the painted surface
Whenever possible remove the hardware such as handles, knobs or hinges. If the stain or finish dries on the hardware it may discolor it and be difficult to remove. With the hardware off the stain and finish will completely seal the surface for protection, durability and a nice clean, crisp look. Trying to stain and finish right up next to the hardware may cause the hardware to stick to the surface making its removal difficult. Allow the stain and finish to completely dry before reinstalling the hardware.
Ventilate the Workspace
If working indoors make sure to have fresh air coming into the room. A fan placed in a window exhausting the fumes and drawing in fresh air from another open window or door is good idea. Avoid placing a fan blowing onto the work surface as this will probably cause the stain and finish to become tacky or dry too quickly making a smooth finish nearly impossible. Try to work when the temperature is around 70 to 75 degrees and the humidity is about 50%. The recommended working temperatures and humidity levels will be in the directions for the particular product you are using, the best results will be gained if these guidelines are followed. With all stains and finishes and especially oil-based ones use the proper safety equipment such as eye and body protection and the required respirator for the finish you are applying.
Oil or Water-based Products
For many years almost all stains and clear finishes were oil-based products. Now you have the choice of oil, water and alcohol based stains and clear finishes. Each has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your level of experience and the needs of your project. Some general observations include:
These are usually low-odor products. Tools can be cleaned with soap and water if cleaned immediately after using before the stain or finish has dried on the tool. They dry faster allowing more coats to be applied in less time. Because they dry faster lap marks can be a problem if the work is not done quickly enough. Stains may raise the grain of the wood which will need to be lightly sanded to obtain a smooth surface. Clear finishes are colorless and stay so over time.
These have a longer working or "open time" possibly making it easier to obtain a smooth, consistent look and finish. They release fumes so the ventilation and the proper respirator is important. Tools must be cleaned with the appropriate solvent though some modern oil-based finishes are oil-modified and cleaning can be done with soap and water, be sure to follow the manufacturers directions. Rags used with oil-based products can spontaneously combust and should be disposed of properly and very carefully. Proper handling includes placing oily rags/drop cloths in a metal container with a tight fitting lid to limit the oxygen supply, spread oily rags/drop cloths out to dry in an area away from structures to prevent heat accumulation, or submerge oily rags/drop cloths in a bucket of water. Avoid piling the oily rags on top of one another, hang them separately outdoors until they are dry. If oily rags are laundered, use a minimum of two wash cycles and then hang them outside until dry.
Test Samples First
The same stain type and color will absorb into various species of wood, or sometimes the same species of wood when the grain pattern is inconsistent, differently. That is to say the same stain applied on oak will look different when applied on pine. Stain displays at home improvement stores usually have some examples of how different woods look when stains are applied. These will give you an idea of what color to use. Preparing some sample pieces of wood from your project will give you the best idea of the stain and finish you like the best. Use the same working methods as you plan to use to finish your project. Keep notes of the grits of sandpaper used, application methods, stain colors used, if they were mixed together to achieve the desired color, how long the product was left on the surface before wiping off, the number of coats applied, and the drying times before applying the finish. Trying to stain over another stain will give inconsistent results and a lighter color stain will not cover a darker one. If the desired color can only be achieved by multiple coats of different color stains extensive testing must be done. You may like one application method more than others so if possible test applying the stain and finish with a bristle brush, foam brush, spraying, rag or pad applicator.
When staining, wipe off the excess stain in the direction of the grain. Work from end to end of each board or in sections to maintain a "wet edge", allowing the newly applied stain to blend into the stain just applied.
Leaving the stain on longer before wiping off or applyling multiple coats after the previously one has dried will generally change and deepen the stain's appearance. Make sure the stain is completely dry before applying the clear finish.
Use Compatible Products
Today there is a wide range of stains and clear finishes on the market. New products are constantly being introduced. Many companies are phasing out oil-based products or modifying them to be more environmentally friendly. All this leaves the consumer with many choices. Your personal preferences may lead you to choose a stain from one manufacturer and a clear finish from another. According to the manufacturers directions be sure to check if your choice of clear finish is compatible with your stain. Generally an oil-based finish can be applied over any type of stain. If your choice is to use a water-based finish be sure it is made to adhere to the type of stain you applied.
Choices For Clear Finishes
There are several types of clear finishes and your choice will depend on your project, experience and preference. Some of your choices will include wipe-on types available in oil or water-based, brushing lacquer which will dry very fast, polyurethanes available in oil-based or oil-modified and water-based clear finishes. Wipe on tung oil which needs to be applied in several coats but achieves a very nice finish is also available.
More helpful painting tips, techniques and how-to articles can be found by following these links:
Pantone 2016 Color of the Year ◊ Sherwin-Williams 2016 Color of the Year ◊ How To Paint a Room ◊ How To Paint a Stairway ◊ How To Paint a Two-Story Room ◊ How To Choose Colors ◊ Six Step Color Choice ◊ Popular Color Ideas ◊ How To Choose Paint ◊ Tools ◊ How To Caulk ◊ How To Patch a Hole ◊ How To Patch a Crack ◊ How To Cut In a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Roll a Wall or Ceiling ◊ How To Paint Woodwork ◊ How To Paint a Window ◊ How To Paint Baseboard ◊ How To Paint a Door ◊ How To Paint Crown Moulding ◊ How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets ◊ How To Choose a Premium Paintbrush ◊ How To Paint a MDF Bookcase ◊ How To Paint Aluminum or Vinyl Siding ◊ How To Paint Over Faux Finishes ◊ How To Use Magnetic Paint ◊ How To Use FrogTape ◊ How To Paint Repair Water Damaged Drywall ◊ Hiring a Contractor ◊ Paint Stripper Safety ◊ Painting Louvered Shutters ◊ 2013 Color Trends ◊ Choosing Front Door Colors
More details about specific painting subjects are covered in the additional articles. In those will be found details, painting tips and techniques gathered from over 20 years of painting experience. Here is a list of links to the articles: