What Does Wood Conditioner Do? – All You Need To Know!

What does wood conditioner do

To remove dark spots and make the furniture and other woodworks look more attractive and modern we use wood conditioners. Wood conditioning is a simple step for woodworkers which is mostly done before wood staining. Even though it’s simple, it gives great advantages to your loving woodwork. When I was first heard about wood conditioning, I was always wondered about, What does wood conditioner do?

I’ve researched and here’s what I’ve found:

Wood conditioner helps the wood to accept wood stain evenly by penetrating the wood grain. Wood conditioner helps uniform acceptance of stain and prevent stain to soak too deep into the wood. Wood conditioner prevents wood from getting dark spots by sealing the wood temporarily at the rate of stain absorption.

So, basically, the wood conditioner helps the wood to stain uniformly without fewer issues.

But there’s a lot more to know about what does wood conditioner do, how does it help the wood to stain more evenly.

In this article, we’ve deeply discussed the advantages and disadvantages of wood conditioner, types of wood conditioner, how to use wood conditioner and many other frequently asked questions about wood conditioning as well.

So, let’s get going!

Does Wood Conditioner Make A Difference?

Yes, wood conditioner helps to avoid many common mistakes that can happen during wood staining. Wood conditioner helps to even out color when working with bare woods as a pre-stain wood conditioner.

Wood conditioners work well with new and fresh woods. It penetrates the wood deep inside and covers up the porous structure of the wood with limited access to the wood stain. Wood conditioner enhances the rate of absorption.

Wood conditioner avoids wood from getting stain streaks and darks spots. Normally wood conditioner is applied for most of the woods. But for some woods, applying wood conditioner is not necessary and can be skipped.

According to my experience, wood conditioner works well with porous, soft hardwoods than less porous hardwoods. For example, a soft hardwood pinewood takes wood conditioner well and seals the wood to prevent the wood stain from soaking too deep into the wood.

If you’re going to apply oil-based wood stain to get the color you want from the wood, I highly recommend applying wood conditioner before the staining to penetrate wood stain evenly throughout the wood surface. But if you’re willing to apply gel stains, unlike liquid stains no need to apply wood conditioner before staining. Because gel stains do not blot like oil stains and no need for a pre-staining job.

According to my experience, wood conditioner works well with porous, soft hardwoods than less porous hardwoods. For example, a soft hardwood pinewood takes wood conditioner well and seals the wood to prevent the wood stain from soaking too deep into the wood.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood Conditioner

There are many benefits you’ll get by applying wood conditioner before the staining job. But there’re some drawbacks as well. Let’s have a look at some common pros and cons of using wood conditioner.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Prevent blotches and streaksLighter than stain
Prevent dark spotsSometimes give a splotchy or blotchy surface
Help to stain evenlyApplication and drying time is high
Can skip many kinds of wood staining mistakesNot necessary for less porous hardwood types
Helps to get the perfect finish we want 

Best Woods To Work With Wood Conditioner

Almost any type of woodwork perfectly with a wood conditioner. But softwoods have a better chance of absorbing conditioner and minimizing the mistakes that commonly happen during wood staining such as surface blotchiness.

Here’s the best wood to work with wood conditioner.

  • Walnut
  • Alder
  • Pine
  • Birch
  • Fir

Here’re the woods that don’t require wood conditioner.

  • Maple
  • Mahogany
  • Poplar
  • Red oak
  • White oak

Above woods are highly porous and soft. Therefore, they have the ability to take wood conditioner so well and seal the wood successfully before applying wood stain.

Types of Wood Conditioner

There are main two types of wood conditioner. They are,

  1. Oil-based wood conditioner
  2. Water-based wood conditioner

So, let’s discuss each type of wood conditioner separately with their specifications.

Oil-Based Wood Conditioner

An oil-based wood conditioner is used when you’re planning to work with oil-based wood stain. An oil-based wood conditioner helps the oil-based wood stain to spread evenly throughout the wooden surface by limiting access to the porous structure of the wood fibers.

Oil-based wood conditioner help to prevent dark spots, surface blotchiness, and many other wood staining mistakes.

Read: How To Fix Wood Stain Mistakes!

Here’re some of the best commercial oil-based wood conditioners available in stores.

  • Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Beeswax oil-based wood conditioner
  • Copper Greenwood preservative

Water-Based Wood Conditioner

Water-based wood conditioner work well with water-based wood stains. A water-based wood conditioner helps wood stain for uniform penetration of wood stain all over the wooden surface with fewer staining mistakes.

Here’re some of the best commercial water-based wood conditioners available in stores.

