Pre Stain - Equivalent

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28 Sep 2019
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Hi all
Im just after some advise regarding staining pine skirting - now I have the colour we want I would just like to know if we should use a pre-stain equivalent in the UK before we stain?

I understand this pre-stain is a US thing and the equivalent here would be 50/50 shellac and white spirit mix??? Would that be about right???

Ive tested the stain and on certain pieces you do get some areas which go darker for example where the wood is roughed up say

Any advice would be great - do you apply the pre-stain and leave for 30mins then stain?????

Also I dont want a shiny varish type finish on the skirting - Im thinking maybe wax - but not sure what I need ie beeswax or finishing wax etc

Thanks again

Sgian Dubh

Established Member
12 Oct 2004
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The solvent for shellac is industrial alcohol (meths) rather than white spirit.

This technique does work to reduce blotching. You'll need to experiment a bit with the dilution on some scrap, but you could start with a 50/50 mix. Then apply a light coat, brush, rag or spray. Let the coat cure, and sand back pretty hard to bare wood. The idea is that the shellac partially blocks those areas of the wood prone to more efficiently absorbing the dye or stain, thus making them less efficient absorbers of the colourant resulting in an overall more even uptake and colouring up job. You should be prepared to put in a bit of time experimenting with the shellac dilution, thickness of wet coat at application, and how hard to sand back. Generally speaking, what you're after is a fairly light coat of shellac prior to sanding.

All the above can help, but to a great extent what will have an effect on the end result is the quality of the wood's preparation underneath any wood finishing. Most solid wood skirting will, for example, have come straight off the moulder and will have a series of scallops across the grain from the arcing cut of the moulder head. No further work will have been done to remove these scallops, so unless you are prepared to spend time sanding (or planing first prior to sanding) these scallops out, along with dealing with any tearout, then a dyed or stained surface plus a clear finish will tend to make these features (scallops, tearout, dings, etc) more prominent.

Basically, a clear finish, even over a dye or stain, especially a well applied one, and even paint to some extent, highlights whatever features are underneath. So if the wood is well prepped (smooth, clean [dirt free], machining marks removed, maybe planed and sanded through the grits) the finish job will enhance the appearance. Similarly, a finish over a poorly prepared wood surface will make any faults stand out, whereas without a finish some of the faults might be hard to spot.

For a top coat, I think I'd look at a semi-gloss or matte varnish (water or oil/spirit type), or perhaps one of the wax/oil finishes, such as Osmo Polyx (or one their other similar products), Fiddes Hard Wax Oil, etc. The Osmo and the Fiddes products offer a range of colours in addition to clear, and you might find one of the coloured wax oils suits you in that it could eliminate all the staining and/or dying giving you a one product treatment - just put on two or more coats to get the colour and look you want. Slainte.

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