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Home-store ending. You don’t need to go to specialty retailers to seek out ending provides; you may produce a top quality end from merchandise available at residence facilities.

You can obtain an awesome end from generally out there merchandise.

We all love residence facilities for the great things they carry and for his or her low costs. But residence facilities cater to the bottom widespread denominator client – that’s, they carry solely the stuff that has a giant market.

The result’s that most of the ending merchandise used on furnishings and cupboards, merchandise you examine in woodworking magazines or hear about in woodworking courses, are hardly ever present in these shops. Examples embody very fine-grit sandpapers, dyes, glazes, paste wooden fillers, spray lacquers and high-performance finishes similar to catalyzed lacquer.

So how do you proceed if it’s a must to do your ending fully from the merchandise out there at residence facilities?

It’s not all that tough, actually. You’re simply restricted in a number of the ornamental results you may obtain – ornamental results you’re in all probability not involved in anyway since you’re utilizing the pure coloration and determine of the wooden on your ornament.

With the restricted selection of ending merchandise at residence facilities, you may nonetheless get all the next:

  Protection and sturdiness starting from minimal to the very best

  A sheen starting from gloss to useless flat

  Finishes starting from amber to colorless

  A near-flawless end resembling sprayed lacquer

  Elimination of blotching from stains

  A glaze substitute

  A pore-filling choice

  The means to dam off issues within the wooden.


Before continuing with find out how to accomplish these targets, I wish to clarify how firms producing and advertising and marketing ending supplies promote their merchandise (how all firms in all probability promote their merchandise, for that matter).

Finish firms goal particular markets. Within any given class – oil stain, varnish, water-based end, and many others. – all firms’ merchandise are very related, if not similar. But as a result of shops and catalogs carry completely different manufacturers, and since the advertising and marketing can typically make you consider some manufacturers are in some way higher than others, you might suppose you’re getting inferior merchandise at low-end, mass-consumer residence facilities whenever you’re not.

For instance, a giant model identify in residence facilities is Minwax, whereas General Finishes and Behlen dominate in woodworking shops and catalogs, and Old Masters is well-liked in unbiased paint shops. There are additionally shops that characteristic Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Pratt & Lambert, Varathane and lots of different manufacturers.

In addition, some firms goal simply contractors, others goal cupboard and furnishings makers, and nonetheless others (a completely completely different group of firms) goal refinishers.

Within any end class – oil stain, glaze, varnish, lacquer, and many others. – all these firms make primarily the identical factor. They all have entry to the identical uncooked supplies, and the directions for placing these uncooked supplies collectively can be found to everybody, even to you and me if we would like them.

So there’s nothing in any respect inferior in regards to the ending merchandise out there at residence facilities. There’s solely a limitation of what’s out there.

From these restricted selections, nevertheless, you could have many potentialities for reaching the outcomes you need.

Protection and Durability

The getting older course of. Boiled linseed oil and 100 p.c tung oil add yellow coloring to the wooden initially however then darken considerably as they age. This oak board was completed with three coats of every end greater than 5 years in the past. From the left are boiled linseed oil, 100 p.c tung oil, wiping varnish (varnish thinned half with mineral spirits), and a half-and-half combination of boiled linseed oil and polish. Notice that the linseed and tung oils have oranged about the identical and that the combination of oil and polish has darkened about midway between that of the oils and polish alone.

You have management of the quantity of safety and sturdiness you get just by how a lot you construct your end and by your selection of end. 

Protection means resistance to moisture penetration into the wooden – in liquid or vapor (humidity) type. All finishes present higher resistance the thicker they’re, so the finishes that harden effectively and could be constructed up on the wooden are able to a lot better safety than finishes similar to boiled linseed oil, 100-percent tung oil, and blends of one in all these oils and polish, that don’t harden.

Among the finishes that harden, oil-based polyurethane varnish supplies the most effective resistance to moisture penetration and in addition the most effective sturdiness – that’s, the most effective resistance to being broken by scratches, warmth, solvents, acids and alkalies. Polyurethane is sort of as protecting and sturdy as the most effective of the high-performance finishes utilized in business.

Following polyurethane in declining order are alkyd (common) varnish, polyurethane water-based end, acrylic water-based end, lacquer and shellac.

But even recent shellac is significantly extra protecting and sturdy than the finishes that don’t harden, so long as you apply a number of coats. Because shellac loses loads of hardness and water resistance because it ages within the can, it’s finest to make use of it inside a yr of manufacture. The date of manufacture is stamped on the underside of the can.


Orange results. Your selection of end can have a giant impact on the colour you get, whether or not or not you could have stained the wooden. From the left, water-based end darkens this walnut a bit however doesn’t add any coloration; lacquer provides a bit yellowing; polyurethane varnish provides a bit orange; and amber shellac provides a distinctly orange coloring.

The coloration you get on the wooden is partially contributed by the end. Finishes differ in how a lot yellowing or “oranging” they add.

Amber shellac provides essentially the most orange coloration. You can use this end on pine, for instance, to create the knotty-pine look well-liked within the 1950s, or recreate the heat widespread on oak trim and paneling unique to early 20th-century homes.

