Summer is such a fabulous time of year. The birds are singing, the plants are growing and people are out and about, flocking to every patio and park in the city.
To celebrate this spectacular season, I pick one thing I really want to do for fun around my house. Last year I purchased one of those big floating lounge chairs for the pool. You know, the one with two (not just one) beverage holders! I also choose one household job that can only be done in the warm weather - this year I will be staining my house.
I really enjoy working with stains because they are absorbed into the wood rather than just sitting on top of a surface. Stains are also easier to apply than latex or oil paints because of their watery consistency, which gives greater movement during application. The wood siding on my home (and wood in general) is warm and inviting and allows me to change the colour of my home by adding a solid stain every four to five years. Stains come in a variety of different products and create very different effects when used as a way to enhance natural wood. I use a solid stain, which completely covers the surface of my wood panelling, much like paint would.
Enhancing the Wood
If you are using stain on a natural wood surface, there are a few things to remember. Firstly, stains are applied to enhance the natural grain and patina in wood; it does not provide protection for your surface. Most stains will require a protective coat to be applied after the stain has dried. Stains come as an oil base, water base, or a combination of the two.
Consider the Options
Oil stains allow for greater application times, but have a very strong odour. Also, oil stains do not raise the wood grain, which can take away from the overall finish. Latex is much more user-friendly, but because latex dries quickly it's really hard not to get lap marks in the finish. The water in latex stains raises the grain in the wood and creates a much more dynamic effect.
Stain by the Rules
When applying stain, follow these rules to achieve a professional result. Firstly, always sand wood surfaces before applying any stain. Use a medium grit sandpaper (#120, and working your way to #220). Clean the surface, then apply with either a bristle or foam brush. Apply liberally and never leave any unabsorbed stain on the wood. Once stain is applied, remove any excess with a clean cloth. Remember that the longer you leave the stain on, the darker the finish will be, so use a tester piece and time the application. I prefer to apply a second coat if I want a darker finish. Once stain has been applied, apply a clear finish to protect the stain and the wood.
Good luck on your staining project this summer. I'll be thinking about you as I float on my double-drink holder pool lounge!