Ways to Minimize Grain Raising

Sand after wetting, or seal with shellac before finishing. January 13, 2006

Is there any way to keep a water based lacquer from raising the grain on pine? If not, what do you do about it? Do you just have to do a more aggressive job on the first coat sanding?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor F:
Dampen the wood with water (rag) first, let dry and sand. This will almost eliminate grain raise when the stain goes on.

From contributor J:
Rather than just use water, I spray a coat of 1 part water base finish to 5 parts of water. When it dries and is sanded, the raised grain cuts off cleanly. Really minimizes the grain raising. I do a lot of oak raised panel doors and I get a very nice finish with two coats of finish.

From contributor R:
Do you stain before or after the 5-1 spray?

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
You could seal the wood with shellac or an oil-base finish to eliminate the grain raise. The sealer will also bring out the character of the wood better than the water-base finish alone.

I use a highly thinned varnish and spray and wipe it like a stain. Let it dry, sand very lightly to smooth, then topcoat. The first coat lays down beautifully; no grain raise. If you're trying to avoid the look of shellac or an oil-base finish, and just stick with water-base, then try spraying a few dust coats to seal the wood before you hit it with a wet coat. It takes longer, and isn't as effective, but there's a lot less grain raise than usual.