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Frequently asked questions about wood stains

Jay is using Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain on this dec tinted to the colour Resene Natural, and applying it with a Deck Master Deck Brush to make the job faster and easier.

Wood is one of the most popular building materials in New Zealand and Australia and it’s easy to see why. Each plank of wood has a unique grain that makes every project special. Resene Woodsman and Resene Colorwood wood stains are ideal for protecting timber projects from the elements and wear and tear. These stains will also enhance the beauty of the timber by showcasing the natural grain and knots. If you’re new to staining, you might have a few questions about the types of Resene wood stains available and how to use them.

The following answers to some frequently asked questions will get you started and point you in the direction of other helpful MasterStroke by Resene articles. If you have further questions, ask the friendly staff in your local Resene ColorShop or send your questions through to our team of online paint experts.

What are the advantages of wood stains?

Resene Woodsman wood stains have a semi-transparent finish and protects your timber from UV light, wind and rain, as well as damage from fungi and mould. Resene Woodsman also enhances the natural beauty of the timber by allowing the wood grain to show through. Wood stains create a soft look that’s in tune with the natural environment and are usually faster and easier to apply than paints.  

What’s the difference between Resene Waterborne Woodsman and Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain (traditional oil-based)?

Resene Waterborne Woodsman is a modern Eco Choice-approved, low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) penetrating stain that is ideal for many outdoor projects including weatherboards, pergolas, fences and rough sawn timber. It’s available in a range of hues including black, bright and limed colours and in Resene CoolColour variants. Waterborne stains can be thinned and cleaned up with water when wet and have a faster drying time.  

Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain is a solventborne stain that gives a more classic, natural-looking finish, however these stains are higher in VOCs and a stronger odour.  Brushes and trays used with a solventborne stain must be cleared up using a solvent such as turps. Solventborne stains tend to penetrate deeper into the timber and are often used on more weathered surfaces. If your home has previously been stained with a solventborne stain, it’s usually best to restain with Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain (traditional oil-based).

The staff at your local Resene ColorShop are more than happy to answer your wood stain questions in person and can show you the Resene Woodcare stand so you can see how the different stains and oils look applied to timber samples.

What’s the best wood stain for interiors?

Resene Colorwood is designed for interior surfaces such as floors, furniture and walls and is available in a wide range of colours. Resene Colorwood stains are designed to work in tandem with clear coats such as Resene Aquaclear and Resene Qristal Clear. You can vary the depth of your stain colour by applying more than one coat for a darker finish.  

What prep do I need to do before staining?

First treat the timber for moss and mould using Resene Moss & Mould Killer, allow the product to soak into the timber for 48 hours and then scrub with a stiff-bristled brush and rinse clean. 

When staining exterior timber, wash it first with Resene Timber and Deck Wash to remove any dirt and to open up the grain of the timber. Scrub before rinsing clean. 

How do I apply stain?

To apply a Resene wood stain, use a brush using long strokes following the grain of the timber. Maintain a wet edge by not allowing the timber to dry before applying the next brushstroke. Work in small sections and stop at a natural end point in the timber to avoid lap marks, use an old rag to wipe away excess stain. 

With the first coat, aim to saturate the timber. Older wood may absorb more stain than new wood but remember the second coat will be easier and much faster to apply than the first. For interior work you may only need one coat of stain. Outside, two coats should be sufficient but, in some cases.  It’s also possible to use a rough surfaces roller for large jobs such as fences, and with decks you can use a Deck Master deck brush applicator to make the job easier.

For advice on applying stain, check out this article:
How to stain an old wooden gate
How to paint or stain rough sawn timber

To apply a Resene wood stain, use a brush and apply long strokes following the grain of the timber. Maintain a wet edge by not allowing the timber to dry before applying the next brushstroke. Gate being stained with Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain in Resene Dark Oak.
You can use a regular paintbrush or a foam speed brush when applying stain. Johnny is staining his furniture using Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain in Resene Natural.

What colour will my stain be?

