Brushing Stains

Brushing Stains

How to brush stains on to wood and the types of wood brushes needed for finishing.

Craftsman Style

¶ As a rule it is best to use a large flat wall brush, 4 or 4 ½ inches wide and sometimes a 5-inch calcimine brush, for the application of stains on large surfaces. Smaller brushes are, of course, suitable for smaller surfaces, but better have the brush too large than too small. Note Picture 6.

The Flat Wall Paint Brush in Common Use for Coating All Large Surfaces With Paint or Stain. 4 and 4 ½ inches wide are the usual sizes.

¶ Take a full load of stain with each brushful, but don't overload. Distribute the stain with long, strong, quick strokes. Do not use a comparatively dry brush except on end wood and when using spirit stain.

¶ Speed is necessary in spreading any stain to distribute it evenly, especially on oak, chestnut and ash which have large open cells which soak up much stain making too dark a color in places. There is not so much danger on veneered wood in this respect, the stain can penetrate only as far as the glue. But on solid wood more stain may go deep into the wood, if you flood the surface by working too slowly, than can dry in the time allowed. Then when you seal up this wet stain with filler, shellac and varnish trouble may follow. Sometimes the wet stain generates gas and forces itself to the surface pushing filler and varnish ahead of it and a disfigured surface results.

¶ In your brushing to avoid laps, which are the result of piling up a double coat of stain at the joints, take advantage of the natural breaks of the surface. On cabinets, wall panels, furniture, doors, etc., do one whole panel or board at a time, letting the brush sweep the full length of the panel or board without a stop if possible. At any rate, make your stopping places at the natural limits of the surface whenever possible,at the corners, ends, mouldings, seams, etc. Then if there is a little lapping of a wet stain coating over a partly dry stain coating it will not show up.

Brushing Technique
When Brushing Stain it is Important to Brush From the Dry Wood Toward the Part of the Surface Which Has Been Coated With Stain. Cover Narrow Stretches to Keep All Edges Wet.

¶ It is correct to brush from the dry wood toward the stain coated finished wood. Note Picture 7. When working on floors coat in about ten boards at a time and carry the stretch the full length across the room. Then the break between the partly dry stain and the new wet stain of the next stretch will come at the crack or seam and will not show1 darker.

¶ In brushing stain onto panels and large boards the finisher sometimes has difficulty on refinishing old surfaces which had been varnished and filled because after putting the stain on it wipes off again with the finishing touches of the brush strokes, especially if a slow-drying stain is used. To avoid this it is necessary to wipe the brush fairly free from stain on the final touches and then brush up toward the top and down toward the bottom very lightly and deftly so the point of beginning with your brush will not show in the middle of the panel. This difficulty of having the brush drag the stain off of the surface is more likely to happen when flowing a full coat. See Picture 8.

Brushing of Stain
Correct Brushing of Stain to Avoid Pulling Off the Color From Ends of Panel.

¶ Soft porous woods are more difficult to coat with stain to avoid lapping or piling up of the stain color at the beginning and end of the strokes. Use a large brush, as has been said before, load it with stain so it will be full but not so any will drip out. If overloaded the brush will blot like a pen too full of ink. Then an excess of stain and a darker spot will appear on the surface. On soft woods especially the brush strokes must be strong and decisive, beginning at one end and running the full length of a panel or board at one sweep. If you break the stroke in the middle or let it stop short, the stain will pile up and be darker at the joint where you begin again.

¶ On open grain woods with large pores the stain sometimes bridges over the open cells filled with air. A stiff brush is needed to apply the stain and rub it into these cells. With slow drying stains it is a good plan to have a short bristled large brush, like a shoe brush, handy to rub in the stain after spreading it with the regular flat wall brush.

¶ To get an even coloring on end wood, the boards cut across the grain you must use a fairly dry brush. This end grain soaks up stain rapidly and will dry a darker color than the balance of the wood if a full brush load of stain is used on them: the same is true of porous sap streaks and rough knots. When these parts are treated as described earlier in this chapter the stain can usually be flowed on full the same as on the balance of the surface.

