LESLIE: Colleen in New Jersey needs some help with a staining project. What can we do for you today?
COLLEEN: I needed to stain two pocket doors …
COLLEEN: … to match the rest of the pocket doors in the framework in the house. And I went to the local, you know, center and home goods – whatever – and they helped me with a stain and they told me to apply the stain with a rag and then, after it dried, take a steel wool and rub the door down and then – I guess then I’d have to wipe it back down and apply the stain again but I don’t know what the steel wool is for.
TOM: Well, are you going to put – after the stain, are you going to put a coat of polyurethane on or something like that?
COLLEEN: Well, actually, I’m probably going to have to do three coats of stain to match the rest of the doors and then …
LESLIE: To get the color you want.
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, let me just give you – let me give you a step-by-step idea here of how to do a staining project like this, Colleen. And these are new doors?
TOM: OK. So the first thing that you want to do – and this is a little trick of the trade that I learned years ago – I wipe the door down with a damp cloth and the reason I do that is because the grain will now swell a little bit. And even if it was sanded once, once you wipe it with a damp cloth, you’ll find that the grain swelled and got a little rough. Then sand it again with a very fine sandpaper. We’re talking about like about a 400-grit sandpaper.
LESLIE: Wow, that’s super-fine.
TOM: Really fine. Yeah, because it’s just – the grain is just swelling; it’s just like sort of the tips of the grain that’s up there. So sand it down, then you can apply the stain. I generally don’t sand in between stain coats but I will at the very last step before I polyurethane; and again, I’ll do a very quick, very fine staining at that point.
LESLIE: With the same 400-grit?
TOM: Yeah, the same 400 – anywhere between 200 and 400. And then I’ll do urethane and in between the coats of urethane I’ll sand. The reason you’re sanding is because the grain swells and it gets rough and you’re trying to take it down. But I would not use steel wool in between steps on staining because what happens then is the steel wool ends up breaking apart and gets stuck on the door and it’s really hard to get out. So I would use a very fine-grit sandpaper; somewhere between 220 and 400.