Eucalyptus wood is a dense, tight-grained hardwood with a pleasant reddish-orange color with very few defects. However, it’s full of resin which makes it poorly suited for stain absorption.
Can you stain eucalyptus wood?
Unlike softwood, eucalyptus has a dense wood grain which causes stain to absorb unevenly and if you use an oil-based stain you will get blotchy results. But there are ways you can seal it before finishing.
Even though the eucalyptus wood has some moisture resistance, you must seal it because changes in the humidity in your area can cause the wood to swell and shrink which will affect the stability of your assembled furniture and other wood items. Apart from giving your wood a rich luster and deeper color, finishing also protects from rot and insects.
Removing the resin
Eucalyptus wood has an oily residue that should be removed before you try to seal it. It can even interfere with wood glue forming a layer that prevents the glue or any other finishing product from penetrating the wood. Before you can do any finishing or glue the wood pieces together, use a soft cloth dipped in acetone to wipe down the wood. Wait for around 15 minutes till the acetone evaporates from the wood surface then wipe it again. Check to see if all the resin is gone. Resin is a problem that you will only find in eucalyptus solids, the plywood doesn’t have any resins so you can glue and finish it just like any other plywood.
Treating wood for flooring
Eucalyptus is known for its straight grain, stable, and strength qualities that’s why it’s often used for tongue and groove flooring. To give the wood flooring the best finish you can use a water-based urethane which is more expensive than its oil-based version, but only takes 3 hours to dry, unlike 8 hours for the oil-based one. It’s also easier to clean the water-based urethane and it’s less toxic. The formula for this product contains resins, liquid plastics, and solvents that won’t change the color of your wood the way varnishes do.
Treating wood for the interior
If the eucalyptus wood is for building interiors like cabinets, trims, and other woodwork, the best finish to use on your wood is lacquer. It’s very easy to apply, seals permanently, and it dries fast. It’s very user-friendly and resistant to blushing, runs, and orange peel. It penetrates deeper into the pores of the eucalyptus wood because it’s slightly thinner than other products like varnish.
Treating wood for exterior use
Eucalyptus wood is also common in building doors and other exterior items and a penetrating oil will be perfect for finishing. You can either use Danish oil, linseed oil, or tung oil to wipe down the wood. Apply a liberal amount then let the oil sit on the surface of the wood for a while then wipe it off. For the next 2 weeks repeat the same process once a week then once every month for 3 months. To give it permanent protection from moisture, apply a coat of penetrating oil once every 6 months.
How to refinish eucalyptus wood
As mentioned earlier, eucalyptus wood has a dense wood grain which makes it very hard for a stain to get absorbed evenly. However, you can solve this problem by using a special gel-based stain that is formulated to promote even absorption. Get a light color for the gel stain and apply it correctly to ensure you get the best results.
First, you need to sand the wood surface using 100-grit sandpaper. Sand the entire surface moving along the grain of the wood. This helps to open the pores of the wood which brings the resin to the surface so it’s easier to deal with it. Wipe off the sawdust using a tack cloth.
After sanding, wait for about 4 hours and you’ll see small patches of a dark liquid that have formed on the surface of the wood. The dark liquid is a resin that has come to the surface. Take a soft cloth dipped in acetone and wipe the resin off. Repeat the same process every 4 hours, because it may take 12-24 hours before the resin stops surfacing.
Use a paintbrush with 2-4 inch natural bristles to apply the wood with the light-colored gel stain working along the wood grain. Wait for about 6 minutes then use cloth rugs to wipe off the gel stain from the wood. Then let the wood dry for about 4 hours. Wash off the gel stain from your paintbrush using mineral spirits.
Use a clean paintbrush to coat your eucalyptus wood with varnish brushing along the wood grain. Apply a fine light coat to avoid the finish from sagging. Let the wood dry for about 4 hours. Don’t apply a dark-colored stain of your wood because it will make your finish blotchy when it dries, or a liquid oil stain if you don’t want an uneven finish. Avoid using a synthetic to varnish or stain your eucalyptus wood because oil-based finishes ruin bristles made from nylon and polyester.
Benefits of eucalyptus furniture
- Eucalyptus wood is resistant to rot and decay which makes it a good choice for your outdoor furniture. Because of its high oil content, it doesn’t let in moisture.
- It’s exceptionally durable and is very affordable
- Apart from being dense and providing different grain patterns, it’s very rich in color tones and a reddish-brown hue that requires very little maintenance to keep it looking nice.
- The light grain patterns make the wood soft to touch.
- The wood grain in all eucalyptus trees tends to be straight and even with a medium texture.
- The wood tends to crack from the extreme cold if it’s not correctly sealed.
- The wood tends to expand and contract more than most natural materials which make it sensitive to shrinking which can cause damage over time.
- Turns to a silver patina if you don’t take care of it.
- Some people may be allergic to the oil in the wood.
So, can you stain eucalyptus wood?
Yes, you can but you first need to seal it properly so that you don’t get a blotchy and uneven finish.