wood conditioner VS. sanding sealer

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Forum topic by dakremer posted 04-02-2010 06:41 AM 31670 views 2 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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04-02-2010 06:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question wood conditioner sanding sealer

I know wood conditioner goes on after sanding and before stain, so you do not get blotchy staining results – but what does sanding sealer do?? And when do you use it? I heard from someone it goes on AFTER the stain, and before the finish coats? Is this true, and if so, does that mean you can sand it before putting the finish coats on? Would you use conditioner AND sanding sealer on the same project? Are they interchangeable? Thanks – LUMBERJOCKS RULE!!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

8 replies so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4076 days

#1 posted 04-02-2010 06:52 AM

Exactly as it is called – it is a “sanding” sealer. ie. a sand-able sealer! not all sealers are sand-able!
It could, and has been used before the stain (like a conditioner) but is USUALLY used after staining to seal between the stain and top coat
The primary difference is that a “conditioner” is used before staining and a “sealer” is used after.
They are both, for most purposes a “sealer” or barrier between two surfaces.
They often provide other benefits also – (an adhesion promoter for instance.)
Different types of sealers have different advantages – ie. vinyl, thinned topcoat etc. They are not interchangeble because of makeup/type or purpose but may be depending on the material (base or last coat, lacquer, shellac etc).

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View 308Gap's profile


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#2 posted 04-02-2010 07:10 AM

Learned something new….....Thanks.

-- Thank You Veterans!

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Scott Bryan

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#3 posted 04-02-2010 11:54 AM

Christopher, I have not tried using water as a conditioner but I would be have to try it before taking it as gospel. Opening up the pores in the wood is not how a conditioner works. Opening up the pores would allow the wood to accept more stain which is the root problem of blotching. And my gut feeling is that, if this is going to help control blotching, it would only limit blotching for the application of water base stains.

Applying water as a pretreatment is recognized as an integral step when using water base stains, topcoats, etc. to raise the grain prior to their application.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4076 days

#4 posted 04-02-2010 05:43 PM

I believe you are correct Scott. I have not used any water based finishes myself, have used water to raise the grain or to “repair” a dent or mar and noticed in the case of the latter that it may leave a darker spot after staining unless it is well sanded before staining.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4930 posts in 3959 days

#5 posted 04-03-2010 07:19 PM

Shellac wash coat. “Seal Coat” after sanding and before stain/finish. Thin it 50/50 with denatured alcohol. Throw all the other stuff away. You’ll be much happier.


View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3269 days

#6 posted 04-03-2010 07:33 PM

I would chime in that some sanding sealers – especially the shellac types might have wax in them….They could promote a blotchy stain job….so I would definitely read the label in detail before trying it as a pre stain (I do not use a shellac based sanding sealer….I do use it for the protective coat for oiler hardwoods. Poly for the softer woods….shellac for the harder woods…..was my grandfathers littany…but with all the innovation these days…there are so many hybrid products that you need to be a chemistry major to work through them all. I always use each finish on a test strip to see which gives me my best option…and go that way….so far that has worked.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View wisno's profile


88 posts in 3010 days

#7 posted 04-05-2010 01:39 AM

Yes the wood conditioning is a sanding sealer but it thin to make wash coat. If you use the straight sanding sealer. it could be too thick so it will block and your stain to penetrate to the wood pores and grains. It will affect your finishing looked.
To help understand about the blotchy in your stain application you view my article about: how to apply stain in furniture finishing
You can also view may article about sealer and wash coat in : sealer and wash coat



View Tim_456's profile


170 posts in 3594 days

#8 posted 04-05-2010 07:41 PM

I agree with Bill.

I use Zinnser’s Seal Coat thined 50/50 with denatured alcohol. It’s easy to mix, apply (almost foolproof), compatiable with everything and dries quick. Scuff it a bit and stain over it and you can control the stain color very well. I’ve even used it as a barrier between multiple coats of stain. All the other stuff I’ve tried is slowly drying out waiting to be properly disposed of.

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