DIY Section

Cabot gives you all the information you need for a professional quality job.

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The Basics of Interior Surface Prep

Imagine this: Your friends walk into your house and admire the beautifully stained wood. Then they ask you for the name of the professional you hired. You smile with a well-deserved sense of pride—because you did it yourself. Professional results like that begin with the proper surface preparation.

Here's what you'll need for your prepping

  • Lint-free cloth
  • Sand paper (100—220 grit)
  • Sanding block
  • Tack cloth or lint-free rag
  • Safety glasses
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bristle brush
  • Cabot® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
  • Chemical varnish remover


DIY Interior Staining Preparation Work: Examine the area to be stained Examine the area to be stained You can't jump-start a project if you want your finished wood to look its best. So take a few minutes to examine the surface. Make sure the wood is clean, dry and unsealed by any previously applied varnish or polyurethane. Old layers of varnish or polyurethane can be stripped off with sandpaper, a heat gun or a chemical varnish remover. (Always follow manufacturers directions when using heat guns and chemicals.)

Interior Staining Preparation:Sand with the proper paper Sand with the proper paper Smooth wood has a special beauty all its own, so select high-quality sandpaper with the correct grit. A larger number means finer grit. In most cases it's safe to start with 100-grit sandpaper. Next use 150; then finish with 220—but be careful, as higher grits can create a burnished surface that will not accept stain properly. Remove all sanding dust with a tack cloth or lint-free rag before staining.

Surface Prepare: Condition the wood with Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner Condition the wood When staining softwoods such as pine, birch or fir, we strongly recommend the use of Cabot® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Designed to stabilize uneven wood grain, this high-quality product eliminates blotchy color and inconsistent stain coverage.

Make sure to test your stain color Test your stain color Before applying the stain, stir well to make sure the stain pigment is completely dispersed. Then brush out a little stain on a piece of wood that matches the type you're finishing. This is a safe way to make sure the color lives up to your expectations.

WARNING! If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log onto

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