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How to Stain Fir

My house is full of expoed fir (WA State), but it's looking neglected, time stained, etc. What do you recommend to clean and stain to give it that rich, reddish deep color? Thanks for your help. Brian

Re: How to Stain Fir

I don't think you're gonna be able to change the colour much, but I clean the stained and varnished kitchen cupboards in my building with mineral spirits. That's effective in removing the cooking oil that has accumulated on the cupboard and cabinet doors from the stove.

You need to assess what kind of soil is on your wood.
Do you smoke, burn candles or incense?
Do you live near a gravel road that creates a lot of airborne dust?
Based on your cooking habits, is there likely to be a lot of cooking oil accumulated on your wood?

Nicotine is soluble in water, but you need to use a dilute solution of bleach to remove the beige stain and smell associated with smoking from your walls. Dilute bleach with 10 parts water, and that should both remove the smell and stain of tobacco smoking.

The soot produced by burning candles can largely be removed with a Magic Eraser.

Re: How to Stain Fir


I am assuming you are talking about interior fir woodwork. Did this fir not have protective coats of varnish on it? If it still has varnish on it, it will not take stain, and certainly not take it evenly. You will have to strip to bare wood either by sanding or by use of chemical strippers. Either way is quite messy and time consuming, although not brain surgery.

To achieve a "rich reddish deep color", you will have to get the wood really clean to accept the stain evenly. Further, fir is a soft, unevenly porous wood which will normally take the stain somewhat splotchy unless the wood is treated with a pre-stain conditioner before applying the stain.

Personally, I would first experiment with what you have before starting a stripping operation. Thoroughly clean the wood using a wall washing detergent such as Dirtex or Soilax to remove surface dirt and grease/oils. At this point, you might first try merely rubbing down the wood with lemon oil to give it new luster. If this is not enough luster, give it a coat of varnish.

If you are still dissatisfied with the results, you might try coating the woodwork with a pigmented stain such as Minwax's Poly-Shades. If you are looking for a deep red color, the "Mahogany" color has good hiding ability. For this, you want a really good soft bristled brush, oxhair if possible. Oxhair is fairly expensive, about $25 for a two inch brush, but it will do a far superior job in laying out the colored varnish without living brush marks. If you have spray equipment, large areas such as doors could be sprayed. You could spray everything, but spraying in an occupied house requires A LOT OF masking and protection against overspray and fumes.

The down side of pigmented varnishes is that the color is merely on the surface, not deep into the wood. If you scratch the woodwork, the original woodwork color will show. Wear around handles will also show through to the original color.

Re: How to Stain Fir

Correction: Minwax Poly-Shades is a pigmented VARNISH, not a wood stain.

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