Friday, April 30, 2010

How I Stain

It's so rewarding to have projects in my home that I've "created" and it's even more rewarding when someone wants to know how I did it!

While this isn't a complete tutorial, I will do my best to describe the process I used for my buffet and for my stair railing.

I've only done one other staining project and that was about 7 years ago and it was a hand-me-down table and chairs. I used stain stripper and it took FOREVER.

Tip #1: Buy a small sander.

I spent about $60 bucks on my Bosch sander and it was the best $60 bucks I ever spent. (aside from the money I paid for epidurals with both my kids). Added bonus - men love power tools. You may receive unexpected help.

I have no method of what sandpaper grit I used. Start out with the heavy stuff and work your way to medium and light. Sanding anything creates dust. Lots of dust. The buffet was sanded in the garage. The stair rails were not removed.

If you're working in the garage, an air compressor comes in handy to blow saw dust off your piece. Our air compressor is obnoxious. But they sell small pancake compressors.

Sanding indoors is a mess. So keep your Shop Vac handy and use a mask. I'd also send the children to grandma's.

The stair rails took longer because of all the small crevices. If you're going to stain, you need to get down to raw wood. Stain stripper can help - just be sure to purchase something environmentally friendly. The fumes on that stuff can be extremely strong and probably not good for you.

After sanding and cleaning up your dusty mess wipe down with a rag and warm water. Use something that won't leave lint. Be sure to let it dry completely.

Next comes the fun part - staining!

Tip #2: Wear gloves & really old nasty clothes.

Oil based stains are a bear to remove from hands. And don't come out of clothes. I used to have just one t-shirt that I called my project shirt. Now, I can't find a t-shirt without paint on it.

I started out using old rags to wipe the stain on. I didn't like that method. So, I switched to a paint brush. I actually had 2 brushes - a medium sized and then a tiny one to get close to edges and in crevices. I'm very anal - actually, I'll use the word precise instead.

I learned not to just dunk my brushes in the stain. Just dip lightly and brush on. Otherwise, you get streaks and stuff. If you do get too much in one spot, just rub with one of those old rags.

I used 2 coats of stain. I also threw the brushes away. I didn't know how to get them cleaned. Truth be known - I'm lazy.

Next, polyurethane

This is the most time intensive part.

1. Brush on.
2. Let Dry.
3. Lightly Sand.
4. Wipe down with warm water.
5. Let dry.

Repeat steps 1-5 until insanity sets in. I believe my buffet took about 7 coats. Stair rails - 2.
Both projects took many days to complete. So you might be wondering, "Jenn, how many paint brushes did you go through?"

Tip #3: You can store your used paint brushes in a plastic bag and in the freezer! Just thaw them out about an hour prior to re-starting your project.

Come to think of it...mine are still in there.

What should I start next?


Debbie said...

Boy you are good! I love doing creative projects myself, but not requiring major electrical equipment! I am impressed. Found you from the NFF. Hope to see you over at my blog too:)

Jenna said...

Thanks for this! I have so many too doos around the house! Now is the time to start!
Thanks so much!

Ali@Honey and Maple Syrup said...

I've heard about putting paintbrushes in the freezer when using paint and it has helped so much! Can you do it when you use the polyurethane or did you mean if you restain a piece? Or both? If it works with poly, that would save me so much time!!

Jenn said...

Ali - I actually did do the freezer thing with my poly brushes. I don't really know how long they can stay in the freezer but I know for sure I had them in there for at least 2 weeks while I was working on the buffet. You have to wait 24 hours b/w each coat anyway - I can't imagine washing brushes every day!

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