Which wood stain do I choose?

Choosing the proper wood stain can be confusing and a little overwhelming when beginning your wood staining project. Choosing the proper wood stain all depends on what type of wood your are staining. The 3 most common wood stains are wiping stains, penetrating stains and gel stains.

A wiping stain will work well on most soft woods such as fir and pine and hard woods such as maple, oak and cherry. Wiping stains are easy to work with and typically dry faster than other stain leaving you more time to apply any clear coat protection to your stained wood.

A penetrating stain works well on hard woods such as birch, ash, alder, maple, oak and cherry. Penetrating stains penetrate into the wood helping seal and protect the wood and will give you a rich uniform appearance.

Gel stains are the thickest of these 3 most common stains. Gel stains works well on staining both interior or exterior wood and are also used in staining metal and fibreglass such as grained fibreglass doors. When staining a fibreglass door it is best to paint on a undercoat closer to what the grain of the wood looks like. This will insure that the stain has adhesion to the paint rather than the fibreglass giving the stain something to
grab to.

Keep in mind with darker stains a wood conditioner can be used. This is particularly more important with soft woods such as fir and pine as the wood may stain blotchy if a conditioner is not used first. The conditioner will open up the grain of the wood to absorb the stain evenly. However, it is best to test the stain after applying the conditioner as the conditioner will make your stain appear lighter than if you applied the stain directly to the wood.

Whether you choose a wiping stain, penetrating stain or gel stain, please remember it is very important to sand your wood first. Now that you have chosen the type of stain you would like to use the next step is stain colour selection.

Blog post by: Mike Ponych for Your Metro Vancouver Painting Contractor