Uneven stain

mdodSeptember 29, 2008

I'm making a ledge for a half wall. The top is maple veneer and there's a 2" overhang of solid maple. Earlier we made some trim around recessed wall boxed out of the same solid maple pieces. We used Minwax wood conditioner and Minwax cherry penetrating stain on it and it still came out very blotchy with some some places barely taking any stain at all. After much effort, we finally got a fairly uniform finish.

We asked the guy that built the ledge if he uses wood conditioner and he said he just uses straight stain so that's what we did. The stain on the solid wood sections is not even at all with lots of dark spaces and others that barely color at all. The veneer sections isn't as varied but it doesn't look good and the contrast between it and the solid wood sections is marked.

Any suggestions as to how to rescue this? After researching some, I tried taking some mineral spirits to the darker areas the next morning and got a little of the stain off but nothing major. Would sanding to finer grit have made it more even? We used 180 followed by 220 grit. Can I sand it down and start over or does the stain get too deep for the veneer? Can I just sand the darker portions and reapply there to help even it out? How do I get stain to absorb in the lighter areas that don't want to take it? We thought the wood conditioner was blocking the absorption before but obviously that's not it.

I found out afterward that this is pretty common with maple. This is especially annoying since I picked maple instead of oak trying to get away from a heavy grain look. Now I've got big splotches ;-( I was going to just give up and put poly on it yesterday but it will drive me crazy like that.

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I recently just went through this on Oak (my post is a few post down), the advice I was given was that I should have sanding it fairly rough but uniformly. (1XX grit) Sanding it very smooth is going to make it worse because it pretty much repels the stain.

I received that advice too late, anyway
I tested the minwax on my 6" x 6" wood and thought hey that looks good. On the project it was a different story. I ended up using the stain like a glaze as a transparent coating, in the light areas I'd coat it and blend in the surrounding. Please be aware if you do this the dry time is very long, minimum of 5 days.

I think minwax stain is a big headache.. the pigment is not fine enough and you spend more time fuzzing with it more than anything. Just my opinion, but I pushed through with alot of extra labor glazing and rubbing, waiting for the damn thing to dry, now I am going through with finishing now.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 5:39PM
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Thanks for your reply poorowner. I had seen the post about your problem but you had already put on a thick coat and were trying to figure out what to do about it not drying.

Since the areas that are lighter tend to be areas that were sanded more, it makes sense that the sanding is blocking the stain absorption. So if I've got lighter spots, can I hit just those setions with coaser sandpaper to get them to absorb more stain?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 9:58AM
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I think I would try to sand the whole thing uniformly with one grit and try again, considering you didn't put as much stain as I did it should be easy to redo

While you are at it maybe get a more professional stain from Sherwin Williams, or something, I think you will be happy with the final results.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 5:09PM
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