Should I use mineral spirits on sanded wood, before finishing?

Q: I’m through sanding and cleaning my floors and am getting ready to apply an oil based semi gloss finish. Someone told me to clean the floors with mineral spirits, is this true? Should I use mineral spirits on sanded wood?

A: I wouldn’t do that on bare wood. Just vacuum well, and if you like, wipe the floor down with a micro weave mop. Make sure there is no dust on window sills, etc., and no air movement across the floor while it sets up. Make sure your finish and applicators are clean and free of debris also.

White residue from mineral spirits?

Related Q: We are having unfinished sawn white oak installed and the installer used mineral spirits to show us the color of a few boards. There is a white residue on parts of the boards. We had the mill do a light wire brush and the installer was going to buff the floor before staining it. Will these marks buff out of the floor? Is it safe to use mineral spirits on unfinished hardwood? Would paint or laquer thinner be better? Thank you.

A: Mineral spirits, paint thinner (unless you mean turpentine), and varsol are all the same, though unless virgin mineral spirits is used there can be other contaminants in the mineral spirits. Having said that, I wouldn’t expect any issue with the spot. Get a piece of fine sand paper and give it a rub.

I would use water on the wood to give an indication of the colour of the wood if using an oil based finish. If it is non ambering water borne, best to apply a small sample with the finish. It dries fast and can be easily removed.

Sticky mineral spirits coat

Q: I sanded the top of a Knoll walnut desk, stained and applied mineral spirits. The finish is sticky. I was told the last step is to apply a gel top coat. Have I done something wrong? What to do next?

A: I’m not sure why you applied mineral spirits to the stain.  I’m also not sure how you applied the stain.  It should be applied, not to heavy but evenly, let sit for 5 minutes and then remove the excess with a clean cloth.  It sounds to me the stain is not dry and you have to wait.  Maybe a fan blowing on it would help.

Follow-up: Thank you for your prompt response.  I was advised or misunderstood about applying the mineral spirits. Will the stain plus spirits dry if I give it enough  time? If yes, is the gel top coat the right  final step? If yes, what’s a reasonable amount of time to expect it to dry? Is Gel Top Coat the right sealer for Minwax Penetrating wood stain?

A: It is only a desk, so it doesn’t really require heavy duty protection. Gel varnish is wiped on rather than brushed on. Probably easy for you to deal with as a novice.

2 thoughts on “Should I use mineral spirits on sanded wood, before finishing?”

  1. I sanded marred walnut wood, applied stain & then mineral spirits. I thought I was supposed to do that before applying the gel top coat. The surface is sticky. Will it dry enough for me to apply the top coat? Was that the wrong thing to do?

  2. 3dcHi Maria,I admit I stumbled on your blog over a month ago sehncairg for advice on this very topic. But I immediately added your blog on my newsreader and have been reading more and more of your older posts since. While I understand color a little better (like why my basement bedroom with the light paint color looks so dark)I am still at a loss with my kitchen cabinets. We just got “New Bianco Romano” granite countertops. We have 80s ugly oak cabinets and are going to paint them white. I have no idea what Benjamin Moore white is right. I want a white that is warm and inviting but definitely not yellow/cream while still going well with our new granite countertop and gunstock bruce hardwood floor. Any advice you can give me would be great I have been to Benjamin Moore so many times, but still have no idea. If you also have suggestions for a complimentary wall color, I welcome your expertise!!!

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