I rehab old houses in my spare time, often using stained baseboards. I have
always used pine or poplar for cost reasons, either can be stained fairly
easily. Makes sure you use a wood conditioner and several applications of
stain. I've never used toe strip unless there was a good reason.
My current project I replaced the baseboards with pine, and refinished all
of the existing maple woodwork (door and window frames) and unless you have
a trained eye for that sort of thing, you can't tell the difference between
the new and old.
I just finished a set of stairs, handrails and spindles. Needed to
match a stained bamboo floor. The wood was poplar. It came out very
nicely. I used wood conditioner and oil stain. I found I could bring
more of the grain out if I rubbed the stain in at a 45 degree angle to
Put 2 coats of Polyurathane on top of that. Would have put on another
coat but between outside temperature slowing me down and the need to
get moved into this house I had to forego that coat. Even though Poplar
is on the softer end of the hardwoods I believe the Polyurathane really
toughens it up.
Good luck and do some tests on various types of wood that are in your
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