Second Applications of Wiping Stain

Multiple applications of wiping stain, whether by wiping again or by light spraying, can be tricky. Different finishers report different results. August 6, 2010

I am doing some book cases for a client and matching some other pieces he has. I am using red oak, using a SW wiping stain, I sanded to 220 and applied the stain then wiped it then let it sit about 18 hours then reapplied stain to a few of the pieces and some spots came out that were not there before, I am at a loss as what to do. Can I sand it down and try again or? Also some areas the stain isn't real consistent. Should I have sealed it first? Will I be able to spray a lacquer top coat? I obviously don't have a lot of experience with the staining process.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
You probably sanded too fine. 220 is a bit much to apply a pigmented stain. It doesn't soak in well. You can sand it down and try again. You will have some left over stain in the grain and you probably won't be able to get it looking perfect again.

From contributor M:
Wiping stains are funny about reapplying. We use SW and do not second coat. The second coat will act like a paint remover and pull the pigment out of the first coat. We usually sand ours to fine, 220x or at least 180x. Course sanding leaves swirl marks that the stain will make obvious, but thatís in our product. Contributor G says he has different results, so you may have to find what works for your product. When we do have to redo a splotchy piece, we re-sand the entire piece and that does not always work. Be careful about finger printing, the wiping stain is bad about that. You are supposed to apply the stain and let it sit for up to 18 minutes to achieve a darker color. Experiment to see what works. Do not let it dry and become tacky or it will get messy. In other words, leave it on as long as possible to darken to the color tone desired, but wipe before it gets too dry.

From contributor K:
It is possible to spray a wiping stain on a piece to even out splotches, glue spots, etc. The key is to use a very fine mist and apply the coat very, very lightly to the affected area(s). You do not want the sprayed stain to bead up. Although I have used HVLP, a compressor-driven gun is better, as it can give a much finer atomization. Heavily pigmented colors, such as mahogany, can affect the methodology and drying times, but let each application dry for three hours or so if additional touch-up is needed. Let the whole piece dry for two-three days (at least) before you start with the finish coat. Spray on a dry coat with the first two finish coats, and then follow with your medium-wet coats. All of the times can be adjusted depending upon the brand of stain.

From contributor J:
That's what I do when I need a piece to be stained more. I use a regular stain, let it sit a few days to dry thoroughly, then I spray a couple of light coats of stain over it. I usually use a lacquer based stain when spraying, it works better for that.

From contributor S:
I have found it is a very bad idea to spray light stain onto light areas of your project item to darken them up and then not wipe off the stain. At least with oil base stain, the oil film you leave on the surface will not allow your clear coat to adhere adequately to the wood. You will be able to scrape off the dried clear coat with your finger nail.

From contributor J:
I'll continue using the lacquer base stain when I need to darken. It's never given me a problem, but I spray lacquer clear as a topcoat too.

From contributor M:
One of the tricks to using a wiping stain to spray and even out a color is to mix it 50/50 with acetone, and donít cake it on. Also, wipe it on first as normal and just use the spray to even it up a little. Do like was suggested above - use a good conventional gun (wear a respirator) and just barely mist it on.

I've sprayed a lot of furniture, refinished tables, cabinets, and similar items this way. I do allow a 24 cure time between the stain spraying and the first coat. I typically spray either conversion varnish, or oil-based polyurethane depending on the item I'm spraying.

I haven't yet had a problem with it but that doesn't mean I won't ever have a problem. Now that being said, I typically only sand anything I stain up to 150 grit. I also try my best to not have to use the spray-on method. I much prefer a wipe-on, wipe off approach. Itís quicker and more efficient.

From contributor B:
SW stains have very poor re-melt properties. Stains that have good re-melt properties make it very easy to touch-up. Re-melt is when you finish a piece, then you see a glue mark (for example) and you have to go back and sand that area down and refinish. A stain with good re-melt properties will blend in the area that was spot sanded and you will not see any lines or halo from the old to the newly applied stain. This can be a huge advantage as you do not have to sand down the whole side of the piece being refinished. Re-melt properties are determined by the stain resin and solvent blend. EZ stains have the best re-melt properties in industrial wood working that I am aware of.

From contributor A:
SW's stains are almost exclusively what we use and they sometimes give me a fit if the stain dries and I try to touch it up. ML Campbell's stains don't do this nearly so much but we don't use their stuff right now.