Saturday, November 20, 2021

Spraying Wood Stain With An HVLP Spray Gun

Spraying Wood Stain With An HVLP Spray Gun

Hello out there again friends, the cheapest Calgary Painter here again with this handy dandy Spraying Wood Stain With An HVLP Spray Gun blog post. Well, you ask for it many times over, so now you're going to get it. I've got eight wood barn doors here that are all ready for staying and finish. But this time around we're not going to apply the stain the good old-fashioned way, we're going to use a spray gun correctly. 

This is a decent HVLP spray gun, we are going to use my Fuji Q4 spray gun to apply stain. I know a lot of people and painters out there have asked me many times how I apply my finish and stain, so I figured I would break down the stain application in this spraying wood stain with an HVLP spray gun blog post. It turns out it's really very simple, and extremely fast. 

If you've been thinking abou hiring in a painter to do some staining  with you, this technique could shave off hours and days of labor from your painter. And that can quickly add up to huge financial cash savings for you and your stain project, without compromising on any aspect of your wood staining project you have in mind. Work smarter, not harder.

So I've got my gun here, already assembled and ready to spray stain. This project is requiring two different color stains, so we will be using two different color stains, simply because two of these doors are going to be slightly different then the other ones. The final project requires the stain is going to be on color for a couple of doors, and another color for the other six barn doors that are about to be stained and finished.

Anyway, in between coats, I've got another jar here, that's full, well about three quarters, maybe probably a third full with some basic every day mineral spirits. Always keep some mineral spirits handy when spraying stain with an HVLP spray gun. This will help me clean out any stain that I've used in the gun, to change over to a new type of stain or stain color, and also basically for easy fast clean up when I'm done staining these wood barn doors.

You likely might have guessed, but, we got all the tools of the trade up in here, so I'm going to use my drill to kind of stir up the stain a bit, and get it thoroughly mixed. Then I'll just pour it into the cup nice and easy right out of the can of stain. Because stain is already thin, it doesn't need to be thinned out any more. It's already pretty thin to begin with right out of the can. Now pour it in to the gun and lets get ready to get the stain flying.

Now because stain is so thin, the tip I'm going with, is a 1.3, which is a general purpose tip. You can actually use a 1.0 spray tip if you want to. It'll still spray just fine. So to help protect this bench we are about to stain with the spray gun, I just like to lay out a couple layers of paper on top of it, just to make sure that the stain doesn't soak through onto my table. It's called stain for a reason.

This paper stuff actually soaks up quite a bit of stain before it goes all the way through and it's easy to clean up and dispose of after we've completed the staining projected. And now the back sides of these doors are actually pretty plain Jane. Nothing to them. Almost like a flat slab. Applying this stain the old fashioned way with a brush or a paint sleeve would still get the job done pretty fast and easy. 

The trick is about the spray gun is that it tries to keep the blotching down to a minimum because it applies very evenly over the course the whole door, rather than grabbing a whole bunch on a paintbrush and dobbing it in a certain area, and trying to spread it out before it soaks into that one spot. Now when I'm applying stain, I really like to use the blue shop towels that come on a roll, but unfortunately I've run out of those pretty recently. 

So I'm using normal bounty paper towels, you just have to be careful with these, because as you're using them, if they get too wet, sometimes they might leave some debris that you'll have to clean off later. I never use cloth towels or anything like that, because sometimes lint will deposit on the grain, and you won't see it until you start applying lacquer. 

And then you see all these little crystally looking nubs all over the place, and you got to sand them out just to get them removed. So try and stick with paper towels, or blue shop towels. Now when it comes to the gun settings, the fan, this is all the way closed off. Where it's a nice small concentrated stream, or a circle, I usually go all the way back to an open fan, just kind of see where halfway is at. 

And then I move it back a little bit closer to open fan versus the closed fan, and that's kind of where I keep it the material, or the product, I close all the way off to start. And I've done this enough that I know what I'm doing, but I usually turn it about half way, or about 3/4 of a turn each time to start.

