March 15, 2011

Stain boo-boo

This weekend marked my first ever solo staining project...the stair treads for our spiral staircase.

Let's just say, my staining for this project wouldn't be categorized as winning.

The truth is the physical process of staining the wood was incredibly easy. Brush on, count to ten, wipe off and then let dry. The frustrating and non-winning part came when I tried to get a uniform stain on the wood. Despite using a wood condition prior to the stain, my warm honey colored stain came out looking like I dropped melted red crayons onto the stairs and then chiseled the wax off with a putty knife. Random spots drank up a lot of the red and parts of the stairs ended up looking uber splotchy. Overall the stairs look great and I'm really happy with the actual color of the stain, just sad that it looks so blotchy.

I'm not sure if I need more practice, another type of wood or a different color stain all together I've heard that darker color stain is easier to work with because it just cover so much and makes the imperfections a lot harder to notice.


Since these imperfections are noticable (especially to me) I'm not sure about the next steps I should take to fix/hide them. The option is out there to sand down and re-stain every stair but I'm afraid that would just leave me in the same predicament and would eat up a lot of time. Currently my favorite option is to remind myself that the stairs are going to be set in a darker corner of the condo, away from direct sunlight and are going to get stepped on by a whole host of not-so-gentle feet over the years. When I tell myself that, 'perfection and show quality' isn't what is what is exactly needed there. Also, I may have deluded myself into thinking that a coat of poly will help. Don't ask me how or why, I just hold on to the thought that poly will make it all better.

Hopefully I just needed to step away from the project and revist it with fresh eyes that aren't so critical. Maybe the blotches will have magically fixed themselves yesterday?!

Am I the only one out there that has failed on staining pine with a light color? Wait. Don't answer. I don't think I can handle the truth of knowing that I fubar'ed something that is so basic in the DIY world...


  1. YAY! Someone else is having stair tread stain issues! (Sorry - but I'm quite happy I'm not the only one) We are in the process of redoing the main stairs in our house and I am having the same issue. Truth be told, no one will notice it like I notice it, since I was the one with my face a foot away from the treads for days on end ;)

  2. Also, while there are different types of pine, it's a softer wood and generally notoriously difficult to stain, creating just that type of blotching issue that you described.

  3. @ Deb, so glad that someone else feels my staining pain! I do try to rationalize that no one is going to inspect my stairs, but man... it's hard to swallow that this project could turn out bad.

    @kim- i'm already starting to regret going with pine for this project... me thinks it was a bad choice.

  4. I too have failed at staining, maybe if you go darker it won't be as obvious. :::Good Luck::

    PS: Great Blog!