How to Pickle Stain a Knotty Pine

Written by kevin mcdermott
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How to Pickle Stain a Knotty Pine
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Staining wood is the process of letting a very thin, watery pigment sit on it long enough to soak into the grain and accent the natural designs of the wood, before wiping off the excess. "Pickling'' refers to a specific kind of staining process that uses regular white paint that is thinned out and applied as if it is regular stain. The effect is a translucent white finish that shows the natural beauty of the wood while giving it an antique-looking patina. Knotty pine is especially good for this kind of treatment because of the interesting patterns in the wood.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Sandpaper
  • Rags
  • Quart of white latex primer
  • Brushes
  • Varnish, polyurethane or some other clear wood-finishing gloss

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  1. 1

    Strip, sand and thoroughly clean the wood to be stained. Lay rags around the bottom of the wood to catch runoff from the stain.

  2. 2

    Mix your primer in a can with with an equal amount of water. Stir well.

  3. 3

    Spread the primer-water mixture generously over the knotty pine with your brush, pushing it into all the cracks and corners.

  4. 4

    Let the stain sit for five minutes, then wipe it down with a slightly damp rag, pressing lightly to leave the white residue on the wood. Let dry for day.

  5. 5

    Coat the wood with clear gloss to seal in the pickled stain.

Tips and warnings

  • If the stain looks too heavy to you when you wipe it down, wipe some more. If it looks too thin, apply another coat before it dries.
  • Make sure the room is ventilated when you apply the stain and the gloss.

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