The key to quality results and a beautiful end product starts with prep work. Part of prep work is making sure you have the appropriate answers to all of your questions. All projects have many elements that will affect the overall process and application that should be used. It is best when the person performing the work prepares him or herself prior to starting any job. We will start very generally in this section and then move into more specifics in a later article.
- It is always good to know what specific type of wood you are working with to ensure you approach the project with the appropriate mindset. Different types of woods behave differently under the preparation phase. Some woods are harder, some are softer and if you use the wrong process or materials you can cost yourself dearly.
- Know what you are going for; what should the end result look like? We like to accomplish this by putting finished samples in front of our clients for both color, density and sheen accuracy. We then produce a sample on their specific type of wood. These samples could be cabinetry, furniture, railings, tongue & groove ceilings, decks, posts and beams, log homes, and whatever else may be called for. An important step in this process is to make certain that the client signs off on the finish before tackling the entire project.
- Follow the specific instructions set forth on the products to be used, whether that be sandpaper, stripping agents, bleaches, cleaners, oils, sanding sealers, conditioners, dye’s, etc.
Selecting color coats for the job:
- Because there are hundreds of products available, many in the industry are limited in our knowledge and in our experience using these multitudes of products. The important idea is to make certain the contractor has knowledge of the specific types of wood and its behavior and longevity for the product they reccomend. Those using new products should be at least willing to experiment on the wood to ensure a finish the client will love for years to come. I can share with you openly what I do know and what works best for applications in the Seattle are climate.
- Again, you want to be working for an end result that meets a clients goal of what their finished product should lok like. Depending on the color, depth and tone of the stain you will want to use different systems and approaches.
- I recently had to stain a white maple railing a much darker burgundy or mahogany color. When you are trying to achieve a dark color it is not always the best idea to apply a sealer coat like Benite to the wood because the stains will then not penetrate as much as you would like them to. In this instance I had to wet the wood with water to open the grain, sand it lightly with 220 grit to slightly smooth the rougher hairs of the wood and then use the Daly’s water based Aniline stain in order to get a base color coat. I then had to go over the Aniline stain with the oil wood stain to achieve the final darker color.
- Once your desired color is achieved you will need to finish it with the appropriate top coat or protectant coat.
Finish coats or Protective coats:
- In the case above it was not appropriate for me to use my go-to water based product Seafin Aquaspar Marine Varnish, because it tends to reactivate the water based Aniline stain. So instead I chose to go with an oil based product like Profin or a lacquer product.
- In this case I decided to minimize my brushing efforts and dry time delays and elected to use a sanding sealer and the ML Campbell lacquer top coats out of aerosol cans. With a light sand and using 400 grit between coats as usual, the final product turned out looking beautiful.
I look forward to getting deeper into the process of wood finishing systems with you.