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Old 07-13-2012, 10:51 PM   #1
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Refinish Mantle


I have an oak mantle that was stained a honey color and finished with a clear satin polyurethane. I want to refinish the mantle in a darker color and still have the grain show (stain with clear top coat). I've tried some Minwax Polyshades on some scrap with less than great results. It seems to be made more for a bare wood application. It's much thinner than regular poly. I'm thinking about tinting clear polyurethane with stain. Not sure about this though. Any ideas on the best product to use? Thanks

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Old 07-13-2012, 11:13 PM   #2
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You will need to sand down the old poly first to get any real good results.

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Old 07-14-2012, 03:51 AM   #3
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Refinish Mantle


Strip or sand the existing finish off as best you can. Then apply a generous coating of shellac. Don't worry about being neat---you will not be keeping it.

The stickiness of the shellac should attach to some of the additional stain pigment hiding in the dense grain of the oak. Strip the shellac when it has dried.

Sand with fine grit paper.

Use a stain blended to the color you want. You are on the right track experimenting. I personally do not like stain and poly in one products and would use separate products. I think a freestanding stain absorbs better.

Apply two coats of protective finish sanding lighting with fine grit in between coats.
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Old 07-14-2012, 06:08 AM   #4
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I have done this by tinting coats of poly. Going the stripping route is a long and messy process, but the tinted coats can be tricky too.
If you have or can make some similar samples to test on, that is always good.
You can use stain, or universal pigments. I would make a real small batch to test, and then make just enough to do the project.
Also if the mix is too dark, your brush strokes will show, so plan on several coats to build it up to desired depth rather than all at once. Brush it like you are creating grain- long strokes always in the direction of the grain.

good luck!
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Old 07-14-2012, 06:29 AM   #5
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Refinish Mantle


To follow on the last comment, even your paint store may not have pure pigments. A woodworking supply store near you or online will.

I am not so enthusiastic about glazes.
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:31 AM   #6
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Refinish Mantle


Thanks for the info everyone. I have plenty of scrap wood finished just like the mantle from a window casing I removed. So I can experiment all I want. I am trying not to have to strip the mantle. I've done plenty of stripping with all kinds of finishes and I think with the right combo of poly and tint I can get the color I want, and avoid the stripping. I certainly will sand the entire mantle first to give the new coats some tooth to adhere to. Since this is such a common project I'm surprised that there is not a product out there for it. I'm going to try adding stain to poly to see how it looks on my test pieces. If all else fails stripping will be my last resort. Any other ideas are welcome. Thanks
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Old 07-14-2012, 11:28 AM   #7
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Here's what you can do. Wipe down the mantle with a rag saturated with denatured alcohol. Then let that dry then sand surface with 150 grit sandpaper to knock off the gloss of the existing poly. Then use Woodkote jelled stain an apply with a brush in the direction of the grain until you reach the depth of color you want. Let the mantle dry 24-48 hours then apply 2-3 coats of poly sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between coats of finish.

The key to using gel stain is to "dry brush". Dip just the tip of your brush into to gel stain. Apply stain to surface then wipe the excess of material off your brush the work the stain across the surface. Keep repeating this process until all the stain on the surface is evenly distributed. Then dip your brush into the stain and repeat process.

We use this method every day to take old finished oak cabinets and turn them into dark walnut If you select a color that is too dark or you apply the stain to thickly then you will loss the grain and it will look painted. That's why dry brushing works so well because if it is to dark just simply wipe it off and re-apply.

Good luck.
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:45 PM   #8
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Refinish Mantle


Thanks Phil I'll give that a try on my scrap material. That's just the kind of tip I was looking for.

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