9 QUESTIONS COMMONLY ASKED ABOUT HOW TO STAIN A PINE TABLE

9 QUESTIONS COMMONLY ASKED ABOUT HOW TO STAIN A PINE TABLE

In early days, people had to use hard wood such as maple, birch or yellow birch to make fire. As a result, they used soft wood such as pine to make beams, floors, furniture and kitchen tables. So if you want to get a rustic look or that of our ancestral homes, nothing can beat pine.

Either for a kitchen or living room table, you will get a more natural look by using wax or natural oil. For better durability, though, it is better to use oil or varnish. Do you really know the major differences of each of these finish products? Here you will find out about them. Staining a pine table requires a particular way of doing it. Let us go over the questions commonly asked in order to help you to better choose your finish product!

HOW TO STAIN A PINE TABLE - 9 QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED

There are several types of pine, such as: white pine, red pine, grey pine or Scotch pine; however white pine is the most commonly used one. We can find common 1 and 2 white pine (knotty) and select pine (clear of knots). These are the species most frequently used in cabinet-making. The price of select pine is about twice as high as that of common 1 and 2 pine.

Since white pine is rather large a tree, it is quite easy to find affordable thick wide planks. Since pine is lighter and not as dense, it is easier to make much massive wood furniture much lighter than if they were made of hardwood. It is also easier to create wear effects or marks that imitate what time could have done, by using an art knife, a hammer, or by hitting the wood with a bundle of screws and nuts.

Unless you are a professional or an experienced amateur, undertaking a finishing project may bring a lot of questions and worries. Reading the 9 Q&A will help you start your pine table staining project.

1- WHAT PROTECTION DOES PINE REQUIRE?

Before staining pine, some use conditioners. Since pine wood is tender and porous, it will absorb staining products more easily. Depending on the nature of the finish product you have chosen, using a conditioner may help get a more even job.

However, in my opinion, preparing a surface should be done RELIGIOUSLY. This allows to avoid a lot of problems – such as wood splits that may show during the staining process. For example, ugly marks left by mechanical sanding will easily be seen after the wood is stained. A good surface preparation calls for more (sanding) work. However working more methodically will enable you to control the way the product is absorbed by the wood. What obviously matters in the industry is productivity, so they do not care that much about the surface preparation!!!

Once the surface is prepared, a pine table needs water and stain proofing. This will be done with water repellents and stain-resistant compounds without leaving out pigments if colour is wanted.

Water varnishes have a whitish look because of the plastic resins. This will partly prevent the yellowing of the pine. When using oil or wax, the same benefits can be obtained by choosing products containing white pigments.

2 -WHICH PRODUCT SHOULD BE FAVORED TO SAVE THE NATURAL LOOK?

As stated above, you will get a more natural look using wax or natural oil. However, let me tell you why it is difficult to get a natural aspect when using varnish instead of wax or oil.

One of the characteristics of varnish is its ability to form a relatively thick coat – called a film – on top of surfaces. On the opposite, oil and wax will fit in the wood and enhance the natural features of the wood you have chosen. These are impregnating products that allow you to avoid the plastic look of varnish and show the real natural look of wood. To save the natural look of your pine table, you have to avoid products that form a thick film.

3 - WHICH PRODUCT IS HEALTHIEST?

When considering using a product on a kitchen table, its impact on health is an important factor. The two most natural and health friendly are unquestionably bee wax and solvent-free natural oil. Adding solvents for the purpose of easier application or better resistance may make the product somewhat toxic. Pay attention to labels!

If you consider their impact on health, the studies on solvents added to wax, oil or varnish are very important. If the data are available, always read the labels for the composition of the finish products. A strong acrid smell is a good indicator. Although water varnishes are not as toxic as oil varnishes when applying them, yet similar compounds remain on the surface once the product has been applied. Regarding this, it is important to understand the impact of VOCs (volatile organic components). These may produce more or less toxic fumes for weeks, months, even years. According to the German manufacturer Livos, some of these products considered toxic and banned from the 70s are still producing toxic fumes today!

The solvent used by Livos Canada does not contain sVOCs and it is most respectful of health. In addition, the flax oil used in our products has been cold-pressed and does not contain extraction products.

4 - HOW MANY COATS SHOULD I APPLY?

Whichever product is used, oil, wax or varnish, it is always better to apply 2, 3 or even more coats of the product. This is also true for single-coat oils. Actually these are not single-coat; they are rather thicker and more difficult to apply but they offert more protection when several coats are applied.

5 – HOW LONG IS THE DRYING TIME BETWEEN COATS ON PINE?

The drying time or waiting time between coats is not really different on pine than on hard wood. As a rule, water varnishes dry very rapidly, making its application tricky. Since oil and wax take a longer time to dry, they are easier to apply. All products will take a little longer to dry since pine absorbs more of the product. However the difference is not significant.

6 – WILL PINE TEND TO YELLOW AFTER AN APPLICATION?

Colour alterations depend on the type of product used (stain, oil, wax, water varnish, alcohol varnish, hydro-alcohol varnish) and on the application method. Because of the numerous finishing options and the many ways of getting better results, the possibilities are almost unlimited. It is then difficult to answer this question briefly.

Has the excess of stain been wiped off? Is this new or stripped wood? Adequate sanding is necessary even for staining because stain won’t hide defect but rather magnify them.

As a rule, pine yellows when in contact with a transparent product and this is also true for other species. Since pine is coniferous, it contains more oil than maple, yellow birch or oak. So it will yellow more easily than these.

Of course we all know that some products will produce a more yellowish effect on a type of wood that already tends to get yellowish by using colourless oil, flax oil or oil polyurethane varnish.

If we know that pine will get yellowish when in contact with a particular product, it is possible to control the effect when applying a first coat of the product by adding some pigments to the chosen product.

7 – WHAT CAN BE DONE IN THE CASE OF BLACK OR GREYISH STRIPES?

With the exception of wood that has heated, black stripes are often seen on trees felled in the wrong season of the year when there is still sap in them. I got this information from elderlies who have felled trees their whole life! So what can be done? Some recipes may be proposed, but do they really work? These stripes are often deep, not superficial.

The best solution is to accept them as they are, considering they are part of the wood history. This even adds a rustic element to your table.

8 – WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED OF A FINISH ON A PINE TABLE?

Oil, wax and varnish will produce a different effect in the long term. Varnish makes wood harder. If it is a good varnish, it will be more scratch and water resistant.

However, with oil, excellent results can be expected if the surface has been adequately prepared, the wood saturated, and the proper maintenance done. scratching can be repaired easily and a beautiful and deep natural finish can be obtained. As for anything, when proper maintenance is done, the oil finish will almost never vanished.

Wax best represents the sheen look of the past, but it ensures poor protection against stains and scratches. Moreover, it requires frequent restoring. I do not advise waxing such a project when it is started from bare wood.

9 – WHAT MAINTENANCE CAN BE DONE ON A PINE TABLE?

The maintenance obviously depends on the type of finish you have chosen. In the case of varnish, cleaning and good habits such as using a tablecloth and placemats are advisable since it is not possible to keep applying additional coats to correct the defects.

As for oil, all that needs to be done is to clean with adequate products, such as neutral pH soap that contributes to nourishing the finish, and to add a thin coat of oil once in awhile.This will keep the finish sheen and beautiful, and increase its durability.

The maintenance of wax is as tricky as the finish.

Need to know more? You can also become a finishing product expert by consulting our comparative guidelines.