AHHHHH - Staining A Mantle... - Painting - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 08-24-2008, 10:08 AM   #1
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AHHHHH - Staining a Mantle...

Full History:
- Tried to use and old can on Minwax Polyshades (stain and poly in one) that I found in a closet to match other elements in the room... applied it WAY too thick
- Stripped and sanded the entire mantle
- Reapplied Polyshades much more carefully using a very thin coat - looked like it was going much better...
- Attempted to apply a second very thin coat - realized the thing was gonna look like crap again...
- Stripped and sanded the entire mantle
- Carefully applied a thin coat of regular old Minwax stain in approximately the same color as the Polyshades
- Waited 6 hours and applied a second coat, which i may not have wiped off as well as i should have
- Waited 10 hours and attempted to apply Minwax Wipe-On Poly, despite my better judgement, as the second coat of stain was still tacky
- Watched in horror as the poly lifted the stain off the mantle (only did one leg, once i realized what was happening).
- Cleaned wet poly off the leg with mineral spirits
- Reapplied stain and wiped down to the leg to try to match the rest of the mantle (it's close enough...)

So thats where i am right now... I've got a mantle that's pretty darn close to the right color - it lost a little bit of color with that last hard wiping that I did after letting it dry for 10 hours... What can i do to make sure I don't screw this thing up any more?

I get the feeling that there's still a little too much stain on there, and that it's just sitting on top - not soaking in. (Although, it looks OK...) But I do think I probably need to do one more coat of stain to even out everything from the last wiping (when it was tacky). Should I just wait a few days and make sure it's completely dry? Should I wipe the whole thing down with mineral spirits to get up any stain that's sitting on top and not soaking in, and then do that last coat? I also don't want the thing to get much darker (if at all) than it is right now...

Then how long should i wait before applying poly? The stain said to wait at least 8 hours - I waited 10... Should I not have used a water based poly over an oil based stain? Did I not wait long enough, regardless (since it was still tacky when I tried...)?

This is driving me out of my mind. I know why I've avoided staining my entire life...

P.S. - If you tell me to strip and sand the whole thing again I'll jump out the window. It's close enough to being OK that if nothing else could be done, I'd just finish it up with the RIGHT KIND of polyurethane and call it a day...


Last edited by jakerbug; 08-24-2008 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:30 PM   #2
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Ah the joy of DIY.
What kind of wood is the mantle made from?
Not to be smart*** but what finish coat does the Minwax stain can say you can use? They may state to use oil-based finish only.


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Old 08-24-2008, 04:21 PM   #3
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I'm not sure what kind of wood the mantle is... it was here - unfinished - when i moved in. And I wouldn't know one kind of wood from another if my life depended on it. Is that going to be crucial to this process? I did happen to stumble across a few bits of info before I started this whole thing that advised me to check if I was working with a soft wood, like pine - and I think I determined that I am not...

Neither the poly nor the stain specified that ONLY a water/oil - based product should be used in conjuntion with them. In fact, the wipe-on poly listed the stain I used as one of the possible products to use in the stining process... that's kind of why I assued it was OK. I get the impression that in theory, with all the right conditions, they are probably interchangable - I was just curious if it's unadvisable to do so...

I was advised in another forum to wipe the thing down with a cloth lightly dampened with stripper, and to then apply a copy of oil-based poly after allowing it to dry overnight. Then if the color was not dark enough to go back over it with a tinted poly product (like the polyshades I originally tried to use...)

Sounded like it made pretty good sense to me so I'm gonna go ahead and try that - unless someone on here screams at me not to within the next hour or so...
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Old 08-24-2008, 05:31 PM   #4
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Technically....you can put a water-based poly over oil stain
Realistically, I can't recommend or suggest it
It's not that it always fails, but it nearly always fails earlier than it should
And if the circumstances are less than perfect, and they seem to have been so in this case, it does tend to make a mess

At this point I'd let it dry, and wipe it if you see pooling
It will need to dry well before anything is done to this unfortunate mix
Under no circumstances introduce a stripper into the mix
(at least for now anyway)
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Old 08-24-2008, 06:47 PM   #5
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Let it dry

I've stained new wood several times, a few mantles, kitche cabinets, and many a table has been scrounged from the trash and given a new start.
Don't care for Polyshades at all as it seals itself and the color you get the first time is usually not going to get much darker with any coat---and if its screwed up it is a pain the the rear to fix as you now know.
If you like your color now let it dry real well--if it has crevices etc use qtips to get the extra stain out. Mineral spirts may lighten your color. Tack cloth it of course before you start sealing it with anything from polyurethane or laquers ets. Sand btw coats with the finest sand paper LIGHTLY or use a fine steel wool--I opt for the steel wool usually. 3 coats makes it nice and smooth.
Had a painter in for an estimate yesterday for an estimate on painting and showed him a library wall of bookcases and desk. He thought it had a great finish which made me happy as I am the one who did it. Alas, he won't do staining as I also wanted my composite front door redone--it takes too much time so he doesn't want to do it. Guess I'm stuck doing it myself again as it needs work every 3 - 4 years because it faces south and takes a beating. I have found that Marine Varnish holds up better than the polyurethane outside--at least on this door.
Best of Luck with your mantel
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