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Furniture Finishing

Tips: Staining, Painting and Glazing 

CONGRATULATIONS on your purchase of unfinished wood furniture from The Wood Connection. Unfinished furniture should be finished as soon as possible to avoid warping and splitting. This is an information sheet only, but will provide you with finishing information that will prove helpful.

Supplies Needed

  • stain /paint or glaze tack cloth lint free rag (or old t-shirt)
  • top coat foam brushes safety glasses/dust mask
  • 150-220 grit sandpaper

Preparation for Paint/Stain

First, inspect your piece. Unfinished furniture is usually ready to start finishing, but may require some sanding to properly prepare the piece. Look for any rough spots, marks, dents or areas that may seem darker because of handling. (Oil from our skin will transfer to raw wood when handling and prevent stain from penetrating the wood.) Wipe entire surface with tack cloth to remove any dust.

Second, prepare your work area. Choose a well-ventilated area with room enough for you to completely walk around the piece. Have your supplies on hand (i.e. brushes, sandpaper, stain or paint, lint free cloths, safety glasses/dust mask, etc.). Use safety glasses and dust mask for your own protection.

Staining Instructions

Stir the stain thoroughly before you start and test it on a hidden area to be sure that this is the right color. Divide your project into manageable sections. Using a foam brush, apply stain in direction of grain. Using a clean rag, wipe stain off in the direction of grain. Inspect your work. Continue staining the entire piece. Let piece dry preferably overnight. (Water based stains dry quicker.) Buff the entire piece with a “crumpled brown paper bag” to create a smooth surface. Wipe with lint free cloth. (If a darker shade is required, repeat the above step.)

Painting Instructions

Please remember when painting pine, knots will bleed through the paint. There are products that will somewhat prevent this, but it depends on the amount of sap in the knot. Using a primer will provide some protection. We sell a high quality acrylic paint called Milk Paint, but any good quality paint can be used to finish furniture (Acrylic works best). Apply with a foam brush (avoid over brushing). Allow to dry thoroughly. Lightly buff surface with a “crumpled brown paper bag”, wipe off any dust. Two to three coats of paint are recommended, drying thoroughly between coats. Apply a topcoat over paint for added durability or to increase sheen (Unless you are going to glaze or antique).


Begin glazing/antiquing before the topcoat and after the paint or stain is completely dry. Using a coarse #100-#120 grit sandpaper, sand edges of raised panels, doors, drawers and corners of cabinet all the way through to bare wood. The more you sand, the more rustic your results. The glaze will color your sanded areas and give the painted sections an aged look. Apply Glaze with a foam brush over the entire area. Wipe off excess with a lint free cloth to achieve desired look. Let dry 2-4 hours. Apply Top Coat for added durability and sheen.

Applying the Top Coat

Stir top coat well (shaking will create air bubbles). Make sure your piece is free from grease or dust. Apply top coat with a foam brush using long straight strokes. Do not over brush! The topcoats we sell are self-leveling. We recommend at least 3 coats. Buff surface between coats with “crumpled brown paper bag,” Do not buff after the final coat. Additional coats may be applied for increased durability and depth. Dry thoroughly between coats. (Oil stains and topcoats take longer to dry than water-based products, see recommendations on can.)

We cannot stress enough, the importance of drying between coats. If the first coat of paint is not thoroughly dry it can affect the entire finish. Patience is a virtue.