Furniture Finishing, Refinishing, & Restoration

Q&A Forum - Problems staining - parawood - HELP!

nams - Thu Jun 01, 2006 11:54 pm
Post subject: Problems staining - parawood - HELP!
i recently bought a dining table and 6 chairs from an unfinished furniture store for the simple reason that i wanted to stain it to a color(tone) that i wanted. the wood is parawood - the one that comes from malaysian rubber plantations.

i used an oil based stain sorta medium cherry. i have 6 very different looking chairs! and i cant live with it. after staining it i read on the internet that toning by tinting the finish - thinned poly(oil-based) the color wud even out some. so i did the same, and i still have 6 blotchy chairs.

and i cant live with it, i have to start over. Sad

since i started out a medium color i cud go dark medium red-brown mahogany.

so what shud i do?

a) i have to remove the stain and poly. which stripper shall work best? considering that the wood does have large pores.

b) i read in another post that i cud sand, scuff apply seal coat and a gel stain.

c) shud i completely strip the set to bare wood and apply a dye stain? which one? how?


Paul S - Sat Jun 03, 2006 7:49 am
Post subject: Dying and/or staining wood - always start with samples!
You broke what I consider to be the first rule of finishing... you didn't do any samples of the entire finish before you started on the actual project. The chair and table bottoms are a good place to test the steps of your finish to make sure it's going to come out the way you want it to. But you're in good company. Lots of other people have done the same thing. There's a couple previous discussions on staining parawood at these links;

The simplest fix, if it works to your liking, is to sand the poly with 220 until it's dull and then use a thick stain (e.g., gel stain) as a glaze. Once the finish is dull, remove the dust and wipe on a thin coat of the glaze. It will help to even out and darken the color. It's not a perfect fix, but may be good enough to avoid a complete refinish job. Once the stain/glaze dries for a day or more, you can apply a couple more coats of poly varnish over it for protection. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for applying the poly. If the poly smears the stain/glaze, give it more drying time.

Test the glaze on the bottom of a chair seat or two. If that looks good, try one whole chair from start to end. If that looks good, do the rest of the pieces. If the glaze isn't working as well as you'd like, stripping and starting over is an option, but a LOT of work. A paint and varnish remover from a local paint or hardware store will do the job of removing the poly and a lot of the stain. You'll have to do a lot of sanding to remove enough stain to get the color even.

If you do remove the finish, start with one chair and do everything from start to end on it before tackling the rest of the pieces. Strip the old finish, sand out the stain, sand very well up to 180 or 220 grit to prepare it for the new finish, and then apply the new finish. First, try the entire new finish on the bottom of the chair seat (or the bottom of the table) to see how it looks.
nams - Sun Jun 04, 2006 11:18 am
Post subject:
thanks for ur response

i will try the easier method first, b4 i venture into stripping the wood.

what if by sanding the finish with 220 grit paper some of the stain comes out as well?

which brand of gel stains do u recommend? is bartley good? i am leaning towards dark brown mahogany? what if one coat isnt dark enough. will a second coat help?

i tried using a gel stain once and i found it very hard to wipe off b4 it started drying. can i use mineral spirits to dilute it some, so that i can put it on and off easily. which type of brushes will work?

how about end grain? the 2 front legs of every chair have stained really bad. shud i sand them some more or shud i sand them witha finer grit?

thanks for ur help

Paul S - Sat Jun 10, 2006 8:05 am
Post subject:
When you sand the finish to make it dull, called scuff sanding, you do not want to cut through into the stain. You can use a very fine sandpaper like 600 grit and sand VERY lightly. You're not doing anything more than putting some very fine scratches in the surface of the finish. Be extra careful around corners and curves since it's easy to cut through in these spots.

If you do cut through, the glaze/stain you're applying over the existing finish will add color back and make the spots much less noticable.

Bartley makes a good gel stain. Minwax is pretty nice. WoodKote is another option. With Bartley, you can use a second coat over the first after it dries completely. I'm not sure about the other two brands.

Glaze small sections at a time to make it easier to wipe the glaze. I apply it quiclky with a cloth to one surface and then rub it in. I say rub it in rather than wipe it off because it leaves more color that way. By rubbing it in, you remove the excess more carefully and leave as much color as you like.

If the end grain is already very dark, you'll have to sand all the color out and pre-seal it to control how much stain/glaze it absorbs.
nams - Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:53 pm
Post subject: gel stain turned out blotchy
hey paul, thanks for all the input. i sanded down one chair to bare wood phew! i applied a gel stain(bartley's jet mahogany) but the legs came out really really blotchy. i applied it with a rag and myhusband wiped off the excess with anotehr rag.

so its back to stripping and sanding for me!

as i said earlier i am aiming for a reddish-brown mahogany color and this wood in its bare state is somewhat the color of straw - i see a slight greenish tinge.

can i:

1) washcoat with a 1# cut shellac and then proceed with staining with a gel stain or shud i washcoat and stain with oil based stain

2) shud i dye the wood -i can spray water based aniline dye with a plant mister. then seal it with a 1 # cut and then go to a pigmented wiping stain. then seal and clear coat.

i didnt skimp on the sandig after stripping. i went form 100 to 150 and sanded the legs to 220 with a sander. then i handsanded once with the last grit used - 220 on the legs, 150 on the rest of the chair.

help me again!

i like finishing furniture and that is the reason i bought this dining room set unfinished and here i am at square one, again!


nams - Thu Jun 22, 2006 10:18 pm
Post subject:
ok here's what i have done & established so far:

1)if i wipe on dye(transfast - brown mahogany diluted in the ratio recommended by the manufacturer) - it blotches. dont have a spray gun, cant afford one. so i sprayed using a plant mister and wiping off the drips. any wiping makes the wood blotch. so i have to washcoat b4 i apply dye - is that possible? i have zinnser's sealcoat, so how much shud i thin it?

2) i also tried - sealcoat straight out from can, sanded some, followed by gel stain - bartley's jet mahogany. blotchy and i cant control gel stain very well. tried same thing with bartley's dark mahogany - more even but too brown no red.

3) then i tried - sealcoat, straight out from can (2# cut),scuff sanded and applied a coat of oil based wiping stain - minwax red mahogany. came out even, BUT nowhere near red-brown. it came out looking a dark orange.

what to do?

can i tint the shellac(seal coat) using the transfast dye?

if i continue on route no 3 that is a 2 # cut of zinsser, oil based wiping stain - how do i nail the color?

i have seen a picture of ur oak sample boards - 4 different approaches to red-brown mahogany - and have taken the liberty of attaching them to this post.

i want the color that is on the sample on the extreme right. the color i have is like the one u achieved on the 3rd sample from the left (by using just the minwax stain before applying any toner coats)

please help me!


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