wood everyday and used
mineral spirits all the time to check out how well I stripped it and
to clean it before staining, I never saw any effect to my staining on
any type of wood, it evaporates and leaves no sealing properties as I
see it. Even on blotchy birch or uneven colored pine Birch was still
blotchy unevenly taking stain in the dark areas, Bix or a shellc mix
did make staining better and more even.
Sure. Most wood conditioners can be diluted with mineral spirits.
The sealer should NOT raise the grain, no need to sand.
You are correct.
Clean the surface before staining--mineral spirits should be fine. In
addition to the wood conditioner, you can use a gel stain. Recently,
I saw a foam stain that might work. Use a lighter stain such as
"honey pine" or "puritan pine" to decrease the tendency to blotch.
I used a similar approach to stain a whole house full of pine cabinets
(regular #2 pine from the home centers).
I only sanded to 150 grit paper.
I apply the pre-stain conditioner with a rag and basically wipe it off
immediately. I tried applying it neatly with a brush, and wiping it on
with a rag and didn't notice any difference.
The important thing about the preconditioner is not to wait too long
before applying the stain. I think the can says something like within 15
As for stain, I found a Gel Stain gave a more even finish on pine. We
used MinWax "Windsor Oak".
- Accept the lighter color
- Use a darker stain
- Apply additional coats of stain to achieve a darker color.
No, apply the sealer, then stain immediately.
Correct. Sanding would remove the stain.
Practice on scraps before you finish your final pieces...
If the end result is to be gloss or semi-gloss finish, then be sure to go
all the way to 220 grit.
But that's the most important point: Follow recommendations on the can! And
allow for things that may change their recommendations, such as temperature
and humidity levels.
Good choice; usually works out well.
Not that's very reliable, but you can darken it by leaving the stain on
longer or adding a bit of darker stain to the mix. If you add to anything,
be certain to make ALL the quantity you need in order to avoid coloring
Unless you wanted it a lot darker, I'd opt for additional coats of stain.
What I do is make sure the sealer and stain are compatible, and add a bit of
stain to the sealer ahead of time. Gives a darker first-coat.
But if you want it a lot darker, get a darker stain.
NOTE: You can use Shellac instead of the "pre-stain conditioner". Use a low
wax cut of shellac and apply probably two thin coats. It will, BTW, impart a
slight orangish color to the wood.
It dries almost as fast as the conditioner and can be overcoated in a
short period of time. The end result is a finer finish, too.
That depends. If it still makes the fibers stand up and feels rough to the
palm, yes, sand it with a fine grit paper and gently. Only when the wood
remains as smooth or smoother than before the stain would you want to skip
sanding. Probably something like 220 or 240 grit for in betweens. All you
want to do is cut off any nubs that decide to stick up.
Done with care, sanding with a high grit will result in a much smoother and
more consistant finish. Should color/thickness differences appear, they can
also be hidden somewhat during sanding.
Use a good quality sandpaper and be sure the coats of finish are
sufficiently dry so as to not gum up the sandpaper right away. Aluminum
oxide sandpaper works well without costing a fortune. Paper types won't
least near as long or do as consistant a job.
Definitely practice beforehand. A good place to practice, after trying a
few scraps of similar wood of the same age and discoloration, is to start
with the insides of the doors and inside drawer fronts. As you go along
you'll finesse your methods and the larger areas will make it more obvious
which areas you need to improve upon.
Newsgroups are great places to get assistance.
But always verify important information with
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