Liming is a traditional wood finishing technique that was once commonly used on floorboards, furniture, and beams. It enhances the wood’s natural grain with a white tint, giving it a lighter, aged, and weathered look. More importantly, it can extend the life expectancy of your timber without having to seal the wood.
You might be wondering if liming is suitable for every kind of wood, especially popular softwoods.
So, can you use liming wax on pine? Since pine is a softwood with a closed grain, liming wax may not work as well on pinewood. It may wash out the pine’s grains altogether, making the layer of liming wax look dull and messy. However, you can enhance the grain with a dark wash first before using liming wax.
In this article, let’s learn more about liming as a finishing technique and how to use this technique to treat something like pinewood.
What Is Liming Wax?
Liming wax has long been used as a finish on exposed wood. This method is especially useful when you want to improve the look of wood by lightening the grain. The result will highlight the grain while giving your timber a more uniform, aged appearance that can look quite expensive without much effort.
Liming wax is made of a mixture of liming paste and wax made of either carnauba, beeswax, petroleum, or shellac. Liming wax has been popular for outdoor barns and outbuildings for centuries, which is why adding a layer of liming wax to your wooden furniture can give it a classic rustic feel.
Liming wax looks great on hardwood such as oak or other open-grained woods because it enhances the natural grain of the wood. This is why limewashing is a good solution if you want to preserve the wood while also adding interest to it.
Liming wax is very useful when used on outdoor furniture since it can offer some protection against the elements, especially rotting and insects. When used on indoor furniture, lime wax even has some antiseptic properties that can protect you as well as your furniture.
As we have mentioned, liming wax works best on exposed, bare wood, which is why any wood that has been painted or sealed with varnish or other sealants won’t be able to benefit from liming wax. In these cases, you will often need to strip the existing finish to expose the wood, sand it down, and raise the grain before applying the liming wax.
If you want to learn more about how to apply liming wax, we will talk more about it in a later section.
Important Characteristics Of Pinewood
Pinewood is a popular type of softwood that is very lightweight and strong, although not as strong as other types of hardwood. Pinewood is known for its elasticity, which allows it to resist shrinking and swelling when exposed to the elements. Thanks to its durability and affordable price, pinewood is a very popular option for indoor furniture.
There are several varieties of pinewood, with summerwood being the strongest and most reliable variety. Most varieties of pinewood have a closed, wavy grain and a reddish color that ages very well.
Pinewood can be prone to decay and rotting, which is why it is highly recommended that pinewood furniture is treated with a varnish or sealant before it is used. Treating pinewood can significantly increase its durability in your home.
Using Liming Wax On Pinewood
Liming wax is a wonderful type of finish that will work wonders on open-grained hardwoods such as oak and chestnut. As we have pointed out, liming wax will enhance the natural look of the grain, and open grain will do a much better job of capturing the wax in its nooks and crannies, creating a beautiful aged finish.
Since pine is a softwood with a closed grain, the liming wax may not work as well on pinewood. The liming wax may wash out the pine’s grains altogether, making the layer of liming wax look dull and messy, which defeats the purpose of the liming wax altogether.
However, it doesn’t mean it is impossible to use liming wax with pine. For example, you can enhance the grain of the pinewood by staining it first, which will make the wood grain more distinct. Applying a dark stain first can also result in a nice contrasting effect when you apply the liming wax later.
Raising the grain is also a useful step when you want to stain pinewood and use liming wax with pine. This extra step will help the grains catch the liming wax better when the wax is applied, which will allow the natural grain to shine through the layer of liming wax.
It may be helpful to test the liming wax on a small swatch of pinewood first. Since there are a few varieties of pinewood, the liming wax may show up differently, and you will be able to use liming wax with pinewood without the additional steps.
How To Use Liming Wax
If you are interested in using a liming wax on your pinewood, there are a few extra steps to help you achieve the best result.
Sand your pinewood lightly to even out the surface. If your pinewood has any existing finish, you should sand it down to remove it, which will help the pinewood work better with the liming wax later on.
2. Raising The grain
Raising the grain is an additional step that helps the wood absorb the liming wax effectively. This process involves raising the wood fibers by making them stand up, helping the wood absorb the liming wax later on.
This process is quite simple, utilizing wood’s natural ability to swell and shrink when it is exposed to moisture. With a wet (not dripping) cloth, wipe your pinewood in the opposite direction of the grain. Wetting the wood will make the wood fibers expand.
Then, leave the pinewood overnight or at least for 2 hours, allowing the pinewood to dry completely. When it is dry and the wood shrinks back to normal, the ends of the grains will be exposed. You’ll feel the roughness of the raised grain with your hands.
You’ll want to go over the surface with fine-grit sandpaper, 320-400, before staining so that you don’t have to go back over the wood with sandpaper and end up removing the color.
3. Staining (Optional)
If you want a nice contrasting effect, use a dark stain to stain your pinewood. This step is optional, of course. If you already love the grain and color of your pinewood, you can skip this step.
With a cloth or a sponge, pick up some of the stain and go over your pinewood with an even coat. Make sure to work quickly to avoid visible drips. In this step, you should go in the direction of the grain, which will help the wood absorb the stain much better.
You can choose to apply one or several coats of stain, depending on how dark you want the color to be. The darker the stain layer, the bolder the contrast will look when you apply the liming wax.
If you are applying several layers of stain, make sure the first layer is completely dry before applying the second coat. Keep in mind that the color will look darker when it is wet.
Do not attempt to sand your wood after it has been stained, as this will remove the color and create a blotchy appearance. Pre-raising the grain and sanding it before staining will reduce the roughness after staining. Liming wax and varnish or polyurethane will help create a smooth finish. If you must sand it after staining, do so with a light hand.
4. Apply The Liming Wax
You will want to make sure that the surface is clean so that the liming wax performs well. With a cloth, pick up the liming wax you have and work it into the grain of the pinewood, going in the same direction as the grain. The white should show up most dramatically in the grain of the wood and have a thin layer everywhere else.
When you are done applying the liming wax all over the wood, use another clean cloth to get rid of the excess wax on the surface. This will allow the layer of lime wax to appear more even and intentional.
If there is still a white haze residue on the wood’s surface, you can also use a fine paste wax to go over the surface of the wood. This will act as a polish to enhance the look of the final product, protecting the lime wax layer and allowing the wood to last longer.
5. Finishing (Optional)
Make sure the liming wax layer is completely set before this step.
If you want to add another layer of protection to your lime waxed pinewood, you can also add a light, clear finish to the pinewood. This step is important, especially if you are planning to use the wood outside, since the sealant or varnish will protect the wood against the elements.
In this case, any clear finish will do. If you are using pinewood for indoor furniture, then a finishing oil will do the job just fine. This step is optional for indoor furniture since the liming wax already provides a layer of protection for your pinewood.
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