Boiled linseed oil and 100-percent tung oil have a slight yellow coloration to start with, after which they yellow, or quite orange, considerably as they age. You can use both of those finishes beneath some other end to realize this oranging so long as you let the oil treatment effectively first. Per week or two in a heat room must be enough.

Oil-based varnishes, lacquer and clear shellac even have a slight yellow tint, which can darken a bit with age. But the end most vital for coloration is water-based, each polyurethane and acrylic. These finishes aren’t, and don’t, yellow in any respect. They are “water clear.”

So you’ll select a water-based end for mild woods similar to maple or ash, or for white pickled woods, if you happen to don’t need them to have a yellow tint. You would in all probability select one of many different finishes for darker woods as a result of water-based finishes often make these woods seem “washed out” except you apply a stain beneath.


Create customized colours. Keeping in thoughts that the identify of the colour on the stain can is merely a producer’s interpretation, you may alter any stain by mixing. You may even combine two or extra stains of various manufacturers so long as you keep inside one sort: oil or water-based. Here, I’m growing the reddish tint in a “walnut” stain by including some “mahogany.”

It’s uncommon that residence facilities present finishes with sheens apart from gloss and satin (shellac is available in gloss solely), however you need to use these two to realize any sheen you need.

Sheen is the quantity of gloss, or reflection, in a end. If no flatting agent is added – that’s, there’s nothing on the backside of the can that needs to be stirred into suspension earlier than utility – the end produces a gloss, or sharp picture readability. Manufacturers create satin and flat finishes by including a flatting agent, which is often silica. The extra flatting agent added the much less reflective the end.

Control sheen. You can obtain any sheen you need simply from the gloss and satin kinds of varnish, water-based end and lacquer supplied in residence facilities. To get a sheen in between the gloss and satin, combine the 2. To get a sheen flatter than the satin, pour off a number of the end (as I’m doing right here) from a can of satin during which you could have allowed the flatting agent to settle, after which combine the 2 to get what you need.

To get a sheen in between that of gloss and satin inside any end sort – varnish, lacquer or water-base – merely combine the 2 (after stirring the satin, after all). To get a sheen flatter than the satin, let the flatting agent settle (don’t let the shop clerk shake the can) and pour off a number of the prime. What is left shall be a lot flatter. You can then combine these to get one thing in between if you need.

Because it’s the prime, or final, coat utilized that’s answerable for figuring out the entire sheen, you may change the looks just by making use of one other coat with a unique sheen.

Avoiding Flaws

No HVLP needed. You can use aerosols as a substitute for a sprig gun to realize a stage floor. Aerosols can be found in polyurethane and water-based end along with lacquer. To get a thicker construct with much less expense, brush two or three coats, then sand the floor stage as much as #400 grit and spray a few coats with the aerosol.

Spray weapons can be utilized to provide practically flawless, that means nearly completely stage, surfaces. But you may obtain the identical with no spray gun just by thinning the end or utilizing an aerosol. The thinner (that means “thinned”) the end, the higher it ranges and the quicker it dries.

Better leveling means no brush marks. Faster drying means diminished mud nibs.

You can skinny any end to get it to stage higher, however the best to make use of are the varnishes. All residence facilities carry already thinned alkyd and polyurethane varnishes. These are typically labeled “Wipe-On Poly,” but additionally “tung oil,” “tung oil finish” or “tung oil varnish.” In no circumstances do these merchandise (which I name “wiping varnish” as a result of they’re simple to wipe on wooden) have something to do with tung oil, however they produce fantastic outcomes however.

Thin to realize a easy end. To eradicate brush marks (proven on the left), skinny the end 1 / 4 to a half with the suitable thinner after which brush it. If you wish to velocity the construct, brush two or three full-strength coats, then sand the floor stage as much as #400 grit and apply a pair thinned coats.

There are three good methods to use a wiping varnish: Wipe or brush it on the wooden and wipe off all the surplus; wipe or brush it on and wipe off some or a lot of the extra; brush it on and depart it. The extra you allow the higher the construct however the longer time mud has to settle and persist with the end.

To get a thick construct with fewer coats, brush a number of full-strength coats of alkyd or polyurethane varnish, sand the floor stage as much as #400-grit sandpaper, then apply a number of coats of wiping varnish and wipe off some or a lot of the extra. You could make the wiping varnish your self by thinning the identical end you’re brushing by half with mineral spirits, or you need to use one of many already thinned manufacturers. 

You may use an aerosol on your ending. Aerosols are actually out there in oil-based polyurethane and water-based end along with lacquer and shellac, however they’re comparatively costly. Instead of constructing all of your coats with the aerosol, you may brush a pair, sand out the comb marks then use the aerosol of the identical sort of end to use stage remaining coats. 

Whatever end you’re making use of and nevertheless you’re making use of it, all the time watch it in a mirrored mild to identify runs as they develop and respread or rewipe to take away a number of the extra.

Whatever technique you employ to get a stage floor, rub it calmly with a folded brown paper bag after the end has hardened to take away minor mud nibs and make the floor really feel smoother.


