Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

How Six Different Stains Look on Five Popular Types of Wood

By: Shiala George

Guest Bloggers Chris and Julia from ChrisLovesJulia  has a great post that breaks down how different stains can look based on the wood species that are being used. Follow along as this  DIY couple shares their findings, and tips imparts some helpful guidance to get you started on your next wood finishing project.

This post is sponsored by Minwax®. As always, opinions are always 100% my own. 

We’ve been wanting to do a wood/stain study for years now and in my head, I wanted to do every type of wood with about 20 different stains each. But with limited resources (not to mention space), we settled on 5 popular species of wood commonly used by DIYers, with 6 different stains; 2 light, 2 medium and 2 dark.

The wood types we chose also are vastly different, ranging from extremely soft (birch) to hard (red oak) with undertones all over the map. Not only does the hardness effect how a wood will accept stain (harder woods tend to accept stains better and more evenly) but also the natural color of the wood.

The ever popular and inexpensive Pine has yellow undertones.
Birch has pink undertones.
Poplar has green undertones.
White Oak has the most neutral undertones.
And I bet you’ll never guess Red Oak’s undertones. (Hint: Red)

To give each wood the best chance at sporting stain, we started our study with Minwax’s Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Treating raw wood with conditioner helps prevent streaks and blotches by evening out the absorption of oil-based stains. It can be applied over any wood but is especially necessary when working with soft or porous woods like pine, alder, birch, and maple. You’ll see just how necessary it is in a minute, because of course we took our observations one step further and only used conditioner on the bottom half  of each piece of wood so you can see the difference it makes.

We let the conditioner penetrate for 15 minutes and then wiped off any excess and removed the tape and got to work applying 6 different stains to all five of our types of wood.

As a reminder, here are all the types of wood in their natural, raw state:

1. Minwax Pickled Oak. This stain added very little color to any of the boards, (maybe slightly lighter with a tinge of green), but really brought out their natural color and grain. All of the wood types accepted the stain well, except the non-conditioned Birch side.

2. Minwax Simply White. Minwax recently came out with a Simply White stain and I’m in love with it! It really softened each wood tone and color while not masking any grain–like semi-opaque stains do. You can see clearly the wood’s color undertones (yellow, pink, green, neutral, red) but they aren’t nearly as pronounced. Both of the oak species took on a sort of Cerused look I’m very into. The green that is generally very pronounced in Poplar, turned into more of a warm gray. The unconditioned Birch side, again, struggled with accepting the stain, but you can also see the conditioned side of each board is slightly darker.

3. Minwax Golden Pecan. We chose to experiment with this stain color because of its mid-range tint with red undertones. The pine board looked the least natural with this stain. Poplar looked a little bit like watermelon. Birch did surprisingly well and the oaks were naturals. Naturals in a very red way.

4. Minwax Golden Oak. This is another mid-range stain color, but with a more neutral base undertone. Instead of the wood grains picking up redness, you can see they all went a very neutral brown. There is very little difference between the conditioned and unconditioned white and red oaks, but the other three definitely benefited from the pre-stain conditioner.

5. Minwax Jacobean. The first of the dark stains we tried was also the more neutral in tone. It delivered rich, dark brown tones. Every wood species benefitted greatly from the conditioner with this stain. The pine turned more gray than anything.

6. Minwax Dark Walnut. Last, is the redder of the two dark stains we experimented with. Although, no red came through with the pine at all. In fact, it looked almost pinky gray. The other woods took the stain well, with more redness coming out of the conditioned sides of the boards. The green in the Poplar board went to an almost black, like in the Jacobean stain–very stunning.

Lastly, we thought it would be beneficial to see all the same wood type with different stains in one picture. This will hopefully help you see how Pine, Birch, Poplar, White Oak and Red Oak’s undertones play with different stain undertones.

Like I said, I wish we could do 15 more of these! But I hope this is helpful. I think each wood species looked great with some stains and subpar with others.

I loved pine with the lights and darks, but not the medium stains.
Birch rocked Simply White and Golden Oak.
Poplar looked awesome in almost every one except the Golden Pecan.
White Oak can’t take a bad picture.
And Red Oak should probably stay away from things that add even more red to it (like Pickled Oak and Golden Pecan).

In my opinion, of course. What do you think!?

 

Wood Finishing Tips for DIYers from Christina’s Adventures

By: Minwax

Guest Blogger Christina from Christina’s Adventures attended our Habitat for Humanity ReStore event and is here to pass along a few tips and tricks she picked up from the workshop. Follow along as this avid DIYer imparts some helpful guidance to get you started on your next wood finishing project.

This post is sponsored by Minwax®. As always, opinions are always 100% my own. 

I went to an event hosted by Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and Minwax® a few weeks ago, and it was so much fun!  I met some friends, played around with some products, and truly learned just how little I know about staining & finishing wood.

I mean, I’ve been DIYing for years now – I wasn’t sure how much I would learn at this wood finishing workshop.  I was so wrong!

The workshop was taught by Bruce Johnson, who is a wealth of knowledge for all of the things that go into woodworking projects.

