Blog / When staining wood, use a cloth wipe—don’t brush!

September 13, 2018

Let’s talk about staining.

The distant cousin to the more common coat of paint, staining is prevalent for furniture refinishing, banisters, stair treads, doors, and more.

Here’s the thing: you want to apply stain and wipe off the excess with a clean cloth wiper before it dries. We understand it is tempting to use a sprayer to cover large surfaces quickly. However, by the time you follow up with a stain wiper, areas will have dried and left behind blotchy wood.

how to apply wood stain

It’s better to work on smaller areas and wipe as you go. Be sure to wipe carefully in corners and deep fluting (sometimes a brush can work to get stain into these hard-to-reach areas).

If you have oil-based stains (which dries slower), brushing or spraying large areas could work, but lacquer and water-based stains simply dry too fast. This could result in imprints of the bristles. You won’t have that problem when you apply and finish stain with lint-free cloth wipers.

Trimaco’s staining materials:

  • Tack Cloth: To ensure a smooth finish, use a tack cloth to prepare a dust-free surface after sanding, before painting, and in between coats. Tack cloths are extremely sticky, therefore wear gloves and unfold the product completely to get the most use out of each cloth.
  • Staining Pad: A sponge with terry cover that is great for staining applications. The staining pad sponges hold excess liquid and are absorbent to keep messy ink blobs from happening. This ensures a smooth finish and less time re-dipping into your canister of stain. Do yourself a favor and invest in a higher quality staining pad to avoid lint on the final product. (It is important to note that staining pads soaked with stain, linseed oil and/or solvent may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. To avoid this, immediately place soaked staining pads in a sealed, water-filled, metal container and dispose of in accordance with local fire regulations.)
  • Cheesecloth: White 100% cotton cheesecloth is great for staining. Since it is a thinner material, it is easier to fill the wood grain and covers your surface better. To use, simply bunch up and start wiping stain on your surface. Again, gloves are a must.
  • Professional Absorbent White Knit Rags: This “variety” pack contains everything from premium wipers to economical mixed knits. These are perfect for staining, cleaning, and polishing.
  • Old School® Premium Knit T-Shirt Wipers: From a 4-pound mini bale to a 50-pound box, these all cotton t-shirt wipers are absorbent, soft, and perfect for staining. Your favorite t-shirt stain wiper material is ready to go.
  • ProPerfect® Premium Wiping Rags: These low-linting, 100 percent cotton wipers are cut 18” by 18” every time. They are perfect for staining with no scraps or waste. Packed by count, not weight, these wipers are the top of the line choice for any staining project.

There are a wide range of techniques on how to apply wood stain. Trimaco offers choices for every staining project and budget, including projects with gel stain, water-based stains, and oil stains. Keep these on hand year-round for whatever project comes your way.

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