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Stain spraying tips and tricks?

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Forum topic by NoSole posted 05-17-2017 12:50 PM 435 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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NoSole

3 posts in 212 days


05-17-2017 12:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: stain spray hvlp

Hey y’all, I’m working on a TV stand made out of soft maple, and maple plywood. I’m wrapping up the fabrication and will move on the finishing probably the end of the week, so I’m hoping to get a little insight on spraying stain. My main motivation for spraying, as opposed to wiping, is that the piece is pretty large (at least for me) and I want to make sure it goes on and penetrates evenly. I’ll be using a grey/jacobean concoction, so the end result will be a medium to dark tone. Because of this, I want make sure timing is consistent so one end doesn’t end up darker than the others.

I’ve read/seen that you can open up the flow so the stain goes on relatively heavy, as opposed to fully atomizing and flashing quickly, to allow for deeper penetration and then wiping off.

I’d love to hear in advice from someone who does this regularly and can point out potential problems that I can then avoid, or at least be aware of.

thanks


8 replies so far

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PPK

870 posts in 646 days


#1 posted 05-17-2017 07:34 PM

First off, I’d not stain maple if I could help it. Maple doesn’t take stain well, it leaves blotches, as the wood soaks up stain differently accross the grain.

If you must, then spraying it on is an option. To get an even color, you should use a conditioner. The conditioner basically seals the pores and makes the stain soak in evenly. Some people use shellac for a conditioner ( I never have) or you can use a specific conditioner, available at most big box stores. One that comes to mind is “Varathane Pre-stain wood conditioner”. I’ve never tried spraying it on. It says to wipe or brush on.

Then after the conditioner, I’d not go too heavy on the stain. If you’re really going for the opaque look, then I guess you can try applying heavily, but most stain is not like paint. It’s made to allow the wood grain to show through. When I’ve sprayed on stain, I still wipe it off. If you don’t wipe it off, I think you’re going to have a lot of troubles getting an even color. The look of stain that hasn’t been wiped has a fundamentally different look, in my opinion. Even if you do a great job of applying it evenly, it still covers the wood more like paint and less like stain.

So, in summary, the only real benefit in my mind of spraying stain is that it saves you a little time applying it. Saves no time wiping or clean up (need to clean up gun, overspray, waste more stain, etc)

Hopefully that’s helpful. It’s just my opinion/experience.

-- Pete

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PPK

870 posts in 646 days


#2 posted 05-17-2017 07:40 PM

Oh, one more little tip – be careful what stains you are mixing. They don’t all have the same composition, and may not end up mixing well. And, Minwax brand stains are AWFUL in my opinion. I think they should be called “BLOTCH-KING” stain. It even smells worse than most stains… lol.

-- Pete

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TungOil

747 posts in 332 days


#3 posted 05-17-2017 07:43 PM

+1 on everything Pete said above.

Except I like Minwax stains…..LOL.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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AandCstyle

2902 posts in 2094 days


#4 posted 05-17-2017 09:42 PM

NoSole, Pete nailed it, but just to clarify a bit, you will be better with more thin coats than 1 thick coat of stain.

I use dye a lot and I love to spray my finishes, but I mostly apply TransTint dye with a brush and wipe it off with rags. FWIW

-- Art

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NoSole

3 posts in 212 days


#5 posted 05-17-2017 10:38 PM

Thanks all. A couple points of clarification.

My intent is not to shoot for opaque. I think my comment about applying relatively heavily may have come off as misleading. The reason I said that was because I had seen a few places on the web say that with high air flow, and low stain flow, the stain would actually atomize more and would dry quickly. And doing so could even minimize the grain in the wood, which is not what I want at all. What I meant instead is that the sprayer is simply the vehicle to apply the stain such that I can do so quickly over the somewhat large work area (as opposed to by hand) to ensure that time allowed for the stain to develop would be consistent from one end to the other. I still intend to wipe off regardless. I’m quite aware that stain cannot paint a surface as that’s not it’s purpose.

I’m not married to the idea of spraying, it’s just what makes sense in my head for this application. I could be convinced otherwise. However, I will definitely be spraying the poly coat once stained.

Yes, I plan to use a conditioner first for exactly that reason (avoiding blotchiness).

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NoSole

3 posts in 212 days


#6 posted 05-17-2017 10:42 PM

Thanks all. A couple points of clarification.

My intent is not to shoot for opaque. I think my comment about applying relatively heavily may have come off as misleading. Poor choice of words I suppose. The reason I said that was because I had seen a few places on the web say that with high air flow, and low stain flow, the stain would actually atomize more and would dry quickly. And doing so could even minimize the grain in the wood, which is not what I want at all. What I meant instead is that the sprayer is simply the vehicle to apply the stain such that I can do so quickly over the somewhat large work area (as opposed to by hand) to ensure that time allowed for the stain to develop would be consistent from one end to the other. I still intend to wipe off regardless. I’m quite aware that stain cannot paint a surface as that’s not it’s purpose.

I’m not married to the idea of spraying, it’s just what makes sense in my head for this application. I could be convinced otherwise. However, I will definitely be spraying the poly coat once stained. I’ve used polyurethane in the past, but want to avoid the yellowing on this project. I plan to use polyacrylic for protection without messing with the tone.

Yes, I plan to use a conditioner first for exactly that reason (avoiding blotchiness).

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5466 posts in 2650 days


#7 posted 05-17-2017 11:25 PM

I spray oil based stains regularly. Spray it on wet, and have an extra set of hands to wipe it off quickly. You will be amazed at how quickly you can cover inside corners and the various intricacies of any case piece.

Rodda, Varathane, and Cabot are all good brands.

Since it’s maple, you might consider a pre-stain conditioner made from 50/50 Zinssner Seal Coat and denatured alcohol. Thin it even more for a dark color. If you thin it too much, it won’t prevent all blotching.

Otherwise Transtint dyes are pretty good for maple.
Either way, test all steps on sample boards (including topcoat) before the real deal.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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OSU55

1424 posts in 1826 days


#8 posted 05-18-2017 12:28 AM

You might be interested in this for blotch control. To control color (stain or dye) I prefer something with enough open time to saturate the surface well and then wipe off. OB stains usually have enough open time, and for wb I like Target WR4000 either with color or the base with Transtint (it has the added attraction of being an emulsified oil – oil look with the benefits of wb). Its difficult to cover large surfaces in 1application of stain and then wipe off. I prefer to start in one area a few ft square and work across the surface, then come back to blend as needed. Properly conditioning the surface (lots of testing) makes this easier than it sounds. Test both the solid wood and plywood – they usually dont look the same with the exact same process. Depending on color and intensity it can be difficult to get where you want to be with stain/dye application. I use toner coats, usually 1/2-3/4# shellac mixed with transtint, to blend the final color. Topcoats can be tinted if desired.

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