Thursday, May 29, 2014

6 Tips for Staining Wood

A lot of the projects I do involves staining wood.
I've learned a few tips and tricks along the way and want to share with you what I've learned!

1. Choose Minwax over Rustoleum
Yes, there are many more professional brands, but we use Minwax stain and it works great for us!
Rustoleum doesn't seem to absorb as well.

2. Softwood stains much better/easier than hardwoods.
For a list of woods by type check out this page.

We have used red oak (a hardwood) for several projects. It's more expensive and "nicer". 
  Hardwoods take longer to absorb the stain and you're often left with lighter wood and a tacky surface. 
We have also used select pine, or standard 2x4's and 2x6's which are commonly made from Spruce, Doug-Fir, or Southern Yellow Pine.
We found that we usually like the cheaper and softer woods better for several reasons; the cost, the wood grain character, and the ease of staining.

3. Sanding Prep
Sand your surface with a medium grit sandpaper first (100) and then finish with a fine grit paper (220) for the best results in staining. If you prefer to sand once, opt for a 150-180 sandpaper and you'll probably be just fine!

4. Stain with a pad, not a brush or rag. 
 Found in the paint section near brushes and rags and all. This is the ONLY thing we ever stain with. They are simply called "staining pads". Please WEAR GLOVES. This is from Google images and they will end this project with brown hands, so please don't forget the gloves!
Just dip the pad into the stain a little bit and rub the pad along your surfaces, going with the direction of the wood grain. This method helps you to rub the stain into the wood and doesn't leave a lot of excess stain on the wood that you have to remove later. In fact after I've stained everything I immediately wipe it down again. No soaking and wiping off for me!

5. Don't sand between coats of stain
Why on earth would sand what you just stained? How does that make any sense? You remove color and create dust? No thank you... If you read the jar it actually tells you not to. Yet I know some people who still do this.
I usually do 2 coats of stain and am able to achieve the color I want. This will depend on the color you use and want.

6. To protect it, use a polyurethane
When choosing your polyurethane is okay to buy the Rustoleum brand. In fact we prefer it, since they have a matte finish. We like the matte finish for our rustic farmhouse style.
If your surface or piece will have a lot of wear and tear - like a table or nightstand you would want to use something to protect it from getting scratched. If it's a decor piece that won't get constant wear and tear than no polyurethane is necessary.
You do want to use super fine steel wool between coats of poly. It will ensure your finish doesn't peel off. Just rub the steel wool along the surfaces and brush off the particles it leaves behind.
**We didn't do this on our first table and the finish started peeling - so this is highly recommended!

Rust-Oleum Quart Ultimate Poly Matte Polyurethane

I hope my tips have helped you feel more knowledgeable and confident to take on a staining project!

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