bradygo

Stain wiping off with poly - how to remediate?

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My wife and I have spent the weekend refinishing this dining table and we're running into a bit of a snag. As we were adding the first coat of water-based poly, we noticed the stain "staining" the brush a little. The finished result is blotchy and you can clearly see brush strokes that lifted/redeposited the stain.

Our process was: Stripper, 100 grit, 200 grit, stain conditioner + wipe (1.5hr dry), stain + wipe (3hr dry), Poly. It was a bit cooler and rainy, so I allowed the project to dry longer than directed. I suspect the issue is some combination of A) not dry enough, B) too vigorous application of Poly, and C) the poly solvents re-lifting the stain. 

I can deal with the largely imperceptible blotches on the sides, but the top needs to look right given how much effort we've put into this. My question is--what is the best next step to remediate the surface? The top is raised from the sides, such that I could only re-finish the top if I am careful without having to re-do the rest of the piece. 

Sanding is the most immediate option, though I am a little bit concerned that the veneer may wear through. It's about 1/32nd thick--I didn't take the sanding too far into the wood, and the only area I've worn through accidentally is an edge where the orbital was not level. I would then re-stain, and then spray apply my first poly application. 

I would be concerned about using some kind of stripper/lacquer thinner application because of the risk of spillage over the sides and the then necessity to refinish more of the project. 

Is there something I am missing? Perhaps an easier way to even out the color without a full refinish of the surface?

Thank you so much for your help!

Photos of the table halves below:

20200511_081740.thumb.jpg.030b95306b93627ee1a7e4e3ea1d4d28.jpg

 

20200511_081754.thumb.jpg.a0321833c140a05a0ab2379541a01e40.jpg

 

Bonus question!: the flat surface on the legs has not taken the stain at all it seems. My guess is that this end grain absorbed a lot of poly when the table was first created and we simply did not sand down far enough (and we went at it for a while!). This is not a super visible area--is there any way we can quick re-color this after one coat of poly is applied? I have a wood-touch-up marker but I suspect that it won't take through the poly. 

20200511_081817.thumb.jpg.9435baac9c23b520eab794a9e670e95a.jpg

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Listing the specific products used would be helpful for identifying potential compatibility issues. Was the stain water- or oil-based? 

I don’t know what the instructions on your stain listed, but I can’t imagine 3hrs being sufficient dry time for any type of stain or any conditions. I’d want to give it 24hrs at an absolute minimum, but would prefer several days.

I think you may need to sand the top and start over in order to get an even finish. As you mention, you’ll need to be cautious when sanding. I’d be tempted to hand sand it rather than using a power sander. 

Stick around though, someone else may have a different solution. 

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The stain doesn't indicate but I am assuming water based given it's texture. Its this.

And, well, you've figured it out. I went down and re-read the can--it says 2 hours dry in between coats. A different section indicates that I should leave 24 hours in between staining and water-based poly. Given how much I undershot that timing, I'm frankly impressed this didn't turn out worse!

Now it's just remediation. I'm leaning sanding too but will wait for other opinions. Thanks!

EDIT: It looks like the stain is oil-based based on the listing. 

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Is the bottom of the top the same as the top of the top? I'd flip it over and test how to achieve the results you desire on the bottom before you attack any visible surface. Specific products would be extremely important. If you applied a minwax oil based stain 3 hours is no where near long enough. 24 hours minimum possibly 48 hours when cool and damp.

With oak conditioner is rarely necessary unless it's providing a specific look you are going for. It will reduce how much stain is absorbed and could be cause the issues you are seeing on the legs. The conditioner also prevented the stain from absorbing into the wood on the top and could have contributed to the lifting that occurred when you applied the poly.

To fix the issue you are likely to have to stand back to bare wood. Now beings that you are going to stain  and finish again you may not need to go back all the way to 100% bare wood. Some of the pores in oak are quite deep and to remove all previous stain may bring you dangerously thin on the veneer. With tests on the bottom you may be able to remove say 80% of the stain or just enough that the area between the large pores is clean, and reapply. This is possible because you aren't changing colors. TEST TEST TEST. Only by testing in  a hidden spot can you be sure. It will also tell you how much you can sand and if you go through the veneer you won't be ruining the top.

Stripping may be an option as well but I'm unfamiliar with it.

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8 minutes ago, bradygo said:

The stain doesn't indicate but I am assuming water based given it's texture. Its this.

Untitled.thumb.jpg.176c5b040c297dbbe7dde4a8e99ec37f.jpg

Clean up with mineral spirits indicates oil based stain. Make sure it gets enough time to dry. 48 hours is safe if the piece isn't sitting in 75 degrees and 35% RH.

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1 minute ago, Chestnut said:

Is the bottom of the top the same as the top of the top? I'd flip it over and test how to achieve the results you desire on the bottom before you attack any visible surface. Specific products would be extremely important. If you applied a minwax oil based stain 3 hours is no where near long enough. 24 hours minimum possibly 48 hours when cool and damp.

With oak conditioner is rarely necessary unless it's providing a specific look you are going for. It will reduce how much stain is absorbed and could be cause the issues you are seeing on the legs. The conditioner also prevented the stain from absorbing into the wood on the top and could have contributed to the lifting that occurred when you applied the poly.

To fix the issue you are likely to have to stand back to bare wood. Now beings that you are going to stain  and finish again you may not need to go back all the way to 100% bare wood. Some of the pores in oak are quite deep and to remove all previous stain may bring you dangerously thin on the veneer. With tests on the bottom you may be able to remove say 80% of the stain or just enough that the area between the large pores is clean, and reapply. This is possible because you aren't changing colors. TEST TEST TEST. Only by testing in  a hidden spot can you be sure. It will also tell you how much you can sand and if you go through the veneer you won't be ruining the top.

Stripping may be an option as well but I'm unfamiliar with it.

Thank you for your thoughts! Unfortunately the bottom veneer appears cheaper and will not be representative. 

The stain is Varathane classic--looks to be oil based. 

It sounds like I am just going to have to carefully sand and see where it goes. 

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2 minutes ago, bradygo said:

Thank you for your thoughts! Unfortunately the bottom veneer appears cheaper and will not be representative. 

The stain is Varathane classic--looks to be oil based. 

It sounds like I am just going to have to carefully sand and see where it goes. 

Even if it's thinner and not representative it may give you some information on how much sanding abuse the top can take. Typically the veneer even of a different quality or species will be the same thickness.

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Do you know the veneer is 1/32" thick? Most commercial veneer is way thinner than that & won't take much more that a very light, high grit sanding before blowing through. Before sanding, I'd try using a cabinet scraper to gently just remove the finish & stain.  

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In this dilemma, I would do the following:

Sand the existing poly finish lightly (220 grit) just to give the surface some "tooth".

Get some gel stain. I think oil based would be best. Try General Finishes brand. Color maybe should be a shade darker than what you have now.

Apply the stain per directions. As you wipe it off you can blend it so that it evens out the color disparity you have now; wipe off a bit more on the dark areas and wipe off less in the lighter areas.

Let it dry at least 24 hours and then apply a light coat of de-waxed shellac from a spray can (to keep from lifting and smearing the stain).

Apply 2-3 coats of poly per directions.

Good luck

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