How to Stain Wood
Treating wood is vital if you want to preserve its quality, finish and integrity. Here at Permagard we've put together a guide on how to stain wood. Follow our clear steps and you won't go wrong!
We look at the types of wood stain and how to stain wood using the best techniques for the most professional finish possible.
What is Wood Stain?
Wood stains are designed to add colour to wood whilst allowing its natural characteristics to remain visible. Most wood stains consist of three components – pigments, preservatives and a carrier that depends on whether it’s water or oil based.
It’s important to buy the right type of stain and this depends on the wood you’re staining.
What does wood stain do?
Wood stains permanently change a wood’s appearance, often adding colour. Unlike paint, wood stain allows the grain patterns of the wood to remain visible, highlighting the natural beauty. Some wood stains provide the wood with protection from the elements and the best quality wood stains contain a film preservative to protect the wood from mould and algae, wood boing insects, wood rotting fungus, blue stain and UV light.
Wood Stain vs. Paint
There are two common ways to treat woods both for interiors and exteriors – painting and staining. Painting gives the wood a dramatically different appearance whereas staining keeps many of the properties of the wood intact, preserving and enhancing its natural features. Paints usually deliver a more consistent appearance over the wood surface.
Wood Stain Colours
Wood stains come in a variety of different colours to match your requirements and tastes. Be warned that wherever you see a wood stain colour it will only ever be an approximation of the true colours. If you are looking online then the colour of the stain may be impacted by the device and screen settings. It is therefore vital to test the wood stain colour on a test piece of wood prior to going ahead with the main wood surface.
When to stain wood?
It makes sense to stain the wood as soon as possible to provide it with protection. However, you will need to wait for consecutive dry days. This is because the wood must be dry before you stain it and then needs to dry without the risk of rain. Avoid very hot and humid days and do not apply if the temperature falls below 5 °C.
How to Stain Wood
How much wood stain do I need?
You will need to check the application details on your specific wood stain. Most stains require at least two coats. If you are planning to stain planed or very dense wood (these tend to be less absorbent) then you may need three coats. You will often find the coverage information on the tin in ml/m² - millilitres (of stain) to metre squared (of wood). As an example, if your wood stain has a coverage of 100-125ml/m² per coat, then a five litre tin of stain is sufficient to cover approximately 25m² of wood with two coats. Surfaces that are highly absorbent or rough such as fences will use more product so the yield will be lower.
- Preparation - It’s best to stain wood outside or in a well-ventilated area with a mask on. You should also take steps to protect the area – this can include the ground and plants from splashes. Some newspaper should do the job. Make sure the surface of the wood is free from debris that could be picked up by the stain. Stir or shake the stain thoroughly before you start.
- Test - It is highly recommended to apply a small amount of stain to a test area or scrap piece of wood with identical properties.
Applying the Stain
You can’t rush the application of a stain. For the first coat, apply in the direction of the grain using a good quality brush to the application rates suggested. If you apply too much stain in one area, use a rag and sweep across the affected area in the direction of the grain to remove excess product.
You must wait until the first coat of stain is dry before attempting to apply further coats. It is normally wise to wait overnight and then apply further coats the next day to get true colour and protection.
How long does wood stain take to dry?
Because the wood must be completely dry before it can be recoated, many people want to know how long wood stain takes to dry. This is a hard question to answer because it depends on the type of wood, the type and brand of wood stain and the atmospheric conditions. Lower temperatures and higher levels of humidity delay the drying process. Ideally, you will leave the stain overnight to make sure it is completely dry.
Staining a wood fence
There are slightly different techniques for Follow the link for a full guide on how to paint and treat a fence.
Follow the link for a full guide on how to treat and stain decking.
Wood Stain Problems and Solutions
How to get stain off wood
If you are not happy with the appearance of your stained wood, you will want to know what removes wood stain. Maybe the colour isn’t right – some cheaper stains appear too red or too orange. Unfortunately as most stains penetrate into the surface, the only real option is to mechanically remove or abrade the surface to remove the wood stain.
Wood Stain is too dark
If the wood stain is too dark and you have yet to apply it to the main area then you can look at swapping it for another colour or opt for a clear wood stain. Alternatively most stains lighten with age so if you have covered a large area in time it will lighten.
If it appears too dark on your test strip then you can sand your wood to a smoother finish with a higher grade / finer grit sandpaper. A smoother wood will absorb less stain so will generally appear lighter, but be careful not to over sand as this can close the wood so it doesn’t take on the stain.
Wood stain too thick
If you have applied your wood stain and it is too thick then you can pour some paint thinner onto a rag and sweep across the affected area in the direction of the grain. This should thin out the wood stain.
Permagard - Timber Treatment Experts
There are many wood stains available on the market. They can protect your timber against the six main factors that have a detrimental effect on wood outdoors. Visit our Shed, Fence & Timber treatment page for more information or find out how to waterproof a shed.