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In woodworking projects, repairing cracks and filling holes is a common process. Wood fillers are popular choices for this job. All that’s required is applying wood fillers with a putty knife over a crack or a nail hole.
Fixing wood surfaces is simpler compared to matching the color of the wood filler to the rest of the wood. If the color does not match with the wood surface it can leave stark differences which will be visible at the first glance. To match the color of the filled wood you require to add a single or multiple coats of stain. Tiny holes may be easier to match with the surroundings but larger cracks require a finer job to prevent a glaring mismatch.
Glaring differences are not what you want on your finished piece of furniture, wooden floor, trim, or deck. That’s where knowing how to stain wood filler comes in handy.
Applying stains on spots filled with wood filler is not a very difficult task and can be done at home without professional help. All you need to do is, use the right tools and appropriate materials to get the desired finish every time.
Staining wood filler can be done in two ways. The stain can be added to the wood filler before it is applied on the crack or after the wood filler dries. No matter which method is applied, without some pro-tips of how to stain wood filler, the outcome may be a disaster.
Method – 1
The first step is to choose the right wood filler and a compatible stain. How well the wood filler will accept the stain depends on the material that the filler is made of. If the staining agent does not react properly to the filler, the results won’t be anything that you expect. Before buying a wood stain check its compatibility with the kind of wood filler that you are using. There are water-based wood fillers and solvent or petroleum-based fillers. Water-based wood fillers are ideal for indoor projects whereas petroleum-based fillers work better for outdoor woodwork. When buying wood stains for coloring the filler, look for advice on the packaging label for compatibility.
Also, select the closest colored wood stain to match the wood surface you are working on. If possible, carry a piece of the wood with the same filler and try out the stain on a small part of the filler with a paintbrush. Let it dry and see how closely it matches the rest of the surface.
Once you start working on the original project, if the stain does not react to the filler well it may lead to trouble. If the stain does not match the rest of the wood color, it may be impossible to get an even color which will leave glaring differences on the finished project. Pre-testing the stain on the filler will save you from a lot of trouble and disappointing results after all the effort and time you put in.
It is very important to let the wood filler dry before you apply the stain on it. Instructions on the wood filler package will guide you with the process and give the estimated time required for setting and drying. Do not rush the process, else it will not yield the results you are expecting.
Preparing the surface before applying the wood stain is as vital as knowing the steps of how to stain wood filler.
Before starting with the staining process, clean the area thoroughly. Use old rags, vacuum, and sandpaper if needed to remove dust and debris, old paint, and stain as they may interfere with the application of the stain.
To even out the area where the wood filler has been applied, use fine-grit sandpaper to smoothen it out. It also helps in removing debris or to give it a light finish. For larger areas, an electric sander can also be used. It is not recommended for smaller areas. Wipe the area with a rag dipped in mineral spirits to lift any loose dirt or dust particles, and to remove old paint and stain.
Allow the surface to dry and gently wipe the area with a clean, soft cloth to avoid any scratches. If you feel there is any remaining sawdust use an air compressor to clean the surface.
Always shake the stain before using it. With the help of a brush start applying it to the area that you want to cover. A foam brush is the most preferred choice for doing this job. When applying stain with a foam brush the stain spreads evenly and there is less wastage unlike cloth, which tends to soak up the stain.
Staining wood fillers need patience! After application, allow the stain to sit on the surface for a few minutes before wiping off the excess with an absorbent cloth. This allows the wood filler to absorb it well. Now, allow the wood stain to dry completely following the instructions mentioned on the packaging.
After the stain dries, if you are happy with the results that’s it! In case you find it too light, add another coat following the same process. In case you’ve added too much stain and the patched area appears too dark in color there are two things that you could do. Try adding more stain on the other parts of the wood to balance the shade or you can remove the filler and try again. You always need not be too finicky about it as wood grains are not even and vary in color. Remember, the stain will also lighten a bit over time as it dries more.
There is another method of applying stains to wood filler. In this method, the stain is mixed with the filler before application. Here is how to stain wood filler using this process.
Stir the filler till it reaches a smooth consistency. Take out as much as you need in a different container.
Add the required amount of stain to the filler following directions on the packaging. Usually for every one and a half cup of filler you can take one cup of stain but it will depend on the tone you are looking for. For lighter colors mix less stain and add more if you want a darker shade.
Stir the stain and wood filler well till they mix to a uniform consistency. Make sure there are no chunks left. If you are using a paddle mixer, it may take about five minutes to get a creamy consistency. If stirring by hand it may take longer. The best way to check the consistency is to scoop out some of the mixture from the bottom of the bucket to see if it’s ready.
Place a small amount on a hole or crack to see if it matches the color of the wood. This is just a patch test so wipe it away immediately.
Add more filler or stain to adjust the color if you are not satisfied and mix well.
Now your custom-color stained filler is ready to use on the cracks and holes you intend to fill to finish your woodwork.
Now that you know how to stain wood filler in different ways, choose the method that suits you the best.