The colour of your stained timber will depend on the type of timber, the colour of the stain and how many coats you apply. For example, a wood stain applied to a light timber such as pine or Siberian larch will appear brighter than a stain applied to a darker timber such as cedar. It’s best to test a stain first using a timber offcut or on a discreet part of your home. Luckily Resene Waterborne Woodsman stains are available in testpots so you can try out different colours to help you find the perfect shade. 

See the Resene Woodsman range for exterior colours and the Resene Colorwood range for interior colours..

How do I stain my deck?

Staining a deck is easy and most can be completed over a weekend. Resene Woodsman Decking Oil Stain is ideal for new or aged decks and comes in both subtle natural colours such as Resene Woodsman Natural and a range of trend-forward colours such as Resene Woodsman Pitch Black

To apply, simply treat for moss and mould using Resene Moss & Mould Killer and clean using Resene Timber & Deck Wash. Before you start staining, plan your approach – you don’t want to stain yourself into a corner, forcing you to walk over your newly stained surface. Use a Deck Master deck brush to apply the stain using long strokes following the grain of the timber. 

For advice on staining a deck, check out these article:
How to clean and stain your deck
How to refresh your deck with stain

Decant some stain into a paint tray and use a Deck Master Deck Brush on a pole attachment to make the job easier – and make sure you're wearing your safety gear! Jay is using Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain in Resene Natural.

How much stain will you need?

If you change data entered into the fields below, ensure you press the calculate button again to re-run the equations and get the new answers.
Calculated result: 0 Litres in total
To find the spreading rate of your Resene product, click here.
NB: Porous surfaces and shapes (ie corrugated iron) will require more paint.

How do I stain kwila and other exotic hardwoods?

Resene Kwila Timber Stain is especially designed for decks and outdoor furniture made with exotic hardwoods such as kwila and will help you achieve a deep red brown toned timber finish. If you’re staining new kwila, ensure you clean it thoroughly first using Resene Timber and Deck Wash to remove any excess tannins in the timber. Once it is clean and dry, apply two coats of Resene Kwila Timber Stain following the grain of the timber, allowing dry time between coats.

Can I stain outdoor furniture?

Of course! Resene Waterborne Woodsman or Resene Woodsman wood oil stain can both be used to stain outdoor furniture – ideal if you have some stain leftover from your main project. You can also use Resene Furniture and Decking Oil for an uber natural look or Resene Timber and Furniture Gel, which has a special drip free formula especially designed for furniture, ideal for staining hard to reach places like the gaps between timber slats.

For more advice on staining outdoor furniture, check out these articles:
How to refurbish outdoor furniture
How to spruce up outdoor furniture

Stains aren't just for timber! This creative cork tile flooring was achieved using Resene Colorwood natural wood stain in the colours Resene Becalm and Resene Rising Tide, and sealed with Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K waterborne flooring urethane.
Resene Woodsman Whitewash has been use to lighten up the interior of this timber cabinet. Exterior painted in Resene Carpe Diem.

Can I stain my wood a lighter colour?

While you can stain timber a darker colour, it’s trickier to stain a timber a lot lighter. A good option is to try a pickled or limed colour such as Resene Limed Oak, a whitewash such as Resene Woodsman Whitewash or use a colourwash stain like the Resene Colorwood options in the Resene We Speak Beach collection. These will help to soften the effect of a darker stain.  Remember to test first to check you are happy with the final colour. 

What is a whitewash or colourwash?

Unlike a penetrating stain, a whitewash or colourwash is a semi-transparent colour which sits on top of the surface of the timber. Resene Whitewash and Resene Greywash (mid and light) are available in both Resene Woodsman (for exteriors) and Resene Colorwood (for interiors). Note:  Resene Woodsman Whitewash and Resene Woodsman Greywash are not advised for use on decks as the light finish doesn’t perform as well in foot traffic areas.

For interiors, look at the Resene Colorwood We Speak Beach range of colourwash stains, available in a range of coastal and sandy toned hues. These can be used on ceilings, floors, walls, furniture and more.

How often should you reapply Resene Woodsman?

Most wood stains need to be reapplied every two to three summers although this may vary due to the weather conditions and the type of stain and colour used.

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