Prepping for stain – the challenge

So this weekend the Irishman is working again, and he asked me not to be there. So it’s a full weekend in the suburbs for me. I decided to make myself good for something and start testing out my staining procedure. I have quite a few challenges to overcome. Here’s what I decided.

First of all, I think I want my floors to be blond. Really blond, like a water-based finish that won’t amber them or anything. That means the inlaid border in the living room will really show up. The finish that came with the house was an oil based poly, so picture them even lighter than in this before photo. It will be a bit modern, but I like that. Try to talk me out of it if you want.

Living room, front

Living room, front

The trim is going to be off white everywhere in the house. My first plan was to strip the doors, fill all the gouges, and paint them the same as the trim. Because when I bought them they looked like crap.


But stripped, they look way different. All that damage from previous abuse morphed into character that I like, and now there’s no way I could paint these.


But there’s still a problem. You see those crude gouges in the one door? The door had to be cut down to make those go away. And one door was too short so the Irishman extended it by fusing new poplar onto 120-year-old pine. (I’m taking a wild guess at the age because these were salvaged).


And the mansion doors on the front bedroom closet are some other softwood, maybe hemlock.


So now I have a few unique problems. I want the doors to keep their character, so that means I won’t be sanding the living daylights out of them. Plus, sanding out the reeded parts would make me want to die. But I want the new cuts to blend with the old wood. And that one door that smelled like rotting meat while I was stripping it and came out lighter than the others? I want to darken it up so it’s close.

So this will be a challenge. Staining pine is always a pain because the soft, light part absorbs tons of stain and turns darker than the dark wood, which absorbs nothing. And sometimes it gets blotchy. But now I’ve added a new challenge. Some of that character probably comes from traces of the original finish that I didn’t get off. And even if I wanted to get rid of it all, I already stripped them all like 15,000 times. I can’t handle 15,001. I’m finished. But if I used a conventional penetrating stain, I could have a big problem with it not taking at all where there was old varnish. But how can I handle this? I think I’ll have to make it a cliff hanger.


8 thoughts on “Prepping for stain – the challenge

    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      I don’t think I’ll need to. I’ll write about the plan next, and then we have to see if it actually works out! But these doors don’t have to look perfect. I was actually just going to let that door have a really big gap at the bottom, but the Irishman said no, we have to do it right.


  1. Katie

    Hmm- I hate the idea of super-light floors. You refer to it as modern-but I think of it as 1980’s. Am I missing the coming trend? I know the very dark stained floors popular now have been around awhile- but…..maybe something in-between? An extremely light floor is also going to dictate a very particular kind of decor. Are you interested in that challenge?
    As for the doors- yes! I agree, they are beautiful. Try staining the mismatched part- who cares if it’s not perfect? Or- if nothing seems to work- perhaps you could crack out the high-gloss black paint and paint the bottom 12 inches. Kind of a painted on kick-plate that would look intentional….


  2. infinitequery

    Oh the frustrations of remodeling! Arrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggg! How some ever don’t think we missed the posed inclusion of those tighty whiteys that seemed to have devolved into loosey gooseys-feeble attempt to be provocative?? You Bloggers will do anything to pump up the numbers? my chuckle for the day!


  3. infinitequery

    that reply is even funnier than the picture of the pathetic panties! I’m 75 so I can get away with being a bit outrĂ© ! Once you’re ancient everybody just chalks it up to Senility……..


  4. Rosietta

    I personally would think it would be hard to stain the bottom pine additions to be completely cohesive with the rest of the door. I would choose something slightly different in color (maybe darker) and create a different texture or depth so it looks more deliberate. Here are a few older door images that explain what I’m talking about … (darker more protruding bottom plate), (carved bottom addition), or something with a lot of texture on the bottom … Some are a little too ornate but gives some ideas. Good luck



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