June 22, 2021

Using Wood Conditioner Before Stain | Guide with Product Recommendations

Why apply a wood stain to a wood surface before using a wood conditioner? Why use a wood conditioner before staining? This is the exact question I was asked initially by a woodworker from Maine. All wood is porous and will absorb liquid applied to it. But how do you get the liquid back out? You can do that with a wood conditioner. Most conditioners contain some bleach and should be applied after staining. This will prevent the bleach from discoloring the wood. Let us look at some conditioners you can use before staining.

General Finishes Pre-stain Quart

It contains oil, resins, and pigments that produce stains rich in color. The pigment is distributed throughout the pigment. It is ideal for woodwork. Use a cloth, brush, or spray to apply the wood stain. Stir well before the application. 

It is easy to clean. Use mineral spirits to make sure that it is clean. Use the conditioner before adding a stain. There is uniformity in the manner in which the surface accepts the conditioner.

 That is a result of the conditioner penetrating through the wood surface. It prevents streaking and blotching. That is how you achieve a beautiful and even stain. 

Howard Wax Conditioner

The wax conditioner is for cutting boards and wooden bowls. It is non-toxic and hence safe for food contact surfaces. It contains quality mineral oil that is water-resistant. It revives old wood and prevents drying and cracking. 

The wax is anti-bacterial and seals and repairs knife marks. It is stabilized with vitamin E as it conditions and maintains wooden blocks. It keeps the mineral oil and moisture out of the wood surface. 

A combination of cutting board oil and the conditioner gives better results. It leaves your surface with a natural-satin wax finish that is not only beautiful but protective. It keeps your wood safe from bacterial growth. 

Minwax 618514444 Wood Conditioner

The Minwax wood conditioner works on any wood before staining prevents blotchiness, and controls wood grain raising. The clean-up process requires soap and water. That makes it easy to maintain. 

It is evident in color and allows the conditioner to maintain and enhance the color of the wood. It is easy to spread and use. Allow the conditioner to dry before applying the stain. The instructions are easy to follow and work well on wood that does not accept wood stain. 

The surface should be dry before applying the conditioner. Sand the wood following the direction of the grain. Stir the contents before use and maintain the recommended temperature. Apply the conditioner using a brush or clean cloth. 

Rust-Oleum Varathane Wood Conditioner

Rust-Oleum is easy to use and durable. It is a soya oil-based formula that penetrates deeply into your wood. It works well with the Rust-Oleum stain. It works on both porous and non-porous kinds of wood. 

The conditioner also works as a seal. It prevents blotchy and uneven staining. The results after the application are a rich tone surface. The color produced is even and the penetration period lasts for 30 minutes. 

It is consistent, beautiful, and transparent. It shows off the wood grain. It is easy to apply and gives you a smooth finish. The instructions are easy to follow. 

Vermont Pre-stain Wood Conditioner

Vermont conditioner has a durable finish and natural ingredients that prevent streaks and blotches. It is water and heat-resistant and ideal for kitchens and bathrooms. Use a clean brush, cloth, paint pad, or spray. 

The wood surface should be smooth and clean. There is no odor produced. It dries quickly and uses water and soap for the clean-up. Make sure it is clean from grease, dirt, and glue before staining. 

When sanding, remove dust using a damp cloth. Sand the old surface lightly for adhesion. Allow the surface to dry for up to an hour before staining. It works on both porous and non-porous surfaces. 

General Finishes Wood Stain

The conditioner has high-quality pigments that give you dark colors. The formula is for indoor furniture and works well with oil-based stains. It has a low odor, and the clean-up process requires water and soap. You are allowed to apply it using your bare hands or spray. 

Custom colors result from GF water-based stains, topcoats, and tints. The formula is thick, and that controls penetration. That makes it easy to maintain. It spreads quickly and blends effortlessly. 

It reduces blotching on softwood and gives impressive transformational results on weathered wood. The coverage is fair and gives a beautiful finish—sand before applying the conditioner for better results. Pull off excess conditioner using a towel for a flawless finish. 

