Step 1

Applying Stain or Wood Preserver

Stain and wood preserver are applied in the same order as you would paint. You can apply coats to roughly finished wood quickly, but to get an even coat on smooth wood requires accuracy. Cover each surface without a break—if the stain or preserver dries midway, you will be left with a line.

Apply stain with the grain of the wood (image 1). Take care not to overload the brush and to brush out any drips before the stain dries. Complete one section of wood before beginning the next. Where two sections join, ensure that strokes do not overlap each other (image 2).

Step 2

Applying Wax

Wax is normally applied with a cloth, although some types are designed to be brushed on. Repeated application and buffing builds up depth of color and sheen. It is not necessary to follow the grain of the wood, although this is considered to be the best way to efficiently cover the wood surface.

Scoop some wax out of its container with a soft cloth and rub it evenly into the wood until there are no globules of wax left (image 1). Leave the wax to dry, but not to harden for a few minutes. Buff the surface with a clean cloth to provide a smooth finish (image 2).

Step 3

Applying Oil

All oils are applied using a similar technique. Pure tung oil is good for countertops and food preparation areas as it is non-toxic. Danish oil and teak oil are good for hardwoods, especially outdoor furniture; teak oil provides a glossier finish. If you choose traditional linseed oil, use boiled or double-boiled types because they are quicker to dry and not as sticky as the raw oil.

Apply liberally, using strokes of a soft brush in line with the wood grain to help ensure full coverage and aid penetration (image 1). Allow the oil to soak in before removing excess with a cloth. Leave for half an hour, or as directed, then buff the surface with a dry cloth (image 2).

Step 4

Applying Varnish

Like stain, varnish must be applied in the direction of the grain, although you don't have to worry so much about accuracy. Because many varnishes are completely transparent, it is easy to miss areas during application. Good lighting and regular inspection of the surface are necessary to ensure good coverage.

Follow the grain of the wood. Finish one section before beginning the next (image 1). Brush out the varnish to give an even coat (image 2) Sand down the surface of the first coat because varnish, especially water-based varieties, tends to lift the grain of the wood ((image 3). Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove dust, and let it dry before applying the next coat (image 4). Apply further coats as required.

Step 5



Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Applying Dye

If you want to mix dyes to a specific shade, make sure they both have the same base—oil or water. Dyed wood needs a protective finish such as wax or varnish over the top.

Apply dye with the grain. Keep a wet edge where you work and take care not to overlap onto areas that have dried. Seal the dye with a protective finish. Check the manufacturer's specifications for compatible finishes.

Step 6

Maintaining Exterior Surfaces

Stained exterior woodwork needs only occasional maintenance. A single coat, applied every year or two, will keep wood protected and looking good. Once a year, lightly sand and wipe exterior varnish before applying a maintenance coat.

The finish of exterior hardwoods treated with Danish or teak oil can fade quickly. Although the wood will remain protected, manufacturers often recommend that exterior oiled surfaces are recoated at least once a year.