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7eagle 05-11-2010 01:31 PM

Matching Furniture Stain
I am attempting to match the color of a 'library style wall' that I am building to an existing entertainment center. The EC has the typical 'cherry' color that is frequently used these days in bedroom and other furniture. The cherry stains available in stores are nowhere like the 'reddish' look in the furniture. Has anyone been successful in finding or formulating this 'cherry' color? Or, am I on the wrong track in that the furniture is really paint and not stain?

TxBuilder 05-11-2010 02:03 PM

Do you have any pics you can provide?

Nestor_Kelebay 05-11-2010 09:28 PM

What I would do if I were you is go to your local home center and try to find a piece of plastic laminate that most resembles the look of the entertainment center you're wanting to match. If you can find something similar in a plastic laminate, take a sample chip of that laminate to any paint store along with a piece of the wood you're using to build your wall and ask them to match the stain on the laminate using wood sample.

What precisely is the problem you're having with the cherry stain? When you stain your wood with the cherry stain you have, is the colour simply too dark? If so, that is fixable.

7eagle 05-12-2010 09:05 AM

Thanks for your replies:

I currently do not have any pics. Perhaps I can work on that.

The problem with the cherry stains that I have tried (from Minwax and Cabot) is that they are all too light in color...too pale. I have experimented on popular, pine (don't really want these two), as well as maple and oak woods. The dark "cherry" look that I am looking to emulate has that typical reddish-brown color that is widely used in furniture today. I don't expect to duplicate the color, but was hoping to get close to its look. I don't think there ia any laminate that can come close.

granite-girl 05-12-2010 01:40 PM

If you can take a piece of what you want to match, like a drawer & take the wood species to your local paint store. They should be able to help you match it. If they are professionals. My local paint guys (not box store) are great at that. My husband took a door out of our house & the new door into the paint store. Matched it up great.

Nestor_Kelebay 05-12-2010 05:27 PM

7eagle: How many times did you stain your wood with the cherry stain? You know that it's possible to make the wood darker and darker by repeated applications of wood stain.

There's a very popular misconception in DIY'er circles that you can't stain wood darker or lighter, and that's simply misinformation brought about by lack of understanding. If you stain wood and then try staining it again as soon as it's dry to the touch, the wood won't stain any darker. So, people presume that wood can only be stained to a certain darkness with the initial application of stain, and nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason for this is because stain is nothing more than a coloured dye dissolved in mineral spirits or alcohol. When the stain is applied to the wood, it is absorbed right into the wood cells. As the mineral spirits is absorbed into the wood cells, the dye molecules go along for the ride. Then, those dye molecules remain behind as the mineral spirits evaporate from the wood. If you try to apply more stain while the wood cells are still saturated with mineral spirits, the wood will not absorb any more stain. But, if you allow sufficient time for the mineral spirits to evaporate from the wood, it can be stained again and again and again; each time becoming darker than before. That's because additional dye is absorbed with the mineral spirits every time the DRY wood is stained. That is, the trick is simply to allow time for all the mineral spirits to evaporate from the wood before re-staining. Each time you stain, the same amount of dye will be absorbed into the wood along with the mineral spirits, and the wood will dry to a darker colour.

I make use of this knowledge when repairing scratches on "Cherry" stained luaun doors and panelled walls in my building. Because luaun is a natural material, some luaun doors are naturally darker and some naturally lighter. What I do is put several drops of mineral spirits in a film container with an eye dropper. Then I dip a Q-tip into the Cherry stain I intend to use, and then dip it into the mineral spirits in the film container, thereby diluting the dye. Then I apply one coat of stain to the scratch on the door every day, gradually making the stain darker and darker until it matches the colour of the surrounding stained and varnished luaun. In this way, I can darken the colour of the scratch gradually until it matches the surrounding wood and becomes unnoticable. I do that all the time when tenants leave scratches behind in my doors, cabinets and wood paneled walls.

You can do exactly the same thing to stain your wood darker than it would be after a single application of stain. You just need to allow time for the mineral spirits or alcohol to evaporate from the wood after each application of stain.

PS: You don't need to know the rest:

First, an interior wood stain is nothing more than a coloured DYE dissolved in either mineral spirits or alcohol. (Some interior water based stains have water soluble dyes dissolved in water.) The only difference between an interior and exterior wood stain is that the exterior wood stain will contain a small amount of "binder" which is the stuff that forms a film in oil based or latex paints. The purpose of the binder in exterior stains it to form an impermeable film over the wood, and the purpose of this film is twofold:

1. To minimize the swelling and shrinking of the wood (and hence cracking of the wood) due to changes in it's moisture content caused by absorbion and evaporation of rain water. Normally, water is absorbed into and evaporates from the end grain of wood 15 times as fast as it does across the grain of wood. The oil based binder film of exterior stains prevents the wood from absorbing and releasing moisture to the surrounding air, and that prevents the end grain of the wood from absorbing and releasing airborne moisture more rapidly than the rest of the wood. Since wood swells and shrinks with changes in it's moisture content, it's the difference in rate of swelling and shrinking between the middle of the wood and the end grain that causes unprotected wood outdoors to gradually crack and split at the end grain.

2. To house UV blockers and fungicides that protect the wood from weathering due to exposure to UV light from the Sun and to prevent fungii like mildew and mold from growing (and feeding on) the oil based binder of the stain in warm and humid environments.

There are more cracks and splits in the wood at the top of this post than there are a foot or two below the top. The reason for this is that the top of the post, being the end grain, absorbs rain water much more rapidly than the sides of the post, causing the top to swell up both more and more rapidly than the the wood lower down. While the wood at the top of the post is swelling up, the moisture content is trying to equalize along the height of the post. When the rain clowds clear, and the sun comes out again, the top of the post dries much more rapidly than the wood below the top of the post, and the resulting rapid shrinkage of the wood at the top causes cracks and splits to form in the top of the post. It's exactly this same rapid shrinkage due to moisture loss at the end grain that results in every 2X12 at the lumber yard being split at both ends. Neither the post nor the 2X12's would split if they had a coat of oil based paint over the end grain because that would prevent the more rapid moisture absorbtion into and evaporation from the end grain. And, that is the purpose of the binder in exterior wood stains; to prevent different moisture absorbtion and evaporation rates from different parts of the wood causing it to crack outdoors.

Now you know more or less all there is to know about interior and exterior wood stains, and I expect more than most DIY'ers know about the subject.

airjacobs 08-03-2010 11:31 PM

If you can find something similar in a plastic laminate, take a sample chip of that laminate to any paint store along with a piece of the wood you're using to build your wall and ask them to match the stain on the laminate using wood sample.

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