  • Minwax water-based pre-stain wood conditioner
  • General finishes water based pre-stain conditioner

To identify what is the best wood conditioner according, you need to have a clear idea about the wood type and type of the wood stain that you’re planning to. By having a better understanding of those factors you can minimize the mistakes that most people commonly do.

So, let’s find out how to apply wood conditioner correctly in order to get the finishing outcome from our loving woodwork.

How To Use Wood Conditioner?

Even though we’re able to make DIY wood conditioner by mixing a 1;1 ratio of white vinegar and hot water, I highly advise you to go for commercial products. Because they’re specially designed without contamination. The user manual is pretty much important to get an idea about how to apply and what type of woodwork well the conditioner.

There’re 2 major steps you need to follow before using a wood conditioner. They’re,

  1. Preparation of wood conditioner
  2. Application of wood conditioner

Requirements

  • Pre stain wood conditioner
  • Sandpaper
  • Old clean cloth or rag
  • Mineral spirit
  • Paintbrush

Preparation

  • First of all, sand the whole wood surface using fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Fill scratches and gouges on wood.
  • Clean the whole wood to remove sawdust and debris using an old cloth or rag.
  • Apply mineral spirit all over the wood without missing any spot to remove fine saw particles.
  • Keep the wood to dry completely before applying the wood conditioner.

Application Of Wood Conditioner

After cleaning the dried wooden surface using a clean cloth, apply wood conditioner evenly throughout the wooden surface without missing any spot.

Make sure to apply wood conditioner along the direction of the wood grain to take the conditioner easily into the wood.

I advise you to go with a thin coat of wood conditioner to dry out quickly. Because if you use thick coats of wood conditioner, you’ll have to wait so long to dry the surface completely to apply wood stain on top of it. Sometimes, people tend to apply wood stain before the completion of the drying process of wood conditioner and ended up the blotchy surface by ruining their woodwork.

Also make sure to apply wood conditioner with even pressure throughout the surface, to avoid the surface getting splotchy with random color spots.

The time that takes to penetrate completely into the wood differs according to the type of wood conditioner. Oil-based wood conditioner takes 5 -15 minutes to penetrate the wood while water-based wood conditioner penetrates within 1 – 5 minutes.

Not like oil-based wood conditioner, when you’re using water-based wood conditioner make sure to remove excess after 1 to 5 minutes penetration duration. Because the excess amount of water-based wood conditioner tends to swell wood fibers and cause a lot of trouble.

After applying a thin coat of wood conditioner wait for about 15 – 30 minutes for the complete penetration of wood conditioner into the wood and dry the surface. This time can vary according to the place you live, the humidity of the environment, climate, and many other factors. However, make sure to wait until the wood conditioner is completely dried before stepping into the next step.

How Long After Wood Conditioner Can I Stain?

Application is recommended applying wood stain after 2 hours of after applying wood conditioner.

Apply 2-3 coats of wood conditioner to gain the best results with a good seal over the bare wood surface. But remember to dry the conditioner completely after applying each coat.

After the final coat of the wood, conditioner is completely penetrated, you can apply wood stain. At the end of the staining and drying process, you’ll probably get a nice evenly colored wood stain with a better outcome.

Do You Sand After Applying Wood Conditioner?

If you’re planning to use a water-based wood conditioner, sanding is necessary after applying each coat of wood stain to remove the excess amount. Because the excess amount of water-based wood conditioner swell wood fibers and ruin the woodwork. Therefore, we need to take action and remove excess water-based wood conditioner after 5 minutes of application. Because it takes 1 -5 minutes for the complete penetration into the wood.

But if you’re planning to use an oil-based wood conditioner, you don’t have to sand after the application. Oil-based wood conditioner takes 15 -30 minutes for the complete penetration and doesn’t give issues as water-based one.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: What Does Wood Conditioner Do?

In this article, we have mainly discussed what does wood conditioner do and what kind of characteristics you can gain by applying wood conditioner before applying wood stain.

We dive into the advantages and disadvantages of wood conditioner, the best types of wood conditioners, and what type of woods work well with wood conditioner, and what doesn’t as well.

Furthermore, we have talked about how to apply wood conditioner effectively without making any mistakes and answered some frequently asked questions as well.

Wood conditioner is useful to minimize many wood staining mistakes and gain evenly spread stain coat with uniform color. Most of the woods work well with wood conditioner.

I hope you have gained good knowledge about what does wood conditioner do and how helpful it is to get the perfect finish for our loving woodworks. So, let’s start the next woodworking project and make sure to apply wood conditioner according to the guidelines as we discussed. Have fun!

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