New Year, New Furniture: Tips For Stripping And Staining Furniture
Whether you found the perfect trundle bed at a flea market, or simply want to match a woodcraft project to your decor, staining is a great way to give your furniture and wood accents a coordinated look throughout your home. While it may be intimidating, with these easy and simple tips, you'll soon be stripping and staining furniture without fear.
Prep Your Project
Remove any hinges or metal hardware. Stains may change the finish or color of metal pieces, so it's best to remove them until you're done. This step will also help you get an even finish when stripping the wood of its previous varnish or paint. You won't have to sand around the hardware!
Know Your Stripper Formula
For smaller projects, aerosol strippers are ideal. They help pull up the old finish for you. Once the stripper has done its job, all you have to do is scrape the finish off using a scrapper and wash the wood with mineral spirits. Wait for that to dry and sand it down.
Know Your Sandpaper
When sanding wood, you'll want to work in the direction of the grain to prevent ugly scratches. Start with a medium grit to get any remaining finish off. Once you see bare wood, switch to a fine sandpaper and sand until the piece is uniform. When you're satisfied with the finish, wipe down the piece to remove any sanding dust.
Know Your Wood
Different woods absorb stains in different ways. Wood with large, open pores accepts stain more readily and evenly than wood with smaller pores. Since wood with smaller pores don't stain evenly, it's best to stain them with light to medium stains. Different woods also have different colors, so it's a good idea to do a test spot in an inconspicuous area to make sure your wood color and stain color create the finish you had in mind. All woods should be prepped with a pre-stain conditioner to help the stain soak into the pores.
Know Your Stain
There are different types of stain available, in different formulas and thickness for different projects. Oil-based stains take longer to dry, giving you more working time. They're better for larger projects where you don't want to see any dried marks from overlapping sections. Water-based stains dry quickly, so you can finish a project in as little as a day. They also have less odor and make for easier cleanup. Some stains are even available as a gel to prevent dripping when working with vertical things like country kitchen cabinets.
Know Your Timing
Timing is everything with staining. A longer staining time or a second coat of stain means a richer color, but stain shouldn't be allowed to dry on the wood. Stain is only meant to be absorbed into the pores, so anything left on the wood itself will eventually peel. If your project is larger, knowing the exact timing will also help you know when to remove stain from different sections of the project to help achieve an even finish.
Know Your Application
Always apply and remove stain in the direction of the grain. Any swirling marks created when you're removing stain will only be exaggerated after adding the clear coat finish. If your wood has larger pores, you can swirl the stain, or go against the grain, to help the pores absorb more stain. Even if you use this technique, stain should still be removed in the direction of the grain.
Know Your DIY
If you can't find a color stain you like or want a completely original look, you can easily create your own stain. All it takes is some vinegar, steel wool or another metal, and patience. You can even use tea or coffee to adjust the color. This option may cost less and have less toxins, depending on the formula you use. If you like colors, you can make a wash with water-based acrylic paint diluted with a lot of water.