Staining solid 6 panel doors

Old 06-16-09, 09:31 AM
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Question Staining solid 6 panel doors

We just installed several beautiful interior, solid, 6 Panel Pine doors in our home, and now want to stain them.
The issues are:
1) whether I am capable of doing this myself? don't want to hire someone, but, I've never stained a door before, nor am I a painter/stainer by anymeans.
2) Do I need to precondition them first?
I've read other threads online about this -- some say "it's a must if you want an even color", other say the "uneveness is gorgeous and part of the natural character of wood".
3) What type of stain and varnish is best, water based or oil based? How many coats? (Thinking of Golden Oak for this soft Pine)
4) Which is easiest, Doors on the hinge or off, hardware on or off?
5) For sanding, what grit of sandpaper? First sanding? after staining? After each coat of Varnish?
Old 06-16-09, 11:51 AM
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#1 - staining isn't all that difficult but you must do 1 side without stopping. If the stain dries on 1 section before the adjoining wood is stained,it will leave an unsightly lap mark.

#2 - a lot depends on what you want the finished product to look like, generally I don't use a wood conditioner. Besides making the stain color more uniform they will also cause the stain to be lighter in color [the wood can't obsorb the stain as readily]

#3 - oil base stain should be easier for you to work with as it dries slower. I like to apply it with a brush and wipe off the excess with a rag. Oil base varnish/poly will deepen the colors in the wood/stain, it will also amber some as it ages. Oil dries to a harder film and will wear better than waterbased. Water based poly dries clear and does not change the look of the wood or stain any [other than sheen] The stain must be good and dry before water based can be applied over an oil stain.

#4 - it doesn't make much difference to me if they are hanging or not but I've stained 1,000's of doors. You do want the lock set removed [preferably stained and finished before they are installed] The hinges are ok - you can easily wipe the stain off of them.

#5 - You want to make sure the doors are clean prior to staining. You can do a lot of cleaning by wiping down the wood with denatured alchol - it usually removes finger prints and ink marks. You can sand prior to staining with 120-150 grit - be sure to sand with the direction of the grain!! Cross sanding can leave scratches that will show when stained. Don't sand the stain coat! Each coat of varnish/poly should be sanded with 150-220 grit and dust removed before the next coat is applied.

It's always a good idea to seal the top and bottom edge of the door. This well help the door to resist obsorbing moisture [humidity] If the top of a door can be seen from above [like coming down a stair case] you should stain the top edge. Stain doesn't seal well, varnish/poly will seal the edges.

You might want to start with closet doors or the back side of door that isn't always seen. That way by the time you get to the prominent doors you shouldn't have any trouble doing a good job
Old 06-16-09, 03:26 PM
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for pine doors use a preconditioner, but follow directions carefully. Gel stains are usually more forgiving than oil stains. I rarely brush, I wipe with a low lint rag, I think it is faster, and you MUST keep a wet edge all the time. Good suggestion above about doing the backside of closet doors first to get the routine down.

Water based poly dries quicker, but I prefer the finished look of oil poly better. Oil based will darken the final product, water based will not.

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