Professional Finishing

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Looking for advice from the pros

Adam B Member

Recently built a couple of knotty alder cabinets to be installed in the laundry room of an existing 8 year old home. We did not have anything to do with the original cabinets (production or finishing). We do not do any finishing at all. After the cabinets were built, we delivered them to the finisher that we use for projects such as these, along with an existing cabinet door that was provided by the client. The idea of course was to match the sample provided. When our finisher told us the cabinets were done & ready for delivery, we noticed that his color matched very well to the sample provided, but we also noticed that the wood grain did not "pop" nearly as much as the original sample. It was almost as if the new finish was "cloudier" than the original. The original sample seemed to have a "deeper & clearer" finish than the newly finished ones that seemed to mask the wood grain. I do know that the original cabinets were finished "on site" during the construction of the home 8+ years ago, while our guy finished the new cabinets in a controlled spray booth environment. I am guessing that different material was used, and I seeking some info from you guys as to how different materials can provide such a close color match, but yet have different "transparency" attributes.

Thank you in advance for any ideas you have.


9/8/16       #2: Looking for advice from the pros ...

Too many variables, and someone needed to supervise the finish product before the installation. That said, nothing will help now.

Transparency could be as simple as sheen used or ever waterborne to solvent borne.

9/8/16       #3: Looking for advice from the pros ...

wiping stain vs spray on dye stain.

9/8/16       #4: Looking for advice from the pros ...
Adam B Member


which of those would give the more transparent look?

9/8/16       #5: Looking for advice from the pros ...

dye would be more transparent. wiping stain is full of pigment that embeds in the grain. it gives a richer look.

9/8/16       #6: Looking for advice from the pros ...
Adam B Member


would you consider a spray on dye stain to be a commonly used product to stain the woodwork in a new construction house? Typically in our region cabinets, mill-work etc is installed in a house raw, and then is all stained/finished together on site by the finishing contractor. Thank you for the help, as I am trying to educate myself on this topic, so that I can have an honest conversation with our clientele.

9/8/16       #7: Looking for advice from the pros ...

adding age to a new piece so that it looks a old piece I do with dyes and pigment in toners/shaders...I can get it darn close but it's not 8 (or 10 or 20 or 100) years of UV exposure and until someone figures out how to can uv age simulated aging is what there is...darn good? yes. perfect? very rare.

9/8/16       #8: Looking for advice from the pros ...
Paul Snyder  Member


Painters often add a little stain to the finish to get more color and make it more even/uniform. The pigment in the finish is what masks the wood grain.

9/11/16       #9: Looking for advice from the pros ...

How large was his sample he did? He could've just got the color right and hit it with a couple of coats to show the client. Or he could've used a laq rattle can over the color. Was a sheen specified? Most guys will use at least 3 -4 coats for final. If he used multiple coats of satin/flat that would explain some of it. Also knotty alder loves to blotch he may have put down a toner and a flatter sheen to even it out.
Is this coming from the client or you? If not from the client walk away.

9/17/16       #10: Looking for advice from the pros ...
DanShafner Member

Most end users don't notice wheter or not the wood grain pops or gets subdued. They do notice color mismatch, differences in sheen, different textural differences, and not much else.

If your end user didn't notice then neither did you until they point it out to you.

Pigmented stains will subdue the look of wood grian, especially when applied as toners (i.e., sprayed on). Their use will greatly effect the look of depth and clarity.

Was your finisher only supposed to match ther color? Or did you also specify that the "look" also had to be matched. If you didn't spell it out then (in my opinion) he did his job, he color matched. Though he should have asked you, maybe he did what you paid him to do. He walks a tightrope trying to ask questions about an issue that you (his customer) are not prepared to answer and didn't even know was an issue to begin with. That onus should have been on you to communicate to him to get both the color and the look to match.

10/24/16       #11: Looking for advice from the pros ...

all the answer that you got are good but my guess is that they shaded the colour, when they stain it, they probably notice that the colour was coming out too light so they shaded it with the stain over the seal coat and that made the colour more cloudy and less grain definition.

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