Saturday, January 31, 2009

Stain Update

Hello Everyone.

Well...the stain is way too dark. We don't like it.

What we can't figure out is how come it looks so good in pictures but so horrible, and dark, in real life.

So...what to do - what to do... We turn back time, in a way.

We have started the process of removing the stain. Yup, you read that right - removing the stain. It is not an easy process and one I have never done before, but a knight in shining armor has come to our aid.

I wish I could go into more detail about this knight, but until I have permission to divulge his info we must keep it to ourselves. However, the method can be discussed.

As stated earlier, the stain turned out WAY too dark. At first I was stymied as to what happened - the recipe for the stain was followed to the letter. Turns out that the problem was with the wood it's self.

Let's backtrack. The stripping process started over two years ago. What this means means is that the wood has been exposed to the dry climate for quite a while and therefor the wood is completely dry. Since it is completely dry the stain soaked in faster, way faster, than normal.

Typically you apply stain and let it set for a bit then wipe it off. You then repeat until you get the desired shade you want. In our case, the moment the stain touched the wood it soaked in like water on sand. There was no time delay other than a few seconds.

I'm kicking myself because I didn't stop when this was first noticed. I figured I was being paranoid or something.

So, we are left with two options, the hard way, and the harder way. We can either try to remove the stain or we can replace the woodwork.

You might think that replacing the woodwork would be the easier of the two options, but is in fact the harder. It would entail the removal of matching wood from two of the upstairs closets. The hard part would be removing it without damaging the woodwork OR the original plaster. Then the stained wood would have to be removed without damaging it OR that plaster. So, this option has the potential of destroying plaster in several spots as well as original woodwork.

The other option is removing the stain.

The process is straightforward and sounds easy - just time consuming, messy and potentially hazardous. Following is a condensed version of the process as our knight explained it to us.

"Minwax is linseed oil and pigments,and the wood has absorbed way to much. Start by wiping it down with some mineral spirits keeping it as wet as possible, let it soak a bit then wipe it dry , then do it again, until you pull enough stain out to lighten. If you do not see a dramatic difference pretty fast, then use some lacquer thinner. Both solvents are very flammable, be sure to let the mineral spirits rags dry spread out, out side, they also are very flammable and subject to spontaneous combustion, also wear a good respirator. What you want to do is draw as much of the stain out as possible, the lacquer thinner will also help dry it down , when you feel you have removed as much of the stain as you can, let it dry, at least overnight. What I mainly want is to get as much of the oil out as we can, the mineral spirits and lacquer thinner will do that. If we can get the oil out, then we can bleach it to kill the stain color, but that’s a last resort."

There is more to the info, but this is enough to give you an idea.

We spent today wetting and wiping the woodwork with mineral spirits and then switched to lacquer thinner. We were amazed at just how much stain came out.

The pictures that follow do give an idea of how much we got out, but it still looks dark. This is another one of those times where the reality looks a lot different than the pictures.

You can see some of the lightening of the jambs, under the lintel.

Do you see how pale it is looking?

If I'm understanding my research properly, the spirits and thinner are pulling out the oils used in the stain along with some of the pigment.

The oil needs to be removed so that the bleach will kill the stain that's left over.

I wasn't able to get a good picture, but there are some spots where the woodwork is basically back to it's pre-stain condition. The spots are so small I just couldn't get the pictures to take.

If you look real close you'll see SWMBO in the picture!

You should also be able to see that the wood filler has had virtually all the stain removed. So now those spots are sticking out like a sore thumb.

While we are on the subject... I will probably remove all the wood filler. Yes, I know I was praising it, but I found out some more info in regard to this. As I learn more about this I'll post it.

This is about the best picture that shows some of those spots that are back to 'normal' wood. Look along the left edge of the jamb and you can see the spots.

Just another pic trying to show how the stain has lightened.

And another one.

This picture is a photo shopped one so that two of the pictures could be side-by-side and you could see a difference.

The picture of the doorway on the left was taken right after the stain was applied. The one on the right is after we used the mineral spirits and lacquer thinner. Hopefully you can see the difference.

In reality the stain now has a light grayish hue to it and is lighter. I'm assuming this means the oil is out of the wood as much as possible and all that's left is the stain color.

It will be interesting to see what happens once the bleach is used.

Now, there is a two part A/B bleach that has been suggested I use by a few I've spoken to. However, when i did some research on this stuff, and contacted one of the main manufacturers, I was told that the two part bleach is used to remove the natural tannin color of the wood - not to remove stain thats been added.

I am wanting to talk to our knight about this a bit more. I'm not sure why some people have suggested I use this, but the manufacturer says not too. When I find out I'll let you all know.

Here is one last picture to share with you.

This is one of THE few spots in the house where you can see the original stain.

It's in the master bedroom closet. It is a bit dark but I figure that's due to natural aging. All the woodwork in the other closets have been painted. Why this section remained untouched we have no idea. We really like the warmth and richness of this stain.

Well, till next time...


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