I am renovating a 100-years old house. I have three different kinds of
woods to match to ONE same stain color.
1. 100-years old reddish brown wood - painted but stripped by now, old
stains still left. A bit dark brown.
2. New red oak base moulding - no paint, no stain, new
3. New construction grade Douglas fir door trim - no paint, no stain,
My painter told me that I should use the SAME oak for the door as a
trim to yield the same stain color. Otherwise, he won't get the same
stain color for all three different kinds. I do not want to paint.
Would you please help me getting ONE stain color from these three?
I would appreciate your help.
-Helen, Los Angeles
Sure, wave your magic wand over them.
Trying to match materials, even if they are the same wood, is time consuming
and difficult; and there is no assurance they will still match next year.
Except for paint, there is no shortcut to experimentation.
It's not going to happen. Color, absorption rates, porosity of the wood,
will all prevent it from happening. Not to mention that they may all age a
bit differently over the next year or so. You'll probably get closer using
a dark color and putting a couple of applications on the lighter wood, but
no guarantee of a match. Using the same stain on the same type of wood from
two different trees will even give variation. As will quarter sawn versus
As others have said, this is nearly impossible with stain alone.
Furniture manufacturers use a series of glazes to even out the
differences between woods, but it is really an art.
Your best bet might be to find a decorative artist that specializes in
faux finishes. He or she will be able to do what you want, but it's
not going to be cheap.
If you don't want to go that route, you might want to experiment with
adding universal colors to the varnish of your choice and applying
that. It's more like a glaze and will even out some differences, but
won't be as nice a look as stain + topcoat.
If all else fails, Just keep repeating this to yourself until you're
convinced: "wood is a natural substance and variations in grain and
hue are what make it so beautiful". :-)
He's right, in that it's the cheap, easy way, but you're asking a "painter"
to do something most are not prepared to do.
"Stain" is the operative word. There are "furniture/wood refinishers" who
are experts at matching various woods with combinations of fillers, dyes,
pigments, stains and other concoctions ... it all depends upon your budget.
All Things Wooden
1535 Tidelands Ave.
National City CA 92050
The more opaque the stain is, the better the results will be, regardless
In dissimilar woods, you can achieve 'predominance' in colour by going
to darker opaque stains..the extreme version of that would be called
One method a kitchen door manufacturer uses, he'll start with a 100%
opaque stain, of a colour he is seeking. Then by thinning it and mixing
it with a compatible clear finish, he can back away from that 'painted'
look, in increments of his choice till the overall tone is acceptable.
In his low-end doors, he can actually blend poplar, birch and soft maple
with some pretty decent results.
The extreme differences between oak, fir and whatever makes this much
more difficult as grain enters into the game as well as the fact that
the stripped portions are mostly sealed already. A match would be nigh
impossible. Paint and wash with other stains?
This was a fairly common request at the paint store that I worked at for 14
years. I would work on the wood samples for hours trying to satisfy the
customer. Using several products was usually not acceptable to the
customer. If I found a way to match the color on the different woods the
customer would usually be disappointed. Even though the color was close on
the samples it would still look significantly different because the
appearance of the grain varied between species of wood.
I have to ask. If your base was red oak why did you trim the doors in fir?
Seems you created or at least increased your challenge right there.
Someone told me that the original wood was Douglas Fir. So naturally I
thought that I should use the fir for the trim (all the other trims are
of the old wood).
So if I use the red oak for the door as a trim. Then, I will still
have to match the old wood with oak. Would it be easier? (at least now
it is down to 2 different kinds.)
I read somewhere, by using a preconditioner for softwood and get stain,
I can achieve a color on a fir which can match a color on oak. Is that
something worth experimenting with?
Thanks for the advice!!
On 5 Feb 2006 10:43:24 -0800, with neither quill nor qualm, "Helen"
Tell your husband he can't have them stained all one color. It just
doesn't look good (tres gauche/ticky tacky), it's expensive to
attempt, and impossible to do. (Check colors with fluorescent &
incandescent lighting, then bright sunlight, then on a hazy day.
They'll never match, period.)
He'll be understanding, I'm sure. <wink>
Forget the painter and hire a finish carpenter to get a good and
harmonious blending of colors which allows each wood to shows its most
attractive face. My vote is a non-poly, oil-based varnish whose amber
tint will do that blending nicely.
Or, REPAINT, AND STAIN NO MORE, HELEN!
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