Wood Finishing Q&A
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I'm going to stain a fireplace mantle. It's new pine and has never been finished before. I'm using Minwax stain with polyurethane. Should I use a pre-stain wood conditioner?
JR from Staffordsville, KY
As a softwood, pine does not absorb wood stain evenly. Simply applying a stain with no preparation may result in a "blotchy" appearance with contrasting dark and light areas. Applying the wood conditioner equalizes the absorbency of the pine so that a more even finish is obtained. Follow the directions on the can regarding proper application of this product.
Be aware that if you wish to apply a second coat of stain to darken the finish, you should apply the wood conditioner AGAIN prior to restaining (especially if you wait overnight before applying the second coat) or the stain may not absorb evenly.
The wood posts inside our relatively "new" house were finished with polyurethane. Now they are beginning to exude sap. Is this common? We were wondering if they had been "cured" or prepared improperly? How do we remedy the situation, if possible?
EE from Mt Juliet, TN
Wood harvested at certain times of the year is more likely to exude sap from the knots, even when kiln-dried. It isn't considered a defect, though it can be a pain!
I would suggest just removing the sap... for now... to get rid of the stickiness. Once you go through a season or two without more sap appearing, you can refinish the post. Just sand the affected side and apply a coat of polyurethane to it with a brush or cloth. There are rub-on polyurethane finishes that are easy to use and work well! Make sure you don't apply any product that contains wax or oil to the posts or the new poly may not stick!!
There are a number of sap-removal products you can try. Denatured alcohol is the least damaging to the polyurethane. If that doesn't do the trick, try automobile finish sap remover. Other products that will remove stubborn sap are kerosene (lighter fluid) and gasoline, though I wouldn't recommend using gasoline inside your home.
We are restoring a staircase in our house that was built in
1885. The stain on the wood is dark brown/black. What was the name
or color of that period for interior stain on wood?
Written by Jerry Alonzy
Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.
As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+ and Facebook.