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Sanding sealers, also called first-coat sealers by some manufacturers, are recommended when refinishing furniture. Although using a sanding sealer is a good step to take regardless of the type of stain you are using, it is especially necessary when using water-based stains. Apply the sanding sealer after you have bleached your furniture, but before you have applied the stain. Sanding sealers provide an important barrier to keep the wood pitch and stain from bleeding into the water-based topcoat. Aesthetically, using a sanding sealer also helps fill small pits and pores present in hard woods, such as oak, ash, mahogany and teak, and it helps you attain a smooth, level surface, which is especially important on tabletops, dressers and bureaus.



Skill Level & Time to Complete

  Application time is based on a medium sized table or chair, cabinets with shelves and larger furniture pieces will take more time.
  • Beginner - 2 hours (allow additional 4 hours drying time) 
  • Intermediate - 1-1/2 hour (allow additional 4 hours drying time)
  • Advanced - 1 hour (allow additional 4 hours drying time)
  - Plan quick access to water for rinsing stain. If your skin or eyes are exposed to the sealer, rinse thoroughly. If it comes into contact with your eyes and persistent burning occurs after rinsing, seek prompt medical attention.
  - Be sure that you thoroughly remove all dust and sanding dust from your furniture and from your work area at each step. The appearance of pinholes, bumps or bubbles on your finished surface is not caused from air bubbles in the finish, but from dust particles.


Materials List
   Sanding Sealer
   Bucket of water for cleanup
   Vinyl gloves
   Sturdy drop cloth
   Prewashed soft cotton rag (lint free)
   Extra-fine (280) grit sandpaper
Tools List
   Nylon Paint Brushes
   Mixing Stick


1. Start with furniture stripped to the bare wood and has been bleached to reach a uniform color. To remove an existing finish and attain a uniform surface, refer to the tutorials on stripping, and bleaching furniture. Place your project piece on a drop cloth for protection.
2. Make sure your surface and surrounding work area is dry and free of dust, including sanding dust. Use a small paintbrush to brush all joints, grooves and detail areas on your furniture, as well as the flat surfaces. Then wipe with a clean, dry rag. Set this paintbrush aside for later use and do not use it to apply sealer or finish unless it is thoroughly cleaned to remove any dust.
3. Take the unopened can of sealer, turn it upside down and vigorously shake it for several minutes. Open it and stir thoroughly using a wooden stir stick.
4. Now, you’re ready to apply sealer. Using your dust-free small paintbrush, apply a thin coat of sealer to your joints, grooves and detail areas. Be careful to not allow the sealer to puddle in or fill in decorative grooves. Apply in small areas at a time, taking care to not over-brush and taking care not to allow the sealer to drip onto other areas. Finish applying sealer to these sections.
5. Then, using a medium-size paintbrush, apply a thin coat to the flat, broad areas, such as chair seat, tabletop or cabinet side. Apply in the direction of the wood grain and be careful not to allow the sealer to puddle. Work from a wet edge and avoid overlapping or over-brushing the sealer. Avoid drips and runs, especially on vertical surfaces, by using only a small amount of sealer on your paintbrush.


6. Allow your furniture to dry thoroughly for 1 – 2 hours.
7. Lightly sand your furniture with fine grit sandpaper in the direction of the wood grain. Remove the sanding dust by brushing with your small dry paintbrush and rubbing a clean, dry cloth over the surface to avoid contamination. Vacuum or remove sanding dust from your work area.
8. Apply a second coat of sealer to the entire surface, following the above guidelines.
9. Allow at least 2 hours of drying time for the second coat, more in cooler, damp or humid weather. Do not apply more than 2 coats. With water, clean your sealing brushes, gloves and any splatters.
10. Looking good! Now, you’re ready to apply your stain. See the tutorial on applying an oil or water-based stain to learn how to properly stain your furniture.

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