How Sanding Affects Your Stain Color

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Believe it or not, the most important step in the finishing process is sanding. George Vondriska and Matt Newborg show you how different sand paper grit can affect the final stain color of your woodworking projects.

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4 Responses to “How Sanding Affects Your Stain Color”
  1. dakotarich024

    Is there any benefit to going to 220 when staining? What is a good grit to go to when painting?

    • WWGOA Team

      When you are staining you will want to go to at least 220 so that you do not see sanding marks. For wood painting, you can generally get away with a slightly more coarse grit, perhaps stopping at 150, depend on the thickness of paint and sheen of the finish. For thin or glossy paint, I’d suggest sanding up to 180 or 220, as these paints will reveal more surface imperfections than thicker paints with less sheen.

  2. Ron Clemens

    I am trying to stain red oak to a nice, rich medium-dark brown with reddish overtones. I started with a diluted amber dye followed by a light sanding to tame any raised grain. The stain is a recipe of 3 different Minwax colors mixed together. I seem to have difficulty getting the stain to really penetrate into red oak. At first I thought it was because I was using a gel stain, but switching to regular made little difference. I also tried a coarser grit before the initial amber dye – 150 and even 120 instead of 220, but it still seems like the stain is sitting on the surface more than it’s penetrating, except of course for the more open-pored grain pattern areas. Is there some sort of preconditioner I should be using on red oak?

    • Customer Service

      Hi Ron. This is an interesting challenge. I’ve not experienced this with red oak in the past; normally this wood absorbs stain quite well. A pre-stain conditioner won’t help, as this will further reduce stain penetration. Normally I would suggest sanding to 220 before staining red oak, and the results are generally reliable. The Minwax products should work well here, but as another idea you might want to try a Transtint dye. When I’ve been unable to achieve the darkness of color that I’ve wanted, I’ve switched to the Transtint product and the results have been remarkable. I’ve never had that problem with oak, but this is a common problem when trying to put a dark color on maple.


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