Though oil stains are easier to find and use, most professional woodworkers prefer water-based stains. Water is more readily absorbed by wood and this makes the stain more permanent. Water stains also come in many more colors than oil stains, and these colors can be blended to obtain an infinite variety of hues. They are also extremely economical...an ounce of water stain powder will usually cost less than a dollar and cover up to 150 square feet
However, as with oil stains there are disadvantages. Water tends to raise the grain of the wood during application and they cannot be applied to any project that has been previously finished because they simply won't penetrate a prior finish.
Prepare your surface by wetting it down with clear water, letting it dry, then sanding it with 3/0 Garnet paper. This will help minimize the grain raising when you apply your stain. Remove the excess by ?tipping? with a dry brush. Allow four hours between coats.
These are typically blends consisting of coloring pigments and aniline dyes in a thick, gel base. They are normally wiped on with a cloth and second and subsequent coats usually applied in about four hours. If you need to lighten them, you can usually do this with ordinary mineral spirits.
Stains will change the color of wood, but paints will cover it completely. There are many different paints to chose from, but the most common are oil-based, latex, enamel and milk paints.
Oil-based paint is an opaque, colored pigment suspended in oil with thinner and drier. It's available in an enormous variety of colors, both flat and glossy.
Latex is water soluble, dries quicker and covers better than oil-base, but gloss finish versions are not always available in all colors.
Enamel is simply an opaque, colored varnish. It's slower to dry than latex, but can be sanded and rubbed like a varnish to produce an extremely smooth finish with either a flat, satin or glossy appearance.
Milk paints are typically used to match the colored finishes on antique pieces or reproductions. They are usually water-based, produce a flat finish and can be purchased in dry powder form or pre-mixed for the woodworker's convenience.
When using paints, prepare the surface of your project by first filling the pores, dents and scratches, then sanding smooth with progressively finer abrasives. After removing all dust with a tack cloth, paint the entire project with the appropriate ?undercoat? or primer. If you're using enamel, thinned latex makes a good undercoat.. These undercoats help seal the wood and provide a good, hard ?grab? for successive coats of paint.
If you wish, you can sand down the undercoat to make the project perfectly smooth. With a brush, coat the entire project in sections and keep each section horizontal (if possible) until it dries thoroughly to prevent drips and runs. If you're working with enamel, use the same procedure you would for varnish -- wipe it across the grain, then with the grain, then ?tip? the wet surface to remove brush marks. Be sure to allow the recommended drying time between coats and lightly sand each coat, if desired.