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How To Apply Wood Stain  

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Staining exterior wood.

Exterior Stains are slightly different, most are an oil with stain added. Generally two coats are applied with no need to apply a clear top coat.




Staining wood is easy to do if you take a few precautions before you start, I will go through the process of how to stain and give you the information you need to choose the type of stain you would like to use.

There are a few different types of wood stains that you can use, the most common is a pigment stain either in water or solvent based. Also there are stain-varnishes, this is a varnish with the stain already added and there are pro's and con's for all the different products out there.


How to stain wood.


Stain Varnish



Stain varnishes are exactly like how they sound, a varnish with a stain already included and can be a little more difficult to work with. The reason for this is because over lap marks can and will stand out as darker spots. Using a door as an example, lets say you apply it to the insert panels first and get the smallest amount on the face of the door and don't wipe it off,  when you come to painting the face of the door it can stand out as a dark spot. I hardly ever use them for this reason, its too easy to make mistakes but I have seen some doors stained this way before and they looked excellent.



Pigment Stain



Pigment stains are either water or solvent based products and general these stains are very thin in consistency which makes them easy to apply. You still need to be a little cautious with over lap marks but they are easy to remove while stain is still wet. I don't use water based stains, personally I only ever use solvent based stains and there is one main reason for this. The reason being is that water can raise the grain in wood, so once you have applied the stain to your wood it may become furry which is not good. A friend of mine many years ago sanded his wooden floor boards then applied a water base stain, when it was dry the floor was rougher then when he started. There is a second reason for using a solvent based stain and that's because it stays wet longer giving you more working time to get rid of any over lap marks.



How To Apply Stain


The first thing is making sure you have the correct colour stain you require and its wise to try a sample first.  All wood varies in density therefore some wood will absorb more stain than others so its important you try your sample on the same type of wood you will be staining. If you're having a hard time finding the right colour I would suggest taking a sample of the wood to your paint shop and ask if they could put a few different sample colours on there for you to choose from. They should do this at no cost.

Preparing your timber is very important, if you get this right then every thing else should just fall in to place. To prepare wood is simple as sanding it smooth and removing any marks or stains, some stains may need to be removed with a wood cleaning solution. If you are unsure if you have remove all the marks etc get a lint free rag and some turpentine, wipe the wood with the rag slightly moistened with turps. This will bring out the colour in the timber and any marks that you missed should show out. If you were wondering what the timber would look like in its natural state, wiping with a turps rag will show you the natural look of the wood. I use turps rather then water as water can raise the grain of the timber.

Once you are happy with the look of your timber its time to apply the stain, make sure the surface has been dusted off and you can use a turps rag to remove dust also, I often use this method instead of a tact cloth. There are two ways in which you can apply the stain and it will be up to you which method you use. The first method is by using a rag (lint free), gently dip one scrunched up corner of the rag into the stain and try to use the same part of the rag for every dip in to the stain. Once you have stain on your rag just start applying it but don't try to stretch it out too far, it is a mistake a lot of people make, give it a good dousing. Apply in a circular motion and remember to start at one end and work you way along, don't start in the middle, depends on what you are staining there should always be cut off points for you to stop and start from. After about five minutes you will need to go back and wipe over what you have done with a clean rag to remove any excess stain this will leave you with an even finish and remember to use a lint free cloth.


The other method is to apply the stain by brush, I find this the best method because it is easier to get in to corners with a brush and in general you can apply more stain this way. The only difference between staining this way is that you will be using a brush to apply the stain and all other processes are the same.


Once you have finished your staining you will need to apply a coat of clear, either varnish or polyurethane, without a coat of clear the stain will slowly be worn away with wear and tear.

There are a few important things to remember, do not sand at this stage if you do you will risk sanding through the stain and leaving it looking uneven. If you feel you need to sand only use a very fine sand paper, like 240 grit, I generally only dust off before applying the clear. When you are applying the clear try to get an even coat over the entire area and check for any misses as you go. Once this coat is dry then it will be time to sand but be careful not to sand through the clear. When you are happy that the surface feels smooth dust off and apply a second coat of clear. Some people will apply a third coat for extra durability and this will also help fill in the grain of the timber leaving a smoother looking finish.



How To Apply Stain Varnish



Prepare your wood the same as if you where going to stain.

Before you apply the stain varnish you will need to seal the wood first, the product that I use is called sanding sealer, its basically a clear but it has good sanding properties. Apply one coat sanding sealer and when dry you will need to sand the timber smooth as like stain you can not sand the stain varnish or it could end up looking uneven. When you have finished sanding, dust off and use a turps rag if required then you will be ready to apply the stain varnish.

Applying stain varnish is like applying any clear but you will need to take extra caution with over lap marks and try to apply evenly as think areas will show up darker and thin areas lighter. When the first coat has dried you can lightly sand using a fine grit sand paper but do not sand through the coating. Apply your second coat and your done, generally two coats will be fine, you may even be happy with just one coat but I would suggest you apply a coat of clear over this for durability.



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