Eliminate blotching. The simple method to eradicate blotching in pine is to use a gel stain as I’ve completed to the fitting half of this pine board. The left aspect is stained with a liquid stain. Gel stains are so efficient on pine they need to be known as “pine stain.”

Blotching is uneven, and often ugly, coloration brought on by stains penetrating the wooden inconsistently.

To keep away from blotching on softwoods similar to pine, use a gel stain. This is a stain thickened sufficient so it doesn’t penetrate. Gel stains must be known as “pine stain” as a result of they’re so efficient at eliminating blotching in pine.

On hardwoods similar to cherry, birch, maple and poplar, it’s more practical to make use of a washcoat. This is any end thinned to a few 10 p.c solids content material. Lacquer is utilized in business, however the sort bought in residence facilities is varnish or a mix of oil and vanish labeled “wood conditioner” or “stain controller.” You could make your individual by thinning any full-strength varnish or mix of boiled linseed oil and polish with two elements mineral spirits.

When you apply this washcoat, make sure you let it treatment not less than six hours in a heat room, higher in a single day, or it received’t be very efficient. This is completely different than the instructions on the cans, which often say to use the stain inside two hours.

There is not any want to use a washcoat to woods similar to oak, ash, walnut and mahogany that don’t blotch. 

Glaze Substitute

Refinishing woes. Fish eye (cratering) is without doubt one of the most severe issues in refinishing. It’s brought on by silicone from furnishings polishes moving into the wooden and inflicting the brand new end to wrinkle when utilized. One simple method to keep away from fish eye is to dam it with a primary coat of shellac, utilized right here to the left aspect of the board. The solely new-wood use for shellac as a primary coat is over resinous knots in softwoods similar to pine.

Colored glazes are used so as to add highlighting, antiquing or create fake graining over not less than one coat of end. Glazes are hardly ever out there in residence facilities, however you may substitute a gel stain with glorious outcomes. Glazes and gel stains are primarily the identical factor anyway – a thickened stain.

To do glazing, brush or wipe the glaze or gel stain over not less than one coat of end after which take away all the colour you don’t need utilizing a rag, brush, sponge, graining software (often out there at residence facilities), metal wool or some other software that produces the outcomes you need.

A typical use of glaze on cupboards and furnishings is to go away it in recesses so as to add three-dimensional depth or an vintage look. Be certain to use not less than one coat of end over the glaze after it has dried to guard it from being scratched or rubbed off. 

Pore Filling

Some woods look higher with their pores crammed to create a “mirror-flat” floor. Mahogany is the most effective instance.

Products known as “paste wood filler” or “grain filler” (not the identical as wooden putty or wooden filler) designed to realize this look are hardly ever out there at residence facilities. But you may obtain the identical outcome by sanding various coats of end right down to the deepest stage of the pores. You can sand a bit between every coat, or you may sand extra after you could have utilized all of the coats.

Because all of us apply finishes in a different way, you’ll have to experiment on scrap to find out the variety of coats needed so that you don’t sand by.

For the simplest sanding between coats, use stearated sandpaper. Norton “3X” and 3M “Tri-Mite” and “Sandblaster” are all stearated. This means they include a soap-like lubricant that reduces clogging. You can use your hand to again the sandpaper when sanding between coats, however it’s best to use a flat sanding block on flat surfaces when sanding many coats stage.

For the simplest sanding after various coats, use black, wet-dry sandpaper with a  mineral-oil, mineral-spirits or combined mineral-oil/mineral-spirits lubricant. Begin sanding with a grit sandpaper that ranges effectively with out creating larger-than-necessary scratches (for instance, #320 or #400 grit) after which sand to finer grits if they’re out there.

If finer grits aren’t out there, apply yet another coat of thinned end (so it’ll stage effectively), spray with an aerosol or rub the floor with #0000 metal wool. You can use a wax, oil or soap-and-water lubricant with the metal wool to scale back scratching and enhance smoothness. 

Problems within the Wood

Of all of the finishes, shellac is definitely the simplest for blockading issues within the wooden. The commonest downside in new wooden is resinous knots in pine and different softwoods. The resin can bleed into the end and trigger it to stay cheesy and never treatment.

In outdated (refinished) wooden, the most typical issues are fish eye (cratering or ridging) and odors from smoke or animal urine. Shellac blocks all these issues so you may then efficiently apply any end over it. If you might be utilizing varnish or water-based end, it’s finest if you happen to use dewaxed shellac, bought in most residence facilities as “SealCoat.”

To make your individual dewaxed shellac, pour off or decant the shellac from a can of Bull’s Eye Clear Shellac after the wax has settled to the underside. It will take a very long time for this to happen by itself, so don’t shake the can whenever you purchase it, or skinny the shellac with not less than two elements denatured alcohol in a glass jar (so you may see it) to get it to settle quicker.

If there aren’t any issues it’s worthwhile to block off, there’s no purpose to make use of shellac as a primary coat. 


Somehow, loads of pointless mystique is launched into wooden ending. In actuality, nevertheless, it’s fairly easy. This is most evident whenever you notice all the probabilities out there from simply the few merchandise stocked by residence facilities. pw

Bob is writer of “Understanding Wood Finishing” and a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking.

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