The straining process of staining. It really is not that difficult, just takes time. Just completed a stain and trim installation for a client prior to writing this, so lets get to it. Trim staining and installation is the practice of patience and solid craftsmanship. Trim is what makes the difference between a piece of wood and a piece of art. Yes, finish carpentry is a work of art. Which if your doing it yourself makes you the artist.
Now, staining does not start with the stain color it starts with the selection of wood trim and mouldings. Each piece of wood has its own grain or character. You take the time to hand select these pieces. I actually do this for my clients when hired to do trim work. People don’t understand that this is what makes the difference. Once you have selected your choice pieces its time to go home and lay out your work area. The above step can be skipped if you are using old trim/moulding pieces that you have already striped down to bare wood again.
Lay out drop clothes on the work area floor, as this stuff is called stain. Use a couple of saw horses to put your trim/moulding pieces on. Now, if you don’t want stain on your saw horses cover the top with old rags or painters tape. Temperature is a big aspect of staining, a person that does not do this often does not think about this. You have to have a above freezing work area to do your staining in. Also, the hotter and higher the humidity in your area, will affect dry time. Keep these above tips in mind.
We will now apply your stain. Remember, you must have stain and a sealer coat or what most people use is a stain with polyurethane already mixed in. We use the mix all the time, it is much faster and gives the best results. The two step process was the only way to do it years back. The brush on technique is used with a staining brush, you have to really look out for runs when using this technique. Use the brush stroking from left to right end of the board. Do not apply like paint. Only brush stroke in one direction. The preferred technique is the rag application, as you can apply and wipe down the trim all at the same time. Old cotton tube socks work really well for application. Watch for runs and heavy spots. Just go over the whole piece starting at one end and wiping all the way to the other end, use a dry part of the rag to even out the stain or clean up runs. You wipe down the pieces between coats and make sure the application is even all the way. The darker you would like the trim the more coats you apply. 1 to 3 coats is the normal amount. After the third coat it will only darken slightly. So, when you pick your stain color make sure the color is dark or light enough to match all the rest of your existing trim. I always let my clients go and pick what color, as it is a personal choice item.
The Process is the same for all trim and moulding pieces, the more detailed the trim/moulding, the harder it is to stain it evenly through out. Always look for runs and heavy application spots on your work, when applying each coat. It can be very unsightly if the stain is not applied evenly. In the event you have a run or heavy application spot, rub the area lightly after it is completely dry with a fine steel wool. It must be done lightly or you could cause a dark spot on your work.
One last tip, professionals stain pieces at length and always buy longer lengths then what is needed.
Remember, safety first, stain in the eye stings!