¶ As a rule two medium thin coats of stain are better than one heavy coat on close grain wood for darker effects. Penetration is slow on these woods and it is well to apply the stain warm, when the water stains or chemical stains are used. On these woods one standing is usually enough to smooth down the grain raised by two coats.

¶ On any raw new wood the stain must be applied more freely than on a treated or sized wood.

¶ When you start to use a full brush load of stain on a surface try to take up the same amount of stain every time you dip the brush.

¶ The brushing and wiping of water and spirit stains require more skill than the application of oil stains. This is especially true when working on soft, porous woods like white pine, bass, poplar, fir and gum. These are more absorbent than woods like maple, birch and cypress.

¶ Water stains penetrate more deeply and spirit stains more quickly, leaving dark spots where each brush load of stain is first put in contact with the wood. So after dipping the brush be sure it is not overloaded to the point where it may drip and blot the soft porous surface. Then apply the stain with light, long and rapid sweeps and lay the color off, distribute it evenly, with as few strokes as possible in order to gain a uniform color. It is safer to mix the stain very thin and apply two coats on these woods to gain a darker effect. If a water stain appears too dark after application some of the color can be removed if wiped over evenly with a wet cloth (water). A spirit stain should be wiped to lighten it, with a cloth dampened with benzine. Care must be taken in any case, however, to avoid wiping harder in some places than in others, or a light streaked surface or mottled effect will result.

¶ Oil stains are easy to apply because the finisher has plenty of time to brush them on evenly and they do not show laps and joints. Such stains do not penetrate as deeply as water stains, although when they contain benzole they penetrate deeply enough for all practical purposes. The oil stains may be spread and allowed to stand a quarter or half hour and can then be wiped off to remove any excess stain not absorbed by the wood.

¶ If the color is too light a second coat may be put on after the first is dry. If too dark some of the color can be removed by wiping with a dry cloth and more of it will come off if the cloth is dampened with benzine or turpentine. Care must be taken, however, to avoid wiping off in spots or streaks. The oil stains are especially good for soft porous woods in the brown colors, but do not give such dark colors on maple, birch and other close grained, hard woods.

¶ Hog bristle brushes cannot be used for the application of strong acid and caustic alkaline stains. The strong acids and caustic alkaline solutions quickly destroy hog bristles. Brushes made of tampico or other vegetable fibres are used for brushing on these stains.

¶ Weak stain solutions of acids and alkalines can be put on with old hog bristles brushes. It is well to test out the effect of a chemical stain on the bristles if the brush you propose using is of much value. Pull out a bristle or two and dip them in the stain. If the bristles curl up even slightly the brush will be injured; it will become soft and flabby after use in such stains. In that condition they will not spread the stain evenly nor work it into the pores of the wood.

¶ Hog bristle brushes used in chemical stains of little strength should be washed out clean when the job is finished, using clean warm water. Let the brushes dry and then fill the bristles with vaseline liquid or paraffin oil or neutral oil. After standing with this oil for a day or so wipe out all the oil you can and dry the bristles with clean cloths until they will not longer show grease marks on white paper. The brush must be dry before using it again in chemical stains. Brushes cared for in this way will stand considerable use in chemical stains and still retain their stiff, springy working qualities. After such treatment the brush doesn't carry so large a load of stain as it did at first but it soon returns to its former condition.

¶ The cleaning of brushes used in other stains ought to be done as soon as the job is finished, laying the brushes flat to dry with the bristles straight. A brush should be cleaned with the same thinner liquid as was used in the stain or in a solvent of that liquid. Brushes used in spirit stains should be cleaned with denatured alcohol or wood alcohol. Brushes used in oil stains should be cleaned with benzine, naphtha or benzole. Brushes used in water stains should be cleaned with water.

Next Page: How to Stain Wood Instructions.

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