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Using woodcare and varnishes
Paint is an ideal covering for both interior and exterior woodwork. It is easy to use, quick to apply and always looks good. Whatever your colour scheme, the perfect shade can always be found. This article is intended as a basic guide only. Many of the products for this project will include manufacturers instructions. These instructions should be followed to ensure best results.
Essentials: * APPLYING WOODCARE PRESERVATIVE * Woodcare * Primer (for new or exposed woodwork) * Clean lint-free rags * Wire wool * White spirit * Protective gloves * Face mask * Eye protection * REPAIRS & PREPARATION * Scraping & filling knives * Woodfiller * Hot air gun * Chemical stripper * Abrasive wet or dry paper * Sanding block * Vacuum cleaner
Before you start
Good preparation is essential to make sure your indoor woodwork looks its best when you've finished, and that you get a long-lasting finish on outside timber. Always deal with woodworm and causes of water penetration before you apply a decorative finish.
Surface secrets
The secret of a perfect finish is first to get rid of all traces.Old paint and varnish must be stripped completely . Wash away all traces of chemical stripper according to the manufacturers directions.
Fill any holes with wood filler, colour matched to the timber. Wipe new or stripped wood with a lint free rag moistened with white spirit to remove dust and grease. Use a pointed stick with the rag over it to get into tight corners where dust collects. If left this dust will be picked up by the brush bristle and spread across the workpiece. When sanding down, always rub in the direction of the grain - stains and varnishes will emphasise scratches across the grain. Finish sanding with a fine grade wet or dry abrasive paper. Clean off all dust using a brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner. Finally, wipe down again with white spirit (don't use water, as it raises the grain of softwood). Now you're ready to apply your chosen stain, varnish, wax or oil.
Helpful hint
Always take garden furniture inside a garage or shed and leave until dry. Air blown dust, insects etc can stick to a wet finish.
Exterior woodwork
Special precautions should be taken during surface preparation of pre-1960's paint surfaces over wood and metal as they may contain harmful lead.
Always read the manufacturers instructions before buying. Doors, windows, bargeboards and cladding should be treated with exterior woodstain or yacht varnish. Make sure the wood is dry and don't apply woodcare in damp or humid weather. Old paint or varnish must be stripped completely, using a hot air gun or paint stripper. Wash off all traces of stripper.
Using woodcare & varnishes Fill cracks and holes with an exterior wood filler. For extra protection against insects and fungal infection, start by treating the wood with clear preservative. Rub down with wet or dry abrasive paper. Brush on the stain or varnish according to the maker's instructions.
Fences and sheds
Brush off dust, dirt and algae with a stiff brush. Check the manufacturers instructions and apply one or two coats as directed, using a preservative brush or pressure sprayer.
Garden furniture
Clean off dirt and algae with a stiff brush and warm water. Remove old paint or varnish with chemical stripper and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Rub down lightly with wet or dry abrasive paper. You can use clear or coloured preservative, garden furniture finish for soft or hard woods, alternatively teak oil. Follow the maker's directions carefully. Oil needs to be re-applied annually for full protection against the weather.
Interior woodwork
Using stains and dyes
First prepare the wood as described overleaf. Whatever colour you choose, the final result depends on the type of wood, the number of coats, and any clear finish you apply. You can also mix stains (as long as they're of the same type and make) and dilute them with a thinner to get the effect you want.
1. Make a test strip to check the final result - paint four coats of stain on to a small piece of spare wood, each covering a smaller area of the previous coat, so you can see how the colour changes. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next. When dry, apply varnish to see the final result.

2. Where possible, take down doors and lay them flat to stain them.
3. Shake the stain container and pour a small amount into a shallow dish.

4. Use a 125mm (4") brush or paint pad on large, flat areas. A wad of lint-free rag is the best way to stain vertical surfaces, banisters, rails etc.

5. Work quickly, making sure that you blend adjoining areas of stain before the edges dry out.

6. The order for staining a panel door is (1) the beading around the panels (2) the panels (3) top, middle and bottom cross pieces (4) centre and outside verticals (5) the top and edges.

7. Wipe over each completed coat with a soft cloth to remove excess stain. Leave to dry as directed by the manufacturer before re-coating.

8. Finish off with a clear finish of your choice to seal the stain.
Floors & Panelling
1. Avoid join-marks by painting along two or three boards at a time with a brush so you can finish at the edge of a board each time. Wood block floors need great care - think about using a coloured varnish instead.

2. Whatever colourant you use on floors, you must seal it with Floor Varnish.
Using varnish
Prepare wood as described previously.

1. Use good quality brushes.

2. If using coloured varnish, test a small area first. On some woods, the colour may not coat evenly - if so, seal the wood with a coat of thinned clear varnish and allow to dry before applying the coloured varnish.

3. Dilute the first coat of polyurethane varnish with thinners as directed by the manufacturer. Acrylic (water-based) varnish does not need thinning.
Start in the corner furthest from the door and work back towards it. Brush out well and don't let varnish 'puddle' in gaps between tongue-and-groove floorboards. When using paints and varnishes make sure the room you are working in is properly ventilated.