Question on re-stain vs paint

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Forum topic by bkris posted 08-04-2019 05:15 PM 303 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 49 days

08-04-2019 05:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: pine stain blotch swirl mark

Hi everybody. I am a beginner level woodworking enthusiast. This is my first post in this forum. I am working on a hutch out of pine wood. I realized I did a bad job after staining it. :( Lot of swirl marks and blotches (photos attached), though I used conditioner.
Now I am trying to figure out how to undo this, whether remove stain (liquid stain stripper, then sand again) and then stain again or simply go with paint. I am not sure if this can be reversed and stained again properly, given the level of damage I did. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Thank you.


-- Kris

13 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


3649 posts in 1057 days

#1 posted 08-04-2019 05:33 PM

Painting it get’s it to something where you’ve controlled the color, it’s a lot faster than other choice, and allows you to learn about woods, and stain in general.

Stains, and especially with softer woods, Pine, Soft Maple, Poplar, Cherry are all going to splotch, unless you first use a wood conditioner product, or Shellac to partially fill the grains, so absorption is more even all across the board. Today what it teaches a lot of woodworkers is to trash can stain, and use dye’s for color, tint of wood. Or your second choice, to paint.

If you paint don’t cheap out on projects you look at paint as being the final look. Use good quality base (primer coat) and use high quality paints. There is a huge difference between the results you get over Wally World special price paints, and all of it’s lower priced cousins.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5694 posts in 2976 days

#2 posted 08-04-2019 05:36 PM

My choice would be to paint it. It’s almost as much about how hard it is to stain pine as anything you did. the results you have are not uncommon. I’m not sure what you mean by “conditioner”, but a sealer (shellac is a good choice) normally prevents the blotching effect, but it appears to me you have sap bleed through as well. My solution to this would be to give the whole piece a coat of dewaxed shellac (Zinnser Seal Coat) and then paint it with a 100%acrylic paint (no latex wall paint) in the color of your choice. The shellac will seal everything including the sap (if that’s what it is) from the paint and also serve as a primer. Or you could also just prime it with Zinnser BIN (shellac based, be sure to check that label) and then paint. As a newbie you may want to consider a little testing on your projects until you get comfortable with the finishing step. Always keep a small piece or two of scrap from your wood and try the stains/finishes out on them first.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View LesB's profile


2173 posts in 3926 days

#3 posted 08-04-2019 06:55 PM

I agree with the two answers above. It appears to be beyond rehabilitating.

One additional comment for you is that it also appears you did not do a proper job of sanding as I think I see some cross grain scratching. The final sanding with (on pine) 400 grit paper should be in the same direction as the grain.

-- Les B, Oregon

View therealSteveN's profile


3649 posts in 1057 days

#4 posted 08-04-2019 06:58 PM

This stuff Fred, or another companies just like it. Probably it’s a wash coat of Shellac.

-- Think safe, be safe

View bilyo's profile


823 posts in 1585 days

#5 posted 08-04-2019 09:19 PM

All good information above. As LesB said, do not sand across the grain. You can use a random orbital power sander but, if sanding by hand, always go with the direction of the grain working from coarse sandpaper to fine without missing any grits in between. For pine, depending on how rough the surface is to start, I will usually work from 100 grit and go through 150, 180, and stop with 220. Even if I use my RO sander, I like to finish the last grit by hand. You can test to see if you have removed all the scratches from the previous grit by wiping the board down with mineral spirits. It will do as your stain did by making any scratches darker but, will be temporary and leave no color behind.

View bondogaposis's profile


5521 posts in 2834 days

#6 posted 08-04-2019 10:51 PM

I really don’t like pine when it is stained dark like that, so I am biased against your choice of stain. I think painting would be your best salvation at this point.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Lazyman's profile


3881 posts in 1870 days

#7 posted 08-05-2019 12:21 PM

In the future, I recommend that you test whatever your finish is on pieces of scrap from the same project first. This will usually save you the trouble of having to fix a mistake. Most of us have probably learned that the hard way at some point.

