Do I have to apply a wood conditioner before I stain or paint this?


Hello, I am refinishing an old desk. I sanded it down to raw wood. Do I have to apply a wood conditioner before I stain or paint it? I look forward to suggestions.Thank you,Michele

q refinish a desk
q refinish a desk

This was original, I have sanded all to raw wood except left, right side and back panels.

  11 answers
  • Em Em on Jan 19, 2019

    No...just remove dust. I find stain easiest to control and decide how MUCH stain you want on by wiping on with a rag. A paint brush is messier and the stain runs. With a rag you can wipe on lightly or add a lot of stain. Use regular stain and add a poly finish or use the Minwax with poly in it already. Saves a step. They also make gel stains. If the piece does not cover with the first coat then add another after thoroughly dried. The more coats you add the darker the piece gets. I have used one coat on one piece and four coats on another, to cover an old soaked in stain.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Jan 19, 2019

    No, no wood conditioner, please. And practice on a throw away piece of board before you use a stain. Stain does not go on like paint.

  • Mlle LaFleur Mlle LaFleur on Jan 19, 2019

    Recently I refinished a small cabinet. Sanding down to bare wood is painstaking, however, please remember to sand the interiors of the drawers. they get beat up and stained with ink etc. When they are sanded clean, stained and urethaned they will be a pleasure to use, will resist marking and be easy to clean. For my cabinet drawers I cut up part of an atlas page and decoupaged part of the map, not lining the entire drawer bottom, and it adds a nice touch. I get atlases at the thrift store and use them, the paper is a good quality.

  • Michele Michele on Jan 19, 2019

    I did that to a china closet, nice touch!

    Thanks again for your response.

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jan 19, 2019

    So....what are you going to do? Stain or paint? It is a lovely piece and would look great either way. I personally think painting is a fun look to update or bring out the character of a piece. Others would stone me for saying that because wood know...holy!🥰 it depends on your own taste..I have many painted fun things in my home. But also some all works. But I like fun pleasing looks. Be sure to post when you do decide and do whatever. 👏👏👏

  • Leah Leah on Jan 19, 2019

    No, it would repellthe paint.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Jan 19, 2019

    I would stain the top and paint the rest. Love that look. And yes, don't forget the drawer insides.

  • Michele Michele on Jan 19, 2019

    Thank you for all of your thoughts and advice! I have a little more sanding to do and decisions to make. I will share a photo.

    Stay warm and safe!

    • Michele Michele on Jan 25, 2019

      Hi everyone,

      As I promised, here is a picture my finished desk!! I’m missing several handles but the finish is complete.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

      Keep making old things new and beautiful!

      Best wishes,


  • Dfm Dfm on Jan 24, 2019

    I use the wood conditioner only on the soft woods like pine-which suck up a lot stain, hard woods don't usually need it.

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jan 24, 2019

    It's supposed to make the wood take the stain more evenly. I've never used it though.

  • Adrienne Drummond Adrienne Drummond on Jan 24, 2019

    I've been using chalk paint for refinishing wood lately and there is no need to condition the wood prior to painting. I would suggest either a wax or polyurethane finish tho since chalk paint does not repel water (or stains) at all.