Staining is arguably the most challenging wood finishing technique. But with a little know-how, staining and the techniques related to staining are not so complex. If you are wondering whether to strip off all varnish or just stain on top of the varnish, Then this post is for you and will help you make a decision you won’t regret later on.
Do I have to remove the varnish before staining?
It depends on the condition of the varnish and the staining technique you are going for. For instance, when answering ” Can you stain over varnish,” we recommended glazing, a technique with two years of a clear coat sandwiching the stain film.
In the glazing technique, the stain is applied to the wood, then a coat of varnish is applied, followed by a stain, then more varnish. This series is repeated to satisfaction.
You may have to sand off the varnish coat to stain the wood directly for old wood furniture with a varnish top coat. Also, the varnish may be in bad condition with scratches and imperfections that may be magnified if stained without sanding.
An easy hack to strip off varnish
if you assessed the situation as guided above and concluded that the varnish needs to be stripped off, then there are a few ways that you can use to do so. But a method you may not have thought of is vinegar.
If you have vinegar in your home, you could use it to break the varnish bond on the wood.
Depending on the situation, there are two ways to do this. If the varnish is in a bad state, it may ruin the staining; therefore, stripping it off may be a good idea. On the other hand, if the varnish is in good condition, then you can skip stripping it off and just stain it on top of it.
However, it may be a good idea to sand lightly with grit 400 to create a rough surface that the top coat would sit on after staining.