Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Staining this and that

I find that as I'm tackling projects, I am gaining confidence in my own abilities and also learning a lot about how to do things around the house. I came into home-ownership knowing very little. I could paint but not well, and found my biggest accomplishment to be changing the light bulbs. 

I don't consider myself to be a home-owner ninja yet, but I do think that I've made a lot of progress. Recently I tackled one of my biggest fears in home project world - stain. I had seen plenty of things being stained on HGTV but of course didn't really pay attention. So when it came time to stain my quarter-round for the living room and  the trim and doors for the new laundry room, I felt very overwhelmed. 

Having lived to tell about it (with the help of my super-knowledgeable and experienced mom and my good buddy Eric), I would love to break down the steps for the blog land so that maybe someone else will feel empowered to stain on their own. 

1) Purchase your supplies: this was an intimidating step for me. I went to Home Depot and got a pre-stain conditioner (this was a good idea), the stain color I wanted (took the old trim piece as a guide), and a polyurethane. We did oil based for our stain and poly but apparently you can do water-based. Don't know which is better so ask your helpful guy in the orange apron. I also bought a pack of tack cloths, which help take all the dust off after sanding. We had sand paper (we used 150)

2) After getting the supplies back to my house, I set up my work area. For us, this was our garage. Since we were doing trim and it was very long, we rested it on several boxes. Sawhorses would have been nice but boxes worked fine. In setting up your work area, you want to make sure that you're somewhere that is protected in case it starts to rain (our issue this weekend) and also that random crap won't fly at your sticky wood (our other issue). The garage worked nicely for us. 

3) Sand your wood. After sanding, get all the junk off with your tack strips.

4) Apply your pre-stain conditioner. We used scraps of an old t-shirt for this step. We poured the conditioner into a plastic bowl, then sopped the t-shirt in the liquid, then just lathered it on. Let that sit for about 15 minutes.

5) Mix your stain well. We used a plastic knife. You don't want to shake because that creates bubbles but mixing is very important because the pigment settles at the bottom. After the stain is mixed, you're ready to stain your wood. We used more strips of old t-shirts (not the same strips as before, but clean ones) and the plastic bowl trick. You get the stain sopped into your t-shirt and just brush the stain on with the t-shirt rag. You want to get a lot of stain on - to where it is real liquid-y. You'll coat evently going with the grain of the wood on the whole piece, then wait about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes or so, take another clean piece of the rag and wipe off excess. Let this sit to dry. Repeat this until you're happy with the color. 

6) After letting the stain dry (we waited about 6 hours), take a brush (either a new paint brush or one that has been used only for poly in the past) and brush on the polyeurathane. You'll let that coat dry and do as many coats as you want until it is as glossy as you want. 

We conditioned, stained, and poly-ed trim, doors, quarter road, and two pieces of wood for a desk for our office this weekend. I do know now that practice makes perfect! 

Lucky for me, my brother is extremely talented in carpentry, design, and home-repair after working for our contractor. He is an architect student and is going to be very good at designing and constructing homes. Ez was in town for spring break and he and Eric put down the quarter-round:

An artistic pic for an artistic guy.

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