Maybe after each time kind of take a look and gauge where my starting point needs to be. And I'll spray it, and open it some more, close it some more, I don't want to hold a lot of product to come out, I just want enough. And there we go. Spraying the door with our HVLP gun, that was pretty fast and easy. This door just took minutes to spray and and wipe down. 

All of these sides nooks and crannies that you got to get in to, you can turn your gun any which way you need, to just to get into those areas. Just wipe it off as you go. Super simple. I can have this entire area done all done and under a minute per side of the door. Doing staining by hand is easy and fast, but as you can see, spraying stain with the spray gun is substantially faster and requires less effort.

Look at how fast that was. We stained this door under a minute. Wipe it down again in under a minute and it's finished and ready to go. Sure is faster than using a brush or a roller to stain the wood surface. Minimal physical labor required. Look at that finish it looks absolutely beautiful. While you might have been able to get away with using a brush or a roller to rub in this side and under a minute did the other side and all four edges in about 2 minutes. 

Really simple method. Any project that you have to ensure that you get an all the nooks and crannies or rag may not get into. So you can see I was able to do all six doors in under an hour. I was never able to do staining by hand this fast. Something not only this fast but that efficient with that much stain being used can really help your labor time and help you provide your customer better prices.

So spraying it can help save a lot on material cost, and time for turnover, so you might give this a shot if you can throw down for a decent spray gun. So now I'm going to change out the stain for another color of stain and spray in the rest of the remaining doors that require staining and finishing. Notice how there is no blotching on this wood? No blotching on these doors.

So let me show you how to properly clean out my mixer that I had used with the original stain we stained the first couple of doors with, which is now empty, and it's kind of squashing around here. To get some of that off, you can take the logger out if you need to, and drop it down in there. I always keep a can of cleaning spirits or mineral spirits for stain, and a can of lacquer thinner for my lacquers. 

I always have it on hand so it's easy to clean my parts off. I found that it's just kind of just keep using that word but it really is it's more efficient in the middle of paint or staining my last door. What I like to do with the mineral spirits that I have inside here is, take it outside, and just spray a little bit through the gun to kind of clear out any old stain or old color that I might have in here. 

You don't want to spray that out of the gun while your inside, so be sure you step outside so you can spray out or blast out this stain. After spraying some of the thinner through and I went ahead and took the gun off and what I've done is I've dropped this cap down which is the underside of where the seal is.

And there is a small little hole that's in this thing, that allows product or stain to flow through, and it can travel up that hose, which is the the pressure hose. Because there's got to be a hole here in order to put pressure in the can, so product is inevitably going to get through this and go up the hose. And you just have to take that off just kind of work it down and just kind of clean out any of the old stain in there.

Because there will be somewhat of a pool of stain that you got to get out, here's my new cup. I'm going to stain. I'm just going to dump it right into the canister because it's already stirred, but right back on here, and I'll just wipe off a little bit of the stain that's on the outside, and then I can go to town on the new color

So this is how you spray stain on your projects using an HVLP sprayer like my Fuji Q4 here. It's really not a hard process. You don't even need a whole lot of product coming out of the gun, there's not a perfect setting that you have to dial in like you do with lacquer. So just give it a try, keep one cloth in one hand, keep the spray gun in the other, and just spray it on, wipe it off. 

I found that if I do a an immediate wipe off I can control the color better rather than just letting it sit and be being stuck with what you got so if you have any comments tips or suggestions be sure and drop them down. There's really not a whole lot to spraying wood stain with an HVLP spray gun. It will save you a bit of time and labor and provide consistent results across most types of wood. Some painters might prefer to use a wood conditioner before staining to reduce blotching.

If you stain your woodworking projects, there's a good chance you've confronted a phenomenon known as blotch or splotch. Basically it's when you put the stain on the surface, and you see a very uneven level of absorption. Some areas absorb more, some areas absorb less. And up being lighter in color and that's what we have here in this example you can see very light area here around the knot, and much darker areas on both sides. 

