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Tom in STL 01-23-2010 07:42 PM

Matching an old stain
Hello there!

I've been reading quite a few posts on here looking for some help. I have found some good info so far, but I could use a little more assistance.

I own, and live in, a house that was built in the late 1800's. The doors and trim, at least the ones that wern't horribly painted over by the previous owners, are stained a gorgeous deep red. I mean it's sooo deep it almost looks black, but it's definately a dark red hue. I am remodeling my kitchen, and have oak cabinets that I would like to stain similarly. I know it won't match perfectly, that's ok, the doors themselves don't all match exactly from panel to panel. :laughing: The kitchen has 2 very large windows and 10 foot ceilings, so the dark cabinets should look stunning.

I went to Sherwin-Williams trying to get something, but the guy there just opened a pre-printed color chart, and pointed. The darkest wiping stain they had was nowhere near right. He did work with me with tints to try to get it closer, but it wasn't anywhere close at the end, and he couldn't add any more tint. Luckily, I only got a small can, so no big loss.

I have seen some posts by a Bob Mariani that talk about some kind of a dye layer, and I was wondering if that might help me. I have no clue where to get such a thing, nor what to ask for when I get there. There was a mention of that improving the 'depth' of the stain, which would also be nice. He also mentioned a seal coat, that I had never heard of. I've seen and read about tinting the finishing coats as well, and that seems straightforward enough, but not sure what it will do in the end.

I really want this to look good. I have been working on this project for months now, doing all the designing and work myself, and I'm very proud of what I've done so far. I have been staining samples for over a week now, and I'm just not getting it. I know oak is hard, and doesn't accept stain as easily as some wood, but it's the wood that matches the rest of the house.

Thanks for any assistance you can lend!


P.S. Stripping the paint off and refinishing all the wood they painted is gonna be a nightmare also. They did such a bad job, many of the windows will not open anymore! But that's a job for much later.

jaros bros. 01-23-2010 10:19 PM

Dye stains are a little easier to work with in your situation. You need to experiment and take exact measurements. You may need to stain with a dye stain, seal, gel stain for a glaze a time or two, seal, and then add a topcoat which maybe tinted to act as a toner. Be prepared to fork over a little dough to get yourself a few different stains, be they dye, gel, or wiping. Experiment until you get a method and/or formula that will work.

I would forget trying to get any place to match a stain because that won't happen. Making a match requires making several batches in small amount and applying to dozens of wood samples to determine what will and what won't work. If you take your time you can match it. Study a color wheel to understand what colors do to each other.

With dye stains you can sneak up on the colors easier and just keep adding coat after coat until it is as dark as you want.

Tom in STL 01-23-2010 10:49 PM

Yea, after my one experience trying to get a color match, I gave up on that! I've been doing the layering with the wiping stains I have easy access to, and it isn't enough. It takes too many coats, then the layers start to degrade and it looks bad. I found a little more on dyes, and it looks more promising, since it looks like I can't as easily wipe off the old applications. I don't mind the effort of multiple coats of things, and I don't care if it takes another month to get it right. I can use my kitchen in the mean time, so I'm not in a hurry.

What exactly is the seal coat made out of? Is it a special thing I can go to the store and ask for, or just a standard lacquer/varnish type thing?

I guess you would use a gel stain on top of the seal coat, since a normal stain wouldn't penetrate that properly?

user1007 01-24-2010 03:08 AM

You might see if there is a woodworkers supply near you if you are not finding what you need at the paint store. Or look online. They should have a myriad of woodfinishing products like dye stains, etc.

As mentioned this all takes a lot of patience but you might come CLOSE in the end. Sounds like you have different types and ages of woods, etc.

As from stripping the paint? I find that more than an average amount of the time, if it is just painted white with not like eigh layers, I do as well with a nice SHARP scrapper as anything else. I have a nice heavy two handed scraper and a small contour set. At least try that before chemicals and power abrasives first. The heat created from both processes can melt the paint into the wood. Some chemicals can discolor the wood.

There is a woman working CU where I was living that did nothing but strip old woodwork for a living. She did have a chemical system but it recycled the chemicals and filtered out all the paint. I found that she was actually cheaper than buying the chemicals and charging clients what I did.

Remember you might be working with lead paint on there though you where protective masks and clothing. Abate properly. Keep small pets from the chips.

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