Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 31, 2014

How to stain like a pro

Do It Yourself

April Sherrill

One of my main passions is redoing furniture. I really enjoy painting second-hand pieces and bringing new life to them; on the other hand, some pieces are too incredible to be painted.

I have a solid wood parquet table in my garage that I was able to buy for $25. Although currently, it’s simply sitting there, untouched, being stared at due to a knee surgery I have recently undergone. Nevertheless, I slowly pulled a couple layers of the nasty paint it was covered in. Finding a solid wood parquet table underneath was an overload of joy for me. When I purchased the table I had no idea what was underneath the chalkboard paint, I just knew it was a good sized solid wood table, which I could easily redo and turn around for a great profit. Once I peeled back the first pieces of paint and realized what was there I was ecstatic. 

This table deserves to be returned to its original glory. Having paint cover it would be heartbreaking. I will be staining it down and allowing the true beauty of the parquet to come through!

Staining is a very easy process that anyone can undertake, however, it is a process. Thinking you can slap on some stain, wipe it off and keep going is not going to give the best results. Rest assured though, if you take the proper steps to staining; the project will look amazing. 

There are some main tips to know when starting a staining job. Whether you are applying to cabinets, floors, or furniture, always know what to do before putting on the stain.

Stain comes in oil or water-based. Oil stains have a longer drying time, which would come in handy if the projects are larger projects like floors, doors, or paneling. A longer drying time allows for correcting mistakes. Water-based stains are low in odor and have fast drying times, which allows a smaller project to be stained and finished within 24 hours.

Always use a pre-stain conditioner. This is something I learned the hard way. I had stained many pieces before learning about wood conditioner, and the difference in not using it and using it was amazing. It allows the wood to be conditioned, and brings out the desired rich tones of stain. Use a foam brush to apply a thin coat, allow it to dry three - four minutes and then give it a very light sanding with a high grit sandpaper, something around 200 to 220 should work great.

Apply a liberal amount of stain in sections and wipe it off. When you are applying your stain, it is very important to stain in the direction of the wood grain. This will give you the best results. 

The longer you allow the stain to sit on the wood, the darker it will be; with that being said, less is more, meaning do not try to achieve the final results with one coat. Always work with smaller amounts and more coats until the desired color is achieved. If too much stain sits in one spot, you can rest assured it will peel later.

Contrary to what many people think, do not sand between your coats of stain as you would with painting. 

And always stir the stain before starting the process. Pigments of the stain will settle at the bottom; do not shake the can to mix the stain.

When the desired color is achieved, and the stain completely dried, apply a topcoat. A water-based polycrylic is best in my opinion, and a water-based topcoat can be used over an oil-based stain as well.

If you are new to staining then maybe try a stain and finish all in one. Minwax has fabulous colors that are easy to apply and wipe off quickly with a rag; then you are good to go. It is available in four colors and four wood tones. Minwax also carries polyshades, which is the stain and polyurethane in a one step liquid form.

Buying second hand furniture to bring back to life is a great way to save money and add your own personality to the space. Follow these easy steps with staining and the finished project will look fabulous!

April Sherrill is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald. Contact her at april@dailydata.com.