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Hello forum,

I have an unfinished clear pine bi fold door. Taking into consideration that pine is a mix of porus and unporus wood, what would give a novice like me a smooth and uniform stain result?

I've heard gel stain is the way to go but should I still seal the wood before staining?

Cheers,
Tonia
 

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Based on my limited experience, I don't think you will ever get a even and uniform color with stain on pine even if you use gel stain. However, I have found that the color will be more uniform by using dye rather than stain. Of course, paint will give the most uniform color.
 

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Based on my limited experience, I don't think you will ever get a even and uniform color with stain on pine even if you use gel stain. However, I have found that the color will be more uniform by using dye rather than stain. Of course, paint will give the most uniform color.
Thanks for that advice, I'm not looking for total perfection and actually prefer how stains highlight the grain of the wood. I'm just a bit hesitant as I've seen numerous people who have done this warn of a blotchy effect where one part of the door absorbs more stain than other parts.

Oak and teak are so much easier.

I hadn't thought of painting it though, I guess if I screw it up royally I'll skip the sealer and sand lightly and just paint the damn thing:vs_laugh:
 

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Hello forum,

I have an unfinished clear pine bi fold door. Taking into consideration that pine is a mix of porus and unporus wood, what would give a novice like me a smooth and uniform stain result?

I've heard gel stain is the way to go but should I still seal the wood before staining?

Cheers,
Tonia
With a gel stain you shouldn't seal the wood before staining. It's really a stretch to call it a stain, it's more like thinned down paint. It was developed to stain a wood textured fiberglass door to look more like wood. Because of the nature of the stain much of it dries on the surface instead of penetrating into the wood. If you had a place that was often handled by hand you are more likely to wear through the finish creating a white spot since the stain doesn't penetrate real well. A wood stain would do better however a little more difficult for a novice. Since pine does have hard and soft places the wood can get blotchy in color. The wood would need to be thoroughly sanded and then a wood conditioner used prior to staining. You would need to make samples on some scrap wood to get the color right. Since a wood conditioner is a type of sealer you would need to use a darker stain than you think to achieve the color. Then the wood conditioner may need to be adjusted to get the desired results. It may just fail to stain so you might need to dilute the conditioner. Then if it goes too dark you may need to thin the stain. This is why it would be important to practice the finish on scrap wood.

I don't recommend Minwax stain. It's very easy for the novice to stain uniform but it's very bad to fade over time. In a couple years you could expect the door to be a completely different color than what you made, especially the provincial color stain.
 

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Hello forum,

I have an unfinished clear pine bi fold door. Taking into consideration that pine is a mix of porus and unporus wood, what would give a novice like me a smooth and uniform stain result?

I've heard gel stain is the way to go but should I still seal the wood before staining?

Cheers,
Tonia
When I work with pine I always tend to use a couple of applications of pre-conditioner to help out with trying to get an even finish. It definitely seems to help and I don't get so much of the blotchiness that can happen with pine when staining. I haven't tried it myself for staining pine but some people swear by clear shellac prior to staining as well, might be worth looking into.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
With a gel stain you shouldn't seal the wood before staining. It's really a stretch to call it a stain, it's more like thinned down paint. It was developed to stain a wood textured fiberglass door to look more like wood. Because of the nature of the stain much of it dries on the surface instead of penetrating into the wood. If you had a place that was often handled by hand you are more likely to wear through the finish creating a white spot since the stain doesn't penetrate real well. A wood stain would do better however a little more difficult for a novice. Since pine does have hard and soft places the wood can get blotchy in color. The wood would need to be thoroughly sanded and then a wood conditioner used prior to staining. You would need to make samples on some scrap wood to get the color right. Since a wood conditioner is a type of sealer you would need to use a darker stain than you think to achieve the color. Then the wood conditioner may need to be adjusted to get the desired results. It may just fail to stain so you might need to dilute the conditioner. Then if it goes too dark you may need to thin the stain. This is why it would be important to practice the finish on scrap wood.

