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Wood Stain: Clear Finish Needed?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Taking a call from Minnesota now with Chris. Chris, what are you staining? What are you working on?

    CHRIS: Well, I’m curious about stain because I don’t tend to use it. I tend to just clear coat with polyurethane.

    TOM: OK.

    CHRIS: I like the natural look of wood.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    CHRIS: My sister-in-law swears by stain and I’m thinking, “Why would I want to do two steps when I could just do one?” You know, well polyurethane’s always more than one step. (Leslie chuckles) But does stain finish the product? If you stain something do you still have to clear coat over it?

    TOM: Yes, you do. The stain is going to give you the color coat but you still have to do a clear coat on top of it.

    LESLIE: Unless you buy that product that’s the stain and the polyurethane in one coating.

    TOM: Yeah, true.

    LESLIE: I forget who makes it. It’s at the home center. The only thing, if you go with that product – because I’ve worked with it before on While You Were Out – if you double coat an area it – because it’s the polyurethane and the stain built in to one …

    TOM: It gets blotchy, right?

    LESLIE: … it’s get like muddy.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It like sticks to itself.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    CHRIS: Oh.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, you get one shot.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So you really want to make sure you do it evenly and smoothly in one run and never sort of overlap where you stop and start. But you can stain. There are different colors; levels of opacity. You can have all different colors from blues and whites and reds to natural tones that will still show the wood grain; still show the beauty of the wood and then polyurethane them so that they have a durability and a sheen to them.

    TOM: Yeah, Chris, you’ll find that if you use stain it evens out the tones of the wood. Let me ask you, are you talking about inside woodwork or outside woodwork?

    CHRIS: Inside.

    TOM: What kind of work? Like trim work; that sort of thing or …?

    CHRIS: Yeah. My staircase in the house.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    CHRIS: I’m not sure what kind of wood it is. It’s kind of dark. Well, it’s been – it was like lacquered dark or something to begin with and I stripped it.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, you know, stain can be used very strategically in projects like that. I have an old handrail in my home which was built in 1886 and it had an untold number of coats of paint on it. When we finally got down to the raw wood it was a very, very beautiful, like a dark – I’m still not quite sure what it was. I’m pretty sure that it’s either a mahogany or a walnut because it’s just so old. But it did have some inconsistencies even though we got all that paint off. I just took some dark Jacobean (ph) stain; put another coat on top of it; evened the whole thing all up. It looks great. We put some finish on top of that and it looks probably as good as the day it went in.

    CHRIS: Well …

    TOM: So you can use – you can use it strategically or you can use it to add some color to the wood. You can use it to even things out.

    CHRIS: So you wouldn’t have to necessarily even stain a whole project if you just wanted to – if you – if it matched well enough.

    TOM: If it matched well enough but I would recommend doing the whole thing.

    CHRIS: Whole thing.

    TOM: And you know, you don’t have to brush it on. You would put it on a rag and just dab it on; rub it out. Gives you a nice, handrubbed look to the whole project.

    CHRIS: Oh. OK.

    TOM: Give it a try. I think your sister-in-law might be right on this.

    CHRIS: Alright. Great.

    TOM: But you don’t have to tell her we said so. (chuckling)

    CHRIS: (chuckling) OK.

    TOM: Chris, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    CHRIS: Thanks.

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