Removing wood stain - can anyone help please?

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17 Jun 2010
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United Kingdom
I wood stained the frame around my garage door some years ago (soft wood) and tried to give it an extra coat or two after wear and tear years. I rubbed the stain down lightly and it started peeling off. I removed all that I could, (also using an electric sander), wiped it down with white spirit and restained, not in the sunshine. The old remaining stain showed through darkly and it bubbled badly. I rubbed it down again, stained again and it bubbled again with the old remaining stain showing through in a darker colour, bubbling. I have now resorted to paint remover to get rid of it all but the bare wood is still uneven in colour. Can anyone please advise me how I can stain without it bubbling or shall I just get rid of the stain and paint? Any help would be very gratefully received, I am going mad with it.
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Burn off any surface finish then use your sander. When it's down to bare wood - re-stain or paint it.
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Thank you for the comments so far, the stain is water based, Ronseal, I am finding it is very difficult to get it all back to bare wood. Thanks for any help.
I thought it may have been waterbased, why the stain is bubbling up is because the stain is reacting against the spirit. You can if you wish burn off the existing coating or use a higher grit paper 80 should shift it.

If you intend to continue useing a waterbased product stay away from both the spirit and the wirewool.

Dec, thank you for your advice. I had contacted Ronseal and they told me to wipe it all down with white spirit, looking back that only made it worse. I think I will sand paper it all down as you suggest and try the stain one more time. Should I wash it all off with plain water before staining? I have been going up the wall trying to get it done before the bad weather so thank you for your advice.
After you have sanded off the existing stain and prepped the woodwork any remaining spirit would have evaporated, so a wipe with a damp cloth is all it would need.

Let me know how you get on

Many thanks for your reply. I will try again this week to get it done and will let you know how it goes. Again, many thanks.
You might need to beg/borrow/steal a better sander.

A decent random orbit (using 80 grit) will be much faster and more efficient than a cheap orbital (rectangular based) sander.

It should make light work of removing all old traces.
Thank you opps for your advice. I have a B & D sander (iron shape) which takes the 80 paper but I do find it hard to use. I have got most of the old stain off now but will go back to the sander if I cannot remove it by hand. Thank you again for your help.
That'll be an orbital sander.

The random orbitals have a circular base that ossilates and spins at the same time.

I am guessing that the orbit size on your sander is quite small hence it is removing too little. Probably better to suited to finishing work.

Why do you find it difficult to use? Too much bounce? I have never used that particular machine.
Thank you opps. I am a lady, not that young, it is difficult for me to balance on the step ladders (especially when I come down the wrong side) let alone juggle with a sander! The base is an iron shape, is quite effective but it seems to need a lot of strength to just hang on to it. I will persevere, but thank you again for your help.
TheDec, Hope I am not bothering you but can you advise, I have stripped off the old varnish by using paint stripper, do I need to treat the knots in the wood before I try staining again? Many thanks for any help.
No you are not bothering me, only to glad to help. You say that you have removed the stain with stiripper, now sand back to remove any residue and wipe down with a damp cloth, when dry you will be ready to apply your stain.

There would only be a need to apply a knotting solution if you were intending to paint the woodwork, the stain in itself will act as a natural knotting agent.


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