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How to Stain Timber

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Staining is used to colour timber or emphasise the natural grain. Both interior and exterior timber may be stained; check the different products available. Inside or out, it will take time and thorough preparation to give you your desired result.

Step 1

Choose your stain; two of the most popular are pigmented oil and penetrating resin stains. Pigmented oil stains are easier to control for depth of colour and can be lightened with little effort. Penetrating resin stains sink deep into the timber for a darkening effect. They also contain a finish so only require a coat of wax when you are done. You can clean up both with mineral turpentine.

Step 2

Make sure you have completely stripped any old finish from the timber, filled surface defects with wood putty and sanded the surface so it is bare, smooth, clean and dry.

Step 3

If you're using an oil stain, apply a thin sealer coat to the bare timber to give a more uniform colour effect.

Step 4

Test the stain on a concealed or off-cut section of timber. Remember the stain will only develop its final colour after application of the finish, so top coat your test section.

Step 5

Begin with the least conspicuous areas. Stain one full section of timber at a time to give an even colour.

Step 6

For oil stains, apply with a brush or a cloth and leave for 5 or 10 minutes. Wipe off the excess with a clean cloth in the direction of the grain. For resin stains, apply generously with a cloth or brush; let it soak according to the manufacturer's instructions for the desired darkening effect, then wipe off excess with a clean cloth in the direction of the grain.

Step 7

Make sure you blend the edges of adjoining sections by evenly wiping any overlapping stain.

Step 8

Interior and exterior stains vary on time between coats (up to 12 hours) and numbers of coats, so always follow the directions closely to achieve the best result.

Step 9

Allow stain to dry completely (usually 24 hours) before you apply the top coat finish recommended by the manufacturer. The finish protects the stained timber and allows the desired colour to develop fully.

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