I need to stain some raw cedar for an indoor fireplace mantel I'm building. I'm thinking a prestain/conditioner followed by an oil-based stain is probably my best bet, although there seems to be an even split in opinions as to water-based vs. oil-based products. I'm not really worried about fumes or clean-up. I'd just like to get deep color that enhances the grain and lasts. Any advice?
Feb 08, 2013, 05:59 AM
What kind of cedar (red or white)and how much grain does it have naturally? If it is red cedar with a pronounced grain, staining might actually obscure the grain rather than enhance it. White cedar usually has a less pronounced grain. Cedar is a very soft wood, so it darkens quite a bit when you apply an oil-based finish. Before you stain it, do a test using mineral spirits (paint thinner). Just wipe some on the wood and see how it reacts. If it looks good, skip staining all together and finish the wood with a clear oil-based polyurethane. If the paint thinner trick doesn't yield the results you are looking for, try a light stain, but I would skip pre-staining as it will seal the grain and prevent the wood from absorbing the stain. In any event, use oil-based products as water-based will not give the effect you are looking for.
Feb 08, 2013, 10:23 AM
I believe it's white cedar. I tried the mineral spirits. It produced the same result that I found when I used Varathane Wood Conditioner by itself. Both the mineral spirits and the Varathane turned the wood a light honey color, which surprised me. I thought both were colorless. Regarding your advice about "skip pre-staining": I thought that since cedar is a soft wood, it's the perfect candidate for pre-staining in order to prevent blotching. No?
Feb 09, 2013, 10:46 AM
I was assuming you had red cedar since that is more commonly available than white. The results you report lead me to agree that you have white cedar, which has much less definition in its grain. If it was red cedar, you would have seen a dramatic change in the wood's appearance.
Some kind of stain will help accentuate what grain is there. My concern is that pre-staining would diminish the effect you seek. Your best bet would be to do a couple of test pieces, one with pre-stain and one without and see which gives you what you are looking for.This message has been edited. Last edited by: joecercone,
Feb 23, 2013, 09:04 PM
If you have access to real shellac, or even the shellec you get at hd/lowes (zinsser-bullseye) would be the best step for preconditioning in my opinion.
Just my opinion, it will also add a little warmth to the wood. I would likely put some polyurethane over that.
Feb 24, 2013, 04:18 PM
wood conditioner is commonly used to prevent blotching on soft woos, even on some hard woods as well. the best way to get the result you wantis to mix your own stain. Very rarely does the stock colors give you the result you need. I use ( as suggested by the gurus at minwax ) a oil base neutral as the main color (?) then add other stains to it until I reach the color I want.The most important thing is to keep a record of what you add and to what as well as the proportions I usually take a half pint of neutral and add other colors by the teaspoon ( or a fraction of one ), write down what I used then when the desired color is obtained, multiply it out for a qt. of neutral Don't add stain to varnish,or poly, as it will screw up both. Add stain to stain then finish with a covercoat you want, poly, varnish, shellac, laquer, etc.