Thanks to his wisdom, I can give you a guide so you can feel confident to tackle your next DIY – whether you’re a beginner or have been doing this for years (like me!)

HOW TO STAIN WOOD:

PREPARING THE WOOD

  • Sand the wood – always “with the grain”
    • If you go against the gran of the wood, you’ll end up with scratch marks once you apply the stain.
    • You can sand with 120 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish
  • Use a wood conditioner like Minwax® Pre-Stain Conditioner
    • This one was new to me – and now I won’t do another project without it!
    • If you don’t condition the wood first, your stain will go on blotchy.

You can see the difference in how the wood looks once it’s conditioned (this photo has not been edited in any way):

APPLYING THE STAIN

  • Using the right tools is really important for the next two steps.
  • Oil based vs. water based
    • I personally like using an oil based stain, like Minwax® Wood Finish™, but there’s a variety of choices of colors between water based or oil based stains.
    • Oil based products give you a longer working time, while water based products dry quicker.
  • If you use a water based stain, like Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain, make sure you are using brushes with synthetic fibers.  Otherwise, the bristles will soak up the water and the brush will expand and lose it’s shape.
  • If you use oil based products, you can use a brush with natural fibers or a foam brush.
  • Never shake the stain!  It will get bubbles in it and can give you an uneven finish.
  • When applying the stain, make sure you go with the grain.  You can wipe off the excess stain after you put the first coat on (the longer you wait to wipe it, the more concentrated the stain color will be).

FINISHING OFF THE WOOD

  • Again, you can choose to use oil based products or water based products.  I personally love water based products for this part. Minwax® makes a number of great options in both varieties, such as Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane, which is oil based and Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish, which is water based.
  • It’s important to apply a finish coat – this will protect your wood from wear & tear, and it will also help lock the stain in and make it even more vibrant.
    • If you’re not a fan of the shiny finishes, you can get them in satin or matte!  Don’t let the high gloss finish scare you away if that’s not your style.
  • Polyurethane (which is oil based) will amber, or yellow, over time.  Polycrylic (which is water based) will always be clear and will not yellow.
    • Just remember – you’ll have a longer working time with Polyurethane than Polycrylic. If you’re confident in your ability to work quickly, then go with Polycrylic!
  • Let your stain dry overnight before applying your top coat.
  • When you’re applying your finish, you need the correct brush.  Again – synthetic brushes = water based products and natural brushes = oil based products.  Use a high quality brush for this portion of the project so you can get the smoothest finish possible
  • Do one thin coat, wait overnight, sand *lightly* with a fine sandpaper, and reapply the finish.  Repeat this process at least one more time before you can officially be finished.

CLEANING UP

  • I’m guilty of throwing my brushes in the refrigerator with a baggie over them at night…but I am sad to report that I was told that wasn’t a good idea.  Boooo!
  • Take the extra 5 minutes and thoroughly wash your brush out after every use.  If you’re using an oil based product, clean with mineral spirits.  If you’re using water based, you can clean with water.
  • Make sure to hold your brush down while cleaning – otherwise product will build up near the base of the brush and ruin the shape of your bristles.
  • You can use the little hole at the end of your handle as a hanger, so you can hang it to dry to keep the shape of the brush.
  • Did you know you could keep that little cover it comes in to protect your brush after use?  I always just threw it away – not anymore!

OK – phew.  I know that’s a lot of information!  It’s important to be informed, but it’s also OK to experiment and find your own special technique and style!

It’s easy for me to talk about Minwax® products, because they’re basically all I use!  Come take a peek at some of our past projects we’ve used Minwax® products for:

OUR BATHROOM COUNTER TOPS:

I used Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Early American” with the “Satin” finish Minwax® Polycrylic™ on top of our butcher block counter tops in our bathroom (they’re cherry butcher block slabs):

WOOD WINDOW VALANCE:

I used Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Early American” to stain these pine boards to make our *easy* window valances.  Now that I look back at these pictures…they look blotchy!  I totally should have used Minwax® Pre-Stain Conditioner first to give it a smoother stain application:

OPEN SHELVING PANTRY:

We used Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Weathered Oak” on these shelves (pine boards from the hardware store) in our last house:

DIY WOOD FRAMED MIRROR:

One of my favorite easy DIY projects – again, we used Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Early American” on these (look at the difference in tones between that pine wood and the butcher block – we used the same stain!) I love how they look, but remember: separate pieces of wood may take the stain differently, so it’s important to test a section first before you commit to a stain for your wood.

Make sure you head over to Minwax®’s Facebook page to “like” them and see lots of other tips & tricks that can help with all of your DIY projects!  You can also find a LOT more specific product information on Minwax.com – they’re a great resource!

