Ireland’s Finest Painting Tips: Wood Stain

Most customers of ours use paint for their interior and exterior painting projects, but a great rich stain can really bring out the beauty of natural wood. Most stain is used on an exterior deck or patio, but we have experienced interiors of home that have wood surfaces on walls.


Types of Stain
Solid Color:
This type of stain hides poor quality wood, poor grain or superficial flaws.

 Semi-Transparent: This enriches the look of the wood, while bringing out the natural beauty of the texture and grain. In addition it protects the wood against the elements, which we all know here in Denver and Colorado is very harsh!

Our partners at Benjamin Moore provide a great line of wood stains that include their Alkyd & Acrylic solids and transparent and their ARBORCOAT® line.

Surface Preparation
Before you start staining, you must ensure the surface is clean from any dirt, debris, shavings, grease or mildew. It also must be completely dry or the stain will not adhere to the surface correctly. Cleaning the surface is pretty straightforward. Warm water and a mild detergent will clean the surface sufficiently, but mildew needs a bit more attention. You can easily remove it by mixing one part household bleach with three parts water. Make sure you take the necessary safety precautions by wearing rubber gloves and eye protection.

New wood: You will want to stain a new deck as soon as possible after installation. This will guarantee that any darkening, mildew growth or wear and tear can be kept to a minimum.

Previous Wood Installations: A previous wood installation can be a bit more work. After cleaning the area, the wood may need some repair by sanding and scraping any old paint, stain or irregularities. Be careful, though, because some old paints contain lead and other harmful elements that could be dangerous if inhaled. As a painting contractor, we always require our employees to wear dust masks eliminating any risk so we would suggest this to you as well. We also are a lead-free certified company and recommend our customers to use lead free paint.

In addition to scraping and sanding, some boards may be so damaged that they need to be replaced. This would be a great time to examine all surfaces for any gouges, scratches or gashes that can be easily fixed with wood filler.

Stain Application  
Applying stain to wood surfaces is quite similar to exterior paints. First mix the stain thoroughly prior to application and regularly throughout the staining process. This will make sure you are achieving consistent color on your project. Next, choosing the correct brush type is crucial. A natural bristle brush is best for oil stains and a artificial bristle brush is best for latex stains.

Exterior air temperature can play a huge role in the final look of the stain. For most stains, the best possible temperature would be around 70° F. Each stain varies so check the label or with your local hardware store paint representative to find out which temperature is best for your stain. High humidity and hot surfaces can also affect the stain, its application and look. It is not a good idea to stain right after a rainstorm or on a surface that is in direct sunlight.

To get the right look, you may need to apply more than one coat. A second or third coat will darken the stain if that is the look you are trying to achieve. It also can help hide any defects in the wood that you couldn’t repair (or just didn’t want to repair). Prior to applying additional coats, you want to make sure you let the first coat dry at least 24 hours. This rule will help make certain that you have a consistent look throughout the project.

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