Wood Stain Tips & Guidelines

Generously apply a cleaning solution of four (4) ounces of 100% powered Tri-Sodium phosphate (TSP) or phosphate-free substitute with one (1) quart of liquid bleach and three (3) quarts of water, to the wood surfaces with a garden sprayer or a heavy nap roller cover. Some contractors still start creating a white floor by bleaching it, although this method isn’t as common as it used to be. Because bleaching the floor actually damages the structure of the wood cells, thereby prematurely aging the wood, many people are firmly against it. However, those who do bleach advise using a species such as red oak or maple—never white oak,as it can turn green when bleached, and its tannic acid may chemically react with the bleach, actually creating foam on the floor.

If the paint can’t stretch enough to cover the ridges, a characteristic pattern of cracks following the grain lines results (figure 2). This cracking often occurs when a single coat of opaque stain is applied to the pith side of flat-grained lumber — the pigment film isn’t as thick and elastic as a paint film is. Prevention: Hose down newly installed siding with water to let the crushed wood swell, and then let it dry before applying waterproofing.

While the little color samples supplied by stain manufacturers allow a general guide as to which colors a customer may like,that color on an actual wood floor can be affected by numerous factors: the wood species, the abrasive sequence, the lighting in the room, the color of the paint on the walls, whether the floor was waterpopped or not, and more.

So……you pull off the varnish…..you sand it a bit….get bored and frustrated…..try using a wood restorer… but just bleach your hands, make a mess and its a little better, but still really grey…so now what….well the only thing left is to stain it! They help open up the surface of the wood to improve penetration, neutralize any stain strippers that were used, and restore the appearance of old, weathered wood to look like new again. Using fine steel wool helps to distress paint but does not leave lines like sandpaper.

Our water based products, Milk Paints, Water Based Wood Stains and Topcoats can be inter-mixed to create custom colors. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in, as it may mean you need to re-sand, as leaving it to dry while driving out to buy more will mean a nasty join line when you resume the staining. It is good to use a shop vac to clean the surface between sanding grits, removing the larger grit particles from the wood before sanding with the next higher grit. Wood swells when it absorbs water or water vapor and shrinks when it dries out.

If you have a sealant on it you’ll have to make sure it doesn’t bead when water is placed on it. If it beads the oil won’t penetrate into the wood. With a scrub brush, cleaning the surface of the deck will be as fast as mopping your floor! In addition, care must be taken to spread the water evenly across the surface of the floor. In fact, paint can actually accelerate the decay of wood; once the finish cracks and admits liquid water, the paint slows down the exit of moisture from the wood, fostering the growth of decay fungi.


Sanding across the wood grain will leave unsightly scratches that will become more noticeable when the wood stain is applied. If you’re staining a newly-installed deck, you probably don’t need to power wash it. Instead, mopping it with a deck cleaning solution and washing it off with a hose and water should be all the deck needs – if that. In the future… practice staining on scraps before starting a real project so that you have a feel for getting a good result…. Rough-sawn plywood and T1-11 also perform well, because their rough surface allows the paint film to flex more than it can on sanded plywood.

Other wood flooring contractors hate staining floors, seeing it as a hassle and a common source of customer complaints. The percentage of solids in the sealer determines how completely the pores in the wood are sealed. Remove excess filler with a plastic scraper or putty knife, being careful not to damage the wood. It is also excellent when applied to pine, cypress, spruce, and even pressure-treated wood. You need a smooth surface with no blemishes because stain will highlight scratches and dings in the wood.

Once this is done, use a disc buffer on the floor with approximately a 100 grit screen abrasive underneath it. This creates the appearance of one even grain pattern, removes the halo pattern that the edger creates and also closes the grain of the wood to an acceptable level to prepare it to accept finish or stain. Your staining job wasn’t too bad on the drawer fronts: your problem was that you were staining on top of varnish that didn’t sand off.

To understand why wood and paint sometimes don’t get along, you must understand wood’s anatomy, shown in figure 1. A piece of lumber contains various components that react differently to environmental conditions. You won’t need the most expensive primer for new drywall, but if the surface is wood or has drywall that has been painted a dark color, a high quality primer will give you an even coating of paint. Nonetheless, your outcome can differ not only by the actual process, but also by the type of wood. Better Wood, Better Results — The best wood to stain is oak , but pine is easy to work with as well.

Fiberous Fibers become loose on your wood surface when the old layer of stain has begun to break down. The agitation and friction caused by a paint brush will cause the wood to absorb more stain. Generally speaking, dye stains go on before filling, but pigment stains are applied after the wood is filled and sanded. The real ‘danger’ to this is not warped wood, normally wood has to get really wet for there to be a risk of warping. Remember, if re-sanding is required, the water popping process is necessary afterwards. Tap water can contain excess chlorine and other chemicals that can react with the wood or the stain.

Using this to stain the horizontal boards will save your back and your knees and allows you to move much more quickly than using a small paint brush. Our paint experts will help you identify the tools and methods to ensure proper surface preparation and superior paint adhesion for years to come. When Samuel Cabot opened the doors to his workshop in 1877, he had one mission: top-quality wood care. They are highly effective at cleaning the wood, yet won’t harm plant life and vegetation. For this reason, you should not walk on the floor with any type of hard shoe or boot between the time of water popping and completing the staining process.

Second, if the wood type doesn’t require a conditioner, a conditioner will cause the wood to not take the stain as much as if there was not conditioner. If you’ve ever sprayed nitrocellulose lacquer directly onto spongy wood like poplar, you know they absorb quite a bit before the film starts to build. It’s important to wait until your pressure-treated wood is completely dry before applying stain, as the chemicals used to treat the wood often leave additional moisture behind.

We could have put steps down from the deck, but we didn’t really want the dog running up there anytime she wanted. Typically it contains a binder, to hold it together and to help it stay in the wood pores, and a lot of finely ground solids, such as sand, gypsum, wood flour and talc. As with paint, proper preparation is the key to a successful staining job that will last. Sodium percarbonate wood cleaners, also known as oxygen bleach wood cleaners, are a great choice for this step.