If it beads, the finish is shellac, polyurethane, lacquer or varnish. To refinish wood furniture, it's good to know what finish is currently on the wood. How can I tell if it was stained or painted? The stain will more easily slide off, resulting in a lighter color. Shellac will dissolve immediately, but varnish will react slowly to the denatured alcohol. Wood is an exceptionally strong and durable material, used in the production of furnishings and flooring, for use both indoors and outdoors. Whilst the paint was drying on the dresser, I began staining the wood on the drawers. The hardest part of any paint job is the prep. If the oil absorbs into the wood, the finish is likely oil. This is because unlike traditional stain, gel stains don’t penetrate the surface. Unlike paint, stain also comes in gel form. She has worked as a freelance editor for other magazines including "Toronto Life." Varnish-based finishes are a bit similar to alkyd paint, but they don’t color the wood as much. Paint with greater gloss means that the surface is less porous. Crowder Painting answered. Rub a small amount of acetone, using a clean cotton swab, into another less-visible part of the wood. This is especially required in case if you have currently painted siding because it needs a lot of sanding and priming in order to stain the wood siding that was previously painted. One option is to test stain on an area of the piece that won't show--such as the bottom or back of a dresser. Because each stain produces a distinctive look on different types of wood, it's crucial to use a scrap from the same wood … Step 1 Rub a small amount of linseed oil, using the cotton swab, into an inconspicuous spot on the furniture or trim. If the acetone beads, the current finish is polyurethane. Paint isn’t irreversible. I always say “It’s your space. Stain or Paint – Which Product To Use? The Basics: What is Wood Stain? Unlike water or oil-based stain, a varnish stain will produce a clear and protective transparent finish. If the oil absorbs into the wood, the finish is likely oil. Removing wood stain can be an involved process since it absorbs into the grain of the wood. It will be wise if you stick to the same product that was previously applied, whether paint or stain. Most stained wood has been coated in a glossy polyurethane or varnish. The main types of finishing treatments are oil, paint, shellac, polyurethane, lacquer and varnish. At least this applied to oil base stains. The decision on which one to use depends on the wood species to be stained, the space in which the work will be accomplished, and how important environmental friendliness is to the homeowner. Yes, if your house has paint on it now then it will have to have paint in the future. Paint makes a thin layer on top of the wood while stain sinks into the pores of the wood. HomeAdvisor's Painted vs. Stained Cabinets Guide compares paint and stain for kitchen and bathroom cabinets, including pros, cons, costs, and types like gel stain or white paint. Brush it on as evenly as you can making swift strokes along with the grain of the wood. Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Traditional Stain (Previously Stained or Painted Wood) There are two conventional methods for staining a finished piece of furniture, whether it has an existing stain or is painted. In order to achieve this result, indoor wood stains usually contain colorants that interact with the wood it covers. If you want to refinish a piece of wood furniture or even wood trim, the first thing you have to do is figure out what type of finish is on the wood. Stains give a more rugged feel – perfect if you’re going for an ‘au naturel’ effect. If you don’t want any stain getting on to your hands, it’s probably a good idea to wear gloves at this point Let’s walk through what wood stain actually is and what it’s used for, the different types of wood stains, how long the different types can last, and how you can tell if it’s time to toss out your wood stain. After you figure this out, you'll know if you can apply the new finish you want over top or if the wood has to be stripped. I don’t know how I would have felt about painting an original finish, but I resort back to the comment above. Not wood toned stain, but solid color black stain. If you paint over these glossy surfaces directly, the paint can't properly grip the surface which may cause the paint to crack, chip, or peel off. Paint peels and stain fades. Rub a small amount of denatured alcohol, using a clean cotton swab, into another inconspicuous spot. 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