You didn’t say what kind of stain you actually used. Some are easier to use than others, though as mentioned above, your surface prep and the pine itself are probably a big part of the problem. The other thing that could affect how to fix this is what this piece will be used for. In some situations, paint might not be the best choice or at least might require some extra steps to make it more durable. It may also affect the type of paint to use. Even if you do decide to use paint, you still need to re-sand the entire piece to get rid of the all the swirl marks, etc., as well as remove as much as the stain that is on the surface as you can.

Also, for future reference, instead of imbedding links to your photos, you can actually post the pictures into the text box. Simply click the “img” button, select “from the web” and paste the URL that you put into your links into the posting. This will save us from having to open each of your links to see the photos. You can also just upload the photos directly from your computer and save yourself the step of posting them to another site just to turn around and put them here.

Welcome to Lumberjocks by the way.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View pontic's profile


697 posts in 1091 days

#8 posted 08-05-2019 12:45 PM

For pine I use a conditioner and a brush to apply stain followed by a wiping cloth. Second coat if color is too dark. I think you should resand before you do anything else.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View bkris's profile


3 posts in 49 days

#9 posted 08-06-2019 04:26 AM

Thank you so much all of you for your comments. @Fred and @therealSteveN Minwax pre-stain conditioner(for oil based stain) was the one I used.

And for the stain, I used this one and it is oil-based stain. =>

Here are my lessons learned that might be helpful for others checking this thread.
1. Not applying preconditioner enough and even.
2. Cross-sanding against grains.
3. Picking a color that does not work for the type of wood.

These are my next steps based on the comments:
1. Sand with 60, 80, 120, 180, 240, 320, 440 grits and buff out with piece of foam
2. Apply Shellac base primer
3. Coat with acrylic paint(100%) – I’d have preferred to stick with stain to keep grains visible. Now I am a bit worried about going with stain again.

The questions I have is, should I use stain remover/methylated spirit to remove as much as I can before starting to sand ? I am planning to use this one =>

Thanks again!

-- Kris

View Lazyman's profile


3881 posts in 1870 days

#10 posted 08-06-2019 12:24 PM

Most chemical strippers are mostly for removing paint or varnish (top coats). They will remove some of the stain depending upon the type of stain but because most stains are designed to penetrate rather than just sit on the surface, a remover won’t be very effective. So if there was not a top coat or it was not a stain and finish in one product, I would skip the mess of using a stripper and just sand it back.

EDIT: One caution. Since you used plywood, you have to be careful not to sand through the surface veneer of the plywood so while you have to be fairly aggressive to remove the stain, you have limit how much sanding you do to avoid sanding through the veneer. If you are painting it won’t matter as much but it could affect the appearance of the final finish.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Robert's profile


3516 posts in 1963 days

#11 posted 08-06-2019 01:46 PM

Lessons learned, that’s what it all about. Hopefully you’re not an a age where you can’t remember your mistakes LOL.

Pine is difficult to stain, even with preconditioners you can get blotchy areas. It depends on how mush resin (sap) is in the wood.

The could be salvaged and restained, but you’re looking at a lot of sanding to get back down to fresh wood.

If you decide to paint, I would recommend a shellac based primer like BIN. I would probably do 3 coats. Sand between coats with 220.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View OSU55's profile


2387 posts in 2472 days

#12 posted 08-07-2019 01:11 AM

OP – you may find this useful info for blotch control. Pine isn’t that difficult to color, it just requires proper prep work. I find sanding it without taking soft grain down the most difficult part.

View bkris's profile


3 posts in 49 days

#13 posted 08-07-2019 02:37 AM

Lessons learned, that s what it all about. Hopefully you re not an a age where you can t remember your mistakes LOL.

What mistakes you are talking about? LOL I am gonna remember my lessons for a very long time!

Thank you Robert and all of you for your inputs!

-- Kris

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