I don't recommend Minwax stain. It's very easy for the novice to stain uniform but it's very bad to fade over time. In a couple years you could expect the door to be a completely different color than what you made, especially the provincial color stain.
When I work with pine I always tend to use a couple of applications of pre-conditioner to help out with trying to get an even finish. It definitely seems to help and I don't get so much of the blotchiness that can happen with pine when staining. I haven't tried it myself for staining pine but some people swear by clear shellac prior to staining as well, might be worth looking into.
Thanks guys,

You both have confirmed what I was secretly thinking. A door this size can't be considered a "starter project" and there's no way I have the level of experience to attempt this even if I do practice on scrap beforehand. I guess there's a reason most people steer clear of pine.

Due to the wonky measurements of this door frame I can't order a pre fab so it will have to be custom made. Thankfully it is available in oak as well although I was hoping to save a few bucks by getting the pine version.

I really appreciate taking the time to share your expertise. You guys rock:vs_cool:
 

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i've had good luck, when staining oil base, to thin the first coat, 60/40 stain/thinner. then i apply a full dose second coat. the first coat flows so much better. the key is to apply as uniform coat as possible. then wipe off quickly.
 

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Thanks guys,

You both have confirmed what I was secretly thinking. A door this size can't be considered a "starter project" and there's no way I have the level of experience to attempt this even if I do practice on scrap beforehand. I guess there's a reason most people steer clear of pine.

Due to the wonky measurements of this door frame I can't order a pre fab so it will have to be custom made. Thankfully it is available in oak as well although I was hoping to save a few bucks by getting the pine version.

I really appreciate taking the time to share your expertise. You guys rock:vs_cool:
There are several different woods that are prone to go blotchy when you stain it. The wood conditioner is just part of life working with these woods. It's not that difficult but is an extra step necessary to get the color uniform. Oak on the other hand is one of those woods that doesn't require a wood conditioner but even though it is a new door you still need to completely sand it. If say someone handled the door with sweaty hands the place where it was handled will have hand prints in the stain. The wood will absorb more stain anywhere it's been wet. We had someone onetime that posted a picture of a door they set up outdoors to finish and got a brief light rain on it. The door had dark spots all over it where each rain drop hit.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
i've had good luck, when staining oil base, to thin the first coat, 60/40 stain/thinner. then i apply a full dose second coat. the first coat flows so much better. the key is to apply as uniform coat as possible. then wipe off quickly.
That's a very clever idea. I'd thought about a pre conditioner even though I decided on oak just to make a smoother application but this sounds even better. You've also steered me more toward oil based products rather than water based so thank you for that.

Can you give me your opinion regarding the application? Brush? foam brush? a rag to apply and a dry rag to wipe quickly?

Many thanks!
 

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There are several different woods that are prone to go blotchy when you stain it. The wood conditioner is just part of life working with these woods. It's not that difficult but is an extra step necessary to get the color uniform. Oak on the other hand is one of those woods that doesn't require a wood conditioner but even though it is a new door you still need to completely sand it. If say someone handled the door with sweaty hands the place where it was handled will have hand prints in the stain. The wood will absorb more stain anywhere it's been wet. We had someone onetime that posted a picture of a door they set up outdoors to finish and got a brief light rain on it. The door had dark spots all over it where each rain drop hit.
You're absolutely spot on. They say this is a pre sanded door and ready to stain but I have my doubts. I'll sand as you said but I'd like your advice on what grit to use on a pre sanded oak door.

Cheers.
 

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I would tend to tone pine rather than stain it. Gel stain is more like a paint. Minwax is a sediment suspended in oil. The sediment settles into the open grain creating color. When toning a analine dye is used. It can be mixed with water or DNA. Water tends to be more colorfast, DNA does not raise the grain as much. I usually mix it with DNA and add it into shellac (mixed not sealcoat). Once that is done you can slowly build your color each time you add another coat. The downside is it will ever so slightly mute the grain compared to dying the wood directly. The tradeoff to avoid blotching iw worth it to me.
 

