6 Tips to help you varnish or stain your wood project like a pro

January 21st, 2020
6 Tips to help you varnish or stain your wood project like a pro

Stains and varnishes help bring out the natural beauty of wood while protecting it from the sun and moisture. They are also among the simplest to prepare and apply among wood coatings, so even beginners can use them with ease. And while it really doesn’t take much to improve your wood projects by staining or varnishing them, these tips will help you achieve the best results:

#1. Match stain and surface

If you’re working with rough surfaces such as shingles and rough-sawn wood, it’s best to use oil stains. Oil stains tend to penetrate wood better than latex stains, making them ideal for rough surfaces that usually require a lot of stain. Moreover, oil stains can be applied in layers for varied opacity, are easy to renew, and offer good protection without concealing prized details, such as wood grain.

Oil stains can last up to seven years on rough wood, but tend to erode easily on smooth, even surfaces. Latex stains are better suited for this application and will last up to six years on vertical surfaces.

#2. Wipe to save money

If you want to use as little wood stain as possible for your project, wipe the coating onto the wood instead of using a sprayer or a brush. Just a small amount of stain would go a long way. This method is also ideal for applying an even coat on difficult-to-reach, intricately shaped sections and minimizes the appearance of unsightly bubbles, drips, or runs that brushing often tends to leave.

#3. Keep tweezers handy

Don’t you just hate it when bugs or small debris land on the surface you’re working on before the finish has dried up and hardened? Removing them with your fingers will leave a mark and mess up the smoothness of the finish. Avoid this problem by removing unwanted bugs or dirt using a pair of tweezers.

#4. Use rollers for a smooth finish

If you’re working with even, wide surfaces, using a roller instead of a regular brush will save you a lot of time and give you better results. Rollers spread coatings uniformly without the ugly marks that usually come with brushing.

They do, however, tend to spread the finish thinly, so you may have to apply two coatings or more. Rollers are also difficult to clean, so reusing them is often out of the question. But considering how cheap they are, you can dispose of them and get new ones after every use.

#5. Improve adhesion with a sealer

You need to be careful when applying a clear coat on bare wood surfaces. To improve results and minimize the risk of things going wrong, you can apply a sealer onto the wood before applying the clear coat. Clear shellac is great for this purpose because it flattens the surface and improves the adhesion of the topcoat.

Just brush or spray the shellac onto the wood. After it dries, lightly sand the surface with 320-grit sandpaper before applying the top finish. Don’t be tempted to add another layer of sealer as doing so can cause problems.

#6. Minimize clean-up with baking trays

Cleaning up dried varnish is tiring, but you can simplify the process by using a lipped, non-stick baking tray. Just pour a shallow layer of varnish onto the dish, dip your roller, and proceed as usual.

Try to leave as little varnish in the tray as possible once you’re finished the application. Once you’re done, just dispose of the roller sleeve and leave the remaining varnish on the tray. After the varnish has dried, you can just peel it off the tray.

Wood stains and varnishes are ideal for simple, DIY projects. For more complex pieces and requirements, Mobile Paint can formulate a paint or coating formulation that suits your needs and desired outcomes. Contact us today!