Prestain wood conditioner is often necessary when staining wood. Tim Carter of AsktheBuilder.com demonstrates why it's a must to use wood sealant before staining soft wood.
These two pieces of wood, they look identical, but there is difference as night and day. This piece right here is a piece, a very hard wood and here is a piece of clear white pine. Now, the trouble is, oak is easy to stain because its cellular structure is so tight, the stain has a hard time getting into the wood, but the clear white pine is different. It is as absorbing as a paper towel. So, how do you make sure that the grain of the white pine shows through when you want to stain it? You have to use a pre-conditioner on the wood. They work super well to close up the wood pores in that soft wood. They are basically just kind of thin down varnishes or urethanes. They go on clear and it takes only 15 minutes for them to dry before you can start to work. Well, we have waited the 15 minutes and the conditioner on this piece of the wood is now ready to go and this side does not have any conditioner on it, whatsoever. But I am going to stain both of them so that you can see the difference. It is going to be like night and day as soon as wipe off the stain. It is amazing what these conditioners do. But you can see, you put the stain on and just like that and you simply take a paper towel and wipe it and look at that. The difference is, these wood cells were sealed and look how dark the white pine got because it did not a conditioner on it. Oh! Check it out. You can see why it a must to use wood conditioners with softwoods. I am Tim Carter, Ask The Builder. If you want to discover more home improvement tips, go to AsktheBuilder.com.