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You're absolutely spot on. They say this is a pre sanded door and ready to stain but I have my doubts. I'll sand as you said but I'd like your advice on what grit to use on a pre sanded oak door.

Cheers.
Hard to say without seeing it. More than likely 180 would be the right paper. Now, if you see any scratches in the surface, even minor ones that would change everything. If there is veneer you have to be very careful not to sand through and if there is a scratch you can't concentrate on the spot, you have to uniformly sand the entire door. If you concentrate on a spot that area is likely to stain lighter than the rest of it.

If say there is a substantial scratch and it's a veneered door I would take the door back. If that isn't an option then put a wet rag on the spot for about five minutes. Then with the wet rag put a hot iron on it and steam the spot. This will make the wood and veneer swell up so it takes less sanding to sand the scratch out. Doing this you really need to watch the veneer for it to start looking thin and stop. It's much better to have the scratch than to sand through the veneer.
 

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I am sitting at my computer table right now that I made 20+ years ago. I brushed amber shellac on the pine table . I do not recall if i applied shellac more than once. I usually cut shellac to 1-1/2 lb. cut and apply as many coats as needed to get the right color and tone.
There is no blotching , still looks good after all these years.
mike
 

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How about a natural finish, knotty pine is kind of attractive. Just spray a couple coats of lacquer on it.
I agree, it would be the most foolproof method but the door is going to be in a hallway that has dark acacia and oak furniture and dark tone area rugs. A blonde door would stick out like a sore thumb. There's no way around staining it.
 

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Hard to say without seeing it. More than likely 180 would be the right paper. Now, if you see any scratches in the surface, even minor ones that would change everything. If there is veneer you have to be very careful not to sand through and if there is a scratch you can't concentrate on the spot, you have to uniformly sand the entire door. If you concentrate on a spot that area is likely to stain lighter than the rest of it.

If say there is a substantial scratch and it's a veneered door I would take the door back. If that isn't an option then put a wet rag on the spot for about five minutes. Then with the wet rag put a hot iron on it and steam the spot. This will make the wood and veneer swell up so it takes less sanding to sand the scratch out. Doing this you really need to watch the veneer for it to start looking thin and stop. It's much better to have the scratch than to sand through the veneer.
As a matter of fact it IS oak veneer, 35mm thickness. Like you said, I'll have to be extra careful when sanding and I'll try the iron trick if needed. Sending the door back is not an option, being a custom door I'm sure they'll kick and scream and swear whatever damage done happened during shipping.

You really know your stuff. Much appreciated!
 

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I haven't tried but I read that light coat of shellac and then apply oil based stain will solve the uneven stain areas
 

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Cherry also reacts to stain, similar as Pine....not as bad, but similar.
To ME, that is the beauty of that wood.
Not to furniture makers.
That is why they seal the wood, spray colored clear, and then clear over that.
As others have said, just using an oil base sanding sealer will bring out quite a bit of the color of Pine.
Nothing like a stain, but again, i think Pine that sees Lacquer/Oil Base sealer and then clear is a very handsome look.
Good Luck
 

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Stain does not actually stain the wood. The solids (sediment) in the stain fall into the open pores of the would. The more porous the greater the stain. That is why hard maple does not take stain as easily as pine or red oak. With that in mind, you can control stain with wiping, adding and subtracting stain. I have had the most success with toning. Using a analine dye, as suggested above. You can mix the dyes with water or DNA. I like to mix the dye with DNA and then add it to a fresh mix of dewaxed shellac. By adding the dye to the shellac you build your color as you add coats. The color is also built by the amount of dye you add to the shellac. I usually spray, but you can wipe or brush as well. Of you get an area that is too dark a rag dampened with DNA will remove the shellac. The only down side to this is since the color is in the top coat a slight muting of the grain may be experienced. I have found it to be negligible and well worth the trade off. Nearly all commercial wood cabinets today are finished by toning.
 
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