Wood finishing can transform old furniture into interesting pieces with new life that enhances your decorating scheme. Finishing wood furniture is not difficult, but it does require a few techniques to ensure a good appearance and a long-wearing finish. Many types of wood stains are available for refinishers. These products should be used in recommended room temperatures to aid application and drying times.

Ambient temperature can affect the consistency of wood stain products.

Wood Stain Products

Wood stains come in a multitude of formulas and a variety of colors, from pale oak to ebony. These colors are produced either from dyes or pigments. Dyes will penetrate into the surface of the wood, producing a transparent and natural-looking color. Pigments sit on the surface of the wood. This pigment must have something to hold onto, so the wood surface must be roughened and binders must be added to the stain to ensure good adherence to the material.

Many wood stains are thin and loose in consistency and can be messy to use. Gel stains are thicker and are easy to apply with less mess. Stains are usually covered with a protective clear coating. Ambient temperatures can affect both wood stain and clearcoat finish products.

Using Wood Stains

The surface of the wood must be prepared before using a wood stain product. This process may entail removing the old finish and sanding the item to get down to the bare wood. Wood stains are generally applied with a one-and-one-half to two-inch paintbrush or small rag, going with the grain of the wood. Solvent wood stains can be messy to use. Try to apply in an even coat without drips or pools. After applying stain to a small area, wipe off the excess with a clean cloth, moving along the grain of the wood. The longer the stain soaks in, the darker the color will be.

Temperature for Using Wood Stains

The ambient temperature of the area in which you do your wood staining work can affect both the application and drying of the stain. The temperature of both the wood to be stained and the air around it should be above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity in the area should be around 50 percent for both the application time and drying time. If you do not control these factors, the ability of the product to evaporate is affected, and the stain will remain tacky on the surface of the wood.

Effects of Temperature Extremes

Problems can develop when using wood stain products in temperatures beyond the optimum ranges. If the temperature is too high, the wood stain will not penetrate into the wood. If temperatures are too low, the stain may not dry properly or the finish may become damaged and unstable. Either extreme of temperature can cause brush marks or lapping of the stain material, according to the NYFineWoodFinishing website.

A good rule of thumb for determining the right temperature for application of most wood stains is if the surface feels hot when you touch it, it's too warm to apply the stain. Conversely, if your nose feels cold, it's too cold for applying stain.