Monday, November 2, 2015

Staining Wood Trim: What You Need, and What You Need To Know

Now that our beautiful new Andersen windows have been installed, it is our job to stain all the interior trim. Oh joy! We could have opted out of this step and just ordered pre-primed white wood, but the problem is that we have wood trim everywhere in this house. Eh-ver-eee-where. We toyed with the idea of painting out all the trim in the entire house white, but we decided against it, and here are our reasons:

1.) White painted trim is popular now, but what about next year when the designers and decorators all change their mind and have us stripping our white trim and staining it wood again? Remember when brass and gold were "so dated", and now they're the hottest trend?

2.) The wood trim works for this house, and it works with our furniture and decor.

3.) If we were to paint trim in one room, we'd end up needing to paint trim in every room. And painting every square inch of this house's trim...well, that way lies madness.

So this weekend, we added a new skill set to our house flipping resume. Seriously, if I knew that I'd end up being a professional house flipper one day, I would have ditched all those journalism classes and spent a lot more time in shop class in high school. And I would have paid attention when Mrs. Striggow taught us how to sew straight seams in home economics, too. But that's another subject all together.

So, here are some supplies you'll need if you are tackling a staining project:

You'll want to have a towel or two on hand for wiping up boo-boos and smoothing out imperfections. You will also want lots of disposable foam brushes on hand. An edging tool will help with those crevices. And you may need a few sheets of sand paper and a sanding block. If you are sanding, make sure you wear safety glasses. I did, and I swear, I felt just like Nicole Curtis on Rehab Addict. It was cool and empowering.

Have a few pieces of trim on hand to experiment with color. We had to buy three stain colors before we decided on the one that I'd first picked out in Home Depot but the guys voted against as being all wrong. I'm not going to say I told you so, but...

You will need tons of blue painter's tape, pre-stain, wood stain, wood putty for the nail holes, and a polyurethane for the finish. You will also want lots of paper for drop cloths.

We found it best to tape off the window, and then tape a piece of paper underneath. This can be a messy, drippy job, so this will save your walls. First, we applied a coat of Pre-Stain wood conditioner. This helps the stain adhere to the wood and not become too blotchy. Then, my husband applied a coat of stain, working with a foam brush and applying very thinly and sparringly.

After that, we left it to dry for a few minutes. Then I went back with a towel and carefully smoothed away any drip marks or blotches. This step was so vital. We found that the corners where the wood meets and your brush stops tend to get too blotchy, and smoothing with the towel really helped.

However, wood does have natural grain and places where it will adhere darker or lighter. You just have to embrace that.

After the stain has dried, go back with the wood putty and put a small amount in all the nail holes. Let it dry and smooth it out with a damp rag.

We still need to varnish the trim, and we have not yet painted the window sashes. That will require wide open windows, and it just wasn't warm enough for that yet. That may have to wait until spring. The polyurethane varnish will take several coats, with a light sanding between coats. I'm hoping to do that this week, as our new Bali blinds from Home Depot will arrive tomorrow. Yea! No more living in a fish bowl!

Overall, I'm really pleased with how this turned out. We've never worked with stain before, but now I'm feeling pretty confident that we did a good job. I think the trim matches the existing wood tones very well, and that was my biggest concern.

So there you have it! How to stain like a pro. Next week, I'll be teaching you how to use a band saw and miter box to cut your own trim. Okay, just kidding. Shop class is over. Class dismissed!

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