Do finishes fade?

I built a red oak bookcase about a year ago for my first woodworking project. It went in the front entryway. I put a lot of time in finding the right stain to match the existing red oak stairs, but it came out too dark. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed.
Today I just noticed that it is a perfect match! The bookcase has faded and now matches the stairs.
While I am delighted the results, it has obvious consequences for other projects. Is it normal for stain to fade like this? It was minwax provincal under minwax golden oak stain/varnish (whatever that is called)
Thanks.
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toller did say:

That's interesting. I don't have an answer, but was wondering if it's possible that the stairs darkened rather than the bookcase fading?

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reliable. But since they are 20 years old, it is more likely to be the bookcase; or so I would think.
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toller did say:

I had to go look at an armoire that I put shelves into two years ago for an entertainment center. I used Minwax golden oak on the shelving unit, and remember that they were just a tad darker than the armoire. I was surprised to find that the two are virtually identical now. The armoire was refinished about five years prior to that, so I don't know which changed. Funny, I see that entertainment center most every evening while watching TV but haven't noticed the change.
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I built a CD rack/stereo stand a cupla years back out of jummywood and used a minwax pecan stain on it, topped with a water-based poly.
It's in the living room and gets a fair amount of indiirect light, but no diirect sun.
The stain has *darkened*, not lightened.
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dave@N_O_T_T_H_I_S.balderstone.ca says...

It may be that it is the wood not the stain that has darkened.
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MikeG
Heirloom Woods
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It depends on whether it is a dye or a pigment stain. Dyes are not color fast, Oil based being the least, alcohol based the next and water based the best. Pigment stains on the other hand is color fast. The coloring comes from particles of solid material
How can you tell you ask. When you open the can and stir the stain, if it is a dye there will be no particulate on the bottom to stir up. Pigment stain will have a goopy mess that has to be stirred back into suspension.
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MikeG
Heirloom Woods
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I think that it depends on the type of wood, stain and exposure to UV.
Our oak kitchen cabinets exposed to direct sunlight had faded very noticeably in the last 18 years. Similar cabinets in a more protected area of the kitchen showed barely noticeable change. I recently refinished all of them.
A cherry blanket chest which I stained with analine dyes about 5 years ago & coated with 10 coats of poly has gotten darker because of the cherry darkening over time.
In general, the wood may lighten or darken, the stain will lighten when exposed to UV for a long time. If not exposed to strong UV, the wood would still gradually change, but the dyes in the stain would probably remain fairly stable in color.
My 2.
Lou

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The Minwax stain may very well have faded.
This is the difference between $5 / Qt. stain and $16/ Qt. stain.
Barry
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Perhaps another hard lesson learned.
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