What Can I Use to Open Pores of Wood for Refinishing?

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Restore your wood furniture to look like new.

Refinishing restores the finish of wood furniture and flooring to look like new. To refinish wood surfaces, old finishes that seal the wood must first be removed. This technique opens the pores of the wood so that it can accept the stain. A number of methods are used to open pores of wood to prepare it for refinishing.


Wood Pores and Refinishing

Wood may have different types of pores. It may have no distinct pattern of pores on the surface of the wood, like pine, poplar or maple. These types of wood are called closed grain and do not require filling of pores to achieve a smooth finish. Other woods have more open, prominent pores in the grain, according to the Minwax website. These may need filling to achieve a smooth finish on the surface. Opening the grain of the wood is done to allow the wood to soak in stain more deeply to create a richer or darker color.


Sandpaper is one way to open up the grain of wood. The sandpaper removes the surface finish as well as particles of debris that fill the pores. When this superficial layer is removed, the pores are in a condition for the stain to soak into the wood fibers more easily. Sanding off the dents and stains helps the wood to absorb stain more evenly, according to the finishing expert Bruce Johnson at his site AskBruceJohnson. This technique helps to achieve the right color in the wood. Grit numbers below 100 are coarse and are good for removing large areas of surface finish whereas those in between 100 and 200 are medium grit and are used for removing scratches and to open pores. Grits above 400 are very fine and are used for final buffing of the wood surface.



When water gets into the pores of wood, it causes the surrounding material to swell, opening up the pores for better absorption of stains. Misting with a fine spray of water is a good technique to use for opening pores when staining hardwood flooring. Allow the wood to dry, and then apply the stain. This technique is called "water popping."

Wire Brush

A wire brush is often used to open the pores of wood in preparation for staining. Brush along the lines of the grain along the entire wood surface. Lightly scuff the surface to smooth down any rough areas, according to the Wisno Furniture Refinishing site. The stain is then applied for a smooth, even color.



J. Lang Wood

J. Lang Wood's stories, essays and articles have been seen in journals across the country and online. She is a published short story and essay writer who specializes in travel topics, pets, medical subjects, Florida history, environmental issues, political and business topics. She is the author of the novel "Strays" and holds an Associate of Arts in chemistry from College of DuPage.