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  1. #1
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    Default Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    We are currently remodeling our master bath, and have seen lots of ideas in TOH and other places where stained wooden wainscot is used in the bathroom. We are trying to determine the best products to use in order to seal the wood from the moisture.

    We live in Chesapeake, VA - high humidity in the warm months... it's a 2nd story bathroom with 1/2" drywall currently on the studs. We've had to remove a good portion of the drywall, as it had the tile surround from the old tub on it.

    We are looking at 1/4" oak plywood sheets (4' x 8") to create the "panel" with 1" x 4" oak or "whitewood" (as Lowe's calls it) for the vertical stiles, along with 1" x 6" boards to create the baseboards and caps. As much as I would love to put the paneling directly on the studs, I believe we have to replace the drywall to keep it to code.

    Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by kbrunson09; 09-10-2012 at 10:09 AM. Reason: needed to change title wording

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    First of all Oak is not white wood. Yes, you will need drywall first to meet code. If you are going to stain use a stain not Minwax stain/sealer and let dry for atleast 24 hours. The coat all 6 sides with the finish. A good oil based varnish such as OldMaster's. If you are going to paint seal with a good stain killer oil based primer and a good paint. Again do all 6 sides.

    Good Luck.
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    Thanks for the input... I did realize that oak and "white wood" are not the same... we just haven't decided which would look better with the sealer and stain on it, next to the 1/4" oak plywood panel.

    The Old Master's, is that a system of products (conditioner/sealer, stain, and poly) or is it just one product (stain/sealer in one)?

    As you can tell, I'm new to this... I'm not looking for the cheap fix, but what will last the best over the years...

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by kbrunson09 View Post
    Thanks for the input... I did realize that oak and "white wood" are not the same... we just haven't decided which would look better with the sealer and stain on it, next to the 1/4" oak plywood panel.

    The Old Master's, is that a system of products (conditioner/sealer, stain, and poly) or is it just one product (stain/sealer in one)?

    As you can tell, I'm new to this... I'm not looking for the cheap fix, but what will last the best over the years...

    Thanks again.
    To clarify and build on what Jack suggests, there are different types of oak (red, white, and black ), these are species differences, not merely a topical whitewashed look as suggested by Lowes. It is important that you choose the same species for both your panel and trim due to their unique coloring and graining.

    When you choose your finish, you will first sand everything to your liking, you must sand to remove surface dirt, tool marks, wood filler overage, etc. It is imperative that you sand everything uniformly because this will affect the way the stain is absorbed into the material. You only need to sand the exposed faces and edges of the material.

    Choosing a finish. What Jack was implying is that it is better to use a stain only product to color your wood. Once that process is done you can then apply your top coat. Stain/sealer in one do not work well, the stain is suspended in the top coat, rather than penetrating into the wood. Scuff the finished product and you've got bare wood with no color. Also, with each application, the 2-in-1 material will darken with each coat, and you will be applying at least 3 layers of top coat.

    What to use, I have always had good results with Minwax stains, but Minwax top coats are complete and utter garbage! I can elaborate more if you need to know why they are complete and utter garbage. My preferred top coat is McCloskie's polyurethane, however in a wet and humid environment, an oil based varnish such as the one Jack suggests would be a better choice.

    Always, always, always, test compatibility of your stain and top coat materials before you apply them to your project. Some products don't play well together and that is not always evident by reading labels.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    OldMaster's is the only Poly I use. It dries to hard finish and has excellent self leveling properties. I too, use Minwax stains, but stay away from there satin sealer.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
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    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    As Spruce alludes to, urethanes are a little touchy about what they will adhere to. Most are self-sealing, but some use dedicated urethane sanding sealers. DO NOT use an old fashioned sterate sanding sealer nor regular shellac as a sealer. De-waxed shellac, such as Zinssers' "Seal Coat" can be used under urethanes.

    Also, observe the dry times by urethanes. Most have a window of between about 5 hours and 12 hours for re-coating. After the twelve hour limit, the urethane must be scuff sanded to assure adhesion.
    Normally, only the first coat must be sanded. The first coat will raise the wood grain somewhat and try as one might, a little crud or dust usually gets in that first coat.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2012
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    When you choose your finish, you will first sand everything to your liking, you must sand to remove surface dirt, tool marks, wood filler overage, etc. It is imperative that you sand everything uniformly because this will affect the way the stain is absorbed into the material. You only need to sand the exposed faces and edges of the material.

    Choosing a finish. What Jack was implying is that it is better to use a stain only product to color your wood. Once that process is done you can then apply your top coat. Stain/sealer in one do not work well, the stain is suspended in the top coat, rather than penetrating into the wood. Scuff the finished product and you've got bare wood with no color. Also, with each application, the 2-in-1 material will darken with each coat, and you will be applying at least 3 layers of top coat.
    I understand needing to sand everything... but can I just stain my exposed faces? Do I need to use a wood conditioner before the stain?

    Based on the info that you all have given, I know that I have to top coat all sides - to ensure no moisture buildup in the wood. Since we are piecing the wainscot together (instead of using premade panels), can I put the first 2 layers of top coat on before adhering this to the wall? Then put the 3rd coat once its on the wall.

    Thank you again for all of your advice. Will definitely post pictures as the project progresses.

    Kim

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by kbrunson09 View Post
    I understand needing to sand everything... but can I just stain my exposed faces? Do I need to use a wood conditioner before the stain?

    Based on the info that you all have given, I know that I have to top coat all sides - to ensure no moisture buildup in the wood. Since we are piecing the wainscot together (instead of using premade panels), can I put the first 2 layers of top coat on before adhering this to the wall? Then put the 3rd coat once its on the wall.

    Thank you again for all of your advice. Will definitely post pictures as the project progresses.

    Kim
    Correct, you only need to stain the visible portions of the materials. The stain itself does not provide any protection to the wood, it is the top coat.

    Yes, I would apply two coats of top coat before installation. That will sufficiently seal the hidden portions of the material. Once it is installed, fill your nail holes and lightly sand them smooth, then apply your final top coat, though you may find it will take another two coatings to give you the look you want.

    Tip: Before you fill your nail holes, do a test on some scrap material that has already been stained to make sure your filler will take on the stain color you want. I have had really good luck with Dap Plasti-wood, I use the natural and it takes stain nicely. Another route is to use Color Putty, which is like modeling clay and comes in different colors. You can mix different colors together to get the perfect match, changing it as needed for darker/lighter areas.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    Generally wood conditioners or sanding sealers are only need for whit wood not oak.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  10. #10
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    Sep 2012
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    Florida
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    Default Re: Staining/Sealing Wooden Wainscot in a bathroom

    I would love to put the paneling directly on the studs, I believe we have to replace the drywall to keep it to code.I'm not sure about your area, but in Florida you won't need to install drywall first to meet code. Code specifies here that the wall covering must be a minimum of 1/2". So, for fire break reasons, if you install 1/2" (or more likely the true 3/4" beadboard) you don't need to drywall behind it.

    As far as a wood conditioner, I would just recommend popping the grain by thoroughly wiping down the wood with a wet rag first. The will open the grain of the wood and it will accept the stain much more evenly and deeply. You won't need multiple coats of stain then. After the water has dried you can apply the stain. Then finish with 3 coats of polyurethane like the others have suggested.

    IMHO, I would install everything first and then stain it and apply the poly when it is up on the wall. That way you'll get a more even appearance and level coats of poly.

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