Last Updated on December 13, 2020 by woodcutter
Wood staining is one of the tasks done by many woodworkers to add value to their work. It naturally adds a quality appearance in hardwoods and is a hallmark of a woodworker’s skill. Wood staining differs from painting in that; the latter usually focuses on covering up for woodworking mistakes and low-quality woods.
In this post, I will discuss some tips for wood staining to enable you to have an in-depth appreciation of the wood staining.
What’s the value of wood staining?
Before embarking on any wood staining task, you needs to assess the value added by the wood stain. You must make sure that your woodwork will be beneficiated by the wood stain you are about to apply. And you need to assess if the wood needs to be stained or to be painted. Wood staining is not for hiding glaring mistakes on your woodwork but for enhancing its beauty and value.
Moreover, you need to make sure that the wood you will stain suits the staining job, for example, with beautiful walnut woods that deserve more exceptional wood staining treatments than plain poplars. Once you decide on those issues, you will be ready for the next step, choosing the right stain for your woodworking job.
What is the best way to apply stain?
The wood staining industry is vibrant, with a variety of colors and wood stains to choose from. This gives any woodworker an array of choices regarding color and wood stain type to choose from. Below is a list of stains that you can choose from.
Using Pigment stains vs. dye stains.
Wood stains are broadly classified into two classes. Dye stains are usually regarded as soluble salts, which, whenever they are mixed with some solvents, their crystals will disintegrate into small separate particles. In contrast, pigment stains have colored dirt that is crushed to make more minor and more beautiful specks.
This comparison shows that dye stains can stain certain areas where pigment stains cannot thus have an advantage over them, especially in densely grained wood such as maple. For open-grained oaks, pigment stains will do a much better job than dye stains.
Using Oil stains.
These are available in various stores and are usually the first stains to be selected by many woodworkers who think of staining. They use what is known as a linseed oil base, which enables a lot of drying time, leading to exquisite finishes in your woodwork.
As a woodworker, you can identify this stain by thinning type and the solutions used for cleaning it up. Those stains that use paint thinners as their solutions for cleaning are categorized usually as oil stains. Oil stains can have pigment and dye mixtures. Others have dye mixtures. You need to have wipers or rushes to clean oil stains.
Using Water-based stain.
The primary binder and solvent, in this case, is water. Water-based stains are cleaner, safe, and less poisonous and have low unpleasant odors. Water-based stains list water as the cleaning agent. It also uses water for thinning. If you are going to use varnishes that use water as their cleaning solution, then the best oil stain is the water-based stain. Naturally, water-based stains dry quickly and may make the day hectic if you are not fast enough or just an amateur woodworker. You will need to sand your wood lightly before you stain it.
Using Gel stains.
These stains fall in the oil stains class though they are generally thicker than standard oil stains that you may have come across. They usually work very well if you are working on a pine or softwood. Naturally, they are used by people ready for some messy job as the standard way of application is rubbing. They are generally cleaned by mineral spirits, such as paint thinners.
Using a combined stain and finish.
This is one of the latest innovations in the wood staining business, which is both time-saving costs efficient. It combines wood stain products with varnish. This then allows for a mixture of coloring elements and some coats into a single product. Some woodworkers have named the varnish stain. This combination may be of oil-based or water-based.
As a woodworker, you have a chance to pick this double-edged product to make your staining work easy. You will kill two birds with one stone, coloring your wood and hardening it to a topcoat finish. You can even use it to rejuvenate some of your worn out wood surfaces.
Tips on Correct Preparation
You have to sand your woodwork very thoroughly first. This can be done using sanding blocks or even fine sandpapers. After this, hand sand your work with excellent sandpaper for a smooth finish.
After sanding your woodwork, use a woodshop vacuum to remove all the remains of sand on your woodwork. Vacuuming is followed by wiping the woodwork to remove any fine particles of dust with a tack cloth. Avoid scratching areas where you have done your sanding.
You can also make work easier for yourself by using pre-stain conditioners. This conditioner will reduce the incidences of streaks or blotches and will be helpful in increases the rate and level of stain absorption. It is always good to read the instruction of the conditioners you will be using to avoid doing a botched job. This will allow you to know the timing and ways of using your conditioners. You should ensure that the conditioner you are using will not lighten your stain; otherwise, you will e forced to put a second coat stain.
Tips on the Correct Application of the wood stain
There are many ways of applying wood stains. One can use paintbrushes while others use the rubbing method with a cloth which must be clean before use. Some woodworkers use foam pads. What you prefer will determine the way that you are going to use it. However, each stain works well with specific techniques. Gel stains can be applied using a rag and cannot be implemented using a brush or a foam pad.
Now let us look at how you will use your oil wood stain. It is bi optional, either you wipe with a cloth, or you use the brushing method. For those who will be using brushes, the natural bristle brush is the one for this job; for example, you can pick the pig bristle brushes. You can even brush first and then wipe the latter for an even cleaning task.
I have mentioned how water staining dries at a rapid rate, which makes woodworkers use the rubbing method more often. However, you can also use synthetic bristle brushes since natural bristle brushes are quickly saturated.I advise that you buy good rushes, and take good care of them, clean them, and give you exceptional treatments for your woodwork.
Tips on Applying a Top Coat
This is usually the appending act. I advise that you use a topcoat with similar solvents with your stain, water for water, oil for oil, and gel for gel. You have many options to select from. Don’t be overly swayed by manufacturers. You should apply your topcoat with a brush. Two or more layers will be enough for your varnish to give a more delicate treatment—sand in your work between different layers.
Misconception About Stain
Many woodworkers believe that stains are there to protect the wood. That is not true. The work of wood strainers is to color wood. It is usually the norm, except for a few wood stainers that come with a polyurethane blend, to apply a top coat on your wood stain to cover it from any damages, be it UV damage or wood scratches or oil water spillages among others.
Moreover, many woodworkers believe that staining wood is a pre-requirement from a finished job. There is a difference between wood staining and wood finishing. Wood finishing usually is about the last varnishing of your woodwork.
Dos and don’ts in wood staining
Do the following
- Lightly sand your wood first.
- Afterward, stir your wood stain can to have an even mixture of all elements in the product.
- Later, test your stain on any part or pot that is not part of the leading job so that you take not if it works to the color level you desire.
- You can then stain and also apply a second coat for a more beautiful and more vibrant tone.
Don’t do the following.
- Avoid leaving hinges and handles; remove them before you stain your woodwork to avoid having the color of your straps and handles changed.
- Do not allow the unabsorbed stain to lie on your woodwork as this will peel away with time, leaving a mark on your woodwork.
- Do not varnish before your stain is dry.
After going through this post, you will be able to stain your wood in a right way. Whether for small, big wood, or old wood you can turn it into a new stunning look. And you will really enjoy your wood staining project. What you should mostly keep in mind is to consider the wood type that you’re staining.