Rust-Oleum 211776 Wood Conditioner

Rust-Oleum wood conditioner is a sealer that works on softwood and gives an even finish to your surface. The durable formula works on both porous and non-porous planks of wood. It works well with the Rust-Oleum stain. It enhances the beauty of your wood furniture and is easy to use. 

It is a soya oil-based formula that penetrates deeply into your wood. The results after the application are a rich tone surface. The color produced is even and the penetration period lasts for 30 minutes. The conditioner also works as a seal. 

It prevents blotchy and uneven staining. The wood surface becomes consistent, beautiful, and transparent. It shows off the wood grain. It is easy to apply and gives you a smooth finish. The instructions are easy to follow. 

Minwax 61850 Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner

Minwax conditioner is consistent in the way it contains color uniformity. It is a versatile conditioner that works on all types of wood. It controls grain raising on softwood and hardwood. 

It also stains, protects, maintains, and cleans your wood as it keeps it beautiful. It is ideal for countertops. It is thin, and the odor is low. It reduces splotches and allows you to produce a light stain. Do not worry about drying the conditioner before applying the stain. 

Numerous coats give you a darker color. Use a bristle brush, foam brush, or clean cloth to apply the conditioner. Remove excess conditioner using a clean cloth. Allow the conditioner to penetrate for five to fifteen minutes.

Rust-Oleum 211804 Base Stain

Rust-Oleum has a rich and natural color to interior furniture such as cabinets, doors, trim, and floors. It is a soy-based formula that penetrates deep into your wood surface. 

It dries to the touch in one to two hours. It covers up to 35 square feet and finishes results in applying the stain as you constantly steer the formula. The pigments enhance the natural color of the wood surface. 

It leaves a durable translucent stain on the surface. The deeper penetration from the conditioner enhances the natural grain detail. It matches contemporary and classic colors and does not require constant stirring of the application. It prevents blotching. 

Buyer’s Guide

Why wood conditioner is essential for staining

Wood conditioner before staining is essential because it ensures that the wood absorbs the stain properly rather than repelling it. This will lead to a better finish on your project and more time saved in the long run. Conditioning also improves an unfinished or sealed deck board’s ability to reflect light, enhancing its appearance while protecting outdoor use.

What wood conditioner does

Wood conditioners is a water-based sealants with a low or medium sheen. It protects the wood from environmental factors, including UV rays and mold growth.

Wood conditioner is considered to be an entry-level product that can help protect your outdoor furniture investment while adding beauty at the same time.

Pros and Cons of using a wood conditioner 

Wood conditioners will not provide complete protection from moisture. The best it can do is slow down water absorption into the wood.

It does not penetrate deep into the surface of the wood, which means it will not protect from moisture.

It also does not protect against UV rays or mold growth.

However, a conditioner can help with dryness and color variation in unfinished woods such as cedar. Using an oil-based product on these surfaces is advisable because they tend to be more porous.

A conditioner can be used on surfaces that have been finished with a natural or clear protective finish, which will not change the color of your furniture. It will add to your outdoor living space’s life span and beauty by protecting against UV rays, water stains, and mold growth.

It adds protection from moisture, aids in preserving the color and life span of the furniture, and can be used on unfinished or finished surfaces.

It Can prolong the drying time for a project if applied to wet wood. It will not protect against bugs or scratches in natural finishes. It is difficult to remove from concrete or glass.

Wood conditioner is not needed before the stain.

While it is beneficial, it is not mandatory to use conditioner before you stain wood. Will it be helpful? Yes, but because of this level of protection and the longer life span of using this product, I do not see it as mandatory for all projects.

It will provide UV resistance to your furniture and a color protectant which aids in the overall look.

Which wood conditioner to use

We have outlined some great options above. Any of them would be an excellent job. Be sure to read the description to know what you can expect.

David D. Hughes
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