This post and the event I attended where I learned all about how to stain wood are all part of Minwax®’s “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

They’re working with some amazing friends of mine – see any familiar faces in this group?Blogger Christina of Christina’s Adventures passion is to inspire your own adventure! Whether it’s painting a piece of furniture for the first time, getting the courage to tackle your first DIY house project, or even working on remodeling your own home. You can see more of her gorgeous DIY projects on her blog as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Pink Under-the-Bed Divided Toy Storage

By: Minwax

Guest Blogger Charlotte from At Charlotte’s House joined us for our Habitat for Humanity ReStore Workshop in Philadelphia. Follow along as she shares some helpful tips she learned at the event and watch as she puts them to practice building and staining this beautiful under-the-bed toy storage box in her daughter’s favorite color, PINK!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Minwax®, but all opinions and pink reveal are my own.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a fun event at the Philadelphia Restore hosted by Minwax®! Truthfully, I wasn’t sure of the specifics, but when I walked into the room and saw tables with wood and samples and brushes, I KNEW it was going to be a great afternoon! The experts at Minwax® gave us a crash course in all things wood staining, wood preserving, and furniture finishing. Guess what. This 5 year DIYer was doing all SORTS of things wrong when it came to my staining.

1. I wasn’t pretreating my wood. Which makes for a blotchy stain. No bueno. Use a wood conditioner, Minwax® Pre-Stain Conditioner.

2. I was cleaning my brushes wrong. Alll wrong. When you turn them upside down in the faucet? All that paint just gets shoved down into the nape of the bristles. Also no bueno. Just hold the bristles pointed down, and rinse/ flick until no more paint.

3. No idea about water based and oil based nuances. Oil based stains, like Minwax® Wood Finish™,have a much longer working time, but can smell a lot. Like a lot a lot! Water based stains, like Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain, will dry much faster which can be tricky, but they also come in amazing colors like, ahem… my pink toy tray!

4. Shaking my cans. Don’t do it, folks. Bubbles are bad. Always stir your stain.

5. Brush type. I typically grab the cheapest brush unless it’s one of my favorite angle brushes. Synthetic bristles should be used with water based paints and natural bristles should be reserved for oil based products… the water can cause natural bristles to swell and change their shape.

I could go on, but five major staining mistakes seems like enough.

One of the products I fell head over heels in love with was the Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in “Perfectly Pink.” PINK! As you know, Eleanor’s room is a plethora of fuchsia and we had a bit of a toy situation going on. I decided to build her a simple storage bin for all her toys and stain it… yep… pink!

The tray itself is very simple. I used a 3/4″ 2×4 piece of sanded plywood and framed it out with some mitered 1x3s.

I mitered the corners of the 1x3s and lined them up to the edge of the plywood with wood glue and a brad nailer.

To split the tray into two halves, I glued/ nailed a 1×2 down the middle to act as a partition to help her divide her creations from all the different toy pieces.

I sanded and pretreated the wood to start. The pre stain wood conditioner helps prep the wood so that any stain applied will be a smooth even finish. Since the pink stain is a water based stain, I used Minwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.

The wood frame of the tray is stained with the Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in “Perfectly Pink.” I brushed on the stain with a synthetic brush, and then wiped off any excess with a cotton rag. To finish, I went over the stain a day later with a flat finish Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish to help preserve the stain.

For the inside, I used some leftover white paint to keep the storage area crisp and clean. Casters and 2 lucite handles later… I’m in love.

Eleanor is actually VERY organized so I figured I’d give her a head start, and bought her some small plastic containers in which she can sort the various toy pieces. One corner at a time, folks… keeping this house quasi-organized!

One side of the tray is for the things that she builds and the other is for her spare pieces. I’m not sure whether it will be easier for her with or without the lids, but I love how pretty all the containers look with their rainbow toy pieces!

I was able to use three 1x3s at $3 each. The plywood is about $10. A pack of four casters was maybe $3 and each handle was about $4. I could have used simple grocery store containers, but instead I got these ones that were all about $3 a piece. Doing the math… that brings the whole project to about $50. I know that’s not super cheap, but… the alternative is a dresser or a file cabinet and this is just too perfect not to love!

You can see more great DIY projects from Charlotte on her blog: At Charlotte’s House. Her design style is fun, frugal, repurposed eclectic and she like colors and whimsy and brass and rattan. You can also follow her onFacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

5 Staining Tips Every DIYer Should Know with City Farmhouse

By: Minwax

Guest Blogger Jen of City Farmhouse is back to share some wood finishing tips she learned at our Habitat for Humanity ReStore workshop. Follow along as she walks you through 5 helpful tips you should know before starting your next DIY wood finishing project. 

This is a sponsored post by Minwax®.

     

Here are  5 staining tips every DIYer should know…

     So before staining, it’s important to use an oil based wood conditioner like Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, if you’ll be using an oil based stain, or MInwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, if staining with a water based stain.

     

     

  

     

  Minwax® Polyshades® It’s both a stain and protective finish in one product.   

 

      

  

DIY Floating Bench

 

Live Edge Bench

 

DIY Modern Rustic Beam

 

Driftwood Sculptures

Jen shares DIY projects and thrifty decorating solutions. Her design philosophy is that bringing style to your home doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn more about Jen and visit City Farmhouse. You Can also follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.