Furniture finishing means applying a ‘finish,’ a specific type of liquid that forms a protective coating on the timber. Wood is a porous material, meaning that it is full of pores which liquid or air can pass through. This means that unfinished timber can easily be damaged by absorbing moisture and warping or cracking as well as scratching easily. Finishes enhance the look of furniture by giving it a different colour or glossy shine. The finishes which mainly change the colour are stains or paints. Here we’ll explore what finishes are used at Coastwood Furniture and how these are applied, and answer your questions about customisation, stain samples, finish odours and the differences between paint and stain.
What finishes does Coastwood use?
At Coastwood Furniture we source all of our furniture finishes from Australian coating supplier Mirotone. This includes stains, paints, sealers and lacquers. All our furniture is either painted or stained using solvent-based products, with colours that are custom made for Coastwood. If stained, then a sealer and lacquer topcoat is also applied. You can head to our Design Room to find out the different colours we have available.
What does the process look like?
If customers choose a stained finish, the process is as below.
- Firstly, stain is sprayed on. This soaks into the wood, giving it the desired colour and highlighting the grain.
- After the stain has dried, clear sealer is sprayed on. This also soaks into the timber, creating a protective layer which makes it less susceptible to discolouration and staining from dirt and spills.
- Next, the whole unit is sanded down with superfine sandpaper and pads. The sealer lifts up the grain and makes the surface rough so this step ensures it is fully smooth and is also known as denibbing which removes ‘nibs’ or imperfections.
- Finally, topcoat lacquer is sprayed on for extra protection. This dries to form a hard, clear surface coating which adds durability and contains UV absorbers to protect the wood from damage caused by UV light. The lacquer used at Coastwood Furniture has a 20% gloss level to give an even sheen.
To achieve an aged look (Aged Pine and Sienna), after stage 3, the unit is distressed with a special tool and tar is sprayed on and then wiped off. Then stage 4 is done as usual.
For a natural finish, the piece is sealed, sanded, and top coated without adding a stain colour.
If customers choose a painted finish, the process is as below.
- First of all, a paint undercoat is sprayed on. This provides a base coat of the desired colour. Because paint sits on top of the wood and doesn’t sink into it like stain, it acts as its own sealer.
- Then, the whole unit is sanded down with superfine sandpaper and pads. This gets rid of any roughness to create a smooth finish.
- Lastly, a tack coat (a thin layer covering the surface) then a topcoat, are applied, resulting in a velvet smooth, high build finish.
To achieve an aged look (Aged White and Aged Bone), a black undercoat and a white or bone topcoat is applied. Then some of the lighter coloured topcoat is sanded off the edges to show up the black undercoat.
Can I customise my stain/paint colour?
We have a large variety of standard colours available, and we can also colour match to any Resene colour, as long as it is compatible with timber furniture. Additionally, we have the ability to stainmatch to your existing furniture, which means you can send us a sample of your current furniture colour i.e., a drawer front or small piece of furniture and we will mix up a colour that matches as closely as possible. If you’re unable to send a sample, we can attempt to do it off a photo, but this can be unreliable as a picture does not always portray an accurate representation of the true colour.
Can I order timber stain samples?
Absolutely. While we try to make sure the colours shown in our brochures and on our website look as close to the real thing as possible, we’re aware that the look of a colour can vary slightly between paper, digitally and in real life. Most of our stockists have samples in store, otherwise we can pop a free sample of any of our timber stains or paints in the courier so you can view it in real life and decide if it’s exactly what you want. Click the link at the top of the page to order your free samples.
Why does my stained/painted furniture smell?
When you first purchase new furniture, you may find that it has a slight smell. This comes from solvent-based finishes which can let off an odour as they go through the curing process where the solvents (VOCs) evaporate and the finish changes from liquid to solid. This can last up to 28 days before the smell eventually dissipates. If you find that your new furniture still has some odour, you can place your furniture in an open space with plenty of airflow for a few days, to speed up the curing process. At Coastwood Furniture we use a lacquer topcoat with an aromatic lemon fragrance which makes the fumes less obvious and easier on the nose. Our finish supplier, Mirotone, is focused on making sure that their products are safe and states that “Mirotone coatings are industrial coatings and are formulated with fast evaporating solvents which are quickly released from the film. Within 24 hours nearly all VOCs will have evaporated from the paint film. By the time the finished article reaches the end user after being coated at a factory, transported to a warehouse and then through the rest of the supply chain (e.g. retailer) it is unlikely that the coating will contain any significant quantity of VOC.” For more information on this, visit www.mirotone.com.
What is the difference between stain and paint?
Although furniture stains and paints both have a similar job; to give the furniture colour, and to some extent, protection, they are not the same thing and they do not look the same.
The main difference is that stain soaks into the timber itself, whereas paint covers up the surface. With stain, you can still see the grain of the wood, so it ends up with a more natural appearance than with paint, which sits smoothly on top of the wood, hiding the grain pattern and giving it a solid block of colour. This gives a more consistent look which is not affected by the timber colour. You can see in the photos below, in the first image which is stained, there is a visible grain pattern whereas in the second image which is painted, the pattern does not show.
All timber takes stain differently so no two pieces will look exactly the same, even if they have the same stain colour. If you have a piece of ash furniture and a piece of pine furniture in the exact same stain colour, they will appear slightly different on the different types of wood, because of the differing colour of the timber underneath. On the other hand, if they were both painted, the colours would be identical. Paint won’t be affected by wood variations meaning you can have practically any colour, whereas stain is meant to enhance the natural look.
In terms of durability, a paint finish is more likely to show scratches and chips, so can look tatty after a few years and will need to be sanded back and touched up. A stain finish can absorb everyday usage better than paint and small scratches are easily repairable with a touch up stain. One thing we don’t recommend is a paint finish on a dining table top. The top of a dining table is one of the most actively used pieces of furniture, inevitably resulting in spills, stains, scratches and general wear and tear. This shows up visibly on paint so a painted table top will begin to look weathered very quickly. Stain holds up a lot better under these high use circumstances and will reduce the need for regular touching up.
How to purchase some touch up stain/paint?
If your furniture is showing its age and needs some maintenance, you can purchase small pottles of touch up stain or paint from us to get your furniture looking as good as knew. We also supply pottles of polish which we recommend to keep your furniture looking in great condition especially after it’s had a touch up job. Please contact us to purchase.
In summary, both stain and paint can be satisfying options for finishing wooden furniture, although stain is slightly more wear-resistant. Stain is ideal if you want a rustic or natural look, paint can work for a more modern or colourful style. Lucky for you we have both finishing options so start exploring our wooden bedroom, dining & occasional furniture today!