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Using pre-stain conditioner with multiple coats of stain

Eenmijay's picture

I'm learning the hard way to use a pre-stain conditioner (Minwax) prior to staining pine to avoid the blotchiness I tend to get otherwise.  

If I'm going to be applying multiple coats of stain, should I apply conditioner prior to each coat?  I assume that is the case, but I haven't seen that specifically addressed anywhere.

Thanks in advance for any insight.



hammer1's picture

No, you only use the (post #154891, reply #1 of 8)

No, you only use the conditioner before the first application of stain. The sooner you stain after applying the conditioner, the less blotching, you may want to apply two applications of the conditioner to end grain. If you use the conditioner after staining, it will lift the stain you already have down. Typically, for best results, apply the conditioner, wipe off the excess, all of it, within 5-10 minutes apply stain with a brush, pad, foam brush. Don't allow it to sit very long, only a couple minutes, completely wipe off all excess, allow to dry overnight. For the last application of stain, use a rag. You can "work" and blend color as you need with the rag. Again, don't leave excess on the work piece. At this point you should have a nice rich color, more stain won't do anymore. The second application of stain may take two days to completely dry. Proceed with your top coat choices.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

RJTRAVIS's picture

oil finish (post #154891, reply #7 of 8)

I applied an oil finish (Australian Timber Oil) to a bare wood deck.  I did not wipe off the excess and now have a tacky surface even though its been weeks since it was applied.  Is there anything I can do to remove some of the excess oil finish?

HowardAcheson's picture

Oil Finish (post #154891, reply #8 of 8)

You may get more responces if you start a new thread rather than tagging onto an existing thread.

In any event, do the label instructions say to wipe off the excess?  If so, I would contact the manufacturer and ask them how to deal with your problem.  I am not familier with the product.

SteveSchoene's picture

What do you expect from a (post #154891, reply #2 of 8)

What do you expect from a second coat of stain?  You should not be expecting to meaningfully darken the color with the second coat.  The pre-conditioner and the first coat of stain will have substantial sealed the wood.  The most you should expect is a bit more evenness of color.  If  you get a darker stain out of it you are not wiping off the stain properly.  You must vigorously wipe off excess or you  could face problems with the top coat, either drying problems, or adhesion problems.  The problem with adhesion might not show up immediately and perhaps not appear for several years.

And, no the pre-stain conditioner is only relevent before the first coat of stain. 

If you are looking for any dark or even moderately dark color on pine, you should consider using a dye first to get your basic color.  Then you can partially seal and use a pigmented stain to add depth of color. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

SteveSchoene's picture

delete double post (post #154891, reply #3 of 8)


Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

GregoryPaolini's picture

staining pine (post #154891, reply #4 of 8)

You may also want to try using a thin coat (1 lb cut) of shellac as a sealer/conditioner, prior to staining the pine.  It works the same way as the conditioner, by loading the open grain to promote even stain coverage.  Dewaxxed shellac takes the place of many different finishing compounds in my shop, such as sealers, bariers, and wood conditioners.

Also, keep in mind that most of the Minwax "wood finishes" are not a dedicated stain, but more of a stain and dye mix, so they don't act like a true stain (pigment, solvent, & binder only).  You may get a little more control over the process with a true stain, such as the Sherwin Williams wood classics.


And as stated before, be sure to experiment on some scraps first - BUT be sure the scraps have the same prep work done to them that the finished pieces do - for example, A Board sanded to 180 grit will stain much darker than a board sanded to 400 grit.


Hope this helps

Gregory Paolini

Private & Small Group Woodworking Classes in the Great Smokey Mountains

Eenmijay's picture

Thanks to all (post #154891, reply #5 of 8)

Many thanks to those who posted.  There is a lot of useful information there.

Aside from answering the particular question I posted, this has also helped me realize that I know next to nothing about finishing.  I think it's time for me to assemble some reading materials and start from scratch.  Any suggestions as to a good book to start with would be greatly appreciated.



HowardAcheson's picture

The two premier finishing (post #154891, reply #6 of 8)

The two premier finishing books are Bob Flexner's Understanding Finishing and Jeff Jewett's Taunton Complete Guide to Finishing.  Both are excellent.  While there is some redundancy, I would recommend getting both.  If I was getting one, I would probably go with the Flexner book.

Amazon will have both.