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Old 10-07-2009, 09:43 PM   #1
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


I am preparing to stain colonial oak baseboards and casing for my first major remodeling project. I started out by buying several different colors of Minwax oil-based stain and cutting pieces of trim to sample it on. I applied the stain with a brush, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then wiped it off, but when I was finished none of the colors looked quite right. I understand that different types of wood accept stain differently, but all my trim just looks dull. For example, a cherry stain came out almost a light brown color, while a dark chestnut was more medium brown. I tried a second coat of the cherry and it just ended up a little darker brown.

I thought maybe the problem was that I didn't sand the sample trim before staining, so I cut some more pieces, sanded, and stained. The result was only minimally different and still none of the trim really looks good. I want something with a little more color to it (like a cherry normally would be) instead of brown, but everything is taking on a brownish hue. Can anyone offer me advice as to what I may be doing wrong? I need to get started on this soon, so any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 10-07-2009, 11:30 PM   #2
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


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I am preparing to stain colonial oak baseboards and casing for my first major remodeling project. I started out by buyingseveral different colors of Minwax oil-based stain and cutting pieces of trim to sample it on. I applied the stain with a brush, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then wiped it off, but when I was finished none of the colors looked quite right. I understand that different types of wood accept stain differently, but all my trim just looks dull. For example, a cherry stain came out almost a light brown color, while a dark chestnut was more medium brown. I tried a second coat of the cherry and it just ended up a little darker brown.

I thought maybe the problem was that I didn't sand the sample trim before staining, so I cut some more pieces, sanded, and stained. The result was only minimally different and still none of the trim really looks good. I want something with a little more color to it (like a cherry normally would be) instead of brown, but everything is taking on a brownish hue. Can anyone offer me advice as to what I may be doing wrong? I need to get started on this soon, so any help would be greatly appreciated!
Sand your sample board first, beings you'll have to sand your trim that your staining. With stain you have to be sure to stir real well, all of the colorant settles to the bottom. It sounds like you just need to stir the stain well. It will probably take more than one coat to achieve the color your looking for, the first coat will soak in. You don't necessarily have to wipe the stain off, wiping the stain off will lighten the color. Use a good china bristle brush. If your staining trim I would recomend using minwax polyshades, it has polyurethane in it and eliminates the step of applying polyurethane to your trim after its stained. I've used it countless times on trim, doors, and windows and two coats usually achieves the color your looking for.

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Old 10-07-2009, 11:33 PM   #3
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


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It sounds like you just need to stir the stain well.
I don't believe this is my problem. I'm using small 1/2 pint cans and am shaking them up very well, then stirring upon opening. The stain looks dark when it goes on, but just doesn't seem to be soaking in very dark.
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:51 PM   #4
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


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I don't believe this is my problem. I'm using small 1/2 pint cans and am shaking them up very well, then stirring upon opening. The stain looks dark when it goes on, but just doesn't seem to be soaking in very dark.
Put the stirring stick into the can till it hits the bottom and move it around feeling for clumps, stain should be stirred not shaken.
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Old 10-08-2009, 07:41 AM   #5
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


The oak is very dense so is going to take a couple of coats of stain. If you want to achieve more red you could try turning at least your first coat of finish into a glaze with some opaque color in it. Definitely experiment to get the color right. You might check to see if another brand of stain might work better for you. I have never tried it on a hardwood but have gotten some nice effects by using Dr. Martin's liquid watercolor on softer woods.
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Old 10-08-2009, 02:05 PM   #6
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


I started over last night... I sanded the pieces before applying, stirred the can up well with the stirring stick, and applied 3 coats of cherry stain spaced 4-6 hours apart. It did get slightly darker with each coat, but I have a lot of trim to stain and it becomes unrealistic if I have to put 4 or more coats on each piece, since I can only do so much at one time. Is 4 coats of stain common for oak trim or does that sound excessive?
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Old 10-08-2009, 02:24 PM   #7
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


It can take multiple coats on dense hardwoods for the stain to be dark enough. You might try mixing stain colors together if you have not already to have a darker stain to start with.
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Old 10-10-2009, 01:27 PM   #8
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Need help to achieve desired colors when staining oak trim


After 3 coats of Minwax stain, I still wasn't happy with the results. I went to Sherwin Williams and bought some of their wipe-on stain and it looks much better. It only took one coat and I'm already getting a darker, more colorful result. Maybe the Minwax stain would be ok for a softer wood like pine, but it just seems unreasonable to have to apply 3-4 coats to oak trim. Sherwin Williams' stain appears to be the answer to my problem. Thanks everyone for your feedback.

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