Are you thinking about staining your wood? Doing so can be rewarding, producing beautiful results, but it is important to consider all the nuances of staining wood before you begin.
Which Stain Should You Choose?
Choosing the right stain can be one of the most difficult parts of the process. Stain is more permanent than paint in the sense that it seeps into the wood’s pores instead of sitting on top of the surface. While paint can be sanded off, stain is there to stay.
When choosing your stain, you’ll need to decide if you prefer to complement the wood or if you want something with a little more pop. Stains come in a wealth of colors, so you may choose to use stain as opposed to paint if you prefer its appearance.
Do You Have to Sand Before Staining Wood?
Wood needs to be sanded well before it can be stained. The process opens up the wood’s pores to better absorb the stain. It also smoothes away scratches in the surface which will only be enhanced by stain.
Be gentle with your wood as you sand it. Start with a low grit sandpaper (i.e. 80) to remove noticeable imperfections and scratches, then create a smooth finish with increasingly finer sandpaper (i.e. 120 then 220 grit). Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood’s grain otherwise you risk gouging the surface. Clean away all dust created in the sanding process. A vacuum can remove dust from the wood’s pores.
What Is the Best Way to Stain Wood?
Staining wood involves more than just brushing on some stain and waiting for it to dry. You should first stir the can thoroughly then test the stain you are considering on an inconspicuous spot, following the instructions on your can of stain. Remove all hinges, handles, and knobs from the surface you are staining so you don’t have to navigate them.
You can apply stain with a brush or cloth. Do so as evenly as possible and then do not just walk away. Keep an eye on your stain and, after letting it soak into the wood, remove the excess stain with a rag to avoid sticky puddling. Apply a topcoat when you’re finished.
How Do You Apply Wood Stain Evenly?
Achieving an even stain is one of the most challenging parts of staining wood. One thing that can set you up for success is to use a wood conditioner or sanding sealer before beginning the staining process. These products stabilize the wood and allow stain to penetrate more evenly.
Conditioner can be applied in the same way stain is, brushing it on, letting it seep into the wood’s pores, and wiping it off. Unlike stain, you want the conditioner to remain wet while you add the stain on top of it. Once the conditioner is applied, you will have a rough window of about two hours to finish staining the wood.
To further reduce blotching, you will need to use more pressure when staining wood with large pores. This includes species like mahogany, oak, and ash. Brush against the direction of the grain to fill deep pores with stain and use an ample amount so the wood can absorb it thoroughly.
How Do You Stain Wooden Furniture Darker?
Staining wood is a nuanced process, and it must be done correctly to get an even tone. The finesse required increases if you want to make your furniture darker. There are two general ways to do so, but they have their challenges.
The longer the stain is left on, the richer and deeper the color will be, so one way to achieve a darker hue is to simply leave it on longer. Do this with discretion, though, keeping careful watch on the time you allow unabsorbed liquid to sit. Stain that is allowed to puddle will peel off.
The other way to give your wood a darker stain is to apply a second coat. The first coat must be completely dry before adding another, otherwise it will bubble up. You will need to use careful timing in order to achieve a richer, darker tone that is consistent along the entire surface.
Do You Have to Seal Wood After Staining?
After staining wood, it is a good idea to seal it. Wood is porous, afterall, and staining it doesn’t change that fact. Staining colors wood; it doesn’t protect or seal it, as a general rule. There are some stains, usually containing a polyurethane blend or specific oils, that claim to protect wood from scratches, spills, and UV damage. Still, it is wise to apply a topcoat over your stain to extend the longevity of your wood.
Sealing your wood can protect it from water damage, rot, and insects. You can apply sealant with a cloth, foam brush, or bristle brush, but make sure your stain is completely dry before applying a protective coat. Be sure to use a topcoat that is recommended for the wood in question. Doing so will elevate your wood’s appearance, enhancing its beauty.
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