Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wood Filler/Putty Before Or After Staining

My husband and I have no woodworking experience.
We are in the process of removing a blotchy stain job on alder wood indoor railings. We sanded the old stain off with 100 grit and will be sanding with 120 today in advance of applying the stain.
One of the problem areas was where we applied putty into joints and nail holes. Although it was sanded before staining, the residue of the putty around the joints and nail holes caused big unnatural blotches.
All of that has been sanded out and now we have some open joints.
When do we apply wood putty and with what product exactly? Research of some old forums suggests tinted wood putty applied prior to the final varnish.
We need the idiots guide here because we have no knowledge of the products or methods.

Putty after stain so you can match the finished result, as the putty will not absorb the stain. Then your finish coats of polyurethane on top of that.

You need to apply the first coat of poly before applying the colored putty. The poly seals the wood better than the stain and you eliminate the danger of the oils in the putty softening up and moving or removing any of the stain. A rag damp with paint thinner can be used to wipe up any errant putty and to help keep your fingers clean. I normally stain, poly, sand lightly and then putty before applying the final coats of poly.

I haven't looked for tinted wood putty. Is it available or does one have to tint it themselves?
Also, when you say poly what exactly is that?
When I go looking in the store, I will probably need the whole name. (sorry, I am really ignorant here.)
Is it applied with a paint brush?

Poly is short/slang for polyurethane. Poly dries to a harder film than varnish = longer wear. It can be applied by spray or brush [some will use a roller but it doesn't always look too good]
Colored putty comes in little jars and is usually stocked near the stain, poly and varnish. It comes in an assortment of colors. I like to get the 2 colors closest to what I need and intermix them as needed to get a close to perfect match.

It depends on the putty you use. The putty I have used the most is Famowood. You put it on before you stain or apply your clear finish. Famowood does take stain, but it will typically stain darker than the wood. It comes in a handful of different colors.
To avoid those blotches around the areas you putty, avoid smearing it over large areas. Make sure you sand it well before staining to remove all of the putty from the surface. Try wiping the area with mineral spirits to see if you can spot anything left behind.

droo - what you are using is what I would call a wood filler. I know some accept stain better than others. The putty Mitch and I are referring to is pretty much the same thing as 'painter's putty' except with colorant added to make it match the wood/stain. Years ago before pre packaged colored putty we had to add colorant to white putty to get the right color and then add whiting to the mix to help dry up all the oils from the colorant.

I haven't had trouble with putty going in after the stain and before the first coat of poly but it's not something I've done a lot. Mark knows this stuff better than I do so my new process will be first coat of poly and then the putty from now on.

Mitch, another benefit to apply a coat of varnish/poly first is if using the oil base version it will deepen the colors in the wood and make it easier for you to match the color. I like it when the putty match is good enough where you either can't see the putty or have to hunt for it

Tags: wood, filler, putty, before, staining, better than, coat poly, first coat, first coat poly, wood putty