Now that unevenness is usually due to two things. It's grain direction. So if the grain direction in the board kind of changes up one area, might suck in more color than the others. It also happens just due to natural properties in the woods. Softer woods tend to be worse at this, but you may have a section that's more dense than another section, and the less dense stuff tends to be more like a sponge, and it pulls that color in. 

Either way you get this kind of weird, uneven, you know splotch pattern, that I personally don't think looks good. Now other people do think it looks good because this is sort of the heart of a rustic looking piece of wood work right, so if you want that rustic look, you welcome this blotch and splotch, but if you don't want that, you're gonna try to find ways to prevent it. 

Now there's something closely related to blotch, kind of the same thing I like to call it blotching with style. And that's something called figure. Now here's a piece of maple. It's curly maple, and you can see it's got that striped pattern. What's happening here is grain direction changes. The grain is kind of wavy so it goes down and up, and everywhere it goes up, it's a little bit more like end grain, so it's thirstier. 

It will absorb more color in those areas, and you get this beautiful striped pattern I think that looks super cool because it's very purposeful and it's repeated and it's a beautiful pattern. When we look at a piece that's blotchy, it's random, and I think the randomness is what makes me not like it so much. 

Woods that are notorious for blotching, I'll just name a few here, Alder, Cherry, Maple, Birch, Popler, and Pine, just to name a few. Pine happens to be one of the worst ones, and that is the subject of most of our tests we are sharing with you today. We're going to use pine. So how do we prevent blotch from occurring? Well professional painters have all kinds of different tricks for preventing blotch, but they all kind of operate on the same principle. 

And let me show you with a drawing. So let's say this is the surface of our board. We may have an area here that's really soft, so it's going to absorb more color. Then we have an area over here where the grain just kind of changes directions a few times. So maybe on this spot here, it's thirstier. Think of it as straws pointed upward, so it's going to absorb more finish there. So when you put the stain on here this is what causes that uneven absorption. 

So when we do a blotch prevention, what we're trying to do is even out the absorption across the surface. So there's a couple tactics for doing that. One is to sort of preload these areas with something let's say like mineral spirits. You just kind of pour that stuff in there, and it's going to pre-fill all these thirsty spots, so that when you come in with your stain, you just don't absorb as much. 

There's not as much room to absorb, because these are filled. At that point another method is to put some kind of a film forming finish on the surface. Something that will sort of seal the surface and that sealer goes down in there, and blocks them up a little bit. We're not totally sealing the surface, but just enough to kind of even things out, and you get mixed results with that as we'll see. 

But that's definitely a tried and true way to help prevent blotch, and this is a terrible drawing so here are a few traditional ways that painters keep blotch at bay. Sand to a high grit. This tends to crush the wood fibers and block them off to some degree. This trick all the time to help end grain not be so thirsty, but as you can see, the results are not exactly predictable. 

That said, you can actually use the hybrid sanding in conjunction with any of the other treatments we talk about here, and that can help you get even better results. A classic method that I've used many times and have written articles about is diluted shellac. The shellac partially seals the surface and definitely helps prevent blocking, but in doing so, it also prevents the finish from absorbing in general.

And you can easily end up with a color that isn't quite what you expected. You can use the finish itself a heavily diluted finish solution can be used as a pre-coat for the surface, and it will partially seal the fibers, but much like shellac, it can be controlled. 

If you're using an oil-based stain you can quickly douse the surface with mineral spirits which fills the grain and the pores with a clear liquid, making them less anxious to absorb the colored stain. It works but other options work better. You can use a commercial conditioner. It come in water and oil-based varieties, and they do work, but I've had mixed results with them/ 

And last but not least, you can prevent blotching by spraying wood stain with an HVLP spray gun and wiping off as you go. It provides a much more consistent finish on most wood surfaces and wood products you might find yourself staining up. Its completely up to you how you go about staining your finished products, but this is the method we use when we provide staining services to customers and clients in our areas.