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post #1 of 7 Old 02-07-2010, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
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Question Handrail Finish

Hi all,

Two years ago I added a second floor to our home. The contractor finished the stairs, but my handrails, posts, and balusters were left for me to finish. Now two years later, it's time for me to get this job completed! I plan to paint the balusters white, while finishing the handrails and posts to match the hardwood floors. I am going to stain the oak wood "nutmeg" in color, as is my floors. My question is, after staining, how do I go about finishing this wood in the easiest method possible? I have children, so I want this process to be the quickest it can be, while lending a durable finish. All I remember from way, way back in high school woodshop was varnish, sand out the bubbles, varnish again, sand out the bubbles, varnish again, sand, etc. etc!! What are the latest products I should use? I've read I should shellac first (after staining) to prevent raising of the grain, then finish with coats of urethane. Is this correct? Do I brush with a foam pad or a brush? I really don't know where to start. There are way too many products on the market...please help! I thank you all in advance.
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post #2 of 7 Old 02-07-2010, 09:43 AM
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Hi Peter.... you don't necessarily need to seal with shellac. I personally like to use it myself because I like how it makes the grain really pop and using a de-waxed shellac as a sealer will allow you to use absolutely any top coat finish over the top. And yes, by sealing you won't get any raised grain if you happen to use a water based finish over an oil based stain. So, IMHO.... using a sanding sealer (of some type) is normally a good thing no matter what you are finishing if using a film type finish.

As for what you should use.... that's really up to you. Once you stain and allow it to dry thoroughly (I would say at least 48 hours), I would think you would want your finish process to go as quickly as possible and that means water or lacquer based. And since the home already has carpet, furniture and kids.... I'm "assuming" that using spray equipment and lacquer fumes aren't going to be much of an option. So, I would recommend a water based finish. I just finished staining and finishing a bunch of Oak molding for my family room and I used an oil based stain, a 2# cut of dewaxed shellac sanding sealer (but remember, I LIKE using shellac - it's not a requirement) and used the General Finishes water based Polyacrylic as my final finish.

I sanded the Oak to #150 (I like stopping at #150 on Oak - I like how Oak stains up better at #150 rather than at #180) used a single coat of Sherwin Williams BAC Wiping Stain and then did two coats of sanding sealer and four coats of the Polyacrylic Satin. I used a synthetic scotch brite type sanding pad to very lightly scuff after my stain had thoroughly dried to smooth everything up, and also after the two coats of sanding sealer and the first coat of Polyacrylic. I then did a very light sanding using #320 before the next coat and finally a light sanding of #400 before the final coat of Polyacrylic. I then buffed the molding out with a super fine synthetic sanding pad and I've got to tell you.... the molding is as smooth as glass. I also loved how nicely the GF Polyacrylic flowed out and also how quickly it dried. I used a very high quality nylon bristle brush and it worked like a charm.

Having never really used a water based finish before (like you I grew up on Varnish, Shellac and later.... oil based Polyurethane), I picked up a couple including the Minwax Polyacrylic to try in comparison. I MUCH preferred the General Finishes product. I would highly recommend that you pick up a couple of Oak boards and practice and perfect the finish schedule that you will ultimately be happy with. It's much better to experiment on scrap than on your main project.

Good luck!

Last edited by JW_in_Indy; 02-07-2010 at 09:51 AM.
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post #3 of 7 Old 02-07-2010, 12:50 PM
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Waterbased polyurethane can be used as a wiping medium. I don't use a sealer or shellac. Any "grain raising" that occurs is usually sanded back to smooth with the sanding of in between coats.

For application, you could use wiping rags that are appropriate, and brushes. It will be a fast almost odorless process.



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post #4 of 7 Old 02-09-2010, 05:12 PM
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Wink bubbles in polyurathane

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Originally Posted by PeterV View Post
Hi all,

Two years ago I added a second floor to our home. The contractor finished the stairs, but my handrails, posts, and balusters were left for me to finish. Now two years later, it's time for me to get this job completed! I plan to paint the balusters white, while finishing the handrails and posts to match the hardwood floors. I am going to stain the oak wood "nutmeg" in color, as is my floors. My question is, after staining, how do I go about finishing this wood in the easiest method possible? I have children, so I want this process to be the quickest it can be, while lending a durable finish. All I remember from way, way back in high school woodshop was varnish, sand out the bubbles, varnish again, sand out the bubbles, varnish again, sand, etc. etc!! What are the latest products I should use? I've read I should shellac first (after staining) to prevent raising of the grain, then finish with coats of urethane. Is this correct? Do I brush with a foam pad or a brush? I really don't know where to start. There are way too many products on the market...please help! I thank you all in advance.
polyurathane gets bubbles use a torch and the heat will make the bubbles come out Dont set the finish on fire ans dont burn the finish less is more and patience is a prize when you get to this step good luck good idea to practice in the garage first
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post #5 of 7 Old 02-11-2010, 03:52 PM
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Lacquer Finish is my favorite.
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post #6 of 7 Old 02-14-2010, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks

Thank you folks for the advice. I appreciate your time.
--Pete
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post #7 of 7 Old 02-14-2010, 05:46 PM
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Thank you folks for the advice. I appreciate your time.
--Pete
So Pete.... what did you end up doing? And where are the pics???
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