finish for pine wood

thisuserismeJune 2, 2011

I purchased a pine bunk bed from IKEA. It is unfinished wood. I've read about how difficult pine can be to stain and i really don't want to paint it. Can I just put a varnish or lacquer on it? I really don't know which is better, what ingredient (shellac, varnish, poly???). Please make suggestions including brands if possible.

Also, should I apply multiple coats? Lastly, should I assemble the furniture and then put on the finish or finish each piece prior to assembling? Thank you!

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Certainly, there is no rule that says you cannot leave any wood "natural," that is, without stain. Pine will develop a nice patina over time.

I like the look of shellac on pine. It brings out a lot of chatoyance (luster). It's a fine finish on its own, but most bunk beds are for children and see "extreme use." So you may want to apply a varnish top coat. (Poly[urethane] is just one type of varnish).

You can apply any varnish over a dewaxed shellac base coat (such as Zinsser's SealCoat or Bullseye _Aerosol_). You can apply non-poly varnishes over dewaxed or waxed shellac (Bullseye in a can). If you mix your own from flakes, it will say dewaxed if it is.

Yes, you should apply multiple coats, whatever your finish choice. The first coat, when properly done, will largely be absorbed into the wood surface. More light coats work better than heavy coats. Too heavy coats is one of the most common flaws in varnishing (or shellacking). You end up with brush marks, runs (curtains), puddles, and that "plastic look."

The rule is, "Apply as little as possible to ensure complete coverage." For a typical table or desk top, I'll typically use about 1/4 cup of finish per coat, as a point of reference.

Finishing before assembly is fine. It is sometimes easier to reach the tight spots, reduces the number of concave corners, and makes keeping a wet edge easier. The only problem is if there are joints that need to fit together and/or be glued. Glue will not stick well to a finished surface. Either mask them off or go ahead with the assembly first. IF there is KD hardware, you should be fine.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 5:22PM
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I would suggest a polyurethane. You can stain pine, but first you need to use wood conditioner so the stain absorbs more evenly. Ask at a good paint store.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 8:23PM
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